Heading for Haworth…

Let there be light. Stained glass window in 'Holy Trinity Church' Skipton. Archangel Michael owerthrowing darkness...I love his red wings.

Let there be Light.  Breathtaking stained glass window in ‘Holy Trinity Church’ Skipton. Archangel Michael slaying Darkness.  I especially admired his blood-red wings.

A visit to the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth – followed by a journey through the landscape of Wuthering Heights as identified by my eminent host and genial guide for the weekend – Professor Christopher Heywood.  

On Saturday the 20th May 2017 – I stepped over the threshold of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth for the first time ever – it was a long-held wish come true for me… 

A wish come true.

A wish come true.

It was the oddest experience, because I had gone with an expectation of imbibing something of its former occupants – as if the three Sisters were going to be in for my visit!  On the day – it was my experience that the Parsonage was devoid of their presence – hardly surprising as they vacated the premises more than a-century-and-a-half ago. It had that same kind of emptiness – that feeling I get – when I step into my late father’s ‘Golden Room’ in the early hours when the rest of the house is sleeping – and I expect to see him in some shape, form or other.  It always feels like the optimum time to feel or see something of him – yet when I fling back his door as if to take him by surprise there’s nothingness staring back at me. Hardly surprising as I know he went out through the window soon after he died – and he has no need to comeback in – so I really shouldn’t expect half to see him – but I do! What is especially silly is that my head knows that those that have passed on transmute into Nature – and that’s where to find them…

In fact, I believe it is more likely to be the other way round - they come to you - in forms that sometimes you won't even recognise as being them...

In fact, I believe it is more likely to be the other way round – they come to you – in shapes that sometimes you won’t even recognise as being them…

Swans on the Skipton to Gargrave stretch of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. We enloyed a beautiful walk of about four and a half miles along the towpath.

Emily, Charlotte and Anne in that order.  Three graceful swans on the Skipton to Gargrave stretch of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. We enjoyed a beautiful evening walk of about four and a half miles along the towpath.

Don’t get me wrong – I thoroughly enjoyed my wander through the suitably gloomy and shuttered rooms of the Parsonage – and peering at the priceless collection of Brontë artifacts behind glass and rope. Like the treasures though – the Brontë Sisters too were not able to be reached in the now draughtless but necessary atmosphere of the Museum.

Haworth Graveyard.

A timeless moment in Haworth Graveyard.

Not surprisingly – the elemental quarter of Haworth was to be found in the graveyard – with its slippery stones, dripping trees, dandelion clocks – and blessed Rooks; blessed in the true sense of the word that is. I picked up three ink-black feathers that had fluttered down from up above…

Rook's nest above Haworth Graveyard.

Rook’s nest above Haworth Graveyard.

I finished my visit with a pleasurable mooch around the museum gift shop where I bought two fridge magnets and some postcards – but I have to say my greatest souvenir is my entry ticket itself – because of what it represents to me. Finally, I have walked inside the Brontë Parsonage Museum – it was a pilgrimage that I had wanted to make since watching ‘The Brilliant Brontë Sisters’ with Sheila Hancock in 2013 – but time, responsibilities – plus the usual everyday lack of funds had meant that it was always put simmering on the back-burner until now. 

Coming away from the relative peace of the Parsonage…

Due to it hosting a 1940’s event centered in the main thoroughfare – 21st century Haworth was teeming with a merry throng of jubilant people – apart that is from me! It was something I had no desire to join in with; all much too exuberant and out-of-step because it didn’t fit in with my idea of time – nor place. 

Sea of umbrellas...

Haworth – as a sea of umbrellas on Saturday 20th May 2017.

1940's event in Haworth

There was singing in the rain…

Dancing in the street outside 'The Cabinet of Curiosities' - Haworth.

and dancing in the street outside ‘The Cabinet of Curiosities’ – Haworth.

Even the church of Saint Michael and All Angels was spilling through the ‘open’ door; there were stalls set-up in the main aisle – while teas were served in the pews! Needless to say – I retreated fast into the rain drenched sanctuary of Haworth graveyard again…

Almost enough noise to awaken the quiet sleepers in the vault. Detail in Haworth Church.

Almost enough noise to awaken the quiet sleepers in the vault.  Detail in Haworth Church.

Seemingly it had been an ‘ill-timed’ visit…

In this day and age – I don’t think it is possible to catch Haworth on a quiet day – as the Parsonage is one of the most visited heritage sites in the country attracting in excess of a million visitors a year. Mine had been an impromptu visit – if I’d known that Haworth was hosting an event I would have chosen another time. Originally I had penned-in Sunday as the day for a visit to the Brontë Parsonage Museum but as fate would have it – my Saturday visit freed up Sunday for a journey of a lifetime into Emily’s true landscape of Wuthering Heights as identified by my friend and host for the trip – Professor Christopher Heywood – or ‘Yaffle’ as I have fondly nicknamed him!   He has taken to calling me ‘Yaffle’ too – and insists that I’m ‘Yaffle A’ to his ‘Yaffle B’ – he even gave me a double first too for something I forget now…

Having shamelessly never bothered to read Wuthering Heights or the Professor’s edition of it – I’m not really worthy of his esteem but one thing I have learned from him is never argue with an academic!

Metaphorically we are at two ends of a spectrum, connected by a huge, invisible arc that we identify as Emily. To me – that is how Emily comes; I mostly see her as Light.  As well as in the form of an occasional Swan, Raven, Hawk, Owl, Deer – stone, feather, leaf – the list goes on… 

Alternatively – I put our unlikely and unique friendship down to ‘The Red String of Fate’ – a philosophy I was able to enlighten him about – plus the delights of the baggy cloth cat – hence his other Bagpuss inspired nickname ‘The Wise Man’…

On Sunday – we set off over the border into Cumbria – to a remote village called – Dent.  En-route we stopped at Thorton in Longsdale to admire the windswept church of St Oswald’s. Beyond the churchyard wall – we looked towards the great whale-back of Ingleborough – the very hill that Christopher Heywood has identified as the setting for Emily’s one and only novel – Wuthering Heights.  In his edition – Ingleborough and ‘Wuthering Heights’ are the same. The sensitive and poetic manner in which the Professor effortlessly imparts his vast knowledge of the subject – flows out of him as if he’s painting another of his beautiful watercolours – or picked up his violin to play again.  Just as I found Yorkshire’s dramatic landscape impossible to take in all in one visit – so too was this steep learning curve in grasping the greater complexities of the Brontës.  It’s like doing the other ‘Yorkshire Three Peaks’ challenge without an ordnance map – particularly as I haven’t arrived at the Brontës through reading their novels – or the Professor’s book.  Instead – I discovered them through their pencil drawings.  Rather than reading words – I’ve always been a person who perhaps – childishly prefers to ‘read’ by illustrations. Needless to say – there is little hope of me getting through the Professor’s book because there aren’t any pictures!

Some eyes that caught my eye in the Bronte Parsonage Museum.

A collection of  all-seeing eyes that caught my eye in the Bronte Parsonage Museum.

The Professor has a gift for infusing ‘his’ subject with a dynamism that the confines of the Parsonage Museum just couldn’t compete with. It was no wonder then – that my spine tingled and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up – right here in the shadow of one so lofty; Ingleborough and Christopher Heywood are the same.  

One Man and his Mountain.  Professor Christopher Heywood looking towards Ingleborough.

Bronte Parsonage Museum.

The writing on the wall.  Bronte Parsonage Museum.

One day I’d definitely like to head to Haworth again – to experience it on a quieter day…

I love the way the Professor wears Ingleborough as if Nature has placed her own Oxford cap upon his head. It's a crown befitting someone who has spent thirty years of his academic life researching the Brontes. Deepest respect + love dearest 'Yaffle B' for showing us an unforgettable time - a weekend of yafflin 'n' laffin and of discovering new heights; Emily's Heights. 'Yaffle A' X

I love the way the Professor wears Ingleborough as if Nature has placed her own Oxford cap upon his head. It’s a crown befitting someone who has spent thirty years of his academic life researching the Brontes. Deepest respect + love dearest ‘Yaffle B’ for showing us an unforgettable time – a weekend of yafflin ‘n’ laffin and of discovering new heights; Emily’s Heights. ‘Yaffle A’ X

 Dentdale Yorkshire.

A big thank you too to my other companion – my son Tom.  Gatekeeper on the rolling road to Dent.

St Andrew's Church - Dent.

St Andrew’s Church – Dent.

My Yorkshire keepsake. A criss-crossed stone that I found by a nameless'

Just one Dales keepsake. A criss-crossed stone from the banks of the River Lune.  The lines reminded me of the patchwork of stonewalled fields while its overall shape reminded me of the greater landscape – of the Barbon Hills, of Ingleborough and that other great whale-back that often came into view – Pendle Hill.

Skipton Yorkshire

Along with Haworth – Pendle is ‘just’ over the horizon for my next visit up North to the unforgettable Dales…

Back Home.

Back Home.

Posted on the 28th May 2017 – and dedicated to my very special Aunt Sonia – whose birthday it is today.  X

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Where my interest in the brilliant Bronte Sisters began in 2013 – all thanks to Sheila Hancock; her enthusiasm is infectious!  Enjoy.

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