The Bronte Sisters

Dewsbury Greats.  

Two of the select group of individuals born, bred or living in Dewsbury who have made their mark on their town and country.

Charlotte and Anne Bronte lived in Dewsbury Moor

TWO of the Bronte sisters. Charlotte and Anne, lived in Dewsbury for a short while.
Charlotte came in 1837 to be a teacher at Healds House, a private ladies’ school, in Dewsbury Moor, followed by Anne, who was a pupil there.

Their only brother, Branwell, visited them while at Dewsbury' and it is almost certain that Emily did also.

Emily, while a pupil at neighbouring Roe Head. Mirfield, would almost have certainly visited Dewsbury to see the church where her father had been so happy as curate.

CHARLOTTE Bronte’s stay in Dewsbury was a brief one, but unlike her father's it was not a happy one.

sketch drawing of Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte who made reference to Dewsbury in her book Shirley. The book was based on a Luddite attack at a nearby Liversedge mill.

Their only brother, Branwell, visited them while at Dewsbury' and it is almost certain that Emily did also.

Emily, while a pupil at neighbouring Roe Head. Mirfield, would almost have certainly visited Dewsbury to see the church where her father had been so happy as curate.

CHARLOTTE Bronte’s stay in Dewsbury was a brief one, but unlike her father's it was not a happy one.

In 1837 Charlotte came to live at Healds House, Healds Road. Dewsbury Moor, to teach at Miss Margaret Wooler's ladies’ school.

Miss Wooler had moved her school from Roe Head. Mirfield. at which Charlotte had been a pupil and later a governess.

Her two sisters, Emily and Anne, had also attended Roe Head, but Emily had left shortly afterwards because of poor health

Part of Charlotte’s wages while at Healds House included Anne’s free tuition. But Anne's health, like Emily’s, began to suffer and she left Dewsbury during I he Christmas of 1837.

Died

Charlotte's two elder sisters. Elizabeth and Maria, had died of tuberculosis while pupils at Cowan Bridge school some 12 years earlier.

Charlotte, who had also been a pupil at Cowan Bridge with Emily, would never forget that tragic episode and would watch over the rest of the Brontes like a little mother for the rest of her life.

Worries about Anne's health spoiled the stay for Charlotte

drawing of Anne Bronte

Anne Bronte, the youngest of the famous sisters, who was a pupil at Healds House in 1837

CHARLOTTE made quite a fuss over Anne's health while she was at Dewsbury and decided that she must go home.

From letters written to her friend at the time, her anxiety over Anno's health led to an angry confrontation with her employer, Miss Wooler, who thought Charlotte was being over anxious.

Unhappy

So Charlotte's stay in Dewsbury was to prove an unhappy one which eventually affected her health and her spirits.

From letters written at the time to her friend Ellen Nussey, it is obvious Charlotte did not enjoy her stay.

A local historian and Bronte expert. Miss Chris Sumner, of l.iversedge, describes Charlotte’s slate of mind in her book Reflections on Brontes in Spen Volley and District.

"Charlotte’s health was at a low ebb and her mind and spirits were in a gloomy state of meloncholia. writes Miss Sumner.

“She was worried about Anne's health. Ellen Nusscy was away at Bath so there were no visits to her friend’s home to break this dark period "

Her loneliness was Increased by the fact that her friends. Mary’ and Martha Taylor, had gone lo Wales.

Charlotte’s weariness was indicated in a letter to Ellen dated August 27 1837. in which she writes

*'I am again at Dewsbury, engaged in the old business — teach, teach, teach.  When will you come home?  Make haste!

Concealed

“You have been at Bath long enough for all purposes; by this time you have acquired polish enough. I am sure, if the varnish is laid on much thicker. I am afraid the good wood underneath will be quite concealed, and your Yorkshire friends won’t stand that.

"Come, come. I am getting really tired of your absence. Saturday after Saturday comes round, and 1 have no hope of hearing your knock on the door..."

photo of Healds HOuse

Healds House, Dewsbury Moor where Charlotte was a teacher and Anne a pupil.

St John's Church, Dewsbury Moor, where Charlotte and Anne worshipped.


WHILE at Dewsbury, Charlotte and Anne attended nearby St John's Church, but they often visited Dewsbury Parish Church where Miss Wooler’s brother in law the Rev Thomas Albutt was vicar and where their father had been curate.

It is strongly believed that the town Whinbury mentioned In Charlotte's book Shirley, took its name from Dewsbury.

Today, Bronte lovers from all over the world stop off at Dewsbury to see the church where Patrick was curate and the house where Charlotte was governess and Anna a pupil.

They come to see the brass plaque in the parish church in memory of Patrick and to look at the entries he made in the parish register.

Before going to Roe Head at Mirfield they stop off at 16th century Healds House, still standing, but now divided into two.

Miss Sumner, who has conducted tours of Bronte country for many years. said Bronte lovers never tire of their subject.

"There Is always something cropping up somewhere which relates to the Brontes and this makes research very exciting."



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