Monday, 8 May 2017

Thornton - The Brontë Sisters' Birthplace

My long awaited first visit to Thornton eventually happened on an ideal day - Charlotte Brontë's birthday last month. It was truly a special day for me.
In 1815, Patrick Brontë, the literary sisters' father, was appointed curate at Thornton, near Bradford in West Yorkshire, so he moved with his family into the Parsonage on Market Street, an unprepossessing terraced house. They lived here for five years, before they moved to Haworth in 1820. During their time at Thornton the three famous sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne were born, as well as their brother Branwell.
Today the house is privately owned, with the beautiful, rustic cafe called "Emily's" on the ground floor.

This is the fireplace in the dining room in front of which all four siblings were born. It is so good and gratifying to see that the present owners made an effort to preserve the legacy left by this extraordinary Victorian family.

The rest of the dining room laid out as the cafe's eating area.

My coffee had arrived. Delicious it was, as well as the sumptuous and very reasonably priced Italian style lunch I indulged in.

Detail from the drawing room, which is also part of the cafe......

.......and the fireplace with the famous Emily Brontë's portrait above it.

After spending a most fascinating and memorable time at the Brontë birthplace I went to the nearby South Square, a picturesque arts and crafts centre based in converted weavers' cottages.

Soon I was on my way to the Old Bell Chapel where Patrick Brontë worked as perpetual curate. This is one of the sweeping views from the long main road running through Thornton. Patchy light rain threatened to spoil my photography, but eventually it remained dry with clouds gliding rapidly across the sky changing the lighting from overcast to sunny, which indeed is my favourite type of lighting conditions for outdoor photography.

I got to the Bell Chapel cemetery gate and stepped in. It was so peaceful and the cemetery very beautiful, adorned with all the spring flowers.

The Old Bell Chapel, built at the beginning of 17th century is now a sparse ruin. It was renovated at the time the Brontës lived at Thornton, and Patrick was responsible for the addition of the octagonal cupola/bell tower.

East wall of the Old Bell Chapel ruin, apart from the cupola, is the only remaining part of the structure. All the Brontë children, with the exception of Maria, were baptised here.

This is St James' Church, the present Thornton Church, built in 1872 across the road from the Bell Chapel. The old chapel was neglected consequently and soon fell into disrepair.

The new St James' Church contains many Brontë artefacts from the Old Bell Chapel including the font which would have been used for the christening of the Brontë children, and the old bell from the cupola.

Patrick Brontë wrote of his time in Thornton: "My happiest days were spent there......this is where the family was complete: father, mother and the children, and where they had kind friends".
I, personally, am looking forward to exploring further this beautiful and important Brontë landmark. There are two attractive walks around Thornton in the little "Walking With the Brontës" book I love. I plan to go on both of these walks by the end of this year.


  1. It is wonderful that all this is available and preserved for visitors. I really must visit one day, it looks so good and your photos are lovely!

  2. I'd heard about the new café in the Brontë birthplace - on my list to visit, although I have been into the building in the past.

  3. Beautiful photos of Thornton and the Bronte landmarks Vesna. I'll look forward to seeing your record of the walks too.
    Jacquie x