Friday, 28 September 2018

Ponden Hall Window, Haworth, Brontë Country

Here is just a quick and brief post before a two week break I am going to take from posting as I go for a visit to my native Zagreb to see my Mum, family and friends.
I love taking photos of the inside of windows; there is something irresistible about the mood and drama the interplay of shadows and highlights creates.
I have recently stayed at Ponden Hall, my favourite place with Brontë connections, and am still reminiscing with fondness about it. On the morning of check out, after breakfast and a lovely chat with my friends Julie and Steve, who run Ponden Hall as B&B, I took a few shots of this beautiful old mullioned window.

This is just a corner of a massive table at which Julie serves her most delicious breakfast to guests. I love gazing out of the window while enjoying the food. On this particular morning there were many delightful signs of autumn in the garden outside; leaves changing colours, gorgeous tall and bushy fuchsia with its pretty pink ballerina like flowers, soft morning sunlight pushing its way out in the overcast was just an admirable early autumn sight and feeling....

Friday, 21 September 2018

A September Walk From Haworth to Ponden, Brontë Country

September is one of my favourite months. The harsh summer temperatures and light become much gentler. It's the month when a lot of lovely fruit becomes ripe and ready for harvest; when a lot of summer flowers are still going strong and besides a multitude of all sorts of gorgeous red berries turn up on trees and bushes - rowan, hawthorn, hips...I still need to learn some of the names.
It is the month when I love to pay my annual visit to Ponden Hall and go for walks on Stanbury moor which bears many fascinating Brontë landmarks.
Last Friday it was the only full day of my stay at Ponden, so it was the day I planned the longest and remotest walk up on the moor. Unlucky for me, it rained heavily all day, and I had to put up with the fact that no such walk would happen. Instead, I walked the three miles to Haworth making a note of all the nice photos I might be able to take on my way back if it stopped raining. My day was not spoilt by rain by any means (the weather cannot possibly spoil my stay in Haworth). I had a good time visiting the Parsonage, doing a spot of shopping around the lovely Main Street shops and having  coffee and something to eat.
As I was having a pub dinner around 5 p.m. it stopped raining and the sun started to push its way through the still menacing clouds. The forecast on my mobile phone said there was going to be a lull in the wet weather between 5 and 7 p.m., so I quickly finished my meal and set off on the way back to Ponden. The low sun was shining in the moody sky casting a beautiful light on the countryside.

View over Worth Valley from the path running parallel to Cemetery Road

Berry laden rowan tree obscuring the view over Worth Valley

Further down the same path there are views over Sladen Valley

The path leading to the village of Sladen Bridge

Wished I had had some sugar lumps; all I could feed him is some long grass from my side of the stone wall.

Derelict barn near Buckley Green, Stanbury

View from the lane near Buckley, Stanbury

Path leading down to Ponden Reservoir 

Same path as above further down

Ponden Reservoir 

Ponden Reservoir

Not long after I took the last shot the setting sun was lost behind dark clouds and the rain returned. I felt grateful that what started as a seemingly miserable day turned to be an enjoyable one after all where I got the best of both worlds: I had a very pleasant time in my favourite village, Haworth, and also managed to get some good shots of the beautiful surrounding countryside.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Emily Brontë (1818 - 1848) - A 200th Birthday Tribute

" Stronger than a man, simpler than a child, her nature stood alone."
(Charlotte Brontë on her sister Emily)

This year sees the third successive bicentenary birthday in the famous Victorian literary family, the Brontës - that of Emily Jane Brontë. As a big Brontëphile, to mark this special birthday I have created my personal tribute to Emily, just as I did for her brother Branwell last year, and her sister Charlotte the year before. 

Emily was the fifth of the six children born to Maria and Patrick Brontë. She is the author of "Wuthering Heights", one of the most famous and loved romantic novels in the history of literature, as well as the author of some of the finest poetry ever written. She also had a great talent for drawing and painting and was a gifted piano player.
Of the four Brontë siblings who lived to adulthood Emily is the one we know the least about. She grew up to be a quiet and private person who didn't seek friendship or companionship outside her immediate family; didn't write letters like her sister Charlotte did, and even though she loved and  cared for her family she could be reserved and aloof even with them.
Emily's life, like her siblings' life too, was fraught with close family deaths, sadness and difficulties in adapting to the conventional lifestyle of the time. Her world was her home, nature and the nearby moors from which she could not bear to be apart for any extended period of  time. The last few years of her tragically brief life she spent at home as housekeeper to her father. That way she was able to remain close to what she had a strong affinity and bond with - her imaginary world and the moors she loved to roam and draw inspiration from.

I like to think I don't have a favourite Brontë sister, but in all honesty, I must say that I feel most drawn to Emily. This is probably because of the three sisters I feel I have the most in common with Emily: like Emily, I love animals, nature and the moors above Haworth, and like Emily did for her writing, I derive most of the inspiration for my photography from these sources. Secondly, just like Emily did, I enjoy cooking and performing domestic chores and find it perfectly complements my photo creating activities.
Also, Emily had some qualities I admire and strive towards myself, and others that fascinate me greatly. Here are just a few: Emily was independent and self sufficient, did not judge others or made any effort to be liked or noticed; she was mentally and physically a strong woman and an incredible stoic; she felt no need to talk much, but she had an extraordinary talent to express herself in written words; she remained devoted to the imaginary world she created in her childhood almost to the end of her life.

I thought long and hard about what photos I want to include in this tribute - my photos about Emily, inspired by Emily. They come from three different sources: Brontë Parsonage Museum, Emily's home; Ponden Hall, which has a library Emily used, and is a possible model for the Thrushcross Grange house or even the Wuthering Heights house in her novel; and my personal still life work.

Brontë Parsonage Museum

Dining room table at which Emily and her sisters wrote most of their masterpiece novels. In the evenings they used to walk around this table reading and talking about their writing plans.

Emily's artist's box and geometry set

Children's Study where the Brontë siblings wrote in their tiny books and acted out their plays. At some stage this was Emily's bedroom.

Children's Study. One of the items in the basket is a wooden soldier, one of the set of soldiers Patrick brought from London as a present for Branwell. It is around these soldiers that the children first came to create their imaginary worlds and to write stories which would later lead to their world-famous works of art.

A sampler which Emily completed when she was 10 

Dress worn by the actress Chloe Pirrie who played Emily in the 2016 TV drama about the life of the Brontës,  "To Walk Invisible". It is a "thunder and lightning" patterned dress Emily was said to have chosen, and represents Emily's colour pallette. 

Cabinet piano in Mr Brontë's room which he bought for his children. Emily played it more than the others and was very good at it. She had a passion for music which was reflected in her poetry.

Kitchen. After Aunt Branwell's death Emily acted as housekeeper and spent a lot of time helping in the kitchen and baking bread. According to some locals her bread was the best in the village. 

Costume worn by actress Chloe Pirrie who played Emily in the 2016 TV drama about the life of the  Brontës, "To Walk Invisible"

Emily's funeral card which contains an error: she died aged thirty, not twenty nine. She contracted tuberculosis and bore her illness with tremendous equanimity, mental strength and courage right to the very end.

Ponden Hall - Earnshaw Room

Emily visited Heaton family at Ponden Hall and was, therefore, almost certainly familiar with this room which has a window that was likely to have been a model for the window at which Cathy Earnshaw's ghost appears begging to be let in in the "Wuthering Heights"novel. In the book, first published in 1847, Emily describes a wooden box bed entered by a sliding panel, encasing the window, so the present Ponden Hall owners, Julie and Steve, had a replica box bed built around the window. A brilliant idea, the marvellous thing being that this room is now part of Ponden Hall B&B which means you can stay in it and sleep in Cathy's bed yourself! I blogged about my unforgettable stay in this room here 

Inside the box bed, Earnshaw Room, Ponden Hall

Very close to the box bed in the Earnshaw Room there is another significant window. Emily's first visual artwork was a drawing of the outside of a mullioned window, which she made when she was ten years old. The window she drew is believed to be the window in this photo.

My Own Tribute Still Life Creation

Props used: some old books I have at home; Emily's replica christening mug, bought from the Brontë Parsonage Museum shop; writing quill, also bought from the Parsonage shop; a sprig of heather - a symbol closely associated with Emily; and a Wuthering Heights "Writer's Block" wooden cube, a beautiful literary ornament I bought from my friend's online shop

So here it finally is - my tribute to Emily Brontë, an extraordinary Victorian author and artist; a tribute to my muse. It comes a bit late seeing as Emily's 200th birthday was on 30 July, but, after all, it still falls within her bicentenary year. There are three more months left in the year, and I am very much looking forward to continuing to celebrate this remarkable but mysterious, and extremely inspiring woman.
I close this post with one of my favourite Emily poems.

The Blue Bell Is The sweetest Flower

The blue bell is the sweetest flower
That waves in summer air;
Its blossoms have the mightest power
To soothe my spirit's care.

There is a spell in purple heath
Too wildly, sadly drear;
The violet has a fragrant breath
But fragrance will not cheer.

The trees are bare, the sun is cold
And seldom, seldom seen -
The heavens have lost their zone of gold,
The earth is robe of green,

And ice upon the glancing stream
Has cast its sombre shade,
And distant hills and valleys seem
In frozen mist arrayed -

The blue bell cannot charm me now,
The heath has lost its bloom,
The violets in the glen below
They yield no sweet perfume.

But though I mourn the heather-bell
'Tis better far away;
I know how fast my tears would swell
To see it smile today.

And that wood flower that hides so shy
Beneath the mossy stone
Its balmy scent and dewy eye - 
'Tis not for them I moan.

It is the slight and stately stem,
The blossom silvery blue,
The buds hid like a sapphire gem
In sheaths of emerald blue,

'Tis these that breathe upon my heart
A calm and softening spell
That if it makes a tear-drop start
Has power to soothe as well.

For these I weep, so long divided
Through winter's dreary day,
In longing weep - but most when guided
On withered banks to stray;

If chilly then the light should fall
Adown the dreary sky
And gild the dank and darkened wall
With transient brilliancy,

How do I yearn, how do I pine
For the time of flowers to come,
And turn me from that fading shine -
To mourn the fields of home - 

~ Emily Jane Brontë ~

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

An Evening And A Morning in Haworth, Brontë Country

The house in which John Brown, Patrick Brontë's sexton and Branwell's close friend lived. It is situated next to The Old School Room in Church Street, just yards away from the Brontë Parsonage. 

Top of Church Street with the Parsonage wall on the left.

View from Parson's Field behind the Parsonage towards West Lane and Worth valley.

Image taken in Parson's Field behind Brontë Parsonage

Top of Church Street with the Parsonage on the left and The Old School Room on the right. The two women are the same as in the previous photo. 

Local pussycat who likes being round the Parsonage at dusk, just like I do.

St Michael And All Angels, Haworth Church

Church Street, Haworth

The Brontë Parsonage garden.

Brontë Parsonage, photo taken from the same vantage point as the previous photo.