"Peace on earth will come to stay, when we live Christmas every day."
~ Helen Steiner Rice ~
Since, sadly, there is no Christmas market this year in Leeds, the town I live in, I was very pleased to learn there is one taking place in York, one of my favourite cities and most certainly one of the most beautiful towns in the UK and beyond. I hadn't been there for quite a while and was very excited to walk around the town's old, historic and charming streets festooned with Christmas lights and decorations. There is a lot of Christmas related events happening there at the moment, too, and the city very much exudes the magic of the season.
Oakwell Hall is one of the nearest Brontë related places to my home. It is also one of my favourite ones due to the fact there is so much to enjoy around it; the fascinating historic manor house, beautiful gardens and over a 100 acres of country park, all coupled with the fact that Charlotte Brontë also enjoyed this place in her life time.
Oakwell Hall was built in the 16th century by the Batt family, and today it is a living museum featuring a home as it was to the Batt family at the end of the 17th century.
Oakwell Hall at nearby Birstall never fails to regale me with new images. Here are some inspired b&w interior shots and still life I found in the beautiful 17th century home, now a museum, last week.
“The Autumn day its course has run – the Autumn evening falls,
Already risen the Autumn moon gleams quiet on these walls,
And Twilight to my lonely house a silent guest is come,
In mask of gloom through every room she passes dusk and dumb.
Her veil is spread, her shadow shed o’er stair and chamber void,
And now I feel her presence steal even to my lone fireside,
Sit silent Nun – sit there and be,
Comrade and Confidant to me.”
~ Charlotte Brontë ~
“Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.”
~ Emily Brontë ~
I visit Scarborough at least once a year and certainly every summer. I personally prefer inland countryside to the seaside, but in summer months I love to be near the sea for a change. Scarborough, a popular resort town on England's North Sea coast holds a lovely traditional and historic charm which is right up my street; and there is also a very special reason why I love visiting this place: Anne Brontë (1820-1849), the youngest of the three Victorian literary sisters died and was buried here. As a big Brontëphile, it means much to me to come and pay homage to Anne, who is the only member of the Brontë family not buried in Haworth, where they lived most of their life.
Anne became very fond of Scarborough through the holidays she spent here with the family for whom she worked as governess. When she got struck down by tuberculosis Anne came here with her sister Charlotte hoping the sea air would help her recuperate, but tragically she died just a few days into her stay, aged only 29. Her sister Emily and brother Branwell died within months of each other in the previous eight months, and to spare her father Patrick the pain of yet another family funeral in Haworth, Charlotte decided to have Anne buried in her beloved Scarborough.
I love coming to Scarborough on my own and wander around with just Anne in my mind for company. This video is part of the Brontë Places project I have been working on. It focuses on places and buildings that Anne would have been familiar with and shows them in the light present day visitors/locals see them.
"She stands outside
"Her name is Cathy", she says
"I have carried her so far, so far
Along the unmarked road from our graves
I cannot reach this window
Open it, I pray."
But his window is a door to a lonely world
That longs to play.
Ah Emily. Come in, come in and stay.
~ Kate Bush, 2018 ~
Looking for Emily Stone took me for an exhilarating walk on remote and for me hitherto undiscovered moorland. It was a perfect time of the year for a hike to the stone with purple heather in full bloom and moody light from the rain threatening sky.