Regular readers of my blog will know my daughters and I make at least one pilgrimage a year to Haworth, home of the Brontes’. (Still haven’t figured out how to type an umlaut on a PC.)
This year, we visited Ponden Hall, Purportedly, Emily’s inspiration for Thrushcross Grange, home of the Linton family in Wuthering Heights.
It’s a rather exclusive B&B now. I can imagine Bronte pilgrims from farther afield (ligature!) would love to put it on their itinerary either for a stay or just a nosey around. And that’s where we come in. The rather delightful owner, Julie, must be fed up of people ringing her doorbell on her day off, not to book a room, but to see the room where Cathy torments Heathcliff by scrathcing on his window.
What?! I hear aficionados grumble. That didn’t happen at Thrushcross Grange, that happened at Wuthering Heights, the home of the Earnshaws’ and Heathcliff!
And you’d be right.
What is widely believed is that Emily transposed the interior of Ponden Hall and plonked it into the wilds of Wuthering Heights.
We know that Emily and her siblings were regular visitors to Ponden Hall to peruse their considerable library, (which reputedly, was the best in West Yorkshire at the time), and stayed there on numerous occasions.
Perhaps Emily even stayed in the room where Heathcliff endures his nightmares. Whether that is true or not is hard to say, but what is easier to suppose, is that Emily was actually in the room that I am about to show you, as it is virtually identical to Heathcliff’s in Wuthering Heights.
What is unusual is the bed chamber in the corner of the ‘suite’. As you can see, the bed is boxed off with oak panelling, (for privacy, one presumes). It’s not a room per se as the bed is flush to the panels. So you would have to climb into it and slide the door shut. And yes, you can actually stay in this room.
On closer inspection, (photo taken courtesy of my daughter), we see the tiny window which Cathy appears at to persecute her paramour.
“I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand!” – Excerpt from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
Here’s a slightly wider shot for context.
I don’t know about you, but I always get goose bumps when I imagine treading the same floorboards (or ramparts) as a figure from history. Whether that be Emily Bronte at Ponden, a Roman centurion on Harian’s Wall, or a Druid perambulating a stone circle. It gives me a greater sense of connection to the earth and the universe.
Anyway, it was a grand day out, topped off with a giant Yorkshire pudding filled with sausages and onion gravy at Emma’s cafe on Haworth Main Street. And, if that doesn’t anchor you to the universe, I don’t know what will.
My friend, Denis Goodbody, over in sunny Dublin, suggested that the panelling was probably more to do with keeping warmth in rather than privacy, which is a very good point. One which, having gas central heating, I hadn’t considered.
I can’t finish a post about Haworth or Wuthering Heights without adding links to the following:
My favourite film adaptation of Wuthering Heights by Andrea Arnold.
And yes, Kate’s classic…