Home of the famous Brontë sisters, Haworth is an undisputed literary mecca, attracting visitors from all around the world. With its historic cobbled Main Street, iconic parsonage and rolling moors, the picturesque proportions of this Airedale village exude a vintage charm that makes you feel you’ve stepped into another era.
Haworth, situated above the Worth Valley amid the bleak Pennine moors, is internationally famous for its connection with the Brontë sisters, who were born in Thornton, but wrote most of their famous novels while living at the Haworth Parsonage (which is now a museum owned and maintained by the Brontë Society), when their father was the parson at the adjacent Church of St. Michael and All Angels.
Haworth’s cobbled main street is lined today with small independent shops, waiting to be browsed, and the town also boasts traditional pubs and cosy teashops. For a special meal out, one popular choice is Weavers Restaurant, which offers rooms as well.
Brontë Parsonage Museum
The Brontes are the world’s most famous literary family and Haworth Parsonage was their home from 1820 to 1861. Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte were the authors of some of the best loved books in the English language.
The beautifully preserved museum has been opening its doors to visitors for over 75 years. Set between the unique village of Haworth, and the wild moorland beyond, this homely Georgian house still retains the atmosphere of the Brontes’ time.
The rooms they once used are filled with their furniture, clothes and personal possessions and displays are changed annually, so you can always be sure of seeing something new.
From the Parsonage, it’s worth following the footpath up to the moors which the Brontës knew so well. The ruined farmhouse of Top Withens, high up on the windswept hills and about four miles away, was reputedly the setting Emily Brontë had in mind for Wuthering Heights itself.
Many public footpaths lead out of the village, and there is much scope for rambling, though perhaps the most famous walk leads past Lower Laithe Reservoir, Stanbury to the picturesque Brontë waterfalls, the Brontë Bridge and the Brontë Stone Chair in which (it is said) the sisters took turns to sit and write their first stories. This path, which forms part of the 43 mile long Brontë Way, then leads out of the valley and up on the moors to Ponden Hall (reputedly Thrushcross Grange in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights) and Top Withens, a desolate ruin which was reputedly the setting for the farmstead Wuthering Heights. Top Withens can also be reached by a shorter walking route departing from the nearby village of Stanbury.
Keighley and Worth Valley Steam Railway
Haworth railway station, part of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, an authentic preserved steam railway which has been used as a setting for numerous period films and TV series, including The Railway Children (starring Jenny Agutter), Yanks (starring Richard Gere and Vanessa Redgrave), and Alan Parker’s film version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall (starring Bob Geldof). Every year the village also hosts a very special 1940s weekend where locals and visitors don wartime attire for a host of nostalgic events.
In Haworth itself there are many tea rooms such as ‘Cobbles and Clay the Art Cafe’, souvenir and antiquarian bookshops, restaurants, pubs and hotels (including the Black Bull, where Branwell Brontë’s decline into alcoholism and opium addiction allegedly began). Haworth is a good base for exploring the principal attractions of Brontë Country, while still being close to the major cities of Bradford and Leeds. Further afield lies the historic city of York, and the spa towns of Harrogate and Ilkley – popular spa towns on the edge of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park to the north.
The most prominent of local traditions is “Scroggling the Holly” – an annual holly gathering event. The name, sometimes claimed to have its origin in the local dialect, takes place each November in Haworth. At the start of the festive season bands and Morris men lead a procession of children in Victorian costume, who follow the Holly Queen up the cobbles to her crowning ceremony on the church steps. The newly crowned Holly Queen unlocks the church gates to invite the spirit of Christmas into Haworth. Father Christmas then arrives bringing with him glad tidings and Christmas cheer to all.
Haworth Arts Festival
A group of Haworth residents reformed the Arts Festival in 2005 and began to build an event which would combine performing arts, visual arts, street performance and a strong community involvement. The use of many of the local professional and semi-professional musicians, artists and performers has been coupled with a larger name for each festival, providing a local stage for the likes of John Cooper-Clark and John Shuttleworth.
The festival continues to expand its horizons, slowly encompassing areas of the Worth Valley outside of Haworth itself and is always held on the first weekend in September, starting on the preceding Thursday and running until the Sunday night.
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