A Week at Wuthering Heights with Compass Poetry Magazine
|Emily's sofa, from the BBC film set|
|the stepping stones at Ponden Kirk, where Cathy and Heathcliff met|
|Top Withens, which Emily chose as the location of Wuthering Heights, and both Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath wrote poems about.|
Emily used Ponden Hall as the model for her house, and Anne used the same house for Wild Fell Hall.
|Ponden Hall - the real Wuthering Heights and Wild Fell Hall|
|Cathy's window, Ponden Hall|
In one of the rooms is the window that Emily apparently imagined the ghost of Cathy knocking on, begging to be allowed in.
|The Heaton family plaque at Ponden Hall|
The reason we know it was Ponden Hall, is because both Mr Bronte and Charlotte's best friend identified it as the original for Wuthering Heights - Emily simply shifted its location up onto the moor at Top Withens. The Hall was owned by the notorious Heaton family (Mr Bronte refused to bury one of them in the graveyard at Haworth) and Branwell was a frequent visitor. Branwell described the main room at Ponden in one of his own stories and it matches Emily's description of the Heights. So there's lots of evidence for the association. Some people think it must be the original for Thrushcross Grange - but it simply isn't grand enough. It is a small manor house that has grown out of a working farm and doesn't even have a drawing room. One of the most beautiful historic houses I've been in for a long time.
Julie and her husband Steve, who live at Ponden Hall, open it up for bed and breakfast and are very happy to host courses there - the food was fantastic and the atmosphere, especially for a writers' retreat, was electric! If you want to go on a writers' week, I can also recommend the Compass Poetry retreats, run by Compass Magazine editors Andrew Forster and Lindsey Holland - we had a fantastically productive time there.
|BBC film set of Haworth in the process of demolition.|
We went (courtesy of Steve) to visit the BBC set for the new series on the Brontes (written by Sally Wainwright). They have had to relocate it up onto the moors because the Parsonage is now completely surrounded by houses - when the Brontes lived there the moors came right to the door. So they've built the Parsonage, the school room, the church, graveyard and part of the main street up on the moors, out of MDF, plywood, plastic and scaffolding.
It looks spookily like the real thing, though minus the more recent extension to the house and the trees that were planted in the graveyard.
|The real thing - Haworth Parsonage|
Then Julie took us to Haworth Parsonage - she used to be a guide there so knows everything there is to know about the house and its history and the contents of the archives. We learned a great deal we didn't know. The Parsonage has just acquired the original dining table that the Brontes used, where they wrote their books. The furnishings are all original and the decor is exactly as chosen by Charlotte, using samples of paper and fabric she sent to friends. No photographs allowed inside, unfortunately.
Steve took us walking on the moors, among the curlews and skylarks and the ghosts of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, but also of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. It's a landscape of mythology and poetry, and I loved every moment of it.
|A stone called 'the chair' which the Brontes sat on, but Charlotte didn't carve her name!|
|The Bronte Falls|
I've been able to get a lot of writing and editing done and it's been a brilliant week, in some very good company.