Celebrating two centuries of Charlotte Bronte’s connections

Charlotte Bronte
Charlotte Bronte

The vital part North Kirklees played in the life of a literary heroine is being celebrated across the area over the coming weeks.

The 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë on April 21 is being marked with celebration events organised by the Brontë 200 group.

Charlotte and the rest of the Brontë family had many close connections with North Kirklees and some of its landmark buildings became the inspiration for some of the best know fictional homes in literarature.

The novel Shirley was centered around Cleckheaton’s Luddite uprising at Rawfolds Mill and the author took particular inspiration from buildings around Birstall and the Spen Valley she came to know well.

Oakwell Hall, Red House Museum, St Peter’s Church in Birstall, Christ Church and Healds Hall in Liversedge and St Peter’s Church at Hartshead all found their place in Charlotte’s book.

Many of the events celebrating the writer’s bi-centenary will take place at those venues as well as others with Brontë connections, including Dewsbury Minster, where Patrick Brontë was curate from 1809-1811.

Events have been organised up until the end of September with the commemorations starting in earnest next weekend and Brontë fans can indulge their passion by taking part in the following activities:

l Wednesday, April 20, 10.30am: Hartshead Church. Wreath laying and Brontë Archive display in remembrance of Patrick Brontë who was Minister at the time of the Luddite uprisings. Charlotte’s eldest sister, Maria was baptised at the church.

l Wednesday, April 20, 7.30pm: Hartshead Church. the first annual meeting of The Friends of Hartshead Church, including a presentation by the Rev Richard Burge.

l Thursday, April 21, 10am-noon: Cleckheaton Library . A Nordic walk to the ‘lost’ Brontë grave of Charlotte’s cousin Rose Ann Heslip in Whitechapel Church and beyond, followed by a Brontë talk.

l Thursday, April 21, 1pm-3pm: Cleckheaton Library. Children’s Brontë story-building class with local children’s writer. Young writers will be able to create their own miniature storybook, like the Brontë sisters did as children.

l Saturday, April 23, Oakwell Hall. In the steps of Charlotte Brontë is a six-mile circular walk on footpaths and roads visiting places associated with Charlotte. This is for people with good physical ability as it will include some rough terrain and hills.

lSaturday, April 23, 2.15pm and 7.15pm: Whitechapel Church, Cleckheaton. A showing of the film Devotion, a 1946 American biopic of the Brontë sisters. There will also be the opportunity to see the grave of Rose Ann Heslip. Tickets £2 at the door.

l Sunday, April 24: Red House Museum, Gomersal. Happy Birthday Charlotte, family craft activities, costumed tours of the house and Brontë book sale. Events free but usual museum admission applies.

lTuesday, April 26, 10.30am.Birstall Library: The Real Jane Eyre - a free talk about the woman who shared the moniker of Charlotte’s most famous character.

See next week’s paper for further detail of Charlotte-themed events and the area’s Brontë connections.