Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Harworth: Triumph over Grimness, 12th Otober 2015

A visit to The Parsonage, home of the Brontë sisters will soon reveal just why genius was incubated within the narrow confines of their Harworth house. I have taught the books to Advanced Level but the novels can only be appreciated after a visit to the girls' home. Surprisingly small for the whole family and servant, situated by austere moorland, a grim cemetery, rooted in an insular 19th century English society, and the distinctive darkened stone of the village of Harworth, truly the only escape was via a soaring imagination.


The town used to have sewage running down the streets, a privy allocation of some one to every five homes, and a deadly reputation for premature deaths. I must confess that the mill towns of West Yorkshire hold little initial attraction to me with their blackened stone. But Harworth is the exception to a rule that is exploded by loving displays of flowers wherever one looks.




The village looks in part like a film set.






The village cemetery was condemned during Queen Victoria's reign. With an infant mortality rate of close on 50%, one factor was the cemetery in which lie between 20,000 and 60,000 souls. The flattened gravestones and poor drainage meant that corpses decomposed slowly, spreading pestilence and disease. The Brontës lived right by the cemetery. The girls had little chance.


The friendly people of Harworth have done much to brighten their community.



 

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