News release from the Parsonage:
A remarkable cache of new Brontë treasures have recently been donated the Brontë Parsonage Museum by a private owner living in Manitoba, Canada. The items were given to the museum by Mr Tony Hart, whose great grandfather was the nephew of Mary Anna Bell, the second wife of Arthur Bell Nicholls. Nicholls’ first marriage was to Charlotte Brontë and took place at Haworth Church in 1854, although Charlotte died the following year, possibly in the early stages of pregnancy. Mr Hart’s great grandfather emigrated from Ireland to Canada in the 1870s.
The items donated all belonged to Charlotte Brontë and include a gold brooch set with garnets, a beautifully carved ivory visiting card case and card, a fragmentary manuscript by Charlotte, dated 1829 and entitled ‘Anecdotes of the Duke of Wellington’, an ink drawing of a ‘Wellington monument’ accompanying the manuscript, and a signed engraved portrait of Charlotte. The items would have been taken to Ireland by Arthur Bell Nicholls in 1861 after Charlotte’s death and may have been given to Mr Hart’s great grandfather as keepsakes.
It’s very rare indeed for such a wonderful group of items to emerge under any circumstances, but we feel extremely fortunate and grateful to Mr Hart for donating what is certainly a very valuable collection indeed to the museum. Some of these items are quite unique within the context of the museum’s collection and so to have them return to Haworth after so many years, and all the way from Canada, is very special.
The new items are now on display at the Brontë Parsonage Museum and can be seen along with many other treasures from the museum’s collection as part of an exhibition focusing on Charlotte Brontë.