The Parsonage is preparing to reopen on Monday 1 February following a redevelopment project which has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The project began with a series of events aimed at encouraging local people in and around Haworth to find out more about the museum and its collections and contribute their ideas on how its presentations might be improved. This included a free local residents’ day and several open evenings for representatives of local community groups and local residents. The open evenings included guided tours of the museum and library, and an opportunity to see items from the museum’s collection relating to the history of Haworth and its nineteenth-century community.
The work that has been done in the museum following this public consultation includes new interpretation, which will help tell visitors the Brontës’ story and the story of their home. There will also be new object casing and displays around the house, which will include some remarkable new acquisitions to the museum’s collection including Emily Brontë’s mahogany artist’s box and her geometry set recently bought at auction in London. The box contains ceramic mixing dishes, remnants of paint, quill nibs, a paint tray, sealing wax with miniature envelopes and a glass bottle. The museum has also purchased a special miniature poetry manuscript by Charlotte Brontë. The two microscopic poems written by Charlotte in 1829 are signed “U. T” (“us two”) which suggests that they were jointly produced by another Bronte sibling, possibly Branwell. Neither of these items have been on public display before.
The museum also appealed to local people to get in touch if they believed they had items that may once have been owned by the Brontë family. As a result several intriguing items came to light which will also feature in the new displays. These Include a hymn sheet from Haworth church dating from the Brontë period and three bound volumes of the Family Economist once owned by Tabitha Brown, former Brontë domestic assistant and sister to Martha Brown – former Brontë servant.
We’re delighted with the improvements to the Parsonage and sure that these will enhance the experience of visiting. The new casing and displays are allowing us to show more of the treasures of the museum’s collection and more of the collection that relates to the Haworth community in which the Brontës lived. It’s wonderful to be able to exhibit new items which have come to us through the generosity of local people. We’ve also tried to create the new displays in such a way as to make the Parsonage feel even more like a domestic home and so we hope people will come along and see the new look and enjoy some of the wonderful new displays.
Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum