Friday, 21 July 2006

Seven Millionth Celebration

Parsonage Museum director Alan Bentley is seen here with retired toxicologist Derek Stringer and his wife Nancy, from Bowness-on-Windermere, both 73. They were the seven millionth visitors to the Parsonage, in June.

Mr Stringer, who had never even opened any of the Brontë novels before being presented with a ‘goody bag’ containing all of them, has now been stimulated into starting Wuthering Heights.

The Stringers have also been given a year’s free membership of the Brontë Society, and have been invited to be guests of honour at the Parsonage open day next Saturday, July 29th.

The highest number of visitors ever recorded at the museum since it opened in 1928 was 221,000 in 1974. The figure was attributed at the time to the popularity of the TV series, The Brontës of Haworth, and the recent success of the Wuthering Heights film starring Anna Calder-Marshall and Timothy Dalton.

Soon after, it was decided that the large numbers of visitors were damaging the 200 year-old building and the numbers were regulated. Now the museum sees about 88,000 visitors a year.

"It's my wife who is the Brontë fan,” Mr Stringer said. “She has read all the novels.

"We went because, of course, we are aware of the Brontë heritage and the importance of them in English literature. We also wanted to see the environment in which the books were written."

It was their first visit, and they were surprised to learn they were the seven millionth.

Next Saturday’s open day will be free to people living in postcode areas BD20, BD21 and BD22. Identification will be required.

The day will include a dramatic interpretation, free guided walks around Haworth and short talks on the Brontës. Here is the timetable:

Throughout the day - in the education room or the meadow - drop in art and craft activity.

10.30am - Ten Minute Tabby (Sue Newby)

11.00am - Free guided walk around Haworth (Andrew McCarthy)

11.45am - Ten Minute Tabby (Sue Newby)

12.15pm - An Introduction to the Brontës (Ten minute talk by Andrew McCarthy)

12.45pm - A Short History of Haworth Parsonage (Ten minute talk by Stephen Whitehead)

1.45pm - Branwell's About (Andrew McCarthy)

2.30pm - Ten Minute Tabby (Sue Newby)

3.00pm - A Short History of Haworth Parsonage

3.20pm - Branwell's About (Andrew McCarthy)

4.15pm - A Brontës' Eye View (Ten minute talk by Andrew McCarthy)

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