Charlotte’s web of links for Bronte commemoration

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The inspiration Charlotte Bronte took from Mirfield, Birstall and the Spen Valley is the theme for a year of local events commemorating her life.

The novelist was a regular visitor to the area throughout her time in Yorkshire, and used many nearby locations in her work.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Jane Eyre author’s birth, and local attractions including Red House Museum, Heckmondwike Library, Oakwell Hall and Dewsbury Museum have teamed up to run workshops, walks and activities about the eldest Bronte sister.

Charlotte attended Roe Head School in Mirfield, where she befriended Mary Taylor, whose family lived at Red House, and Ellen Nussey, whose later home was Moor Lane House in Gomersal. She often visited Oakwell Hall, which was also a school at the time, and occasionally worshipped with her friends at St Peter’s Church in Birstall. She later returned to teach at Roe Head.

Her novels contain references to fictional locations based on Healds Hall and Christ Church in Liversedge, and High Royd in Gomersal, now a hotel. Her parents, Patrick and Maria, lived at Clough House in Hightown when they first married.

Events planned include an interactive curiosities talk at Red House, a themed walk at Oakwell Hall, costumed tours and a Bronte book sale, an exhibition of Bronte landscapes by the Dewsbury Photographic Group, a talk by art historian Simon Poe, period refreshments, a garden party, summer quizzes, calligraphy sessions and heritage open days at Bronte buildings.

Many of the year-round activities have been organised by local groups including the Friends of Red House and the Friends of Heckmondwike Library.

Charlotte died in 1855 while pregnant, aged just 38.

Information about the Bronte 200 programme can be found at www.bronte.org.uk.