Ghostly goings on at former Bronte school

LIGHTS CAMERA Sheila is filmed at Hollybank, formerly Roe Head School.
LIGHTS CAMERA Sheila is filmed at Hollybank, formerly Roe Head School.
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Actress Sheila Hancock has visited the Spen valley to film a documentary about the Brontë sisters which will be screened on Easter Sunday– and learned all about a resident ghost.

Sheila visited Hollybank Trust’s Roe Head building in Mirfield and Red House Museum in Gomersal, where the sisters spent some of their formative years. The Shakespearean actress is narrating Perspectives: The Brilliant Brontë Sisters documentary on ITV at 10pm and visited key locations from their life stories to film pieces to camera for the programme.

The oldest building at Roe Head on Far Common Road, where Hollybank Trust now has its main site, was a boarding school for girls in the 1830s, and all three Brontë sisters were educated there . Charlotte returned to Roe Head in 1835 as a teacher.

The film crew spent two hours at Roe Head taking shots of the 17th century building and the grounds.

Once her work was done, Sheila met staff and chatted to pupils at the school, which educates children and young people with profound and multiple disabilities.

Marketing Officer Rosey James showed her the more mysterious aspects of Roe Head.

Rosey said: “I pointed out the small attic door behind which the ghost of Roe Head is reputed to live. It’s at the top of a steep flight of steps which the story says is where a servant fell to her death. Sheila was very excited and insisted on going into the attic to see for herself.”

Sheila was shown round the attic rooms which used to be the servants’quarters and into a part of the attic which is unused. Through a gap in the wall, it is possible to see an antiquated, very dusty prayer kneeler covered in cobwebs.

The crew also travelled to Red House which Charlotte visited regularly during the 1830s.

Red House featured in her novel Shirley as ‘Briarmains’, the home of Shirley herself.

Charlotte’s close friend Mary Taylor and family lived there at the time and were featured as the Yorke family in the novel.