English Churches - West Yorkshire
St Michael and All Angels’ Church, Haworth
|Standing at the top of the village,
the tower of St Michael and All Saints’ still dominates the village,
which is still a site of pilgrimage for Bronte fans. Patrick Bronte was
parson here for many years and Anne, Emily and Charlotte grew up in the
Parsonage and many of their novels were written here.
The family (apart from Anne, who is buried in Scarborough) were buried in the church, but the present church is not the church Patrick preached and the Bronte sisters sat and listened to him.
After the death of Patrick, the church was proclaimed unsafe and unsanitary. It was demolished, even though there was a national outcry over this. Only the the base of the C15th tower survives and the outline of the original church roof can still be seen on the east side of the tower.
The new church was completed between 1878-1881 at a cost of £7000. It is a typical Victorian Gothic building with square tower at the west end, nave and chancel with lower side aisles.
The Parsonage still overlooks the large and packed graveyard surrounding the church.
It is estimated over 40,000 people were buried here. This overcrowding, along with poor drainage, affected the sanitation in the village. Nearly half the children died before the age of six and the average age of the population was was only 24. The graveyard was closed in 1883 and a new cemetery built outside the village.
Entry is through the north door into the large nave with its massive hammer beam roof. An arcade of octagonal pillars with pointed arches separate the nave and lower side aisles. These contain C19th stained glass. The clerestory windows contain pastel shades of glass.
The remains of painting can just be made out on the roof beams and there is a large painting above the chancel arch. The paint has darkened so much that it is impossible to make out any detail. There is a better picture in the guide book. There asre the remains of even darker paintings in the chancel.
On the vestry wall at the back of the church is the remains of a wall painting with Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday. The west window has images of the twelve apostles.
The font and pulpit are made of carved alabaster. The carving on the pulpit depicts Jesus with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
The east window shows Christ in Glory surrounded by angels and saints. The choir stalls are dark oak and have carved poppyheads.
On the floor between the chancel and Bronte Chapel is a brass memorial to Charlotte and Emily Bronte, placed there is 1882. This marks the site of the Bronte crypt.
The Bronte Chapel to the south of the chancel was dedicated in 1964 and contains the altar and chandelier from the original church.
The memorial on the south wall was made by Patrick Bronte and records the deaths of his wife and six children. Patrick outlived them all and his name was added in the space left at the bottom. On the opposite wall is a small memorial to Elizabeth Branwell his sister in law who looked after the children after the death of his wife.
In front of the chapel is a small display of Bronte related memorabilia including a copy of the register entry recording Charlotte’s marriage to Arthur Bell Nichols. Near this is what is described as either the American Window or the Bronte window. This was given by an American admirer, Thomas Hockly, in memory of Charlotte.
At the back of the north isle is the memorial window dedicated to those that died in the First World War, with the images of St George and St Galahad.
Even though this isn’t the ‘real’ Bronte Church it is never the less and attractive Victorian Church. It is open daily throughout the year. From June to August there are guided tours on Wednesdays and some Saturdays. The post code is BD22 8DR and the grid reference is SE029372.
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