The Halifax Brontë connection!

Me and Emily Bronte at Law Hill School, Halifax
Here I am at Shibden Hall in Halifax with my Brontë bag. This is the family home of the remarkable Anne Lister, who lived here from 1815 until her death in 1840. Whilst visiting this stunning historic house and surrounding area in the summer of 2022, I discovered a fascinating Brontë connection. Around two miles down the road from the Shibden Estate, in the small Pennine village of Southowram in Calderdale, is Law Hill House, which was once Law Hill School. I found out that Emily Brontë lived and worked at Law Hill School for around six months in 1838. Here I am with my Brontë Sisters canvas bag standing next to what was the schoolroom where Emily worked, and there is the blue plaque to prove it! What's more, Shibden Hall's most famous resident, diarist and landowner Anne Lister, was living at Shibden Hall when Emily was staying two miles away at Law Hill House in 1838. According to historical records, school groups from Law Hill at the time would visit Shibden Hall, and the schoolmistress, Elizabeth Patchett, knew Anne Lister. So did Emily Brontë and Anne Lister's paths ever cross?! Who could possibly know for certain? It is a tantalising thought, however, and one that sends shivers down the spine! Another exciting moment during my visit to Shibden Hall was my discovery of 'The Red Room'. In my search for evidence that Emily Brontë might have visited Shibden in 1838 whilst she was living and teaching at Law Hill House I couldn't help but feel intrigued by 'The Red Room'. With its dark furniture and panelling and somewhat gloomy atmosphere, it does remind me of 'The Red Room' that Charlotte Brontë wrote about in 'Jane Eyre'. In Charlotte's masterpiece of a novel, the young Jane, whilst living at the home of her aunt and cousins, Gateshead Hall, believes that the room is haunted by the ghost of her uncle. At Shibden, this room was thought to be haunted by Anne Lister's uncle. Did Emily Brontë visit this room and tell her sister about it, who then modelled her fictional 'Red Room' on this real life version? We may never know for certain, but it certainly is a compelling thought, and if true, would lend more weight to the theory that Emily may have visited Shibden and possibly met Anne Lister herself. For me, it felt thrilling to visit this amazing place steeped in history, and to perhaps be treading in the footsteps of not one, but two fiercely intelligent, extraordinary women, two hundred years on!