Brookroyd House, Birstall


Here I am at Brookroyd House which was the former home of Ellen Nussey, one of Charlotte Bronte's lifelong friends. I must admit my heart sank a little when I arrived. In books photographs show an established house so I was expecting it to be set back from the road surrounded by mature lawns, a few trees, an open aspect and perhaps a stream. Sadly so-called development means the house is hemmed and next to modern houses. Behind it sits an one of those convenience shops with a door that goes all day.


The house is a beauty though nature that once complimented it seems to have gone. The front is fully paved and high fence panels surround it. Nobody seemed to be around but the moment I started taking photographs a car pulled in. Thankfully it was a friendly woman who'd come to clean the bottom half of the building. Downstairs are offices and upstairs is a flat. She said the place was mostly new inside and the only remaining feature was a grand fireplace. Little of what was built in 1780 seems to be present. In 2005 the house was for sale for £365,000 by actor Tony Bennett-Pitts (who played Archie Brook in Emmerdale for 11 years.) At the time it comprised the original sweeping staircase, elaborate coving and Georgian floors though the lady I chatted to didn't mention these.


If you're lucky you get two or three firm friends in life and Ellen Nussey was one of Charlotte Bronte’s. They met as teenagers at Roe Head School in 1831 and remained friends until Charlotte's death aged 38. Charlotte came to stay here with her friend regularly and often brought her sisters. Ellen often visited the parsonage in Haworth. Thanks to the correspondence with Ellen we’ve got a better view into Charlotte’s precise mind. Many of her private letters were written from Brookroyd House and often replied to here.


In the garden Charlotte sat and corrected the proofs of Jane Eyre, the novel that would make her famous. Paving stones abound now and a natural garden has gone. The rear yard doesn't boast enough greenery to be called a garden.


From the road I tried to take some general footage of the house but stopped when the microphone picked up some lads arguing outside the off licence. This seemed to compound the general disappointment somehow. Seeing the place sated my curiosity but I expected a more pastoral settings. Oh well.



Brookroyd 1







Brookroyd 6a




Brookroyd 7


At the rear...