This article was originally published in the Yorkshire Journal (Issue no. 3, 2015) by Claire Mason. She has kindly contributed her work to be republished here. You can read Part I of the article by visiting this link.
As already mentioned in Part I, Anne Bronte visited Scarborough many times with the Robinsons, a family she worked for, as a governess, between 1840 and 1845. She came to love the seaside town, and on her final visit, in 1849, she died there.
Anne is the only member of the Bronte family not to be buried at Haworth. Charlotte had chosen to bury Anne at St. Mary’s Church in Scarborough, but at the time of her death, major restoration work was being carried out at the church. So for this reason the funeral was held at Christ Church, also in Scarborough, on Wednesday 30th May, 1849.
Above: The graveyard at Haworth – Anne was buried many miles away from her family, in Scarborough to be exact (source – this has been added to the original article, copyright belongs to Sarah Coggrave, who took the photograph during a visit to Haworth)
The church was situated near the top of Vernon Place, now Vernon Road, only a few minutes’ walk from Wood’s Lodgings, the place where Anne had died. This seems inadvertently appropriate, as it was in this church that Anne had worshipped with the Robinson family on their annual visits to Scarborough some five to nine years earlier.
Above: The interior of Christ Church in the mid-1900s. Several times during the final days of her life, Anne expressed a wish to attend this church but Charlotte dissuaded her, due to her frail state of health. Ironically, Anne’s wish was finally granted, as her funeral service was conducted here. Christ Church never had its own churchyard, and was demolished in October 1979. The site is now occupied by a supermarket and a fish-and-chip restaurant (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Sadly Anne’s father Patrick was unable to make the 70 mile (110 km) journey in time for the funeral. Instead, a Miss Wooler – former schoolmistress at Anne’s childhood school, Roe Head – happened to be in Scarborough and was the only other mourner at the funeral. Anne’s body was taken by horse and carriage to be buried in St Mary’s churchyard, beneath Scarborough Castle, overlooking the bay. Charlotte commissioned a stone to be placed over her grave, with a simple inscription, although a mistake was made – more on that later…
Above: Christ Church in 1970. This image shows the top end of Vernon Road with the tall Christ Church tower, above what is now the Scarborough Public Library, formerly Oddfellows Hall, which was built in 1840. In the foreground is a car park, the site of which is now occupied by part of the Brunswick Shopping Centre complex (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Below: St. Mary’s Church – front view with Scarborough Castle in the distance on the left. The full story of the Church has been published in the Yorkshire Journal, Spring edition, 2011 (image via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Anne’s sister Charlotte only revisited the grave once on 4th June 1852, a few days after the third anniversary of Anne’s death. She did not stay in Scarborough, the memories being too painful, but spent the following three to four weeks in a cottage at the southern end of Filey. On her arrival at Scarborough she discovered five errors in the inscription on Anne’s headstone, and had to arrange for it to be refaced. Anne’s age at death had been written as 28 when, in fact, she was 29 when she died. In April 2013, a new inscribed plinth was laid by the Bronte Society in front of the original (although now significantly eroded) headstone, complete with all correct information.
Above: Anne Brontë’s weathered and eroded headstone, and beneath it, the new plaque, which was installed in 2011 (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Throughout the summer months there is an almost continuous stream of visitors to Anne’s grave. It is not uncommon to see bouquets of flowers placed on her grave.
Above: Floral tributes on Anne’s grave (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Below: A watercolour by Paul Braddon from 1840, showing the main Seamer/York road as it entered Scarborough from the south-west (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
The road in the above picture was the one Anne used when travelling to and from Scarborough on her annual visits with the Robinson family. It is shown here in 1840 – the year she made her first visit to the resort.
Five years later, the town’s railway station would be erected – indeed, Anne travelled to Scarborough by train on her final visit, with her sister Charlotte and friend Ellen Nussey in May 1849, and died just three days after her arrival.
In the 1800s, this section of road was called Falsgrave Walk, today it is named Westborough, and the area behind the railings on the left is Alma Square.
Above: The same view sketched several years later. A surprising number of changes have taken place, including the appearance of street lamps, and ‘The Bar’ (the archway seen a few hundred yards down the road) which was built in 1843 (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Below: The same view again, but this time sketched from about 400 yards further back, and at a much later date, around the turn of the century. On the right is Scarborough Railway Station, and, once again, the castle is visible on the distant left (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
It was at this station, in the early afternoon of Friday, 25th May 1849, that Anne, Charlotte, and Ellen Nussey arrived on the ill-fated visit. Anne would never make the return journey.
Many thanks to Clare for sharing this article with Stories From Scarborough! Watch out for Part III, coming soon…