Beyond the Spa and the South Bay bathing huts in Scarborough, is a large expanse of concrete. Now a star map, it covers what was once the South Bay Bathing Pool, one of the town’s most popular attractions.
Above: The South Bay Pool (source)
The pool was one of many masterpieces designed by Scarborough’s former Borough Engineer, Harry W. Smith, who was responsible for Peasholm Park, Floral Hall and Northstead Manor Gardens, to name just a few of the attractions that came to define his glittering career. Under his guidance much of the town was transformed into a haven for tourists, and his legacy can still be seen across Scarborough today.
Above: The pool was part of a large scale redevelopment of the area beyond the Spa (source)
Harry W. Smith apparently thought of the idea – for an outdoor pool – after a visit to Guernsey, which already had an open air tidal pool for bathers. The pool he proposed would be the first of its kind in Britain, and would include diving boards, water chute, different depths, changing rooms and showers etc. This would exceed existing seaside provision for bathers, which was rather meagre – the North Bay Bathing Pool would not be built until the 1930s and those who wanted to swim often headed for the sea, accompanied by a cumbersome bathing machine.
Above: The North Bay Pool did not open until the 1930s (source)
Construction began shortly before the outbreak of WWI, and was taking place in December 1914, when Scarborough was bombarded by German ships. Workers were able to shelter, coincidentally, behind the new wall they had recently constructed for the pool.
Above: The early days of the South Bay Pool (source)
The pool was part of a larger development including the Clock Cafe, gardens, cliffside paths and beach bungalows that had enjoyed such popularity when they were introduced along the North Sands earlier in 1910. This newly developed area in the south, just beyond the Spa, helped accommodate the growing crowds of holidaymakers, and the pool in particular was vast. Built in the Art Deco style, it measured 330ft long and 167 ft wide, and was filled naturally by fresh sea water, propelled into the pool by the tide each day. Officially opened in 1915, the pool later hosted national competitions, such as the Amateur Swimming Association championships, and provided a training ground for more serious swimmers, some of whom would go on to swim the Channel – more on this to come in a future post!
Above: One of the original diving boards at the pool (source)
It has also been reported that the pool may have been designed in such a way as to protect against coastal erosion . Either way, it provided a picturesque, family friendly spot, where visitors of all ages – bathers and non-bathers, could enjoy themselves.
Above: Many visitors simply came to admire the displays of swimming and diving (source)
In 1935, due to popular demand, the pool was subject to a number of improvements, which included additional seating for audiences, who enjoyed the many competitions and aquatic displays hosted at the venue, better changing facilities and new fountains for children.
Above: The pool provided substantial seating areas for visitors (source)
There are several videos online that offer tantalising glimpses of the pool at various stages in its history – some examples are included below:
Video 1 (1939) 1:33 onwards
Video 2 (1957) 5:19 onwards
Video 3 (1980s)
Video 4 (2000) shortly before demolition
Visitors to the Stories From Scarborough Facebook Page have shared some lovely memories of the pool.
Ah, many a day was spent during the summer hols in this pool. Who remembers being able to take inflatable’s into the pool; the Victorian changing rooms and the mangle to wring out your cossie?
I spent wonderful summers here, swimming all day and chatting with friends, leaning over the outer wall at high tide and watching enormous eels swim by…
Picture this, a foggy morning, the fog horn monotonous ghostly call and a crocodile fashion of school boys winding their way down the ‘south cliff’, the pool down in the distance, looking about as welcoming as the North Sea itself……The lighter green area is where we had to do 2 lengths in order to satisfy the teachers that all new boys could swim. So long ago, but the memory of chattering teeth and hyperventilation during the test (mid May 1969) and over active imagination….and this is before Peter Benchley’s Jaws!!… This picture is a fine example of how people wanted it to be like, but in reality…shhhhivvvvver!
I did the top board ! I remember sitting on the edge and slipping off ! I remember it was so cold ! My mother took me to the open pool every day in our summer holidays ! I also remember they may of had a small board around the pool apart from the main three !! Happy days I was only a very young man !
Check out the album for this attraction on the Stories From Scarborough Facebook Page for more memories and comments – there were too many brilliant ones to include them all here.
Above: The pool in its heyday (source)
The pool closed in 1989 – the diving boards were taken down, although the fountains remained and the facilities slowly fell into dereliction and decay. Attempts were made to save it from being filled in – the Twentieth Century Society, for instance, put forward some strong arguments for its historical value, but in the early 2000s it was redeveloped, and all traces of the pool, except for its distinctive outline, have since disappeared.
Scarborough Civic Society
The Twentieth Century Society
Materials held at the Scarborough Room at Scarborough Library
Part I of this article outlined the history of Scarborough Fair – the yearly event that took place in Scarborough from the 13th century until the 18th. This part of the article discusses the famous song that the fair inspired.
It is likely that the song Scarborough Fair was first sung by Medieval bards – professional poets and singers whose job was to compose and sing verses in honour of the heroic achievements of royalty and brave men. This role was later taken on by wandering minstrels, who created popular ballads about chivalry and courtly love. Such performers were famous for memorising long poems based on popular myths and legends – just as the Medieval bards had done before them – and these epic poems were called ‘chansons de geste’.
Above: An illustration showing medieval musicians (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 2, 2014)
As the minstrels sang they typically accompanied themselves on an instrument, such as fiddle, and travelled through villages and towns singing songs such as Scarborough Fair.
Above: An illustration showing medieval musicians (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 2, 2014)
Locals would then imitate these ballads, and this is how songs such as Scarborough Fair were spread.
Lyrics and melodies were adapted and modified by those who sung them, which explains why there are now many different versions of Scarborough Fair today.
Prior to the 19th century, Scarborough Fair suffered from waning popularity, and became a relatively unknown folk song until many such songs were collected, written down and published in the 1800s. Frank Kitson published Collection Of Traditional Tunes in 1891, and included Scarborough Fair, reporting that the song was ‘sung in Whitby streets twenty or thirty years ago’. Since then many singers and musicians have produced their own versions of the song, the most familiar version being that by Simon & Garfunkel – created in 1966.
The lyrics refer to a man, attempting to attain his true love. The singer asks a friend who is attending Scarborough Fair to seek out a former love , and to let her know he still has feelings for her. However, for her to be his true love again she must carry out a number of impossible tasks.
To give one example, she must make him a cambric shirt with no seams or needlework and then wash it in a dry well. Cambric is a lightweight fabric that was used specifically for making lace and needlework. The fabric is tightly woven and when completed, it has a slight glossy finish.
Cambric was not actually available until 1520-30, when it was discovered by the French, so the word Cambric, or this particular verse was probably not in the original ballad but added to the song sometime after the mid 16th century.
In each verse, the second line mentions four herbs – parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. In the Middle Ages flowers and herbs were highly significant, and medieval people believed that they contained mystical properties that could influence emotions and feelings.
Above: Illustrations of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 2, 2014)
Parsley is the first herb mentioned in the song, and has long been associated with aiding digestion – indeed, eating a few leaves with a mean was thought to promote well-being, and this tradition survives to this day. The song, however, alludes to another meaning associated with the herb. Parsley was thought to remove feelings of bitterness and bad emotions. The singer of the song therefore expresses a desire to cleanse the bitterness between himself and his lost love.
Sage – the second herb – was a symbol of strength and wisdom according to Celtic tradition and was even associated with immortality. Today, it is more typically used for stuffing the Christmas turkey. Sage has drying properties and was used, in the past, to treat chest congestion. Furthermore, its antiseptic compounds were used to bind wounds and treat snakebite. In the context of the song, it seems that the singer wants to offer strength and wisdom to his lover, by evoking the qualities of this herb.
Rosemary is associated with love and fidelity. As its strong scent lingers, this herb was given as a token of remembrance between lovers. The singer evokes rosemary to helps his lover to remember what love and affection they had.
Thyme has been used for thousands of years to bind wounds and as an antiseptic. It was also a sign of love and courage. Our singer wants his lover to have courage to do what it will take in order to complete the tasks so that they will once again be lovers.
It has been suggested that the name of the ballad, Scarborough Fair, along with the chorus ‘parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme’ dates to a 19th century version of the song. The chorus may have been borrowed from other ballads which have similar themes. There are a number of older versions that refer to locations other than Scarborough and many versions do not mention a place name at all, instead being given general titles such as ‘The Lovers’ Tasks’ and ‘My Father Gave Me an Acre of Land’.
Above: An illustration of Scarborough Castle and the town in the 1300s (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 2, 2014)
It has also been suggested that the lyrics of Scarborough Fair appear to have something in common with an obscure Scottish ballad, ‘The Elfin Knight’, which has been traced as far back as 1670 and may well be older. In this ballad, an elf threatens to abduct a young woman to be his lover unless she can perform an impossible task.
Whilst it is difficult to say exactly when Scarborough Fair was composed, it is likely that the song has been adapted and modified with more lyrics added as time went by. Likewise other ballads may have been inspired by Scarborough Fair, so tracing the respective histories of these long-running songs is complicated.
There has been much debate over the meaning of the song, but its title pays tribute to the days in which Scarborough hosted one of the most famous international fairs in England.The following is a typical modern version the ballad that most people will recognise.
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Remember me to one who lives there,
She was once a true love of mine.
Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Without a seam or needlework,
She will be a true love of mine.
Tell her to wash it in yonder dry well,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Where never spring water or rain ever fell,
She will be a true love of mine.
Tell her to dry it on yonder grey thorn,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Which never bore blossom since Adam was born,
She will be a true love of mine.
This article was originally published in the Yorkshire Journal (Issue no. 2, 2014) by Gillian Morris. She has kindly contributed her work to be republished here.
By the 13th century Scarborough was a busy market town. In 1253, during the reign of Henry III, (1216-72) it was granted a charter to hold an annual fair. The charter stated:
The Burgesses and their heirs forever may have a yearly fayre in the Borough, to continue from the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary until the Feast of St Michael next following.
The fair started on August 15th and lasted for 45 days. This was an unusually long period for such an event to be held, and, during the course of the event the borough was converted into an open market, attracting large crowds.
Above: This illustration depicts a crowded Medieval fair in a market square. There are many stalls selling fruit, vegetables, fish, poultry and meat. A juggler is entertaining the crowd and a monk is preaching to a small gathering near the market cross (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 2, 2014)
During the Medieval period, fairs more closely resembled markets. They were generally held only once a year and attracted traders and entertainers from all over the country.
Above: Another Medieval fair scene showing travelling merchants with tents and market stalls. A variety of goods are being sold, a juggler is performing and some people are drinking in a tent. Nearby a tailor is negotiating with a noble lady (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 2, 2014)
The opening of the fair was celebrated with an elaborate ceremony. Town officers rode on decorated horses, and were joined by musicians as they travelled through the narrow streets, reading the proclamation of the fair, and welcoming strangers to the town, who were urged to sell goods ‘of true worth’.
Everyone was invited to ‘sport and play’ and to ‘do all things’, with the proviso that ‘nowt amiss’ (nothing remiss) should happen!
Scarborough Fair became internationally famous, and merchants came from across England and even Europe – some visitors came from as far afield as Flanders, Norway and Denmark. Each stallholder had to pay 2d to the Burgesses, and, on the opening day of ‘Scarborough Fayre’ (15 August), the town’s householders had to pay their annual Gablage Tax. This tax dated from 1181 and was one of the ‘first rates’ levied in Scarborough.
In the 13th and 14th centuries each house with a gable facing the street had to pay four pence and every house with its front facing the street paid six pence.
The fair enjoyed its fair share of controversies. In 1256 the Burgesses of Scarborough complained that the markets of Filey, Sherburn and Brompton were a ‘nuisance of their borough’. The Burgesses pleaded to the King’s Court for them to be abolished – on the grounds that they were taking trade away from Scarborough.
On this occasion the Burgesses were successful and the other markets were discontinued.
This was to be the forerunner of a more serious dispute, against Seamer, where even today the fair is still observed on St Swithin’s Day. Seamer’s charter was granted by Richard II to Henry de Percy, Earl of Northumberland, in 1383. In the following year Scarborough began a law suit at the Court of the Queen’s Bench, demanding that Seamer’s fair be suppressed, due to the detrimental effect it supposedly had upon the success of Scarborough’s event.
Indeed, during this time, Scarborough’s prosperity more generally had begun to suffer. The number of bakers declined, some drapers closed their shops, and a number of butchers, weavers and tailors closed down. Even public houses suffered, with only about half remaining in business!
The trial against Seamer cost Scarborough dearly, some £2,000 to achieve victory in 1602, but their triumph was short-lived, when James I decided to grant another charter to the rival town. Again the Seamer market was suppressed, but its success could not be prevented indefinitely – when the event was once more revived in the 18th century, its popularity far surpassed that of Scarborough Fair, which ended in 1788.
Above: An illustration of Scarborough Castle and the town in the 1300s (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 2, 2014)
Although the traditional Scarborough Fair no longer exists a number of celebrations take place every September to mark the original event, and the well known ballad about it, remains popular to this day. More on that in Part II…
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, Part II by clicking here, and Part III by clicking here.
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, as detailed in Part II. Part III explored some of the places she may have visited, as will this current installment – Part IV.
Shortly before her death, Anne Bronte insisted on visiting one of Scarborough’s many baths, although there is some debate as to the venue in question. The sketch below shows Harland’s Baths at the corner of Falconer’s Road (on the right) and Vernon Place (now Vernon Road on the left). Winifred Gerin, one of Anne’s biographers, suggests that these were the baths Anne attended a few days before she died.
Above: Harland Baths (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
However, this may not necessarily be the case. It is certainly a possibility that Anne attended these baths when she visited Scarborough, with the Robinsons during the early 1840s. The tower, which can be seen above the buildings in the old sketch is Christ Church, where Anne and the Robinsons worshipped, and ultimately where Anne’s funeral was conducted. The illustration was sketched in about 1841, and appeared in various editions of Theakston’s ‘Guide to Scarborough’ throughout the 1840s. It is accompanied by the following description of Harland’s Baths:
This commodious and elegant establishment is situated in the New Road, near to Vernon Place. The interior of the Baths is fitted up with considerable taste, and the edifice has been much enlarged, and the accommodation for visitors augmented. The Baths are constantly supplied with pure sea-water, and no expense has been spared by the proprietor to render them worthy of an enlarged share of public support.
The next illustration, below, shows Travis’ Baths, situated at the top end of St. Nicholas Cliff, just over 100 yards from Wood’s Lodgings, which can actually be seen in the background, to the right of the baths. It is more likely that Anne bathed here with the Robinsons; and these are probably the baths she attended alone (rather than Harland’s), a few days before she died.
Above: Travis’ Baths (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
This building does not exist today. This sketch shows the view over St. Nicholas Cliff, on the right, with the sea and cliffs in the distance. The illustration was created in about 1841, and appeared, once again in various editions of Theakston’s ‘Guide to Scarborough’ throughout the 1840s. Theakston also presented this description of Travis’s Baths with the illustration:
This respectable establishment, situated at the entrance to St. Nicholas’ Cliff, was originally opened in 1798. It has since been re-built, and the interior fitted up with every attention to comfort and elegance. The Baths are of wood and marble, and are adapted either for plunging, sitting, or the recumbent position. Every tide, these baths are supplied with pure sea water, and admit of every variety of temperature. Rooms are also fitted up for Steam, the Douche, and Shower Baths.
The sea-water for these baths would have been transported beneath the Cliff Bridge (now Spa Bridge), and up Falconer’s Road (now Vernon Road).
Above: This drawing shows the South Bay, but this time from the castle entrance. The date given with the picture is ‘c.1850’, although Anne’s grave does not appear to be present in the graveyard, so it could have been produced earlier, that is, assuming that the artist produced an accurate portrayal of the scene (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Nonetheless, pictures such as the one above represent the Scarborough that Anne knew. All the main landmarks are visible, St. Mary’s church on the right; a little way to the left of this, in the distance, the tower of Christ Church (dark coloured), where Anne worshipped with the Robinsons and where her funeral was conducted. Just left of the centre is the Cliff Bridge, with Wood’s Lodgings immediately to the right. On the extreme left is Henry Wyatt’s Gothic Saloon (on the site of the current Spa buildings); and, of course, Oliver’s Mount stands behind the new buildings on South Cliff.
Above: This painting is undated but was likely produced around the mid to late 1840s, around the same time that Anne made her visits to Scarborough (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
In the above picture, a group of people appear to be having a picnic on one of the more level sections of the South Cliff. On the right, a young lady with a parasol takes a stroll along one of the cliff pathways. Just left of the centre, on the beach, is Henry Wyatt’s Gothic Saloon, now ‘The Spa’. Beyond this is the Cliff Bridge; and a little to the right, in white, and the re-structured Wood’s Lodgings with its new down-the-cliff extension clearly visible.
Above: Anne’s signature, taken from one of the educational books she used while employed as a governess at Thorp Green – dated 19th September 1843 (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Anne loved Scarborough and portrayed the town in her novels, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Above: An aerial view of the St. Nicholas Cliff, Scarborough from 1935 (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
The Grand Hotel, which replaced Wood’s Lodgings (where Anne stayed) and Christ Church (where Anne’s funeral was conducted) are indicated in the above image. The Spa Bridge, where Anne took many walks, is on the left, with the Rotunda museum just beyond it (extreme left). In the foreground are the South Sands, where Anne loved to walk beside the sea, and this part of the landscape inspired some of the concluding scenes of her novel, Agnes Grey.
Above: This plaque is mounted on the wall of the Grand Hotel, indicating that Anne ‘died in a house on this site on May 28th. 1849’. The author would like to acknowledge Michael Armitage for permission to use this copyrighted material from his website on Anne Bronte at www.mick- armitage.staff.shef.ac.uk (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
According to Ellen Nussey’s diary, on the day following Anne’s burial, she and Charlotte Bronte visited Scarborough Castle, and would have passed Anne’s grave along the way. Also, on that day, the Scarborough Gazette reported in its ‘Visitors List’ the arrival of “Miss Bronte” at No. 2 The Cliff, and provided a short obituary for her:
On the 28th inst, at this place, of consumption, Miss Anne Bronte of Brookroyd, Birstall near Leeds.
This address in fact belonged to Anne’s travelling companion, Ellen Nussey, mentioned above, who arranged this entry in the Gazette. Ironically, on the front page of this same edition was an advertisement for the Scarborough Circulating Library, which put Jane Eyre – written by Anne’s sister Charlotte, at the top of its list of new popular novels.
Above: The walkway leading towards Scarborough Castle in about 1889 (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
The above image includes Anne Bronte’s grave. Her sister Charlotte and travelling companion Ellen would have taken this path the day after Anne’s burial. They would have entered the castle through the gateway seen in the centre of the picture.
Above: A view of St. Mary’s Church from the entrance to Scarborough Castle (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
The above image is from around 1887, and in the detached part of the burial ground Anne’s gravestone can be seen. In the middle of the roadway is a drinking fountain with a conical shaped roof. It was erected in 1860 to commemorate Scarborough’s first historian, Thomas Hinderwell. His history of the town first appeared in print in 1798.
The fountain was badly positioned, and when horse-drawn vehicles gave way to automobiles, it was frequently knocked by passing traffic, until finally a reversing lorry demolished it entirely.
The landscapes depicted in this article may have changed considerably since Anne’s visits to Scarborough, back in the mid 1800s, but her grave still remains at St. Mary’s Church, and is frequently visited by tourists to this day.
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, and Part II by clicking here.
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, as detailed in Part II.
There is much misconception surrounding which members of the Bronte family actually visited Scarborough. Anne visited at least four or five times with the Robinson family, followed, five years later, by her final, visit with Charlotte and their friend Ellen Nussey. The latter occasion was Charlotte’s first visit to the resort, and she only returned once, three years later, to visit Anne’s grave. Branwell was at Scarborough on two occasions, when he accompanied Anne and the Robinson family. Emily had planned to accompany Anne on a short visit during the summer of 1845, but the venue was changed to York.
There is no indication, therefore, that Emily, or Patrick, Anne’s father, ever visited Scarborough.
The Scarborough that Anne knew was in many ways different from the town today. This part of the article explores some of the areas she is likely to have visited.
Above: A sketch showing the view across the Cliff Bridge from Wood’s Lodgings in around 1849, the year Anne died (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Beyond and below the bridge in the picture, is Henry Wyatt’s ‘Gothic Saloon’, beside which are the Spa Wells. At the bridge entrance is the Toll Booth where tickets could be purchased allowing unlimited access to the bridge and Spa Wells for a one, two, or four week period, or indeed the entire season. Anne took many walks across this bridge; indeed, the day before she died, she accompanied Charlotte, and their friend Ellen Nussey, along it. Today, the bridge is known as the Spa Bridge and it leads to several footpaths, one of which gradually descends to the Spa buildings, which stand on the site of the old Gothic Saloon.
Above: Henry Wyatt’s ‘Gothic Saloon’ (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
The Gothic Saloon, which stood on the site of today’s Spa, opened with dancing and fireworks on 16th August 1839, the year before Anne’s first visit to Scarborough. On the extreme right of the above picture is the Cliff Bridge (now Spa Bridge), above and to the left of it can be seen the tower of Christ Church, indicated in the picture, at the top of Vernon Place (now Vernon Road). This was the church in which Anne and the Robinsons worshipped, and ultimately where Anne’s funeral was conducted.
Above: An illustration dated around 1845, showing the view from a bridge-like structure which led from the cliff pathway to the roof of the Gothic Saloon (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Whilst in Scarborough Anne had stayed at Wood’s Lodgings, which is clearly marked on the above picture, along with St. Mary’s Church (her burial place) and the castle on the right. In the foreground is the entrance to the underground room which contained the Spa Wells. In 1626, a natural spring was discovered here by Elizabeth Farrow, and the water was believed to have great healing properties. From this time until around the mid-1800s, many summer pilgrimages were made to the ‘Spa’and people would take the waters in the hope of a cure for a multitude of ailments.
Although it is not recorded, it is quite possible that Anne may have tried the famous spa waters in 1849, hoping they might assist in her recovery from consumption. She may also have sampled them when visiting Scarborough with the Robinsons some years earlier, as she also suffered from asthma, an ailment the spa water reputedly cured.
Above: The Spa’s water pipe today (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
If Anne had indeed visited the Spa, then she would have walked down a flight of steps which still survive today and are pictured later in this article. The overflow of the spa water came out of a small pipe in the wall, as shown above. The water is no longer used for medicinal purposes.
Above: The Spa, from, ‘The Poetical Sketches of Scarborough’,1813. Later the steps and wooden fencing were replace in stone (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Below: Steps leading down to the well and beach, far right the spa well set in the wall (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Before the Spa as it is today, the Gothic saloon (pictured below) was the place to go for Scarborough’s visitors as they sought out the healing properties of the town’s waters. It proved to be far too small to cater for the crowds and was redeveloped in 1858 to accommodate more visitors. However, as Anne died in 1849, she would have only seen the original saloon building.
Above: A view across Scarborough’s South Bay from just beyond the Gothic Saloon (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
The above sketch was drawn in 1839, just after the saloon had been opened.
Above: A sketch of a view from the South Bay seafront by Francis Nicholson, c.1832. (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
The above picture shows Anne’s former accommodation, Wood’s Lodgings (top right), the Spa Bridge in the centre. and the Gothic Saloon on the left. Even the pathway that leads from the Spa Bridge down to the Saloon and the Spa Well, can easily be identified. This pathway remains today. Also in this sketch are a number of bathing huts on the sands with horse riders, and carriages.
Above: Undated sketch, estimated to have been drawn between 1845 and 1850 (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
The Rotunda Museum (shown above on the left) was described by Anne’s brother, Branwell, in an unfinished novel. It is inconceivable to think that Anne would not have paid a visit here with the Robinsons, if not alone, she may have taken the Robinson children there as an educational exercise. The building was erected, specifically as a museum, in 1829, and the rectangular side wings were added in the 1860s.
The building still serves as a museum today and was renovated in 2006.
The full story of Rotunda Museum has been published in the Yorkshire Journal, Winter 2011 edition.
Above: A crayon sketch by W. Tindall, produced around 1840, the year Anne made her first visit to Scarborough. Once again, to the right of the museum, on the cliff, is the early Wood’s Lodgings ‘house’. On the right is a pool created by the ‘Mill Beck’, the water gradually making its way beneath the Cliff Bridge (now known as the Spa Bridge), and across the South Sands to the sea (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Below: The Rotunda Museum with the two rectangular side wings which were added in the 1860s. It is overlooked by the Grand Hotel, which was later built on the site of Wood’s Lodgings House, where Anne spent her final days (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
In 2006 the Rotunda Museum was renovated and is as a centre of geology for the region.
Above: The Rotunda today (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Many thanks to Clare for sharing this article with Stories From Scarborough! There is one final installment of this article to come, so watch this space…
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…
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.
Whilst Stories From Scarborough is an archive concerned primarily with seaside attractions, Anne Bronte’s connection with the town, and her grave, arguably provide interest for visitors. Although ‘attraction’ is perhaps not the best term to use here, this famous literary link undoubtedly contributes to Scarborough’s historical richness, therefore this story has been included.
Anne Bronte was born on 17th January 1820, at 74 Market Street in Thornton (near Bradford) where her father was curate. She was the youngest of six children born to Maria Branwell and Patrick Bronte. In April 1820, the family moved into Haworth Parsonage, where Patrick was appointed perpetual curate.When Anne was only about one year old, her mother Maria died. Elizabeth Branwell, who had moved to the parsonage to nurse her dying sister, stayed on and spent the rest of her life there raising the children. The bleak moors surrounding Haworth became the children’s playground and whilst Elizabeth tried to teach Anne and her sisters how to run a household, their minds were more inclined towards literature.
Above: The Parsonage at Haworth (source – this has been added to the original article, copyright belongs to Sarah Coggrave, who took the photograph on a visit to the parsonage)
At the age of eleven Anne created an imaginary world called Gondal with her sister Emily. For the occupants of this fictional land they created newspapers, magazines and chronicles, contained in tiny books, with writing so small that it was difficult to read without a magnifying glass. Even as children, Anne and her sisters were talented storytellers.
Above: A portrait of Anne Bronte, c.1835. This is a restored version of a painting by her brother Patrick Branwell Bronte, produced when Anne was aged about fifteen. Michael Armitage has returned Anne’s eyes to their natural blue colour. This pigment had previously faded in the original painting. Many years after Anne’s death, the Bronte sisters’ lifelong friend, Ellen Nussey, described Anne as having ‘lovely violet blue eyes’ (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Upon reaching the age of 15, Anne attended Roe Head School in Mirfield. This was her first time away from home and she was determined to stay and get the education she needed to support herself.
Above: Haworth – Anne left her home town to attend school (source – this has been added to the original article, copyright belongs to Sarah Coggrave, who took the photograph during a visit to Haworth)
In 1839, a year after leaving the school at 19, Anne started work as a governess for the Ingham family at Blake Hall, near Mirfield. However, the children in her charge were spoilt and disobedient. Anne had great difficulty controlling them and ultimately the Inghams, dissatisfied with Anne, dismissed her. She returned home for Christmas in 1839, joining Charlotte, Emily and Branwell.
The episode at Blake Hall had been traumatic, and she reproduced it in almost perfect detail in her novel, Agnes Grey.
Anne obtained a second post as governess to the four children of the Reverend Edmund Robinson and his wife Lydia, at Thorp Green Hall, a country house near York. Initially, she encountered similar problems to those she had experienced at Blake Hall. However, determined to make a success of her position, Anne eventually came to be well-liked by the Robinson family, as a lifelong friend.
Her employment there lasted from 1840 to 1845 and the house appeared as Horton Lodge in her novel Agnes Grey.
It was in fact, the Robinsons who introduced Anne to Scarborough. For the next five years, Anne spent no more than five or six weeks a year with her family, during holidays at Christmas and in June. The rest of her time was spent with the Robinsons at Thorp Green and she accompanied them on annual holidays to Scarborough.
Above: South Bay seafront by Francis Nicholson, c.1832 – Anne loved to walk beside the sea (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Between 1840 and 1844, Anne spent around five weeks each summer at the coastal town and loved it. A number of locations in Scarborough were the setting for Agnes Grey’s final scenes and for Linden-Car village in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Above: This old sketch shows St. Nicholas Cliff around 1840. On the left are Wood’s Lodgings, and in the distance is Scarborough’s South Bay. Anne stayed in these buildings during her first few years at Scarborough with the Robinson family (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Early in November 1842, Anne’s aunt Elizabeth died, prompting her to return home. At the time her sisters were away studying in Brussels. Elizabeth Branwell left a £350 legacy (about £30,000 in today’s money) for each of her nieces. Anne returned to Thorp Green in January 1843 where she secured a position for Branwell.
He was to take over as tutor to the Robinsons’ son, Edmund, who was growing too old to be in Anne’s care.
Anne and Branwell taught at Thorp Green for the next three years. Branwell entered into a secret relationship with his employer’s wife, Lydia Robinson. When Anne and her brother returned home for the holidays in June 1846, she resigned her position. While Anne gave no reason for leaving Thorp Green, it is thought she had become aware of the relationship between her brother and Mrs. Robinson. Branwell was dismissed when his employer found out, although Anne retained close ties to Elizabeth and Mary Robinson, exchanging letters even after Branwell’s disgrace.
Above: This drawing is titled ‘New Buildings, Cliff, Scarborough’, and dated 1843, the year of Anne’s third visit to the resort. It shows Wood’s Lodgings viewed from the sea, with its new ‘central block’ and ‘down- the-cliff’ extension. On the left is the Spa Bridge, and a number of bathing huts (or machines) are in evidence along the beach. Scarborough was the first seaside to pioneer bathing machines. This story has already been featured on Stories From Scarborough – see Part I here and Part II here (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Over the Christmas of 1848, Anne caught influenza. Her symptoms intensified, and her father sent for a Leeds physician in early January. The doctor diagnosed her condition as an advanced case of consumption (tuberculosis), leaving little hope of recovery. Her health fluctuated as the months passed, and she grew weaker.
Above: The Grand Hotel in about 1895 standing on the site of Wood’s Lodgings, where Anne had stayed several decades earlier. The latter was demolished to make way for the former, and when the Grand Hotel was first opened in 1867 it was hailed as “the largest and handsomest in Europe” (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
In February 1849, Anne seemed a little better and felt that a change of air might relieve her symptoms, so she decided to make a visit to Scarborough. Charlotte requested that their friend Ellen Nussey accompany them on the journey which began on 24th May 1849.
They booked rooms at Wood’s Lodgings.
On Sunday, 27th May, Anne asked Charlotte if it would be easier to return home to die instead of being in Scarborough. A doctor was consulted the next day and indicated that Anne’s death was imminent. She died around two o’clock in the afternoon on Monday 28th May 1849.
Above: This old photo, c. 1860 shows a view of Wood’s Lodgings across the Spa Bridge. It was taken about 10 years after Anne died there. The light coloured cottages abutting the left-hand side of the main building were also part of Wood’s Lodgings, and some believe that it was in one of these where Anne spent her last few days; however, it is equally possible that it was at the right-hand end of the larger, main building. We know for certain that she had a sea view from both her bedroom, and her sitting room (which was one floor below), hence they were ‘back rooms’ with respect to this photograph. Wood’s Lodgings were demolished in 1862 to make way for the Grand Hotel (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)
Many thanks to Clare for sharing this article with Stories From Scarborough! Watch out for Part II, coming soon…