Anne Bronte: Scarborough Connections – Part IV

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- (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.


For a full list of acknowledgements, and to see the article in its original format, please visit the Yorkshire Journal (Autumn, 2015). All copyright retained by the author.

Many thanks to Clare for sharing this article with Stories From Scarborough!

Anne Bronte: Scarborough Connections – Part I

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)


For a full list of acknowledgements, and to see the article in its original format, please visit the Yorkshire Journal (Autumn, 2015). All copyright retained by the author.

Many thanks to Clare for sharing this article with Stories From Scarborough! Watch out for Part II, coming soon…