Anne Bronte: Scarborough Connections – Part III

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The full story of Scarborough Spa, originally published in the Yorkshire Journal, is available here on Stories From ScarboroughPart I is here and Part II here.

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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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In 2006 the Rotunda Museum was renovated and is as a centre of geology for the region.

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Above: The Rotunda today (via the Yorkshire Journal, Issue No. 3 Autumn 2015)

Sources

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! There is one final installment of this article to come, so watch this space…

Anne Bronte: Scarborough Connections – 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.

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.

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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.

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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…

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

 

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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)

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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.

Sources

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 III, coming soon…