Confucius once said,” The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” This would lead one to believe that England was in deep shit when Emily Brontë wrote her gothic masterpiece Wuthering Heights. Not the most optimistic of tales, and definitely not propaganda for any time-travelers wanting to visit Victorian England, Heights depicts a homefront cake full of dysfunction, mental and physical illness with a supernatural cherry on top. It’s basically a version of The Bachelor where alcohol and drugs (I mean c’mon) are not readily available and Chris Harrison is clinically depressed.
The story follows Heathcliff—one name— basically the original Cher, and his love interest/adoptive sister Catherine Earnshaw. The two estates in the novel are the antithesis of one another: Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights.
When Emily Brontë and her sisters were young, they visited an estate called Ponden Hall, located in Haworth, West Yorkshire. The property is believed to have inspired the work of all three Brontës ; in particular, it is believed to be the setting of the famous scene in Wuthering Heights where the narrator, Lockwood, encounters Catherine’s ghost after trying to close a noisy window.
Excerpt from Chapter 3:
‘I must stop it, nevertheless!’ I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, ‘Let me in—let me in!’ ‘Who are you?’ I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself. ‘Catherine Linton,’ it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of Linton? I had read Earnshaw twenty times for Linton) ‘ I’ve come home: I’d lost my way on the moor!’ As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child’s face looking through the window. Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, ‘Let me in!’ and maintained its tenacious gripe, almost maddening me with fear.
Ponden Hall’s current owners, Julie Akhurst and Steve Brown, have used the building as a bed and breakfast experience for Brontë enthusiasts since 1998 and are now trying to sell it for £1.25 million ($1.6 million). The two are downsizing, apparently, not running away due to various bumps in the night. Waaaay before them, it was owned by the Heatons (friends of the Brontës). Ponden Hall’s library was visited often by the Brontës. Julie Akhurst spoke on that fact:
“It’s incredible to think Emily would have sat here reading. We have a catalogue of the books that were here then and they probably influenced her. There were gothic novels and books on necromancy and dark magic.”
Brontë experts acknowledge Ponden Hall’s architectural similarities with both Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights…but mostly Wuthering Heights. So if by some miracle your credit limit has been increased to £1.25 million or $1.6 million, buy yourself a creepy guest house. Just ignore the voices.
Fine Country has listed Ponden Hall and I apologize if this article cramps the realtor’s style—own the gothic vibe, my friend. Own it.
Featured Image Via Lonelyplanet.com