by Emily Brontë
Voted the greatest love story of all time in a 2007 poll commissioned by UKTV Drama (Guardian 10/08/2007), “Wuthering Heights” is a tale of doomed passion and revenge served cold.
When Catherine Earnshaw marries Edward Linton despite her reservations - “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliffe resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliffe!”, it it proves the final link in a chain of events that brings about the destruction of both their families.
The agent of this destruction is Heathcliffe, Catherine’s childhood soulmate, who never recovers from her loss - “What is not connected with her to me? and what does not recall her? I cannot look down to this floor but her features are shaped in flags! In every cloud, in every tree - filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object by day - I am surrounded with her image!”
Top Withens (Wuthering Heights)
Said by Ellen Nussey (Charlotte Brontë’s friend) to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights: “one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun” Another contender is High Sunderland Hall, now demolished. The Hall was built around 1600 just outside Halifax, overlooking the Shibden Valley only a few miles from Law Hill School in Southowram where Emily taught.
Getting there: Top Withins is on the Haworth Moor.
“Yesterday afternoon set in misty and cold. I had half a mind to spend it by my study fire, instead of wading through heath and mud to Wuthering Heights.”
Getting there: Haworth Moor can be reached from Haworth itself (off the A629 from Halifax to Keighley), or from nearby Stanbury or Penistone Country Park.
Ponden Hall (Thrushcross Grange)
“Cathy stayed at Thrushcross Grange five weeks: till Christmas. By that time her ankle was thoroughly cured, and her manners much improved.” It’s here that Catherine stays with the Linton family whilst recovering from a sprained ankle, and in the process becomes attracted to their gentler society. Ponden Hall, which the Brontës visited, may well be one of the inspirations for the Grange, although it’s not set in an extensive park as is Thrushcross Grange.
Getting there: Ponden Hall - privately owned - is in the little hamlet of Ponden, above Ponden Reservoir, which is just past Stanbury on the road from Howarth.
Shibden Hall (Thrushcross Grange
Shibden Hall has also been put forward as an inspiration for Thrushcross Grange, although this suggestion has been disputed. Dating from the sixteenth century, it’s certainly grander than Ponden Hall, and set in extensive grounds. Like High Sunderland Hall, it’s not far from Southowram.
Getting there: The Shibden estate is on the A58 just east of Halifax town centre. The grounds are open to the public, as is the Hall itself. There’s an admission charge for the latter, and it’s worth checking opening times as always if planning a visit.