'The walls were... stained in a pretty dove-coloured tint'

In her 1871 Reminiscences, Charlotte's close schoolfriend Ellen Nussey recalled her first visit to the Parsonage in the summer of 1833, and how, after family prayers at eight o'clock, Mr Brontë would lock and bar the front door at nine, '...always giving as he passed the sitting-room door a kindly admonition to the "children'" not to be up late; half-way up the stairs he stayed his steps to wind up the clock...' She added, 'The hall floor and stairs were done with sand-stone, always beautifully clean, as was everything about the house', and described the walls as being, 'not papered, but stained in a pretty dove-coloured tint'. The entrance hall would have been larger than it is today, as Charlotte widened the dining room at the expense of the hall when she had several structural alterations made to the building in 1850.

 

In a letter to a friend, Elizabeth Gaskell said: 'I don't know that I ever saw a spot more exquisitely clean... Everything fits into, and is in harmony with, the idea of a country parsonage, possessed by people of very moderate means.' The furnishings in the Parsonage reflect the simplicity of the late Georgian and early Victorian period. Ellen described the effect as 'scant and bare indeed' but nevertheless, 'mind and thought, I had almost said elegance but certainly refinement, diffused themselves over all, and made nothing really wanting.'

Although Ellen stated that 'there was not much carpet anywhere', except in the dining room and Mr Brontë's study, a stair carpet and stair rods were sold at the 1861 sale, along with several other 'Kidderminster Carpets and Rugs'. Ellen also recalled that Mr Brontë was fearful that the combination of young children, candles and curtains would be a fire hazard. The windows were shuttered at night and curtains were introduced at a later date. An early ambrotype photograph of the Parsonage shows a combination of shutters, blinds and curtains for the dining room in 1851 and for her husband's study prior to their marriage in 1854. Damask and muslin curtains are also recorded in the 1861 Bill of Sale. Wallpaper and curtains throughout the house are based on designs of the period.

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