I remember my aunt telling me a story aabout someone in my family who saw Charlotte Brontë walking to church on her wedding day. I had spoken about it with my cousin, while we were doing the family research together and we were never sure whether we should believe it. But now we know that it was at least possible.
My great grandmother, Sybil, was a schoolmistress at the National School in Haworth in 1854, the year that Charlotte was married to Arthur Bell Nicholls. The school was started by Charlotte’s father Rev Patrick Brontë and subsequently overseen by the Rev Nicholls.
James was appointed Headmaster by Rev Nicholls in 1855. Sadly, by the time he arrived Charlotte had already died of hyperemsis gravidurum (extreme sickness during pregnancy).
We don’t yet know whether James and Sybil came to this school straight from their training colleges or if either of them had a spell teaching elsewhere. They were both listed in the 1857 Post Office directory of Haworth. Sybil was still listed by her maiden name, although they did marry during that year. Anyway, during the space between the 1851 and the 1861 census they had both arrived in Haworth married and moved on.
We’re trying to fill in some gaps with the help of the Brontë Society and another small charity which looks after the old school room. James went on to have a long career teaching in schools around Bradford and I am going to research that at the City Archives and Central Library.
After that short return to the family story, it’s time for more travels. Finally, at the age of 60, I was heading off to do something that had been my dream for over 50 years!