Saturday, 18 June 2016

Branwell Brontë: Freemason and poet

Branwell Brontë was the lesser known brother of the Brontë sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne. His sisters were more successful, Emily writing the classic Gothic novel Wuthering Heights and Charlotte writing Jane Eyre. Branwell was born in West Yorkshire in 1817, moving to Haworth in 1820 where his father Patrick became curate of St Michaels and All Angels' Church. Branwell was educated by his father at home, and became a writer of poetry and an erstwhile portrait painter, drifting in-between jobs and finally succumbing to drug and alcohol addiction. In Haworth today, stories abound of Branwell walking to the chemist to get his laudanum, then walking over to the Black Bull pub opposite to sit in his chair, take his fix and drift into a drug-induced dream to escape his ever enveloping depression.

Branwell did however become a Freemason, joining the Haworth based lodge 'The Three Graces' No. 408 in 1836, and seemed to settle into the lodge fairly well, becoming secretary in 1837, an office that would certainly allow him to utilise his writing skills. He last attended the lodge in 1842, and finally died in 1848 of what was most likely to be tuberculosis, aggravated by his addictions to alcohol, opium and laudanum. Bramwell had a short and troubled life, but his legacy is his poetry, his portraits and his Freemasonry, which seemed to have given him some purpose for a short period.


The Black Bull pub in Haworth, much frequented by Branwell.

The Chemist in Haworth, just opposite the Black Bull, frequented by Branwell for his laudanum.

Branwell's chair in the Black Bull.

The Parsonage in Haworth where the Brontës lived.

Brontë Memorial in St Michael and All Angel's Church, Haworth.

A Memorial indicating the location of the Brontë family vault.


Masonic Hall in Haworth, dating to 1907.




All photos taken with permission by Dr David Harrison

© Dr David Harrison 2016


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