The following article was written by Jenna Holmes, Arts Officer for the Bronte Parsonage Museum, January 2013
Refurbishment in progress: In January and early February the Museum was closed to the public, but behind the scenes we were having the busiest weeks of the year. A team of specialist decorators carried out the first redecorating of the Parsonage in 25 years, with new bespoke wallpapers, paint colours, curtains and painstakingly woven rugs. The project has been a very exciting one, and has taken two years in development, using up-to-date forensic techniques by academics at the University of Lincoln. The Museum also used archive references including Bronte letters, scraps of original wallpaper and watercolours in our collection to find out how the house would have looked when the Brontes lived here. The house now looks much as it did in the 1830s and 40s but also includes some of the features that Charlotte introduced as part of her facelift for the house during the early 1850s (when she spent some of the income she had earned from Jane Eyre, Shirley and Villette).
You will need to visit the Parsonage to see the new scheme in its full glory – and there will probably be a few surprises for those who know the museum well! – but here are a few examples of what we’ve been up to:
In the Dining Room-often the focus of the house because it’s the room in which the sisters’ famous novels were written – we’ve reintroduced Charlotte’s own decorative scheme from the early 1850s, using details from her correspondence. The curtains are still in the process of being specially woven, in crimson, to match Elizabeth Gaskell’s description: ‘The parlour has evidently been refurbished within the last few years….The prevailing colour of the room is crimson…’ Forensic analysis told us this room was papered both before and after the time of Charlotte’s ‘gentrification’, and the paper we have chosen is a contemporary design, in scarlet to match the curtains.
One of the most dramatic changes is in Mr. Bronte’s study, which is now a pretty pale green. Clear evidence existed that this room was papered, and that there were several shades of green used. The panelling for the door was picked out in one shade, and the surrounding areas another. The wallpaper is reproduced from one of the period to match.
We hope that you will come along and visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum to see the final result. The Museum is open every day from 11am -5pm in March. Church Street, Haworth BD22 8DR 01535 642323
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