Anne Brontë's Grave - St. Mary's Churchyard
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Anne Brontė's grave and register of burials The wording on the gravestone reads:
Incumbent of Haworth Yorkshire
She died Aged 28
May 28TH 1849

At the bottom of the picture is shown Anne's entry in the 'Register of Burials', Parish of Scarborough, 1849. It reads:

Anne Brontë
 No. 1885
 'from near York,
 28 I.W.Whiteside

At the time of Anne's death, major restoration work was being carried out at St. Mary's Church, where Charlotte had chosen to bury Anne. For this reason the funeral was conducted at 'Christ Church' (31K / 28K), which was situated near the top of Vernon Place (now Vernon Road) - only a few minutes walk from Wood's Lodgings, the place where Anne had died. This seems inadvertently appropriate, as it was in this church where Anne had worshipped with the Robinson family on their annual visits to Scarborough some five to nine years earlier. (Christ Church was demolished in 1979, the site being next to the current Scarborough Library - close to the centre of Westborough). It is interesting to note the entry in the 'Register of Burials' - stating Anne was 'from near York'. Obviously this information would not have been obtained from Charlotte or Ellen Nussey who were with Anne at Scarborough when she died; proving that the clergyman of Christ Church had remembered her from her attendances with the Robinsons. Anne had spent five years as governess to the Robinson children at Thorp Green, which is located just ten miles north-west of York!

Ellen Nussey's diary informs us that the day following Anne's internment, she and Charlotte visited Scarborough castle - they would have passed Anne's grave along the way. Also, on that day, in the same edition of the Scarborough Gazette which reported in its 'Visitors List' the arrival of "Miss Bronte" at No. 2 The Cliff, was Anne's obituary: the wording was as follows: 'On the 28th inst, at this place, of consumption, Miss Anne Bronte of Brookroyd, Birstall near Leeds.' 22n  The incorrect address was obviously on account of Ellen arranging the entry: this was her address. Even more ironic, was that on the front page of this same edition was an 'advertisement for the Scarborough Circulating Library, which put Jane Eyre at the top of its list of new popular novels.' 23 

Anne's Grave (early picture)

Charlotte only re-visited the grave once - on 4 June 1852 - a few days after the third anniversary of Anne's death. She did not stay in Scarborough - the memories being too painful, but spent the following three - four weeks in a cottage at the southern end of Filey - a smaller, more reserved resort, situated about eight miles further down the coast. On her arrival at Scarborough she discovered five errors in the inscription on Anne's gravestone, and had to arrange for it to be refaced. It still carries one error today - stating Anne 'died Aged 28': she was, in fact, 29.24n 

In 1897, a journalist conducted an interview with the sexton of St. Mary's church. The interview took place beside Anne's grave on a bleak February day, and the interviewee had been employed as sexton since a few years following Anne's death. He reported that he could not remember the actual events surrounding Anne's demise or internment, but had no trouble recalling 'the crowds of pilgrims that thronged to the spot where Anne is laid when once the fame of the "Bells" was assured', and also 'the irreverence with which those pilfering pilgrims had stolen tuft after tuft of grass from the grave until none was left.' (this, obviously, before the grave surround was added 25n). The interviewer later remarked: 'Time has transformed the Brontë worshippers into a cult and the cult is still growing.' 26n  One hundred years on from this comment, and it continues to grow. Throughout the summer, the stream of visitors to Anne's grave is almost continuous. Never do many minutes pass between one group of people leaving than another arrives. Some come to pay their respects; some not quite sure exactly what she was 'all about', but are fully aware of her fame; some have their photographs taken beside the grave. It is not uncommon to see bouquets of flowers that have been placed on her grave, as if to some dear, departed relative. Last June (1996), the card on one bouquet indicated that these were from a group of students from Cheshire. What this 'group of students from Cheshire' (miles away from Scarborough and Haworth) had had to do with Anne to warrant them placing this bouquet of flowers on her grave one can only wonder!

Anne's Grave and Castle Hill (c.1900) 'Scarborough Castle and Anne Brontë's Grave'
A painting by J.W. Williams

In this painting, Anne's grave is the one directly above the small white asterisk (bottom of picture), and shown here around the turn of the century - before the grave surround was added. Directly behind it is 'Castle Hill' - the hill that is negotiated by the hero and heroine of Anne's novel, Agnes Grey, as they make their way to the cliff edge (far side of the castle) to enjoy the glorious view of the sunset reflected in the sea beyond.27n  Years later, Agnes recalled:

'. . . I shall never forget that glorious summer evening, and always remember with delight that steep hill, and the edge of the precipice where we stood together, watching the splendid sunset mirrored in the restless world of waters at our feet . . .'   . . . Agnes Grey.

Anne's grave is maintained by the Brontë Society.

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Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage
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