'Before me rose a lofty hill, Behind me lay the sea'
Each week the Scarborough Herald newspaper recorded the names of all visitors to the resort. Unfortunately, the papers covering the summer of 1840 no longer exist, and consequently, although the Robinsons usually spent their summer holidays at Scarborough, and Anne was certainly working for them at that time, there is no actual record of them being there that year. The earliest record of Anne being at Scarborough is in the summer of 1841. However, on 22 August 1840, while at Thorp Green, she wrote a poem entitled 'The Bluebell', where she is reminiscing of an occasion, 'not long ago', when she walked 'all carelessly' along a 'sunny road' - the road is obviously in a rural setting, before her is a 'lofty hill' and behind her is the sea:
That day along a sunny road
All carelessly I strayed,
Between two banks where smiling flowers
Their varied hues displayed.
Before me rose a lofty hill,
Behind me lay the sea, . . .
(For full poem - see 'The Poems of Anne Brontë' - accessed from 'Main Page')

This poem is often cited as the 'proof' that Anne's first visit to Scarborough occurred in 1840.42n  The locale description in the poem certainly makes it easy to locate the setting at Scarborough. At the southern end of the resort is a giant hill called 'Oliver's Mount', and tourists often visit its summit to enjoy the spectacular aerial views over Scarborough that can be obtained from there. Contemporary maps indicate that the several approach roads to and up 'Oliver's Mount' (from the north and east sides) were in a rural setting; and anyone walking along these would certainly have the 'lofty hill' rising in front of them, with the sea behind. The 'mount' is situated barely a mile south of the Grand Hotel, and about half a mile from the sea-front placing it within easy walking distance of Anne's lodgings.

Scarborough's South Bay from beside the castle  (c.1990) This is Scarborough's South Bay seen from a level grassy area situated on the side of the headland (just below the castle). As ever, the Grand Hotel stands dominant at the centre of the bay. The lofty hill seen on the skyline, in the centre of the picture, is 'Oliver's Mount'.

Scarborough's South Bay from the castle entrance (c.1850)

Once again, this drawing shows the South Bay, but this time from the castle entrance. The date given with the picture is 'c.1850'; however, Anne's grave does not appear to be present in the graveyard, so it could have been produced prior to the summer of 1849; unless, of course, the artist has not been too keen on precision. Whatever, this is certainly Scarborough the way Anne knew it. All the main landmarks are visible: St. Mary's church on the right; a little way to the left of this, in the distance, is the tower of Christ Church (dark coloured) - where Anne worshipped with the Robinsons and where her funeral was conducted. Just left of picture centre is the 'Cliff Bridge' (now Spa Bridge) with Wood's Lodgings immediately to the right of it. On the extreme left is Henry Wyatt's Gothic Saloon (on the site of the current 'Spa-Complex buildings'); and, of course, Oliver's Mount stands bold behind the new buildings on South Cliff.

Valley Bridge and Oliver's Mount (26 July 1928)'Before Me Rose a Lofty Hill'

This photograph was taken on 26 July 1928, and shows crowds of people celebrating the official opening of the new Valley Bridge (Valley Bridge runs parallel to the Spa Bridge - but is situated about a quarter of a mile further up the valley). The old bridge which it replaced had been built in 1865. This was the route Anne would take on her walk to Oliver's Mount, though, as there was no bridge here at that time, she would follow the old road as it dipped - hugging the contour of the valley. In Anne's time the whole area beyond this bridge was purely rural, and, as already mentioned, the several approach roads to the 'mount' would be perfect contenders for the 'sunny road' she describes in her poem.

Aerial view of Scarborough from Oliver's MountThe spectacular aerial view of Scarborough that is obtained from the summit of Oliver's Mount.

On the left, in this, and the picture below, a small red asterisk indicates the Grand Hotel.

View over Scarborough from Oliver's Mount

Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage
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