The Old School Room History
Situated between Haworth Parish Church and Brontë Parsonage Museum, the Old School Room is the only building built by and taught at by all the Brontë family, and from 1845, managed by Charlotte Brontës husband to be, Arthur Bell Nicholls. Surviving historical records provide fascinating accounts of each famous Brontë undertaking the task of educating the poor children of Haworth.
A passionate social reformer, Patrick Brontë knew well the benefits of education for children, and strove for a number of years to establish a school within Haworth. In 1831 he was finally successful in his attempts, and raised £80 from the National School Society (a charity set up to promote Church of England Schools) towards the building of a Sunday School. The remainder of the money came from public subscription and the land donated for building by the Church Lands Trust. In 1832 the school was completed, the commemoration plaque written by Patrick Brontë himself still in place over the old porch. Now much weathered, it reads:
“This National Church Sunday School is under the management of trustees, of whom the Incumbent for the time being is one, and was erected A.D.1832, by voluntary subscription, and by a grant form the National Society in London.”
“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from”.
In 1843 Patrick applied for a further grant from the National Society to enable the school to open weekdays from 1844, and also employ a master. He successfully obtained £60, for his flourishing school, with £10 to be spent on furniture. In 1850 Arthur Bell Nicholls secured funding for an extension to be built the following year. In 1854 it hosted the wedding celebration of his wedding to Charlotte Brontë, accommodating some 500 guests.
After Patrick’s death John Wade, the new incumbent, raised further funds, and the final extension was added in 1871.
The Old School Room was replaced as a school in 1903, but retained its focus as a community building; being used for a variety of activities, including a gymnasium, a library, an army billet during the Second World War, and as a Youth Hostel.
Today it is the key centre of the Brontë experience, easily accessible to tourists and a valuable community resource.