Notes and Sources - Wood's Lodgings
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58) We know Anne spent her last few days at 'No. 2 The Cliff'; however, while one of the small cottages adjoining the main block was certainly a 'No.2', there was also a suite 'No.2' in the main building. Below is the full advert for 'Wood's Lodgings', taken from the 'General Directory of Scarbro' 1846' (Scarborough Library).

 

The advert seems to indicate that suite 'No. 13' abuts the cottages; therefore suites Nos. 1 and 2 must be at the opposite end of the block (right-hand end as seen here). This appears to be confirmed by the fact that these suites have less 'beds' than the others (that end section of the block has one floor less on top - see picture opposite).

Wood's Lodgings (c.1860)


WOOD'S LODGINGS,
CLIFF, SCARBOROUGH.

No. 1, Contains Drawing Room, Dining Room, and 7 or 8 Beds.
 "    2 Same accommodation as No. 1.
 "    3 Drawing Room, Dining Room, and 8 or 9 Beds.
 "    7A,  late No. 4  Drawing Room, Dining Room, Breakfast Parlour, and 12 Beds.
 "    12 Drawing Room, Dining Room, Breakfast Parlour, and from 16 to 18 Beds.
 "    13 Drawing Room, Dining Room and 12 Beds.
Part of an adjoining Cottage can be used with No. 13, if required.
 "    1 Cottage Drawing Room, Dining Room, and 7 Beds.
 "    2 Cottage Drawing Room, Dining Room, and 5 or 6 Beds.


To each house there is a Housekeeper's Room and Kitchen.
ADDRESS. -- Hope Cottage, Cliff.

Reasons for believing Anne lodged in the cottages ('No. 2'):

  1. Most people cite the main reason for believing Anne spent her last days in the cottages as being that the plaque, mounted on the Grand Hotel wall - indicating that Anne died 'in a house' there, is located where the cottage abutting the main (Woods Lodging's) block was situated. However, the wording on the plaque reads 'on this site'; which, as I see it, could mean anywhere on the area now covered by the Grand Hotel. In any case, several contemporary photographs of the Grand Hotel show that there was no plaque at this location by the end of the nineteenth century, though there does appear to be one closer to the left-hand side of the building, but it is impossible to determine whether or not this relates to Anne (see photograph accessed from 'Main Page' - follow links 'Wood's Lodgings' then 'Grand Hotel - St. Nicholas Cliff' - though detail is difficult to see on the small copy of this picture presented here). The location for the current plaque must have been selected this century; by which time, the exact whereabouts of Anne's lodgings may have already become uncertain.
     
  2. On the day Anne died, Ellen Nussey had to carry Anne, 'like a baby' down 'two flights of stairs' (actually stated by Ellen - see Barker, 'The Brontës', p.828 - would there be two flights of stairs in these tiny cottages? - it is a possibility if they were two short flights at an angle to each other). Ellen Nussey's reminiscences of this incident indicate that she greatly struggled in carrying Anne down the stairs; she goes on: ' . . . on reaching the foot of the stairs, poor Anne's head fell like a leaden weight upon the top of mine . . . I just managed to bear her to the front of her easy-chair and drop her into it . . .'.  It sounds as if 'Anne's easy-chair' was close to the bottom of the stairs, and indeed, that the stairs were an integral part of the bedrooms/drawing room - this would seem more likely to be a feature of the small cottages, as opposed to the main block, where there would be a number of separate rooms - sharing communal stairs (see '3' - below).
     
  3. Being such a small party (three people), the 'small' cottages would seem an ideal place for the proprietor to offer them as lodgings, although the 'suites' in the main building were often shared by several different families - see Chitham, 'A Life of Anne Brontë', p.109.

Reasons for believing Anne lodged in the 'Main Block' ('No. 2'):

  1. Various pictures of the Wood's Lodgings cottages (see picture above) indicate that they were indeed quite small. Mrs. Gaskell reported on the sisters' choice of lodgings: 'They took a good sized sitting room and an airy double-bedded room (both commanding a sea view)' (Gaskell - 'The Life of Charlotte Brontë', Ch.17 {just following the letter dated May 1st} - Penguin edition 1991, p.291.)  - presumably she got this information either direct from Charlotte, or, more likely, Ellen Nussey; and it does not sound like a description of the said 'small' cottages' interior.
     
  2. All the evidence seems to suggest that the girls had a good clear view of the sea and bay from both their upper and lower room windows. One example is Charlotte's letter to Ellen of around mid-May: 'We have engaged lodgings at Scarbro'. We stipulated for a good-sized sitting-room and an airy double-bedded lodging-room, with a sea view, and if not deceived, have obtained these desiderata at No. 2 Cliff, Anne says it is one of the best situations in the place.' (Harrison and Stanford, 'Anne Brontë - Her Life and Work', p.152: also see Gerin, 'Anne Brontë - A Biography', p.310.) The cottages tended to follow the line of the street on St. Nicholas Cliff, making them stand at a considerable angle to the shore - unlike the seaward wing of the Grand Hotel, which stands at an angle to the 'street' wing, thus making it almost parallel to the beach. This fact, plus the fact that the 'main block' of Wood's Lodgings jutted out further over the cliff than the rear of the cottages, means that the view of the sea and bay from the rear cottage windows would be slightly restricted. Some contemporary views of the lodgings and cliff suggest that a number of trees on the cliff slope itself, may also have partially restricted the view. Could this be the reason the cottages were only used as an extension to suite No.13 (as stated in the advert above)? Other sources also suggest that the 'cottages' were only used at the height of the season when the main building was fully booked.
     
  3. If the plaque on the wall of the Grand Hotel is situated at the exact location where Anne stayed; it indicates that the cottage abutting the main (Wood's Lodgings) block was the one in question. On the day after her arrival at Scarborough, Anne insisted on being allowed to bathe alone at the nearby baths. In her 1871 reminiscences, Ellen Nussey states that 'She walked back alone to her lodgings, but fell exhausted as she reached the garden-gate'. The picture (above) shows (although it can be seen much more clearly in the actual photograph) that this cottage is the only section of the entire lodgings that does not have a set of railings and gate in front of it.

Having assessed all the available information, and considered all possibilities, I prefer to believe that Anne spent her last days in 'suite No.2' - in the larger 'main building'. (return to 'Wood's Lodgings 2')


59) The sketch was produced by H.B.Carter and is displayed on the wall of the 'Scarborough Room', in the local studies section of Scarborough Library. (return)

60) In 1843, Anne was at Scarborough from the 3rd. to the 31st. July (dates approx.): Branwell was also present. The trees in this sketch make it clear that it was produced during the summer months. It is interesting to think that Anne and Branwell may have actually been resident in the lodgings at the time it was produced! (return)

61) Given Anne's poor state of health and great physical weakness (she had been escorted around in a wheel-chair much of the time throughout this York/Scarborough venture) it seems possible that Charlotte, when booking the lodgings, requested that there would not be too many stairs to climb (though this is nowhere recorded). We know, from Ellen Nussey's reminiscences, that Ellen struggled carrying Anne down the stairs several hours before Anne died (Ellen stated that she carried Anne down two flights of stairs - see Barker, 'The Brontës', p.828), but there is no other mention of any problems encountering stairs (of course, there would be no 'lifts' at this period!). This seems to suggest that they were on the central floors (close to St. Nicholas Cliff street level) - as opposed to the upper or lower ones. (return)


Copyright © 1999 Michael Armitage

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