A Guided Tour of Thorp Green
(Horton)
 (Part 2 of 4)

The 'Monk's Lodge' (in grounds of Thorp Green Hall) (1997)

We are now facing 'The Monk's Lodge', situated inside the Thorp Green Hall grounds.  About 25 yards behind this, and over the boundary wall, is the 'Score Ray Lane/Moss Hill Lane/Thorp Green Lane junction' (which we viewed from a distance earlier). This is the building in which Branwell lodged during his time at Thorp Green. He would have walked along this path many times as he made his way to and from the main hall, where he would tutor the young Edmund Robinson (and, of course, engage in whatever other activities he got up to!).

From here we'll walk down the garden path, and make our way round the right-hand side of the building - to the far side. At this point turning a little more than 90° to our left . . .

 


 

The 'Monk's Lodge' - rear view

We are now looking back at the rear of the lodge. As mentioned previously, a little to our right, and over the boundary wall, is the lane junction; and it was from there that Branwell sketched this building (see below).

 

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We have now left 'Queen Ethelburger's' premises and made our way to the lane junction. From here, we have walked several yards along Thorp Green Lane, turned around, and are looking back at the junction . . .

 


 

Score Ray Lane/Moss Hill Lane/Thorp Green Lane junction (and Branwell's sketch of the 'Monk's Lodge')

Once again, the lane to the right is 'Score Ray Lane' (the lane we originally came along), which, from here, heads in a westerly direction. Edward Chitham tells us that this is the lane Anne would have used on her journeys from, and back to, Haworth, which certainly seems the logical route for her to take; however, make a mental note of this point, I'll mention it again a little later.
On the left is 'Moss Hill Lane'. How the term 'Hill' ever became part of its name, one can only wonder: throughout its entire length it is as flat as a pancake! In Agnes Grey, Anne re-names it, much more appropriately, 'Moss Lane'. Behind the camera, Thorp Green Lane makes its way northwards to Little Ouseburn and the church. When Anne attended this church, the vicar was one Edward Lascelles. Apparently he was very un-popular around the parish, and Anne may have modelled Mr. Hatfield on him. Lascelles lived at Green Hammerton, a small village about a mile south of Thorp Green (the direction we are now facing); and he would almost certainly have walked along Moss Hill Lane on his way to the church: Anne may well have seen him taking this route many times. In Agnes Grey, Mr. Hatfield is seen walking along Moss Lane.
The building seen on the left (of the photograph) is the 'Monk's Lodge' and the street-lamp on the extreme left marks the approximate location from where Branwell sketched the building. His sketch is shown to the left of the photograph. It is signed and dated along the bottom:
'P B Brontë. 1844. Aug 25th.'.  From here, Thorp Green Hall was situated about 100 yards beyond and to the right of the 'Monk's Lodge' - behind the clump of trees - just to the right-of-centre in the photograph.

We'll now turn around, walk a little further along Thorp Green Lane then look back towards the junction from there . . .

 


 

Thorp Green Lane - towards Thorp Underwood Hall

Only a small section of the boundary wall remains visible as the trees obscure the rest of the premises. Here, we can see the beginning/end of the journey that Anne and Agnes would make many times on their way to and from the church. Sometimes, on sunny days, the journey would be made on foot; but, usually, the family carriage was used. Agnes states 'We were situated nearly two miles from the village church, and, consequently, the family carriage was put in requisition every Sunday morning, and sometimes oftener.'  Agnes generally finds it preferable to walk, as she is otherwise forced to sit in the worst part of the carriage - and this tends to make her feel sick by the end of the journey. This situation may also have been true for Anne.

Right:  about turn - 180°  . . .

 


 

Thorp Green Lane - towards Little Ouseburn and church

We are now looking in the opposite direction - and Thorp Green Lane makes its way thus, for the next mile and a half, towards Little Ouseburn Church. Not a very exciting view, admitted - but this is where it all happened!

'The surrounding country itself was pleasant, as far as fertile fields, flourishing trees, quiet green lanes, and smiling hedges with wild flowers scattered along their banks, could make it: but it was depressingly flat to one born and nurtured among the rugged hills of -----. ' [Cut the secrecy, Anne, we know where you mean!]   . . . Agnes Grey.

Over on the right is the site of 'Stripe houses' - there were something like fourteen cottages in this area - no trace of which remain. These cottages were the property of the Robinsons who rented them out to local farmers. Anne used them as models for the cottages occupied by the poor farmers, who were tenants of the Murrays, in Agnes Grey. Initially, Agnes accompanies the Murray girls in visiting some of these occupants, but later, begins to make visits alone as she gradually makes friends with a few of them - Nancy Brown, to name one. . . .

' . . . thus I made a few acquaintances among the cottagers; and, occasionally, I went to see them on my own account.'  . . . Agnes Grey.

 About three quarters of a mile further along, again on the right, we arrive at an old steel gate that guards the entrance to the Kirby Hall estate . . .

 


 

Entrance to the Kirby Hall Estate - from Thorp Green Lane

Beyond the gates, a vague, narrow, dirt-track path, makes its way across the field (in an easterly direction - towards the River Ouse); and after about 500 yards arrives at a small, charming, footbridge, which crosses what was the 'fish pond' in front of Kirby Hall. The pond was of an elongated shape, created by the widening of the 'Ouse Gill Beck' as it passed through the grounds - we will encounter this beck again a little later. Most of the 'pond' has since dried up leaving a mere boggy area heavily overgrown with weeds, and the beck trickles through the centre - appearing as nothing more than a narrow stream. Adjacent to the far side of the bridge, and a little to the left stands a large house on the site of the old Kirby Hall. Indeed, markings on the southern wall of this house (see picture below) suggest it was originally built as an extension to the north end of the old hall. (From where we are looking at the moment, the house is obscured by the distant trees seen between the two gate-posts). We'll take a walk across this field, across the footbridge, and face the house . . .

 


 

House on Kirby Hall site, and wall of Kirby Hall (1998)
Current House

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Kirby Hall
Kirby Hall

. . . (Above left) The trees/shrubs that appear to be forming an unkempt hedge actually cover the 'garden wall', and this wall is in fact the remains of the old Kirby Hall itself (black/white picture - right): indeed, the section directly below the grey asterisk was the Hall's main-entrance, and this can be seen covered by a canopy, supported by pillars, in the old photograph.139n  From here (above left), we'll make our way into the garden, turn about 45° to our right - and look beyond the house . . .

 

The Long Plantation from site of Kirby Hall

So we are now stood inside what was Kirby Hall, and the current house is situated on our immediate left. At some distance we see what is a wide clump of trees - framed, in this photograph, by the two clumps of Pampas Grass: the trees form a wood that was once known as the 'Long Plantation', and this wood makes its way eastwards towards the river Ouse.140n  It is known that Anne took walks through the Kirby Hall grounds, and the 'Long Plantation'; and it was in this wood where she wrote her celebrated Thorp Green poem. The lines were composed in this wood on a windy day, and later, with inspired imagination, she titled it 'Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day'. Still, never mind the title: those who think only Emily could write stunning poetry - think again. Take a read through this gem - by 'the other one':

Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day 

My soul is awakened, my spirit is soaring
And carried aloft on the wings of the breeze;
For above and around me the wild wind is roaring,
Arousing to rapture the earth and the seas.

The long withered grass in the sunshine is glancing,
The bare trees are tossing their branches on high;
The dead leaves beneath them are merrily dancing,
The white clouds are scudding across the blue sky.

I wish I could see how the ocean is lashing
The foam of its billows to whirlwinds of spray;
I wish I could see how its proud waves are dashing,
And hear the wild roar of their thunder today!

Anne Brontë
(December 1842)

When writing the last verse, Anne obviously had her mind on Scarborough, the seaside resort she had visited while accompanying the Robinsons on their summer holidays during the previous few years!

At the bottom of the manuscript she has written: 'Composed in the Long-Plantation on a wild bright windy day.' 141

It is believed that Anne used Kirby Hall and its grounds as models for Ashby Hall and Ashby Park in Agnes Grey; although some of the features also manifest themselves in Horton Lodge.

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Mick Armitage (e-mail)