Haworth Parish Church will forever be linked with the novels and poems of the Bronte sisters, who’s legacy brings many visitors to the church every year.
The Brontes came to Haworth in 1820, as their father, Patrick, had been offered the living of Haworth Parish Church. Patrick had first been asked to come to Haworth in 1819 by the Bishop of Bradford. However, the Bishop had gone over the church trustee’s heads in appointing Bronte, so they were against the idea. Feeling he could not become incumbent of Haworth without the trustee’s support, Bronte declined the position and Samuel Redhead was appointed in his place. As Redhead had also been appointed without consulting the trustees, the parishioners of Haworth were understandably riled, and their unruly behaviour lead to Redhead becoming the shortest serving incumbent in the church’s history, lasting only 6 weeks.
In 1820, with the trustee’s agreement, Patrick began the 41 years he would spend as Vicar of Haworth Parish Church. Patrick was a conscientious priest, carrying out his duties as well as directing the National and Sunday Schools. Patrick’s Sunday School is still standing today, you can find out more information about it here. He was a talented preacher and this combined with the high birthrate meant he baptised around 290 children a year. Unfortunately due to the fact that at that time, the life expectancy in Haworth was only around 22 years of age, and 40% of children dying before their 6th birthday, Bronte also held many funerals.
Patrick Bronte’s memory is sometimes overshadowed by that of his famous and talented children. Yet in Haworth, then a small, busy, over-crowded mill town, he made a lasting difference to the population with his improvements in education and sanitation as well as performing the role of a popular rural vicar.