The dining room is one of our favourite rooms at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. It is the room where the Brontë sisters used to spend their nights writing, talking about their novels, walking all around that very table in search of new ideas and inspiration. You can still picture them today: Emily, Charlotte and Anne, up until eleven o’clock discussing their projects and ideas under the dim light of oil lamps and candles.
The dining room is placed on the left of the front door, and it has always been there, but it was smaller before Charlotte’s refurbishment in 1850. The walls were probably grey at the beginning but then, Charlotte had them painted red and, as reported by Elizabeth Gaskell, the prevailing colour of the room became “crimson”. The dining room at the Parsonage is so well arranged, and the furniture so beautifully placed, that one can easily picture their desks, and boxes, and papers, all around the room.
The mahogany table and the chairs standing in the middle of the room, are original pieces of furniture which belonged to the Brontë family. They were sold at auction in 1861, after Rev. Brontë’s death, and came back to the parsonage only 90 years later. On the table, a small “E” is engraved in the wood, and it is thought to have been scratched by Emily – which makes us think of Chapter III in Wuthering Heights, and the names Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Heathcliff, Catherine Linton, scratched on the ledge. But there’s another authentic piece of furniture that speaks about Emily, and one can’t look at it without being suddenly hit by a wave of sadness: the small sofa on which she died.
After her sisters’ death this room was filled with bittersweet memories for Charlotte, but still she couldn’t help walking alone at night in that same room, maybe thinking of the past or looking for more inspiration.. because after all, it was within those very four walls that the dreams of the Brontë sisters came true. If only those walls could speak, they would tell us a story of love, strength, determination, “with courage to endure”, in spite of all the sadness and the struggles of life.