Black Bull. Photo: Mark Davis
Black Bull. Photo: Mark Davis
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A curiously fascinating, hair-raising read by Nick Tyler who has sifted through and dug out the creepiest tales of Yorkshire and presented them in short snippets for our reading pleasure. This makes for a fast paced, thrilling page turner guaranteed to leave you in deep dark thoughts after every extract. Here we take a look at The Black Bull in Haworth.

Branwell Brontë’s chair in the Black Bull
Branwell Brontë’s chair in the Black Bull

A jealous sibling, a restless spirit and a tingling recent tale of a child offering sweets into thin air sat in what locals will name as the epicentre of paranormal activity. Maybe, you’ve even been here yourself and even sat on the ghosts very chair…

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The sleepy village of Haworth is most commonly known for the famous Brontë sisters who lived in the area during the nineteenth century. Amidst the articulate family of authors, poets and playwrights, the sisters also had a brother named Branwell who, despite his articulate nature, had a personality a million miles from the rest of his family. Branwell was both an alcoholic and a drug addict and was much the burden upon his well-to-do kin. He spent most of his days intoxicated within the Black Bull public house, situated adjacent to the old family home. He was so much separated from his sisters that, after commissioning a painting in 1834 featuring the four of them, he later edited it by removing his own image. An eerie silhouette that almost looks to be haunting the painting is all that remains of Branwell Brontë.

As with most famous families of the past, the restless spirits of Branwell and his sisters are said to wander the streets of Haworth during the evening hours and many have claimed to have witnessed the ghostly figures. The epicentre of the paranormal phenomena seems to be within the walls of the Black Bull, Branwell’s second home as it was known. The ghostly apparitions of two men, always sitting at the same table and quarrelling, are often spotted by guests and staff. one of them is wearing casual attire whilst the other is dressed in finery, including a jacket and a top hat.

“GHOSTLY FOOTSTEPS HAVE OFTEN BEEN HEARD STOMPING TOWARDS IT BEFORE THE CREAKING SOUND OF AN INVISIBLE PRESENCE SITTING ON THE SEAT”

Another mysterious entity is often spotted by the end of the bar but some claim this to be the same spirit as one of the aforementioned gentlemen. The apparition appears, taking a drink, before vanishing in front of bewildered spectators’ eyes. Branwell’s violent drunken outbursts were no secret and others drinking in the Black Bull back in the midnineteenth century were quite used to his temper. it is now believed that Branwell’s spirit is responsible for the glasses and ashtrays that are thrown around the bar area by an unseen hand. His old chair is still located within the pub as something of an attraction, and ghostly footsteps have often been heard stomping towards it before the creaking sound of an invisible presence sitting on the seat. it was said that, at the funeral of Charlotte Brontë, a mysterious figure appeared to have been standing with the mourners yet no one knew who he was.

“AN EERIE SILHOUETTE THAT ALMOST LOOKS TO BE HAUNTING THE PAINTING IS ALL THAT REMAINS OF BRANWELL BRONTË”

The painting Branwell edited
The painting Branwell edited

Could it be conceivable that the Brontë family had indeed always carried this connection with the afterlife? One very notable account was witnessed by many different visitors on a sunny afternoon. A young girl was sitting with a bag of sweets close to the table where the two gentlemen had been spotted numerous times and, after sitting quietly by herself for some time, she turned and offered some sweets to thin air. People in the bar asked the young girl who she was talking to and she described a very smart man who had been pulling faces and playing peek-a-boo with his large hat. Is it possible that the girl did, in fact, see the spirit of Branwell Brontë or another entity that haunts this old building? In addition to the Black Bull, the ghostly apparitions of the entire Brontë family have been spotted around Haworth causing the mind to ponder, are Branwell, Charlotte and their other sisters still haunting Haworth over 150 years after their deaths? Or could it be that the famous story of the Brontë family is so well documented within the history books, that people already know what to expect before arriving at the Black Bull? Ghosts aside, with so much history attached to the place, it would be an awful shame if we lost yet another piece of English heritage.

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