Letter: Brontë stairs bridge the Atlantic

Over several months I have been in contact with Long Island New York via an American friend to try and find out if the Queen Ann staircase from Blake Hall, Mirfield, which was shipped out to Long Island in 1958, was still there.

This is where Anne Brontë was a governess for nine months in 1839. In the first half of her novel Agnes Grey she depicts her experiences at Blake Hall as Wellwood and the Ingham family who owned the hall as the Bloomfields.

This is a slightly more unusual connection between Mirfield and Ann Brontë for the Brontë Bicentenaries of the Brontë literary sisters’ births from 2016 to 2020. A lot of emails have been sent and received from various bodies in New York and we’ve been put in touch with Quogue Historical Society, Long Island, who checked out if the house and staircase was still there as that area had had many hurricanes.

I remember as a little girl going to Blake Hall and the grounds, and sadly it was demolished in 1954. I used to have a copy of the staircase picture and the auction catalogue of fittings for sale, which I could not find.

One big thank you to Mirfield Library for keeping their copy, which was sent along with copies of the staircase image at Blake Hall.

Also thanks to Gary and Marie Peacock from Mirfield.

So Mirfield and Quogue are working together to document this little-known link between us with both sides of the Atlantic working together.

The fruits of the labours will be viewed in Mirfield during the Bicentenary and we’ll keep in contact with Long Island in the future.

Imelda Marsden


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