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The Brontës: 1826
Rydings, Birstall Smithies

Ellen Nussey, a close friend of Charlotte Brontë, lived at Rydings, in Birstall Smithies, from July 1826 to June 1836. At that time, it belonged to her uncle Richard Nussey. Ellen's grand-uncle Joshua Nussey, had sold Rydings out of the family in 1776. In 1791, however, her great-uncle Richard Walker re-purchased and subsequently renovated the estate.

In his renovations, Walker added the battlements that helped Charlotte Brontë imagine Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre. Charlotte was likewise inspired in her description of Thornfield Hall by the landscaped gardens and plantations of the grounds, which contained chestnut trees, thorn-trees, rookery, and fruit gardens. During her visits to Ellen, she often sought seclusion from other guests by walking the grounds.

Rydings, Birstall Smithies, West Yorkshire (Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre) [1 May 1985]

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