Wednesday, January 21, 2009

REVIEW: Ghosts & Gravestones of Haworth

Title: Ghosts & Gravestones of Haworth
Author: Philip Lister
ISBN: 0752439588/ Tempus Publishing, 2006
Rating: B

First Line: For over 700 years folks have settled in Haworth, on the steepest of Yorkshire's hillsides.

Grandson of Haworth's former village bobby, author Philip Lister is a popular area tour guide, and his knowledge and humor shine through in this slim volume. I enjoyed my visit to Haworth so much that I was determined to buy a souvenir at the Bronte Parsonage gift shop. Being a rabid bookaholic, Ghosts & Gravestones of Haworth is what I chose to buy.

Haworth is world famous as being the home of literary giants Anne, Charlotte and Emily Bronte. It is quite an atmospheric place to visit.


The first part of the book covers many of the interesting buildings in this village and their history: the pubs, the apothecary and its strange decoctions, the inns, and the homes of the more prominent families, as well as a family of area clockmakers and the home of the last hand loom weaver in Haworth. Lister packs lots of interesting bits of trivia in these pages along with all the photographs.

The book then turns to the Bronte Parsonage, St. Michael's Church, and the surrounding graveyard, which is estimated to hold 40,000 "inhabitants". As photogenic and fascinating as the village of Haworth is, I found St. Michael's and the graveyard to be the highlights of my visit.

St. Michael's, Haworth

The parliament of rooks with their endless melancholy cries circling above the trees at the parsonage, the bright splashes of yellow daffodils at St. Michael's, and the green-tinged gravestones crammed higgledy-piggledy all made me wonder what it would be like to be a Bronte growing up here. Lister brought all this back forcefully as I read about the stone masons and looked at the photographs of their art.

Haworth's Cemetery

Lister's humor made me laugh out loud more than once, particularly in two places. In the first he describes using his book during a do-it-yourself walking tour. He suggests taking along a rope and lantern. Why? In many cemeteries, people are buried up to three deep. In Haworth Cemetery, they're buried up to ten deep, and it's not unknown for tourists to step in the wrong place and fall in a hole that suddenly opens up beneath their feet. Lister advises that the rope be used to lower down the lantern so that the victim has light to read his book by until the Cave Rescue Team arrives.

At the back of the book, the author includes some humorous "local recipes" including A Parliament of Rooks Pie and Squirrel Burgers on Warm Toast Fingers. If you are planning a visit to Haworth, this book would be an excellent guide book as you walk the streets of the village. Even if you aren't anticipating a trip there, it's a wonderful example of armchair travel!


  1. I would love to go to taht place. Traveling is my dream, especially to places with great history or occupied by people like Bronte sisters in the past. But, agreeing with you, armchair travel needs to suffice andthank you for this review.

  2. What a charming post! I usually prefer words to photos, but not always!

  3. I wish I was planning a trip to Haworth!

  4. We were lucky enough to get here several times when we lived in England. It is an amazing setting. Those moors are moon-like. And looking at the cemetery day and night has got to have an affect on your writing.

  5. Lilly, you're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed the review!

    Dorte, ever since digital cameras made an appearance, photography has been my second passion to books. I'm glad you enjoyed the inclusion of some of my photos to the review.

    Kathy--I wish you were, too. It's an amazing place. I love the north of England!

    Patti--I know that if I had to look out on all those gravestones day after day, it would have an affect on me, too. And those noisy rooks depressed me!


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!