Having written her first novel 'Jane Eyre', Charlotte Bronte followed this up with something quite different - 'Shirley'.
This novel is set during a time of political unrest due to the upheaval of the Industrial Revolution, and also explores the contemporary role of women. The story follows what happens when Robert Gerard Moore, a mill owner, introduces a labour saving device into his mill. The workers oppose this and finally rebel, threatening Robert's mill and his life.
Robert loves his penniless and gentle cousin, Caroline, who is being brought up by her rather fierce Uncle, the Rev. Helstone. However, in order to rescue his financial situation after the uprising he proposes instead to Shirley Keelder, an orphaned heiress with a headstrong and independent attitude. Shirley rejects Robert but later marries his brother Louis, leaving Robert and Caroline free to unite.
Until the novel was published Shirley was a name which was in use only rarely, and was traditionally given to boys. Bronte's heroine is so called because her father had hoped for a son, and after the book became popular Shirley became predominently a female name.
Bronte had visited the Spen Valley area and had friends there - the house called Briarmains, which in the book is the home of the Yorke family, is closely based around Red House and the family who then lived there, the Taylors.
You can read the chapter about Briarmains on line HERE
And you can read more about Red House's Bronte connections HERE
Friends carry out all kinds of activities, the images show Patrick in period costume, Mandy at Sense and Sensibility
Click next/last to scroll through the images on this page, or click any image to scroll through larger versions.
There are more photos showing the grounds of the House on the 'gardens' page.
Album: The Taylor photos - can you help us identify these images?
The original photos are on loan from the owner, Andrew Taylor, to Friends of Red House. Andrew Taylor is a descendant of the Taylors who used to live at Red House. Here is what Andy told me about the photos: "I'm afraid I know very little about the photo album, except that it was sent to my mother & father from Canada and was sent by my Aunty Joan, (Dr Richard Waring Taylor's daughter) and if my memory serves me correctly the notes are written by her. She moved to Canada from Islip, so some photos could have been taken after the family left the Red House and moved to Islip."
The 'notes' referred to state that the sender doesn't recognise the furniture inside Red House, so was probably of a time before Dr Richard Waring Taylor lived there, which would be before 1905 (He moved to Islip in 1920, after the war). The last gravestone pictured in the photos is of Edward Taylor, who died 1899. As the headstone looks new and there are fresh flowers, that suggests to me the photos were taken sometime shortly after his death. Maybe the photos were taken as part of a pilgrimage following his death, as Edward Taylor was the nephew of Charlotte Bronte's friend, Mary Taylor.
Although some of the photos may have been taken elsewhere, I believe they are all of Taylor connected properties in the Gomersal/Spen Valley area, given the ones we can identify and the nature of the album. Here's what we do know:
|01-06: Red House exterior
||07-11: Red House interior
||12-20: Red House exterior
|21-23: Unidentified, possibly Red House?
||29: Sign on wall says 'Henry M??hell (Machell?), West Lane Soap Works, Gomersal
|30: Former Taylor Chapel (Briar Chapel?). Converted to shop & dwelling.
||32: St Mary's Church, Gomersal Hill Top. (Mary Taylor buried here)
|33: Gomersal Moravian Church (Taylors were Moravians)
||34-36a: Taylor private burial ground. Scotland/Fusden Wood.
Album: Living History, Ride of the Lancashire Hussars, Sunday 5 July 2015
Living history group the Lancashire Hussars rode their horses, in full World War 1 costume, from Oakwell Hall to Red House. The occasion was a joint event with Friends of Oakwell, when Birstall and Gomersal had a taste of what the area was like during the First World War in 1915, the year before conscription was introduced. The event was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Kirklees, who had a go with the training rifle.
Album: Mrs Taylor's Afternoon Tea, Saturday 18 April 2015
This was a very successful event at Red House. Mandy Tyas took the role of Mrs Taylor and Jacqueline Ryder was her servant, Lizzie. Using some notes and samples of various types of tea donated by Taylor's of Harrogate, we took our guests through some of the history of tea drinking and tasted some of the significant ones such as Gunpowder, Lapsang Souchong and Earl Grey. Guests were then able to look around Red House until they were summoned to take tea in the Parlour. Mandy said 'It was lovely to be able to point out various tea related artefacts that we have in the house, such as the brass samovar in the Kitchen.'
The Friends are grateful to Kirklees staff, particularly Eric Brown, the manager of Red House, and Frances Stonehouse of the Curatorial Team, for enabling us to serve tea in the Parlour. We are also grateful to Taylor's of Harrogate for supplying the tea samples and tasting notes.
Album: Oakwell Hall Friends Group Flower Festival entry from the Friends of Red House - theme 'Haunted House'
For copyright reasons we can only accept images with a known provenance.