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The Reader's Guide to Wuthering Heights

Shibden Hall

Shibden Hall near Halifax is much closer to the sort of grand house imagined for Thrushcross Grange than Ponden Hall which is usually considered an inspiration. Emily would probably have visited it while teaching at Law Hill near the town and although not a direct inspiration, may have contributed something to her idea of the Grange.

Shibden Hall was first built around 1420 and it well known as the home of the Lister family for over 300 years. It is one of those buildings which has grown over the years with each generation adding extensions and furniture as they desired. The result is a charming mixture of styles and an uneven façade which echoes the description of Thrushcross Grange:

… the moon looked over the high wall of the court, causing undefined shadows to lurk in the corners of the numerous projecting portions of the building.

At the time that Emily was working at Law Hill, the owner of Shibden was Anne Lister, an odd spinster heiress who always wore black and often dressed in men's clothing.

There is no record of Emily having visited Shibden Hall during the six months at Law Hill but the two buildings are only a mile (one and a half kilometers) apart so it is hard to imagine her not coming across it. The exterior of Thrushcross Grange is not as well defined as Wuthering Heights so Emily may just have had a distant impression of Shibden in her mind when she came to write the novel six years later.

Shibden from the south west

Shibden Hall from the south-west

Kirk from the south

Shibden Hall from the south

The courtyard

Shibden Hall courtyard

The courtyard

Shibden Hall interior

Visiting Shibden Hall

Shibden Hall has its own webpage at the Calderdale Council Link. Check this for opening times and admission prices. It is set within 36 hectares of parkland (which is free to enter). Viewing the exterior of the house is also free: the charge is for entering the building but it is not expensive and there are outbuildings containing exhibitions of old trades, vehicles, etc.

The Hall and its park are marked on road signs as you near it although for me, coming from the Haworth direction, it did involve a great deal of confusing road changes and roundabout turns. It would be useful to have a satnav or passenger with a good road map (or approach from the Hipperholme direction). A location map of Shibden is here and it is also marked on the GoogleMap of Emily Brontë/Wuthering Heights locations.

Emily's schoolhouse at Law Hill is not far from Shibden Hall and could be fitted in with a visit (although the building is a private house and can only be seen from the exterior). See the GoogleMap again for its location.

GPS icon Latitude Longitude OS Reference Altitude
53° 43.7′ N 1° 50.4′ W SE 106 257 143 m

Aerial View of Shibden Hall (© Google Maps)
(A) the Hall; (B) road to Halifax; (C) road to Hipperholme

Shibden Hall aerial view