Red House Museum
OS Grid reference- SE 208 260
Red House Museum, situated on Oxford Road in Gomersal, West Yorkshire, is a Grade II Listed 1830's cloth merchant's home which boasts connections with Charlotte Brontė.
Charlotte visited the Red House frequently and featured it in her novel "Shirley". Now a museum, it features atmospheric period rooms, recreated gardens and exhibitions in the restored outbuildings.
The house was built in 1660 by William Taylor and was home to the Taylor family until 1920. The family were cloth merchants and manufacturers. In Victorian times, Mary Taylor was a close friend of Charlotte Brontë, the two had been pupils together at Miss Wooler's private boarding school for young ladies at Roe Head, near Mirfield.
The house provided the inspiration 'Briarmains' in her novel 'Shirley'. Red House is set out as a prosperous 1830s middle class home, when Joshua and Anne Taylor lived there with their six children, the family owned a woollen finishing mill at nearby Hunsworth. Mary Taylor wote to Charlotte Bronte about her novel in August, 1850- 'There is a strange feeling in reading it of hearing us all talking.'
The house still appears very much as it did in Charlotte Bronte's time, with its elegant parlour, the 'best' room of the house, which Charlotte Bronte described as 'The most cheerful of rooms... there was no splendour, but there was taste everywhere' and its stone-flagged kitchen complete with a range, colourful crockery and large dresser filled with shining copper jelly moulds.
The stained glass windows which are described in 'Shirley' (pictured right) still remain in the dining room. 'Those windows would be seen by daylight to be of brilliantly-stained glass - purple and amber the predominant hues... ' - Shirley. The governess' school and sitting room displays books and a globe for teaching, an educational history jigsaw and a very old Fox and Geese board game. The elegant main bedchamber contains fine mahogany furniture from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
The award-winning recreated nineteenth century gardens feature colourful flower beds, decorative ironwork, scented old roses and a climbing arbour and arch. Visitors can learn about Charlotte Brontė's Spen Valley connections and her friendships with Mary Taylor and Ellen Nussey in The Secrets Out exhibition in the barn.
Red House was also regularly visited by John Wesley and Charles Wesley, the Methodist preachers who were friends of John Taylor, the great-grandson of William Taylor.