We’ve already told you something about Margaret Hartley,  her connection to Martha Brown and her lovely shop in Haworth. But today we’d like to tell you more about it thanks to our friend and guide Johnnie Briggs, who collected some information for us some time ago. Here’s the story of Margaret Hartley and Martha Brown. 

Margaret Hartley

This is the story of a family whose history touches the lives of the Brontës. There are still a number of Haworth families that have lived in the village for generations and Margaret’s family is one of those.
The Hartley family built the small house that sits next to the Parish Church at the top of Main Street sometime around 1750. The Hartley family still own that house and today it is Margaret’s little book shop. When the Church of 1881 was built they knocked down the house that adjoined Margaret’s leaving her little shop with a ragged edge to it and a sense of something missing.

The Hartley’s were tinsmiths, making tin utensils and by 1840 they also ran the Post Office upstairs and the tin workshop downstairs in the cellar.
The counter in Margaret’s little bookshop was the one the Brontës posted their manuscripts and correspondence over. This is a real piece of Brontë history, unchanged for all of those years and for many Brontë fans to be able to touch the counter and talk to Margaret is one of the highlights of their visit to Haworth.

Margaret was born at Moorside Farm, just over Pennistone Hill, towards Marsh. The family moved in to the shop in Haworth in 1943, after her Grandmother moved out. […] Margaret was eight when they moved in and one of her earliest memories is that of a sound.
This was the sound of wooden clogs with iron edges, a little like horse shoes, to protect the wood. They made a distinct sound on the stone street as the workers hurried down Main Street to the mills at the bottom. As the time moved towards the hour the sound of the clogs on the street got quicker and quicker until they were a flurry of sound and sparks as they galloped towards the mills. If you were late you missed your day’s work, your day’s pay and could be fined.

Margaret moved out of the family home when she married her husband, Mr Hamer, in 1959. To find out more about Margaret’s life you simply need to visit Haworth and pay a visit to the shop. But the link to the Brontë family doesn’t end there. There is more…

The Brown Family

John Brown was Mr Brontë’s Sexton, the man who looked after the graveyard and the practical aspects of the Church. The Brown’s had six daughters including Martha.

Margaret’s mother in law was from the Ratcliffe family and it was Martha Brown’s sister who married into this family and established this link to the Brontës. It was after Martha’s death that some her treasured collection of Brontë memorabilia came into Margaret’s family. In recent years Margaret and her brother and sisters have returned these items to the Parsonage on a perpetual loan.

Johnnie Briggs

It is true that you must go to Haworth in order to find out more about all this. We’d love to thank  Johnnie Briggs for this amazing story, we are so grateful! If you want to read more about it you can’t miss Margaret Hartley, her connection to Martha Brown and her lovely shop in Haworth and  The Hawthorn: Barraclough’s house in Haworth!