With the help of funding from a Creative New Zealand Arts Grant, I was able to travel to the UK from early April to the beginning of this month to research Mary Taylor.
Mary Taylor was for about fifteen years a shopkeeper in Wellington in the 1840s and 50s, and much more, but she is best known as Charlotte Bronte's best friend.
I had planned to travel to her ancestral home, Red House, in West Yorkshire.
Kirklees Council chose to save Oakwell Hall instead of Red House.
Thank you for showing an interest in Red House. You may not be aware that at the last General Election the country chose to elect a government that made no secret of their commitment to austerity and their desire particularly to “shrink” local government.
They have also shown and demonstrated their wish to move resources from authorities in the North of England and to protect authorities in the south. As a consequence we have seen a cut in government funding of £180m . This is at a time when demand for social care, that already makes up 60% of spending, is rising significantly.
Given the choice between protecting a child from abuse, supporting an aged person to stay at home, helping a person with disabilities to lead a normal life or subsidising visitors to a House once occupied by a significant historical figure, there was only one choice we could make.
We didn’t want to make the cuts. But we have no choice
Leader Kirklees Council
"Do you know anything about Oakwell Hall?"
"Isn't it the ancestral party pad of some privileged white men?"
Ha. ha ha h...
I asked, would have closed Red House if Mary Taylor had been a man? I imagined my words in a bubble, written in Comic sans.
We cannot be certain that this William was one of the Red House Taylors, but the family tree does show a William Taylor of Gomersal who died in January 1588." (Ferrett, 1987)
Although, I was lucky enough to gain access to Red House, it was no longer running as a museum and had been stripped of its period furnishings and Taylor family art.
The Bronte Society now have the stained glass windows depicting Milton and Shakespeare. Red House is to be sold on the open market.
Barnsley poet Ian MacMillan once demonstrated that the difference between a Yorkshire accent and a Derbyshire one hinged upon the phrase "You can come in my house". Tykes say 'ouse whereas Derbyshire folk pronounce arse. It's a bit like difference between selling an 'istorical 'ouse to save an 'istorical arse.