Attractively situated on Banagher Hill, overlooking countryside, this attractive 18th century home was built
on glebe land as a residence for the incumbent minister to the nearby Church of Ireland chapel of St Paul’s.
A pre-famine town map of 1842 lists Hill House, now Charlotte's Way, as “No. 1 Banagher”, indicative
perhaps of its prestige in an age when its prominence was worthy of such attention.

Hill house has historical value as the only Irish house, and perhaps the principle house apart from Haworth
Parsonage in Yorkshire, to have associations with the Brontës. Over the years it has attracted much interest
from visiting members of the world renowned Brontë Society.

On June 29th 1854, Charlotte Brontë and Rev Arthur Bell Nicholls, who was her father’s curate, were married
in a cermony at Haworth Church in West Yorkshire. Reverend Bell Nicholls, had spent much of his childhood
and youth at Cuba Court, Banagher, where a Royal school had been established in 1821, which was to come
under the headmastership of his uncle Rev Alan Bell some time later. After the wedding Charlotte and her
new husband travelled by train to North Wales, and then crossed the Irish Sea from Holyhead to Dublin, and
from there on to Banagher, to honeymoon in Cuba Court. During her short sojourn in the town Charlotte
would have made many visits to the rectory at Hill House.

Unfortunately Charlotte died of “Phthisis”, listed as a wasting disease, probably associated with the now
treatable extreme nausea sometimes associated with pregnancy, on March 31st 1855. Following her death,
Rev Bell Nicholls remained for six years with Charlotte’s father, Rev Patrick Brontë, at Haworth, and then
returned to Banagher and his aunt’s residence at Hill House. He brought with him Marhta Brown, the Brontë’s
maid, and Patrick’s dogs Cato and Plato. On August 25th 1864 he married his cousin Mary Anna Bell, whom
Charlotte had met on her honeymoon and described her as a “pretty lady-like girl with English manners”.

They settled in Hill House which Arthur maintained as a shrine to the memory of Charlotte, but their marriage
was childless. Hill House was then kept virtually as a memorial to the famous Bronte family. The Haworth
Parsonage grandfather clock stood on the stairs landing next to the medallion portrait by the sculptor Joseph
Bently Leyland of the ill-fated only son of Patrick Bronte, Branwell; Patrick’s old gun and a photo of Haworth
Parsonage hung in the dining room and the drawing room was dominated by many framed drawings by the
Brontes, a famous chalk portrait by society artist George Richmond (now in the British National Portrait Gallery)
and an engraving of Samuel Lawerence’s portrait of the writer William Makepeace Thackeray, the original of
which Charlotte saw being executed and which was given to her by her publisher George Smith. Thackeray, who
became acquainted with Charlotte, exposed her as the real person behind the pseudonym “Currer Bell”; she
admired his work to the extent that she dedicated the second edition of “Jane Eyre” to him. The pair resided at
Hill House until Rev. Bell Nicholls died in 1906 aged 88.

 

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