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Charlotte Bronte's Honeymoon in Banagher
Charlotte Bronte was married on Thursday, 29th June 1854.She married Arthur Bell Nicholls, a curate originally from County Down who moved to Banagher, County Offaly at the age of 7 to live with his uncle Alan Bell. Alan Bell was master of the Royal School in Banagher which was in a large Georgian house. This house was just outside the town and was called Cuba Court.
Five days later they travelled over from Holyhead to Dublin, enjoying a smooth passage and calm weather. However, at the prospect of meeting her new in-laws Charlotte was feeling quite nervous. In deference to her cold the couple travelled by railway to Birr and then by horse and carriage to Banagher. While on honeymoon she wrote in her journal what she thought of Cuba Court…….. "I cannot help feeling singulary interested in all about the house .In this house Mr. Nicholls was brought up by his uncle Dr.Bell. It is very large and looks extremely like a gentleman's country-house. Within, most of the rooms are lofty and spacious and some, the drawing room, dining room, etc.-handsomely and commodiously furnished. The passages look desolate and bare. Our bedroom, a great room on the ground-floor would have looked gloomy when we were shewn into it but for the turf-fire that was burning in the wide old chimney."
Writing to her friends back in England this is what she thought of Banagher Town ….. "Though remote …Banagher was by no means dull. Friends drove long distances to visit each other, on outside cars or in phaetons, or landaus. All who came were welcome. Sometimes the young people would start dancing, and Mrs. Bell, I am sure, was often at the piano; there were picnics on the river, everyone had a boat, or could hire or borrow one, and there were concerts, in all of which amusements the officers in the barracks at Banagher and Birr joined."
Unfortunately Charlotte was to die within 274 days of her wedding .In November she went walking with her new husband Arthur on the moors above Haworth .They walked on to see a waterfall in full flood after days of melting snow .Suddenly it began to pour rain and the couple were soaked. Charlotte's health disimproved over the following months and tragically, she died in the night of Saturday, 31 March 1855 .
Arthur Bell Nicholls remained in Haworth until Patrick the father and the last remaining member of the Bronte family died in 1861.
Soon after, Arthur Bell Nicholls returned to Banagher where he married his favourite cousin Mary Anna Bell. They lived at Hill House which still survives at the top of Banagher Town just fifty metres from St.Paul's Churchyard where Arthur Bell Nicholls was buried 51 years after Charlotte.