Church with Bronte crypt may be reopened in £1.25m funds drive

A CHURCH with a crypt containing the bodies of famous literary sisters Charlotte and Emily Bronte could be opened for the first time in 200 years.

Parishioners at Haworth Parish Church, Haworth, have started a fundraising drive to replace the leaking roof and carry out other major refurbishments in a huge repair job that will cost up to 1.25m.

As part of the major works, the Bronte crypt, which has been sealed since the late 19th century, may be reopened to visitors.

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The Rev Peter Mayo-Smith said: "It is something that we want to explore to enhance the visitor attraction and allow people to come and see it.

"There are one million tourists per year and Haworth is one of the most visited heritage sites in the world, so what we want to do is give the visitors an even better experience."

The church, known as St Michael and All Angels, is famous internationally because of its links with the Bronte family.

The Rev Patrick Bronte, father of the literary sisters, was vicar at a church on the site and his successor, the Rev John Wade, demolished and rebuilt the church in 1879. He also sealed the crypt where the bodies of Charlotte, author of Jane Eyre, and Emily, who wrote Wuthering Heights, are buried.

John Huxley, who is leading the fundraising campaign, said a figure of 1.25m had been set. The first phase of work will include replacing the boiler system, which is expected to cost 60,000 and repairing the historic organ for 55,000.

The roof will cost up to 500,000 to repair and 15,000 is needed for a new system for the historic clock to chime again. Mr Huxley said: "We are aware of the importance of the church to the tourist industry within Haworth and also how important it is to the life of the village."