The ruined old church at Alloway dates from the 16th century, though the site could be much older. It is most famous now due to it being featured in Robert Burns' poem 'Tam o' Shanter' (1791), as the place where witches and warlocks gather. The churchyard is fascinating and includes the graves of Burns' father, William Burnes, and sister, Isabella Burns Begg. Combine with a visit to the Robert Burns' Museum, his birthplace, Burns Monument and Brig o' Doon.
Anne Bronte is the only one of the famous siblings not to be buried in the family vault at Haworth. She worked as a governess in Scarborough and journeyed the 70 miles from home when she was ill, hoping the sea air would help. She arrived on Saturday 25 May 1849, very ill, accompanied by her sister Charlotte and a friend, Ellen and died on the Monday. Charlotte commissioned the very worn headstone seen today, but returning 3 years afterwards found a number of errors on it. The errors, whatever they were, were seemingly corrected – but the inscription still has Anne’s age wrong. A modern plaque has been placed on the ground by the Bronte Society.
St Mary's Church dates from the 12th century and is interesting in its own right. Canons were based in the churchyard during the Civil War, from which Parliamentary troops exchanged fire with the Royalists in the castle.
Beautiful old cobbled bridge over the Doon, built in the 15th century. It features in the 1791 poem, 'Tam o' Shanter', when Tam gallops across the bridge on his horse, Meg, pursued by witches and warlocks. He escapes - but they grab Meg's tail! Combine with a visit to the Robert Burns' Monument, Museum, Alloway Old Kirk and his birthplace.
The Brontë family moved to Haworth in 1820, when Patrick Brontë was appointed ‘perpetual curate’ of the parish church. They lived in the Parsonage, where the three immensely talented sisters wrote some of the finest literature in the English language. Though it will overwhelm those who do not actually worship the Brontës, the Parsonage Museum is fascinating. And the town of Haworth is always worth a visit anyway. Don't miss the Gothic splendour of the churchyard!
What used to be Cowan Bridge School for clergymen’s daughters, attended by the Bronte sisters, is now a row of cottages, one of which has been restored and is available as a holiday let. The school appears to have been a horrendously cruel and unhealthy place - the two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died aged 10 and 11 in 1825 having allegedly contracted tuberculosis there. Charlotte drew on her experiences at Cowan Bridge to create Lowood School in Jane Eyre. There is a plaque marking the association on the gable end of the building, by the side of the A65.
Bunhill Fields is a former burial ground established in the 17th century (though with a longer history than that) and the last resting place for an estimated 123,000 bodies. It is particularly known for its nonconformist connections. Among those commemorated here are William Blake, Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan and Susannah Wesley (John Wesley's mum). The burial area is fenced in, and crowded; there is an open area, primarily used by office workers at lunch times.
This 17th century cottage (originally two) was rented by the romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) for about 3 years between 1797 and 1799. He was visited here by his friend, William Wordsworth, and it was here that he wrote 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', the interrupted/unfinished 'Kubla Khan' and other works. The National Trust has done a very good job presenting the cottage as the Coleridge family might have known it - and there's a cute garden.
Small community nature reserve, formed from part of the garden once owned by author and academic Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963). It is said the woods and pond helped inspire his books that featured the imaginary land of Narnia. The nature reserve is adjacent to Lewis' home for more than 30 years, The Kilns.
"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." Dr Samuel Johnson, writer and wit, is one of the most quoted Englishmen of all time and lived at this house between 1748 and 1759 whilst compiling his famous "Dictionary of the English Language" in the garret. The house was built at the end of the 17th century and is one of 17 different places Johnson lived in in London. After he left, it was used as a hotel, print shop and warehouse. It now contains exhibitions about Johnson's life and works and many original items relating to the man. All five levels are open to the public. A statue of his cat, Hodge, is at the other end of the square and one of his favourite inns, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is round the corner on Fleet Street.