OS grid reference:- SD 981 353
The isolated, abandoned farm at Top Withens on Haworth Moor is situated about 5 kilometres to the south-west of Haworth, home of the Bronte sisters. The farmhouse, which stands at a height of 1,400 feet, is said to be the inspiration for the Earnshaw home in Emily Bronte's classic masterpiece 'Wuthering Heights', a tale of love and revenge on the Yorkshire moors.
Wuthering Heights is the name of Mr. Heathcliff's dwelling. 'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather.Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed; one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun". -Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights.
The earliest record of the name dates back to the fourteenth century. Originally known as 'Top of th' Withens', and sometimes known as 'Top Withins', the farmhouse probably dates from the latter part sixteenth century and was built by George Bentley. At the time of the Brontes, it was the home of Jonas Sunderland and his wife Ann Crabtree and then their son, Jonas, with Mary Feather . It was last inhabited by Ernest Roddy, a poultry farmer, in 1926.
"Entering through the narrow porch, you come into a large raftered room with a stone fireplace. A second, smaller room lies through the door opposite, containing also a stone fireplace and from the window of which there is a fine view over the moors towards Haworth. Through a door to your left you pass into a narrow vaulted cellar. On entering this there is an opening on your left, a small compartment with a square shaft in the roof. Putting one's head through this one finds oneself looking through the floor of a large barn which was formerly the peat house. -"The Souvenir Guide to Haworth: Home of the Brontės" by John Lock (1956)
A plaque affixed to a wall, placed there by the Bronte Society reads: "This farmhouse has been associated with Wuthering Heights, the Earnshaw home in Emily Brontė's novel. The buildings, even when complete, bore no resemblance to the house she described, but the situation may have been in her mind when she wrote of the moorland setting of the Heights."
The most popular route to Top Withens is the path from Haworth which passes the Brontė waterfall. Alternatively, there are car parks on the road which runs from Stanbury to Oxenhope.