Over 200 Bronte Society members and special guests gathered in Haworth last Friday (Feb 3) for a private viewing of a new exhibition to mark Branwell Bronte’s bicentenary.

They came to see “Mansions in the Sky”, which is curated by poet, artist, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage.

Guests assembled for a drinks reception in the Old School Room, Church Street, where they were welcomed by the parsonage’s principal curator Ann Dinsdale.

Arts officer Jenna Holmes then talked briefly about the exhibition before introducing Mr Armitage, who is the parsonage museum’s 2017 Creative Partner.

He talked about how he approached the exhibition and read out “William It Was Really Nothing”, the poem he wrote in response to Branwell’s unanswered letter to William Wordsworth.

The original letter is on display at the museum, loaned especially for the bicentenary by the Wordsworth Trust.

Following the reading, guests were invited to enter the museum and view the varied exhibits.

Museum head of communications, Rebecca Yorke, said:”It was wonderful to welcome so many people to the parsonage to celebrate the opening of Mansions in the Sky.

“Some guests had travelled a considerable distance to join us, but the feedback we’ve received so far indicates that Simon’s exhibition and the new displays were very much worth the journey.

“It will be a challenge to surpass the successes of Charlotte’s bicentenary year, but 2017 has definitely got off to a promising start.”

Mr Armitage was born in West Yorkshire and is professor of poetry at Oxford University.

He has published over a dozen collections of poetry, and his poems have been on the GCSE and A Level syllabus in the UK for nearly 20 years.

He has won many awards and was presented with the CBE for services to poetry in 2010.

Mr Armitage said: “As a poet of this landscape and region I recognise Branwell’s creative impulses and inspirations.

“I also sympathise with his desire to have his voice heard by the wider world, a desire encapsulated in a letter sent to William Wordsworth in 1837, when Branwell was a precocious and determined 19-year-old, seeking the great man’s approval.”