BOSSES at the Bronte Parsonage Museum say they are "pleased beyond measure" at an accolade awarded by Arts Council England.

The Haworth museum's collection has been designated outstanding by the arts body.

Launched over 25 years ago, the designation scheme recognises collections held in the country's non-national museums, libraries and archives, based on their "quality and significance".

Rebecca Yorke, director of the Bronte Parsonage Museum, says: "The Bronte Society was founded in 1893 with the purpose of establishing a museum to promote interest in the life and works of the Brontes.

"Since then, our collection of manuscripts, furniture, clothing and personal possessions – the largest in the world – has continued to fascinate and inspire generations of visitors.

"We are pleased beyond measure by Arts Council England’s decision to designate our collection as outstanding, and believe our founders of 130 years ago would have felt just as proud of this achievement as we do today."

The parsonage – once home to the famous literary family – houses over 8,000 items including handwritten letters, poems, ‘little books’, sketches, drawings, paintings, clothing and jewellery that belonged to Anne, Charlotte and Emily, their brother Branwell and father Patrick.

Also, the museum contains much of the original furniture, including the dining table where the siblings wrote and a rare five-octave cabinet piano, plus art boxes and geometry sets.

Ann Dinsdale, principal curator, says: "The museum’s collection is a great scholarly resource, offering fascinating insights into the Brontes as writers. It also includes many of the family’s personal treasures, which remind us, in a profoundly moving way, of the Brontes as ordinary human beings. After working with this wonderful collection for many years, I’m thrilled to see its importance recognised."

Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, congratulates the museum and pays tribute.

He said: "I'm delighted that we have presented the Bronte Parsonage Museum with a prestigious designation award.

"For over 25 years, the designation scheme has identified the best collections held in museums, libraries and archives across England. The Bronte Parsonage joins an eclectic group of outstanding collections.

"From humble beginnings in Yorkshire, the Bronte family has inspired generations. The museum's collection opens their world to us with personal possessions, clothing and original furniture, all housed in the family home. This award will further raise the profile of the collection nationally and internationally, enriching the lives of many more people to come."