Several theories exist about which building was the inspiration for Wuthering Heights. One is Top Withens, a ruined farmhouse located in an isolated area near the Haworth Parsonage. Because its structure does not match that of the farmhouse described in the novel, it is considered less likely to be the model. Top Withens was first suggested as the model for the fictitious farmhouse by Ellen Nussey, a friend of Charlotte Brontë, to Edward Morison Wimperis, a commissioned artist for the Brontë sisters' novels in 1872.
The second possibility is the now demolished High Sunderland Hall, near Halifax. This Gothic edifice was located near Law Hill, where Emily worked briefly as a governess in 1838. While very grand for the farmhouse of Wuthering Heights, the hall had grotesque embellishments of griffins and misshapen nude males similar to those described by Lockwood in chapter one of the novel:
- "Before passing the threshold, I paused to admire a quantity of grotesque carving lavished over the front, and especially about the principal door, above which, among a wilderness of crumbling griffins and shameless little boys, I detected the date '1500'."
The inspiration for Thrushcross Grange has been traditionally connected to Ponden Hall, near Haworth, which is very small. Shibden Hall, near Halifax, is a more likely possibility. The Thrushcross Grange that Emily describes is rather unusual. It sits within an enormous park as does Shibden Hall. By comparison, the park at Chatsworth (the home of the Duke of Devonshire) is over two miles (3.2 km) long but, as the house sits near the middle, it is no more than a mile and a half (2.4 km) from the lodge to the house. Considering that Edgar Linton apparently did not even have a title, this seems rather unlikely. There is no building close to Haworth which has a park anywhere near this size but a few houses which might have inspired some elements. Shibden Hall has several features which match the descriptions in the novel.