by Charlotte Brontë
Not quite rags to riches perhaps, but the story at least of a poor mistreated orphan who becomes a governess, marries her employer, and turns out to be an heiress in her own right. Full of gothic elements, the plot twists and characterisation make it an ever popluar novel.
It’s also a really good read: having scrupulously avoided reading nineteenth century fiction for years (pure prejudice), it was reading “Jane Eyre” that made me realise what I’d been missing!
Stone Gappe Hall (Gateshead Hall)
“Do you not think Gateshead Hall a very beautiful house?” asked he. “Are you not thankful to have such a fine place to live at?” “It is not my house, sir; and Abbot says I have less right to be here than a servant.” Gateshead House is where the orphaned Jane is brought up by her aunt and uncle. It is thought to be based on Stone Gappe Hall, where Charlotte worked as a governess.
Getting there: Lothersdale is tucked away in the heart of Yorkshire between the A629 and the A6068, not far from Glusburn where those two roads meet. Stone Gappe Hall is tucked away behind Stone Gappe Farm, but can be seen from the public footpath which heads south from the outskirts of Lothersdale.
Clergy Daughters' School (Lowood School)
Despite the harsh conditions, deprivations, and illness that mark Lowood, Jane finds there companionship and a measure of happiness: “I would not now have exchanged Lowood with all its privations, for Gateshead and its daily luxuries.” It is based on the school at Cowan Bridge that Charlotte and three sisters were sent to just after it opened in 1824. They were finally taken away in June 1825, but Maria and Elizabeth died of consumption shortly after returning to Haworth as a result of the poor conditions at the school.
Getting there: Cowan Bridge is on the A65 just east of Kirby Lonsdale. The school building is on the edge of the village, and is now private housing. There’s a commemorative plaque on the wall facing the road.
North Lees Hall (Thornfield Manor)
Jane goes to Thornfield as governess to Adele, Rochester’s ward. The happiness she finds there ends in the middle of her wedding to him when it emerges that his first wife is still alive. “It was three stories high, of proportions not vast, though considerable; a gentleman’s manor-house, not a nobleman’s seat: battlements round the top gave it a picturesque look. It’s grey front stood out well from the background of a rookery”. Thornfield Manor was owned by the Eyre family when Charlotte visited it while staying with Ellen Nussey. The original kitchen wing burnt down in the eighteenth century, and according to legend it housed a mad woman locked away in a padded room.
Getting there: North Lees Hall is near Hathersage in the Peak district.
Moorseats (Marsh's End/Moor House)
Having fled Thornfield, Jane finds sanctuary in the home of the Rivers family. “They loved their sequestered home. I, too, in the grey, small, antique structure, with its low roof, its latticed casements, its mouldering walls, its avenues of aged firs ... found a charm, both poent and permanent. They clung to the purple moors behind and around their dwelling - to the hollow vale into which the pebbly bridle-path leading from their gate descended”. Moorseats is another of the places Charlotte visited when staying with Ellen Nussey in Hathersage - which becomes Morton in the book.
Getting there: Like North Lees Hall, Moorseats is near Hathersage, which is in the Peak district, on the A6187, to the west of Sheffield.
Wycoller Hall (Ferndean Manor)
It’s in Fendean that Jane finally finds happiness with Rochester, after the fire at Thornfield that destoys the Hall, his wife, and his sight. “The manor-house of Ferndean was a building of considerable antiquity, moderate size, and no archtectural pretensions, deep buried in a wood ... The house presented two pointed gables in its front; the windows were latticed and narrow: the front door was narrow too, one step led up to it.” Originally built in the 16th century, Ferndean Manor is now in ruins, part of the pretty little village of Wycoller.
Getting there: Wycoller village, Wycoller Country Park in Lancashire is near Colne at the end of the M65: here’s a Map - how to get to Wycoller.