Friday, July 13, 2007

The Peaks Revisited, Part II: On the Trail of Jane Eyre

In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Eyres were lords of the manor in Hope and Hathersage. Sir Robert Eyre fought at Agincourt and returned home to the village of Hathersage to renovate the local church (pictured above). The church is full of Eyre family memorial brasses, including those of Sir Robert and his wife, Lady Joan, on their altar tomb in the sanctuary. At left is the memorial brass of Ralph Eyre (d. 1493) and his wife. Robert Eyre is said to have built seven houses around Hathersage for his seven sons. One of these houses was North Lees Hall (pictured below).

In 1845, Charlotte Brontë visited a friend in Hathersage, and stayed in the parsonage near the church. At the time of her visit, Hathersage was already known as the burial place of of Little John, Robin Hood's right-hand man. The village was also known as a center of pin and needle manufacture. But Charlotte Brontë seems to have been most inspired by the Eyre name and by North Lees Hall, standing in the shadow of the dramatic cliff known as Stanage Edge. In her imagination, North Lees Hall became Thornfield, the home of Mr. Rochester, where young Jane Eyre comes as a governess for Mr. Rochester's ward, Adele. Brontë describes Thornfield as follows: "It was three storeys high, of proportions not vast, though considerable; a gentleman's manor hours, not a nobleman's seat; battlements around the top gave a picturesque look."

Poor Jane spends some of her time in the novel wandering brokenheartedly on the Peak District moors, such as those that lie beyond Stanage Edge (pictured above). In the 2005 film version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) somehow finds herself on Stanage Edge with the wind blowing through her dress. Pictured at left is Keira; below, even more stunning, is Clara striking a similar pose.

Haddon Hall. Peter is holding an umbrella borrowed from the nice man in the ticket booth.

In the 2006 BBC Jane Eyre, the scenes at Mr. Rochester's Thornfield were filmed at Haddon Hall, the beautifully-preserved medieval manor house of the Manners family just south of Bakewell, Derbyshire. It was raining heavily when we arrived at Haddon Hall (about which I will say more in a later post), but we were pleased to discover that Andrea Galer's costumes for the BBC Jane Eyre were still on display (the exhibit was supposed to end in June, but will now run into August). Below are (1) Jane's governess outfit and Mr. Rochester's everyday suit, in the banqueting hall, (2) costumes on display in the great hall, where several scenes in the BBC adaptation were filmed (the costumes were worn by Blanche and Lady Ingram, and Mr. Rochester's ward, Adele), and (3) Adele's costume.

Next: Peveril Castle


Anonymous said...

Lovely photos. We have never visited the Peaks before, but it's right at the top of our 'to do' list!

I must object though to your using the Keira Knightley adaption of P&P - that's blasphemy in our house. The producers shamefully copied that scene from the far superior BBC version starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth ;)

Still, standing atop that rock is an iconic moment, and I'll be following suit when we do finally manage a visit.

Traxy said...

I don't remember Jennifer Ehle standing on rocks on moors in '95? ^^ Still, I agree - '05 is blasphemous.

The pictures are fab! I've been to Haddon Hall but not yet been to North Lees. Really want to though! :)