Guest Post: Author, Morgan Maelor-Jones
I have just watched a repeat of the incredible BBC drama Wide Sargasso Sea, set in Jamaica, starring Rebecca Hall and Rafe Spall, a prequel to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. The best drama I have ever seen on TV. The young Mrs Antoinette Rochester thinks of England as '...roses, swans and snow...always snow.'
To think this ultimately derived from chilly (in all senses of the word) Howarth Parsonage and Charlotte Bronte's trip to Hathersage in 1845. 'Morton' in Jane Eyre is based on Hathersage and there is a large gravestone there to the local Eyre family from North Lees Manor. The Eyre family arms are displayed in the church chancel there.
I'd always assumed it was commonly known that Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre was an anagram of North Lees in Hathersage (North-thorn and 'lees' is an old word for 'field').
In Nikolaus Pevsner's 1978 Derbyshire edition of 'Buildings of England' he says 'North Lees plays a part in Jane Eyre (as March End or Moor House)...' . I'd thought Moor House in Jane Eyre was based on the real Moorseats - 750m north east from Hathersage Parsonage, where Charlotte Bronte actually stayed in 1845. In the novel itself, Jane was attracted off the moors by the lights of Moor House, much as Charlotte Bronte would have seen the real Moorseats from the Parsonage, albeit from lower down in the valley. So next time you go to Hathersage, and it all seems a bit tame, think Wide Sargasso Sea. Or rather let's all go and live in Bronte-world, far away from computer spreadsheets, crawling traffic to work, continual car MOTs and council taxes...
Posted by John Baird at 13:12