8th October 2013
Charlotte Bronte visited Hathersage in 1845 and it is believed that she based Jane Eyre’s surname on the local family of the same name. The Eyre family had been the local powerful family since Norman times and they owned many grand houses in the area.
One of the houses owned by the Eyre family was North Lees Hall which dates from the 16th century. There is a local legend that an early female inhabitant was kept as a prisoner in the attic and died in a fire. It is widely believed that North Lees Hall was the model for Thornfield.
It is also believed that another house owned by the Eyre family, Brookfield Manor, was the inspiration for Vale Hall in Jane Eyre. The owner of the fictional Vale Hall was Mr Oliver, who made his fortune from a needle factory. Hathersage was a major manufacturing centre for the production of needles in the nineteenth century.