Nestled among the gritstone hills of the Derbyshire Peak District, Hathersage is a bustling village and a popular tourist attraction. Its most famous son was Little John of Robin Hood fame, who is buried here in the graveyard of St Michael’s Church. The village also claims an important literary link. In 1845, Charlotte Brontë came here to visit her school friend ,Ellen Nussey, and although she only stayed for three weeks, the village became a major source of inspiration for her first novel, Jane Eyre. It's widely believed that she based Rochester's Thornfield on the nearby North Lees Hall, which was owned by the Eyres, a local noble family and presumably the source of her heroine's surname.
There are several important settings in Jane Eyre and although Charlotte Brontë never uses actual place names, we can draw some clues from the author's own life experiences. The novel begins with Jane's childhood at Gateshead Hall and Lowood School, which was based on Charlotte Brontë's experiences at the Clergy Daughter's School in Cowan Bridge in Yorkshire.
After Jane leaves Thornfield, she wanders the moors until she comes to the town of Morton, a place she based on Hathersage in Derbyshire. She stays with her cousins, the Rivers, at Moor House (Moorseats Hall).
One of the novel's most important settings is Thornfield Hall, Mr Rochester's estate, where Jane comes to be governess to his young ward, Adèle. Both North Lees Hall in Hathersage and Norton Conyers in Yorkshire lay claim to being the original Thornfield.
When Jane finally returns to Thornfield Hall, she finds that it has burnt down and that Mr Rochester (now maimed and blind) is living at Fearndean Manor , which Brontë modelled after Wycoller Hall near Colne in Lancashire.
In Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Thornfield Hall is home to the novel's Byronic hero, Mr Rochester. It's here that Jane comes to work as a governess to his young ward, Adèle. The house represents a 'field of thorns' that our heroine must traverse, but it's also her first true home and one of the most important settings in the novel. And although Thornfield Hall was a fictitious creation, there's evidence to suggest it was based it on a real place, if not several different places. The 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre featured Haddon Hall (pictured) in Derbyshire.