Having read Jane Eyre as a teen and again as an adult, whenever a movie version of the book comes out - on television or on the big screen - I always try to catch it. From 1934 to present day, there have been at least 13 film adaptations of the novel. The latest Jane Eyre film directed by Cary Fukunaga is - for me - the best Jane Eyre yet because of two reasons. Mia Wasikowska is my favorite Jane, and Fukunaga’s authentic, film locations for Jane Eyre truly make me believe in Jane’s world.
Let’s follow Jane Eyre’s footsteps and visit the real life locations of the movie. Did you know they’re all in Derbyshire, England?
1. The White Edge Lodge (Moore House)
The film opens with Jane walking in the rain across the moors and collapsing at the front door of Moor House, home of St. John Rivers and his sisters. Standing in for the fictitious Moor House is the White Edge Lodge, a holiday cottage for five in Derbyshire, England. It was once a gamekeeper’s cottage on the Duke of Rutland’s estate.
The Lodge sits in isolation on White Edge Moor, overlooking the Dark Peak of the Peak District and makes a wonderful base from which to explore the National Park. “Views extend more than 20 miles down the Derwent Valley and up to the Dark Peak, yet the cottage is only ten miles from Sheffield city centre.” (From National Trust Holiday Cottages’ website.)
Nowadays, the White Edge Lodge is available for rental. Many of its original features are still in tact such as the kitchen in the former game cellar. If you’re all about “a room with a view,” there are breathtaking views of the moors from every window. On chilly nights, the wood-burning stove in the cottage keeps everyone warm and toasty.
Even though it’s a historic building, the Lodge does have central heating, a telephone, a television, laundry facility, a dishwasher, an extra cot, and even a high chair. On the main floor, there’s a bedroom with a double bed and a bathroom with a roll-top bath. On the second level is another bedroom with three single beds. There’s also an enclosed garden and enough space to park two cars.
If you’re interested in booking the White Edge Lodge for your next holiday, the 2011 weekly rental rates for the Lodge average between $1000 to $2000 (U.S. dollars). Should the White Edge Lodge not be available, worry not. There are other cottages for rent in the Peak District and Derbyshire area.
2. Haddon Hall (Thornfield Hall)
A fortified medieval manor house built in the 12th Century, Haddon Hall has been used as a film location for many productions. Among them are Franco Zeffirelli’s Jane Eyre (1996), Elizabeth(1999), Pride and Prejudice (2005), The Other Boleyin Girl (2008), BBC production of Jane Eyre(2006), and our perennial favorite The Princess Bride (1987). Most recently, Haddon Hall again stars as Thornfield Hall in the latest Jane Eyre film by Fukunaga.
The mansion’s historical charms, unique architecture, long gallery and beautiful Elizabethan terraced gardens make it one of the most popular film locations in Great Britain.
Haddon Hall and its surroundings were the setting for Thornfield Hall. The mansion as is already has production value for the filming. The hall has a lot of secrets that came in handy for filming.
“We were walking around with custodians of the building, and said how we needed a secret door for the cast to go through,” shared Production designer Will Hughes-Jones. “One of the custodians said, ‘Like this?’ and held back a tapestry to reveal a real-life secret door. You can get lost in Haddon Hall for hours. It can feel dark and frightening, but then again, when the sun is shining on it, it’s a beautiful place.”
Not only are the interiors of Haddon Hall perfect for Thornfield Hall, Fukunaga said the craggy rocks around the hall even has a “darker and more oppressive look”. More production value!
In his book 1000 Best Houses, Simon Jenkins describes Haddon Hall as “the most perfect house to survive from the middle ages.” It’s situated in the middle of the countryside of the Peak District National Park on the River Wye.
Haddon Hall has on its fact sheet the following:
Haddon Hall is probably the finest example of a fortified medieval manor house in existence. Present-day Haddon Hall dates from the 12th Century to the early 17th Century, whereupon it lay dormant for over two hundred years from 1700 until the 1920s, when the 9th Duke and Duchess of Rutland restored the house and gardens, and once again made it habitable.
3. Wingfield Manor (Thornfield Hall, after the fire)
Built by Ralph, Lord Cromwell (Treasurer to Henry VI) in 1439, the distinguished ruins of Wingfield Manor stand in perfectly for the remains of Fukunaga’s Thornfield Hall (after it’s been damaged by fire). It has also been used as filming location in a few other productions, including Zefferelli’sJane Eyre.
Sitting high on a hill above the village of South Wingfield, Wingfield Manor was passed on to the Earls of Shrewsbury after Cromwell’s death. It was also here that Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned on three separate occasions beginning in 1569. During the English Civil War, Wingfield was destroyed and became the ruins we see today.
Wingfield Manor, under the care of English Heritage, is open to the public. Visitors can explore its vaulted undercroft, walk through its Gothic Great Hall, and climb the tower’s 100 steps for an unforgettable view of the Amber Valley. Part of the Manor is also a private working farm.
4. Broughton Castle (Lowood)
Fukunaga used the medieval Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire for Jane’s Lowood School. Its romantic and historical settings have made the castle famous in many other films as well, including The Madness of King George (1994), Three Men and a Little Lady (1990), Shakespeare in Love (1998), The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982), and Lady Jane (1986).
In 1300, Sir John de Broughton built this castle at the intersection of three streams. “It is still the most romantic house imaginable. English to the core, as Henry James says. ... Perfection, what with moat, gatehouse, church, and gorgeous orange and buff stone.” (Wrote James Lees-Milne, in 1989.)
After the English Civil War, Broughton Castle was deserted in the 19th century until Frederick Fiennes, 16th Lord Saye and Sele, brought it back to life.
5. Peak District National Park
The wild, breathtaking beauty of Peak District National Park makes it one of Britain’s most popular holiday destinations. It’s also the first national park established in Great Britain. The park’s name comes from the word peac, an Old English word meaning hill. Peak District’s high point is on Kinder Scout which stands 2,088 feet (636 meters) above sea level.
Most of the Peak District is privately owned land. The National Trust owns 12 percent, three water companies own 11 percent, and the Peak District National Park Authority owns 5 percent of the park. Approximately 86 percent of the total is farmland, used mostly for grazing sheep or cattle.
The park (about the size of Greater London) has a population of around 38,000 people. It has three sections: The Dark Peak (high moors covered with thick, dark peat), the White Peak (with its 300-million-year-old limestone embedded with fossilized corals and other seafloor creatures), and the South West Peak (moors, woods, and pastoral valleys).
Why is the Peak District National Park playing a prominent role in Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre? Charlotte Brontë visited a Peak District’s village called Hathersage in 1845. During her stay there, she explored the moors and visited many of the houses in town. It’s not surprising to anyone when she set Jane Eyre in Hathersage. Brontë used the name of the landlord of the George Inn, a Mr. Morton, as the name of her fictitious village.
Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre was the latest production to film at the national park. Some of the othermovies filmed there include Pride & Prejudice (2005), BBC’s adaptation of Jane Eyre (2006), andElizabeth (1999).
If you’re interested in seeing more of Peak District, here’s a video of the Peak District National Park.
6. Water Meadow and the Haddon Hall Countryside (Thornfield Hall Countryside)
In choosing Haddon Hall to play Thornfield Hall, the filmmakers also had access to Haddon Hall’s beautiful gardens and fields. It was there on Water Meadow by the River Wye that Mr. Rochester had his daily horseback rides.
And if you’ve seen the movie, you may recognize the bridge and gardens pictured below. It’s where Rochester chased after Jane after she congratulated him on what she thought was his engagement to another woman. They went for a long walk together here and confessed their love for each other.
7. Stanage Edge (The Moors)
One of the most memorable scenes in Jane Eyre was at the beginning of the movie when Jane stood forlornly in the rain looking down at the vast moor-land below her. The cliff in real life is Stanage Edge.
Stanage Edge is the largest and most impressive of the gritstone edges and one of Peak District’s most striking natural landmarks.
Sitting on the moors north of Hathersage, and visible even down in the Hope Valley, Stanage Edge stretches six kilometres (3.5 miles) from its northern tip to the southern point near the Cowper Stone. Its cliffs and massive boulders have made it a favorite hiking and rock-climbing spot. If you’re curious to see more of Stanage Edge, here are more photos.
8. Chatsworth House (The Moors)
Chatsworth House, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Devonshire, is “England’s most handsome country house” and “one of the world’s most extraordinary tourist attractions,” (Daily Mail News, UK). It’s also the setting for many featured films and television productions, among them are Pride & Prejudice (2005), The Duchess (2008), The Wolfman (2010), and of course Jane Eyre (2011). Fukunaga filmed some of the exterior shots for Thornfield Hall on the grounds of this stately country home. Chatsworth House is the setting for Jane’s first meeting with Edward Rochester. It is at a spot at the top of the gardens that Rochester’s horse gets startled as Jane suddenly appears.
Since 1549, Chatsworth House is home to the Duke of Devonshire and the Cavendish family. The estate resides on 35,000 acres of land that houses farms, woods, moors, rivers, villages, and quarries. Sir William Cavendish and Bess of Hardwick built the first house on the property in 1552. Later, they also built Hunting Tower that today still stands on the hill behind the house. Over a century later (between 1687 and 1707), the first Duke of Devonshire renovated the house because he thought its Elizabethan style looked outdated.
The 6th Duke of Devonshire - again wanting to update the mansion - hired architect Jeffry Wyatville to renovate it to meet with the 19th century standards. They added more shared living spaces to replace individual guest apartments as well as more corridors so all the rooms could be easily reached. They also converted a large gallery into a library to showcase the Duke’s book collection.
During World War II, Penrhos College took over Chatsworth House and made it a public school for girls. In 1959 when the 11th Duke of Devonshire moved back to the estate, the building was updated once again with new plumbing, electric and heating systems.
With a roof measured 1.3 acres, the house currently has:
- 287 rooms
- 3,426 feet of passages
- 18 staircases
- 359 doors
- over 397 window frames
- 2,084 light bulbs
- 27 baths
- 55 wash hand basins
- 29 sinks
- 56 lavatories.
In 1981, the Chatsworth House Trust was established to preserve the house and its surrounding land. The house (with an extensive art collection of the Devonshire family), garden and parkland is open to the public. Today, Chatsworth House has entered the 21st century. It now has its ownblog.
Come visit the Chatsworth House next time your’e in the Peak District National Park.
Visiting Jane Eyre’s World
Director Fukunaga said he could not imagine filming Jane Eyre anywhere else. “Northern England – Yorkshire and Derbyshire, the moors and dales – they look like they’re something straight out of a Tim Burton horror film. The trees are all twisted by the wind; the bracken and the heather on the moors have this amazing hue. And the weather is so extreme and it changes all the time,” stated Fukunaga. “The house even, Haddon Hall, is just so steeped in history, the spaces, the galleries, they sort of just breathe and you feel the presence of the history.”
I can’t wait to have a picnic on Stanage Edge one day, complete with an entire afternoon on the moors reading Jane Eyre one more time. If you’d like to visit the filming locations of Jane Eyre in person, the Peak District and Derbyshire’s website is a great place to start your research. Perhaps, you can even rent The Moore House for your stay in Derbyshire!