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4.7.09

The Tenants..


The photo is of North Lees Hall, in the Peak National Park. The building's most celebrated tenants were the Eyre family, who occupied the hall between 1750 and 1882It was Charlotte Bronte who, after a visit to North Lees Hall in 1845, brought the Eyre family name to public notice with the publication of her novel Jane Eyre.

'North Lees was built by Robert Eyre, who it is said had eleven sons, for each of whom he built a house, he himself residing at the Highlows (Highlow Hall, on the further side of Hathersage)...From this house Mr. Eyre could see all the residences of his eleven sons and tradition says that on certain signals from the flag staff being given he could command the attendance of any or all of his sons as he required them.'
When Charlotte visited the Eyre family at North Lees, the gothic atmosphere of the hall obviously fired her imagination. She took the name "Eyre" for her wilful heroine and described the hall in detail as "Thornfield", the home of her temperamental hero, Mr Rochester.


- " She led the way upstairs. The steps and banisters were of oak; the staircase window was high and latticed; both it and the long gallery into which the bedroom doors opened looked as if they belonged to a church rather than a house. A very chill and vault-like air pervaded the stairs and gallery, suggesting cheerless ideas of space and solitude; and I was glad, when finally ushered into my chamber, to find it of small dimensions, and furnished in ordinary, modern style."

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