It's a while since we actually stopped and spent time in Hathersage as we usually pass through on our way to other places in Derbyshire. However, it's been on my list for a return visit for quite a while because of the connection this village has with Charlotte Bronte and her novel, Jane Eyre, as she visited in 1845 to stay with her best friend, Ellen Nussey, who lived in the vicarage. During this time she took note of her surroundings and later used them in her novel, Jane Eyre, which I read when I was about eleven. It had quite an impression on me and, in time, I became fascinated by the Brontes, their lifestyle and their novels. Now that we have moved to Yorkshire I would like to visit Howarth Vicarage where the Brontes lived in West Yorkshire. Hathersage is nearer to where we live and so we went there at the weekend and I took a couple of short walks in different parts of the village with a coffee break in between.
|The Vicarage. I don't know why it's for sale?|
Charlotte Bronte's close friend at school was Ellen Nussey and her brother, Henry, was vicar of Hathersage from 1845 to 1847. In fact he had once proposed to Charlotte and she had turned him down and in the Summer of 1845 he married another. Ellen asked Charlotte to come and help her prepare the vicarage for the newly married couple whilst they were on honeymoon and she stayed for three weeks in June and July. She took walks in the countryside and visited many of the houses in the area.
I find it fascinating to think that Charlotte would have seen the same sights in her day as she walked around Hathersage village.
Charlotte would certainly have spent time in the parish church of St. Michael and All Angels and noted the Eyre family memorial brasses on the south wall of the sanctuary. The Eyres were a prominent local family and Robert Eyre is said to have built seven houses for each of his seven sons - he had thirteen children - including his own North Lees Hall. This house is probably the model for Thornfield in Jane Eyre.
Some of the Eyre Family's memorial brasses
This has nothing to do with Charlotte Bronte, but I must mention the grave in the churchyard which is the reason why some visitors come to the church.
|View from the churchyard of the village below|
Charlotte and sometimes Ellen would have walked down to the village from the vicarage, but walks in the countryside and onto the moors would have been in the opposite direction uphill. A long walk would have taken them across Stanage Moors as far as the stage coach route from Sheffield to Manchester over Moscar Moor. (Moscar is actually nearer to where we live and merges into Strines Moor in Bradfield Dale although the present day Sheffield-Manchester road has been laid further away from the original stage coach track which must now be buried under the heather).
After refreshments in a tea room we walked by the Hood Brook to see the site of one of the needle mills in the village, an industry that would have been familiar to Charlotte that is also mentioned in the novel.
Some of the courtyards and narrow streets that would have been the homes of the needle mill workers. There are many other features around the village and locality, not to mention the names of villagers, that Charlotte Bronte had absorbed in her mind and later used in her writing.
We left Hathersage passing The George Hotel where the stage coach would have stopped and where Charlotte would have taken another for her return journey back to Haworth.