5 Jun 2014

Hathersage, Derbyshire

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).

This is Moscar Moor from our side of Stanage Edge.  As you can see these moors can be quite desolate expanses of land similar to those so beloved of the Brontes in their own locality around Haworth which I hope to see one day.

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.   


  1. Fascinating Linda. I love to visit somewhere that I can relate to in some way. And as ever the scenery in the places you choose to go is stunning.

  2. Dear Linda - what a delightful ramble with you around Derbyshire. We have stayed in Hathersage, and also at the George Hotel - it was lovely to see it again. I usually like to revisit my childhood once a year, but this year I thought I would give it a miss, now, however, you have tempted me to return again.

  3. I ' m a bit awestruck that you just gave me a tour of some haunts of Charlotte Bronte. Wow! The history that surrounds you all there! I think I will ask the library to get me the audio book of Jane Eyre (I listen in my car)---it's been 45 years since I read it. Whoa---that's a bit mind-boggling in itself! Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights is my all-time favorite book. Thank you for the tour---a beautiful and fascinating one.:>)

  4. Oh Linda you're taking me on so many visits to some gorgeous gardens, houses and villages and I'm so grateful because I'd probably never get to see them for real. Thank you.
    Patricia x

  5. grazie linda del bel servizio fotografico che mi ha introdotto nei luoghi ispirati dalla Bronte per la magnifica storia di Jane Eyre...tra l'altro è uno dei miei film preferiti ma quello interpretato da Charlotte Gainsbourg e William Hurt....ho fatto un po' fatica con la traduzione dall'inglese...non ti è possibile aggiungere sul blog lla traduzione automatica????? ...bellissimi luoghi

  6. Wonderful post and photos, Linda. Hathersage is such an interesting place. I too read Jane Eyre when I was about 11 in my first year at secondary school and I've always loved the story. I hope you get to visit Haworth one day too:)

  7. Haworth is on my list also. I didn't read any of Charlotte Bronte's book until I was in English literature in high school.
    Then I became enchanted by so many authors include Charlotte Bronte. How wonderful to walk where she walked
    and see the sights that she saw. Isn't history fascinating to think of in that way? Love your photos and also seeing
    the tearoom.

  8. Great post and SO interesting, Linda... I loved Jane Eyre---and now I want to read it again... Charlotte must have been an awesome lady... That is such a great little village and your photos are amazing... But---Robin Hood's friend???? That was a surprise.... Thanks for all of the great information in addition to the photos. Loved it.


    1. An old tradition accepted even before the mid 17th century maintains that Hathersage was the birthplace of Robin Hood's companion, Little John, and that his body was buried in the churchyard. The characters of Robin Hood and some of his Companions and the stories associated with them are possibly based on real people who came from this and surrounding counties of England.

  9. So loved your tour. Felt like I was right there with you and wish I was. I am afraid that if I ever came to England for a visit, I would never come home again.

  10. Absolutely loved and was thoroughly absorbed in this post, thanks so much for the tour. x

  11. I do love Hathersage very much - it has a great community and the outdoor swimming pool is my newest favourite place to swim. I plan to make plenty of trips across for the evening swims this summer. Did you walk across to North Lees Hall? That is reputed to have had a connection with the Brontes. xx

    1. I have a map of the walk to North Lees Hall which I'm sure will be a good one. 'Mr. Gardener' has to rest and wouldn't be able to accompany me over the fields. We have to take short walks near to places where he can sit and I can wander around. Thankfully Hathersage is not too far from Sheffield so we can return another time.

    que d'émotions à lire ce billet
    marcher sur les pas de Jane est un vrai miracle , j'adore toutes les soeurs Brontë et les poémes de leur frère
    edith (iris)

    "Il n'y a rien de si triste que la vue d'un méchant enfant, reprit-il, surtout d'une méchante petite fille. Savez-vous où vont les réprouvés après leur mort?"
    Ma réponse fut rapide et orthodoxe.
    "En enfer, m'écriai-je.
    -- Et qu'est-ce que l'enfer? pouvez-vous me le dire?
    -- C'est un gouffre de flammes.
    -- Aimeriez-vous à être précipitée dans ce gouffre et à y brûler pendant l'éternité?
    -- Non, monsieur.
    -- Et que devez-vous donc faire pour éviter une telle destinée?"
    Je réfléchis un moment, et cette fois il fut facile de m'attaquer sur ce que je répondis.
    "Je dois me maintenir en bonne santé et ne pas mourir."

    (Dialogue entre Jane Eyre et Mr Brockelhurst à Gateshead)

  13. This looks like a place I would like to visit, a beautiful village, lots of history and a connection to the Brontes. You will love Haworth when you get there. We visit quite regularly yet we've never been inside the parsonage which now houses the Bronte museum. We really must make more of an effort.

  14. Like you I too am fascinated by all things Bronte, such fantastic books that conjured up such atmospheric images of the brooding moors. I did enjoy this and how lovely to think you have walked the same paths and seen the same sights!
    Wow....Little John's grave eh....marvelous stuff. Loved the gargoyles and that blackbird too!xxx

  15. What a fascinating visit Linda, it is very interesting to learn more about this village, and to see how beautiful it is. Thank you. xx

  16. Absolutely fascinating to walk through this with you in word and image. What a treasure.

  17. What an interesting walk, I'm determined to visit very soon. Love the churchyard especially and Little John's grave! Fascinating also to imagine Charlotte thinking about her writing and imagining characters and settings. Thanks you for sharing Linda.

  18. What fun! Thanks for taking us along on this tour - love, love the Brontes and it's great fun to see the places Charlotte must have spent time at.

  19. I so enjoyed taking this walk with you. So many little things I noticed. For instance, you pictured a head above a doorway and then again another similar upon the church (?). Do you know the significance of the head or what it is or symbolizes? Then I noticed an opening in the wall fence with two steps, so I'm wondering is that a style? And what is the tall reddish grass in the pasture? Lastly, the road signs have "miles" written on them. I expected kilometers. Perhaps miles is the "old measurement"? Thank you for sharing the fun and interesting thoughts of the Bronte's. It's been a long time since I've read Jane Eyre.

  20. Dear Linda,

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful post - so enjoyed seeing the places that Charlotte Bronte spent time there.
    It is a very picturesque and charming village - love the old stone house, which maybe is the Vicarage.
    Also love your sweet header with the pretty flowers.
    Hope you are enjoying the weekend

  21. That is so interesting Linda. Whenever I read your blog, I feel homesick for South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. We spent a good deal of time in Derbyshire when I was a child, particularly at weekends and I loved it. If you ever visit Spinkhill Church my mother's ashes are there, so say a little prayer for her!

    I loved Jane Eyre when I read it at 13, and even more when I re-read it a few years ago, by the fire in my Kentish farmhouse one winter. It is one of the all-time great novels, I think.

  22. What an interesting post, thanks so much for sharing, just the sort of place I would love to visit myself. Thankyou for your recent comment and welcome back on my photo blog, I have answered the question over there for you. :)

  23. This is fascinating. So interesting. I'm going to read this with my daughter later. I've been to Yorkshire, but I didn't explore this. My daughter wants me to take her on a literary tour of England someday. Thank you for the tour, and posting this. xoxo

  24. Oh I did enjoy this wonderfully informative post, Linda. I looked at the title and tried to remember where I'd read the name Hathersage before, but your post soon told me. It's a very long time since I read Mrs Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte, but I suddenly have an urge to read it and Jane Eyre too.