February 2016 | Nate Pedersen

Inspiration for Mr. Rochester's House in Jane Eyre Might Lose Funding

WycollerRuins.jpgThe ruin of Wycoller Hall in Lancashire may soon lose its funding. Faced with significant budget cuts, Lancashire County Council is considering a proposal to stop maintence on the ruins and remove ranger service patrols in the area. An online petition to reconsider this plan has attracted 6,300 signatures out of a goal of 7,500 supporters.

     Originally constructed in the 16th century, Wycoller Hall reached its heyday in the 18th century as a family seat for the Cunliffe family.  Bad debts, gambling problems, and a succession of owners who died without issue, however, set the gears in motion for a slow and steady decline. By the early 19th century the hall was abandoned, with significant chunks of his stonework hauled off to aid in other local construction projects.  Picturesque ruins, however, remained to inspire the Bronte sisters who frequently visited Wycoller village in the mid 19th century, located across the moors from their home in Haworth, West Yorkshire.

     Charlotte Bronte immortalized Wycoller Hall as Ferndean Manor, one of the properties owned by Mr. Rochester, in Jane Eyre. After a fire destroys Thornfield Hall, Mr. Rochester's primary residence, Mr. Rochester relocates to Ferndean Manor:1280px-Wycoller_Hall_1650.jpg

     "The manor-house of Ferndean was a building of considerable antiquity, moderate size, and no architectural pretensions, deep buried in a wood. I had heard of it before. Mr Rochester often spoke of it, and sometimes went there. He would have let the house, but could find no tenant, in consequence of its ineligible and insalubrious site. Ferndean then remained uninhabited and unfurnished with the exception of some two or three rooms fitted up for the accommodation of the squire when he went there in the season to shoot."

     Although a ruin today, Wycoller Hall is a heritage listed building.  Concerned citizens are worried that removing Council maintenance of the property will leave it vulnerable to vandalism. The petition campaign to preserve the property is being conducted by Friends of Wycoller.

[Images from Wikipedia]