Ferndean Manor

Ferndean Manor

In chapter twenty-six of Jane Eyre, readers discover that Mr. Rochester has been living a double life. At the exact moment the couple is to be wed, Mr. Briggs reveals to Jane that Rochester has an estranged wife living at Thornfield Hall, and he also owns the separate estate "of Ferndean Manor, in ---shire, England" (Brontë ch. 26). Brontë's Ferndean Manor is inspired by Wycoller Hall, a sixteenth century estate found in the village of Wycoller, Lancashire, England. The hall was originally owned by the Hartley family, but it was extended in the nineteenth century by its last owner, Squire Cunliffe. Upon the death of Cunliffe in 1818, Wycoller Hall fell to ruin due to its foundational stones being plundered to build nearby homes (Johnson). As Wycoller is not far from Haworth, the home of the Brontë's, it is believed that Charlotte Brontë would have passed by Wycoller Hall on her way to stay with the Kay-Shuttleworths at Gawthorpe Hall (Johnson). Brontë's inclusion of this detail establishes a connection between her personal life and her novel and allows readers to place themselves within the setting of the narrative. This detail also provides readers with further insight into the character of Rochester. Rochester's ownership of a second home highlights his immense wealth and contributes to the air of mystery that surrounds him. Only a very weathly man would be able to own two grand estates, and his neglect in informing his fiancé of his additional property creates an atmosphere of deceit and mistrust around their relationship. Rochester's deceitful secret informs readers, and Jane, that he is not a character that should be trusted; the Rochester we have come to know is not the Edward Fairfax Rochester that owns Thornfield Hall and Ferndean Manor. 


Works Cited

Johnson, Ben. "The History of Wycoller and Wycoller Hall, Lancashire." Historic UK, www.historic-uk.com/HistoryMagazine/DestinationsUK/Wycoller-Lancashire/.

"Wycoller Hall in Lancashire." The Reader's Guide to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, https://jane-eyre.guidesite.co.uk/includes/images/locations/wycoller.jpg. 


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