Wycoller Hall Ruins, ‘Jane Eyre’ and the shades of ‘Ferndean Manor’: Emily’s postcard from Lancashire

Emily's snapshot of Wycoller Hall Ruins

Emily’s snapshot of Wycoller Hall Ruins

Postcard of Wycoller Hall

Postcard of Wycoller Hall

Postcard of Thornfield Hall

Postcard of Thornfield Hall

Postcard of Lowood School

Postcard of Lowood School

Why I went…

I visited Wycoller as part of a project on Jane Eyre. My creative practice is focused on the crossing points of fact and fiction with exploration through literature; archives, location and objects. Can you be an archeologist of a fictional place? I have postcards purporting to be settings for Lowood School and Thornfield Hall. There are questions about whether Wycoller is the inspiration for Ferndean Manor and I went to see for myself. I also visited the Bronte Parsonage at Haworth. It was a gothic experience and fascinating to see Anne’s bloody handkerchief and a necklace of Emily’s twisted hair.

What I got out of the experience…

“To this house I came just ere dark on an evening marked by the characteristics of sad sky, cold gale, and continued small penetrating rain…” I walked the ruins of Wycoller Hall in spring. Walking down the valley to the hidden hall was magical. Walking through rooms, looking through windows, gave me a real (or fictional) sense of Jane and Charlotte’s experience of the place. I picked wild flowers nearby. I will draw these. I will spend time drawing like Jane and Charlotte did as they developed their ‘accomplishments’. I loved the archive material displayed in the barn opposite the ruin, especially the iron key to the hall. I read stories connected to Wycoller Hall – Guytrash, Black Bess, ‘The Spectral Horseman’ – and finding these gave substance to the idea of ‘place’ as inspiration for stories. I’m planning to visit the sites of Lowood and Thornfield as well on another occasion.

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