To Eyre is Human

Heritage, North Yorkshire, Ripon

Just round the corner from us, on a back road into Ripon, is a fine old manor house, Norton Conyers. It was in such ruinous condition that it was closed for several years while its owners, Sir James and Lady Graham, oversaw its restoration.

Last year, one one of its few open days, we paid a visit, and I failed to blog about our wonderful afternoon out. But now I don’t have to.

Ann Stephenson, in her wonderfully varied blog ‘Travels and Tomes’ not only recounts something of the house and its history, but lets us all into a secret. Norton Conyers, with its secret attic and resident madwoman may have provided the inspiration for Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’. How exciting is that?

You can read all about it here. Thanks Ann, for letting me share this story.

Travels and Tomes: One Expat's Amblings and Ramblings

norton cony attic room Getty Images The secret attic room at Norton Conyers.

While we are on the topic of the Bronte sisters (or, at least, we were two weeks ago), there’s one more thing I should mention– an especially juicy tidbit.  Are you listening?  Jane Eyre may be inspired by a true story.

Norton Conyers

This isn’t news in North Yorkshire and the cozy city of Ripon that I once called home.   Just around the corner from Ripon, roughly two or three miles from the roundabout at the edge of town, lies a beautiful old manor house by the name Norton Conyers.   It is a handsome medieval squire’s home, dating back to the 1600’s, which has remained in the possession of one family (the Grahams) for nearly 400 years.  That’s an achievement!

However, the house had fallen into disrepair of colossal proportions: rain poured in, wood-boring beetles swarmed, and very little of the grand house was heated.  Thankfully, Sir James and…

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10 thoughts on “To Eyre is Human

  1. Fascinating although I’ve always loathed the book. Our youngest son shared my view when having to “do” it for CSE. All became clear when I took him to a performance of it in a local village hall by a travelling theatre company. 2 actors, a sofa and a pair of curtains made it all clear to him. It failed to change my view of the book although the performance was thoroughly enjoyable. This is the son who was married at the weekend; wonderful event and now they’re on a three week road trip in Japan.

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    1. As a teenager, I loved the book. I don’t now, nor the reprehensible Mr. Rochester. However, I can’t see ANY teenage boy liking it – what an odd choice!. So glad you were allowed to take time out from electioneering for your son’s wedding, and that you all had a wonderful day. Take your pleasures while you can. I can’t see life post June 8th offering many.


  2. I would think people would want to flock to this house and see its secret room. I remember going to Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables and being thrilled to see what I had only imagined when I read the book.

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