Jane Eyre | 2011
Director Cary Fukunaga and screenwriter Moira Buffini risk infuriating Charlotte Brontë fans, but in a two-hour film, reducing Jane’s childhood to brief flashbacks and focusing on the relationship with Mr Rochester seems a wise move.
The film begins, though, in the Home Counties of southeast England, where ‘Gateshead House’, Jane’s childhood home, is Wrotham Park near Barnet, in Hertfordshire. The house is not open to the public (though you can hire it for corporate events if you wish), but it has been seen frequently on screen – as the secret training HQ in Kingsman: The Secret Service, in Guy Ritchie's 2019 The Gentlemen, in Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, Ken Russell’s Gothic and Kenneth Branagh’s Peter’s Friends.
Moving north to the Midlands, ‘Lowood School’ is Broughton Castle near Banbury in Oxfordshire. Wreathed in mist and looking quite grim, it appears very different from its previous appearance as the ‘de Lesseps house’ in the Oscar-winning Shakespeare In Love and as the Queen's apartments in The Madness of King George.
Broughton also supplied some interiors for ‘Thornfield Hall’, home of the moody Mr Rochester (Michael Fassbender). The home of Lord and Lady Saye and Sele, it’s two miles southwest of Banbury, on the B40355 Shipston-on-Stour road, and is open to the public on various days during the summer.
The exterior of ‘Thornfield’, though, and most of the interiors, are Haddon Hall, just south of Bakewell, Derbyshire. It’s in the chapel of Haddon Hall that Jane comes within a whisker of marrying Rochester.
Possibly the country’s finest fortified Medieval manor house, Haddon – dating from the 12th to the 17th centuries – also featured as ‘Thornfield’ in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1996 version of Jane Eyre, with Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt.
Its other screen credits include Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth, with Cate Blanchett as the Virgin Queen, Joe Wright’s 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, historical romance The Other Boleyn Girl, and Trevor Nunn’s Lady Jane, with Helena Bonham-Carter.
The woodland, where Jane has her first inauspicious meeting with Rochester causing his horse to rear up, was filmed in the grounds of Chatsworth House, the estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire in – um – Derbyshire, a couple of miles north of Haddon Hall. You can see the house itself in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, The Wolfman, with Benicio Del Toro, and The Duchess.
It’s a few miles further north to find the modest home of St John Rivers (Jamie Bell) and his sisters, who take in Jane when she flees ‘Thornfield’. It’s White Edge Lodge, at Longshaw in Derbyshire, a few miles to the southwest of Sheffield. Originally a gamekeeper’s cottage, White Edge Lodge sitting on the eastern edge of the Peak District National Park with extensive views over the Dark Peak, can be rented out.
After the fire, apart from painted matte shots of Haddon Hall, the ruins of ‘Thornfield’ are Wingfield Manor, South Wingfield near Alfreton, Derbyshire. And, yes, this is also how it was seen in the 1996 version.
The impressive ruins of a palatial Medieval manor house, built in the 1440s for the wealthy Ralph, Lord Cromwell, Treasurer of England, Wingfield later became home to the Earl of Shrewsbury, who imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots here.