Study of Noses, pencil drawing. - Charlotte Brontë (1816–1855), Study of Noses, pencil drawing, ca. February 1831. Brontë Parsonage Museum.
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A country house that provided the model for Mr Rochester’s home in Jane Eyre is under “dire threat”, say campaigners. More than 6,000 people have signed a petition calling on Lancashire county council to reconsider plans to scrap their management and maintenance of Wycoller Hall, near Colne.Click here to sign the petition. Apollo Magazine relays the story too.
The ruin of the 16th-century manor house, at the centre of a country park, was immortalised by Charlotte Brontë as Ferndean Manor in her 1847 novel – the property where romantic lead Mr Rochester relocates after fire destroys his home at Thornfield Hall. Wycoller Hall is just over the moors from Haworth in West Yorkshire, where the Brontë family lived. It is believed that Charlotte and Emily visited Wycoller village frequently.
Although fallen into disrepair, Wycoller Hall is a listed building and is currently managed by Lancashire county council. The council is proposing to stop maintenance and abandon ranger service patrols as part of £262m budget cuts, but campaigners fear this will make the property vulnerable to vandalism and result in its being “lost forever”.
Richard Wilcocks, former chairman of the Brontë Society, said the council’s proposals were a “smack in the face” on the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth. “It is very depressing that Lancashire county council is planning to close down essential services for Wycoller Hall, which is much more than a place of interest for Brontë lovers,” Wilcocks said. “This action amounts to an act of vandalism against part of our heritage, and it is particularly thoughtless and cynical this year, when the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth is being celebrated.”
According to the Friends of Wycoller, who have set up an online petition against the proposals: “Ferndean Manor … is under dire threat – as is the picturesque and inspirational Brontë Way, which starts at Ferndean Manor and leads to Brontë Parsonage museum, Haworth.
“Visitors will no longer be able to see the great aisled barn or use the countryside activity centre. The visitor toilets will close and the privately run cafe and shop are unlikely to survive. A key part of the Brontë sisters’ heritage will be lost forever.” (David Barnett)
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