Charlotte visited Norton Conyers in 1839 and knew the story of the mansion's 'madwoman' - probably epileptic or pregnant with an illegitimate child - who had been kept locked in an attic 60 years earlier.
The real and fictional halls are, in Bronte's words, 'three storeys high, of proportions not vast, though considerable, a gentleman's manor house, not a nobleman's seat'. Both have battlements, a rookery, sunken fence and wide main oak staircase. But until this month, only Thornfield had a hidden flight of stairs from near Mr Rochester's grand bedroom to his wife's miserable prison.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Charlotte Bonte wasn't completely making up the story of the first Mrs Rochester. It seems she based the story on a house she visited