The Eyres , North Lees and “Jane Eyre”, also “Little John” buried Hathersage Church

North Lees Hall, the Hall was used on the latest film of Jane Eyre.

Early 1900s? north lees postcard

The document( shown here is the front cover),  that John Stubbs obtained possibly from his father Eric Stubbs,( via Charles ) or Arthur Stubbs. Dated 1869 , it was Miss Linnington’s copy. (We are not sure which Linnington it was, possibly Sophie’s before she was married? )

( about the author , the family business )

North Lees hall was built c 1594 during the reign of Elizabeth 1st. It was built for William Jessop. Designed  by architect Robert Smythson. Then Built  further ( extended ?)by Sir Robert Eyre –( the High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1658 – who resided at Highlow Hall. ) From Highlow Hall he could see all the residences of his sons and tradition says that on certain signals from the flag staff being given he could command the attendance of any or all of his sons as he required. Robert Eyre also built at Padley, Hazzleford, Offerton and Nether Hall.

An earlier hall is thought to have stood close by North Lees and was probably attached to the farm buildings. This earlier hall  was resided by William Eyre in the 1400s?  To the north of North Lees lies the ruins of an early Roman Catholic chapel.

The Eyres lived in North Lees from about 1786 onwards, ( although information states they took up tenancy in 1750) , it was sold by the Vessey family in 1786 .The Eyre family supposedly stayed as tenants until 1882, however, the Hall was sold in 1870.

Thomas Eyre was born at North Lees  b.1793,and his father was William Eyre born 1751.We suspect  that William Eyre was living in the house with his wife Mary by 1786. At the time Charlotte Bronte visited Hathersage in 1845 it is guessed that Thomas may have been living at Moorseats. Thomas’s mother was  still alive and probably living at North Lees with the children,( but we are unsure),  including George who farmed the land at North Lees in 1851. Charles Stubbs talks about playing in the battlements of North Lees as a child.

Battlements of north lees

By 1851 – 1857 North Lees was the property of Miss Hannah /Harriett Wright.( I wonder if George Eyre was part owner, as he was tenant). Harriett or Hannah Wright was the daughter of Joseph Wright of Derby.

1870: When Hannah Wright died, Joseph Wright Cade surgeon ( eldest son of Harriett’s eldest sister Anna Romana Cade) and George Eyre, under the will of Hannah Wright , sold North Lees to Charles Cammell of Norton Hall. At this time, Brookfield House ,( Hannah also owned this former Thomas Eyre property), along with Norlees of Northlys Hall with all .. lands , moors etc. sold for 49, 750 pounds. The contents were most likely given to Sophie Eyre and George. The Apostles cupboard, kept either at Moorseats or North Lees,  became the property of Sophie Eyre after Thomas Eyre’s death in 1862.

Inside page of North Lees document and mention of Little John of Robin Hood fame.

north lees page 4

little john grave, Hathersage Church

Description of North Lees from the 1869 document : A singular building , standing upon an ascent at the foot of the rocks. …It stood amidst two or three pastures: hence its name of North Lees, and an orchard dark with old fruit trees, so old it might never have been young. There was a gloomy solitude around, the very reverse of Brookfield, and the view from the level roof was very striking….

The North Lees Interior :

Interior of north lees , showing two cornices and soffit, fleur de lis, and the eyre arms crest. The right hand stone engraving is from the chapel. (I.S.)

The document states that Mr. George Eyre and his two sisters lived there at the time of writing. That a Rev. Cunningham, would visit often, and was taken with the details of the Hall. Mr. Cunningham would write his “lofty ” verses here..( Could it be Henry Cottingham of Heath, as Rev. Henry Cottingham was a trustee of Thomas Eyre’s will ).It is my guess that Rev. H. Cottingham was the reverend in the description. It would appear in 1857 that he was the “incumbant” of Hathersage church. )The Rev. was also the recipient of Moorseats in he will of Thomas Eyre with George Eyre after Sophie died. However, the Moorseats was sold after Thomas’s death in 1862.

The Grounds:

1927 photo of ruined chapel at north lees

According to the North Lees Document, the ruined Catholic Chapel on the grounds was called the “Trinity Chapel”. This chapel was built by the Italian Mission in the time of James 2nd(1685 – 1688) and destroyed by a protesting mob when William 3rd(1650 – 1702 – holland), came to the throne.”Tradition says , and a doorway now built up partly corroborates it, that formerly an underground passage led from the Hall to the roman catholic chapel, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, which is distant some one hundred and fifty yards from the mansion, and is now in ruins. … The Chapel measures about 30 feet long by 15 feet wide, and from the manner in which it is built, it is evidently of considerable antiquity.To the north east of the chapel are some interesting remains of stone circles etc. About fourty yards to the south west of the chapel, by the side of a stone wall is “trinity well”… It is an unfailing spring of good and pure water, and is thus a fit emblem of the Holy Trinity, after whom it is named. ”

The penal times imposed restrictions on persons professing the Catholic faith, of which the Eyres were of those recusants. It was declared treason for anyone to maintain the power and jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome and the penalty for treason was to be hanged, cut down before one was dead, drawn and quartered.

In 1581 Richard Fenton is described as of “Northleaye” ( North Lees). Richard had been fined for non attendance of church. In 1585 he was fined 25 pounds for sending a letter to Mary Queen of Scots by a servant.

Trees by the road to north lees as in jane eyre

The road to North Lees Hall is described in Charlotte Bronte’s book : “the road ( to Thornfield Hall ) is a soft mantle of greens in spring and a blaze of gold in the Autumn, being gently sheltered by the thicket of foliage of the English summer days. Peace walks with he, who treads this way.

More History of the Eyres and ownes of North Lees from Jennifer Nicholas:

Dear Jennifer, I have been to Chesterfield Library and have found Rosamund Meredith’s book Farms and Families of Outseats 13th to 19th Century. Outeats is a hilly area above Hathersage where there are a number of isolated farms. There are a lot of pages devoted to North Lees. The librarian allowed me to photo copy the pages that mention your Eyre family so you can see for yourself what Rosamund Meredith has discovered. Just to summarize, your North Lees family are descended from William , a linen weaver of Bamford. The line is William then Thomas born approx. 1715 who went to North Lees as a servant of the tenant Henry Brownhill. Thomas married Ann and they had a son William born at North Lees in 1753. This William was the father of Thomas who bought Moorseats. ( Our documents state that William Eyre was born in 1751 – married mary).

There is a lot of history before the Eyres occupy North Lees so I will just give you a short introduction. During the existence of the buildings at North Lees the majority of occupants were tenants. There is a rental for 1475 that shows it was paid by by Nicholas son of Robert Eyre.  In 1568 North Lees became the property of the Jessop family. Ann Jessop married Thomas Eyre son of Robert Eyre of Highlow and they made their home at North Lees. Thomas is described as dissolute and he moved toNottinghamwhen his father Robert disowned him.The estate was subsequently bought by the Greaves family of Beeley and at least one member of the family lived there. In 1665 it was a forfeited estate and the Saviles of Beeley bought it. From that time onwards it was always run by tenants. I hope you can open the attachment so that you can read the rest for your self.

North Lees 1

North Lees 1

North Lees 2

derbyshirewalksc north lees

derbyshirewalksc north lees

Note Kimbercourts, Moorseats and Stanage Edge according to Thomas Eyre’s documents were owned by him.

More Information with regard to North Lees:

It is owned and managed by the Peak District National Park Authority, and part of the Hall has been leased to Vivat Trust. The restoration of the Hall began in 1962 by the last private owner, Sir Hugh Beach. In 1971 the Peak Park Joint Planning Board purchased the North Lees Estate. The Vivat Trust undertook a second refurbishment in 1987. The Peak National Park and The Estate: The North Lees Estate, in which the Hall stands, comprises 1290 acres.

( a biography of Hugh Beach).

Thomas Eyre and “Jane Eyre” and the connection with North Lees :

Jane eyre-book back inside cover , written by Charles Stubbs

Above is a scan from the inside back cover of Charles Subbs’s “Jane Eyre”.He mentions the page numbers for North lees , 103, 108 and 157.

page 103: talks “we slowly ascended a drive , and came upon the long front of a house. ”

page 108: “It was three stories high , of proportions not vast, though considerable: a gentleman’s manor house , not a nobleman’s seat: battlements around the top gave it a picturesque look. It’s grey front stood out well from the background of a rookery…

Charlotte Bronte had heard from the Eyre family about Agnes Ashurst, the first mistress of the house, who went mad and was said to have been confined in a padded room on the second floor. It could have been inspiration for Mr. Rochester’s wife. ( however , this inspiration could have also come from “Norton Conyers” which she visited in 1839. )

On page 100, there is a Mr. Eyre , called John Eyre, according to Charles , was Thomas Eyre. Although the connection was also mentioned as Thomas Eyre being Mr. Rivers  due to the Moorseats connection. Thomas could very well be Jane Eyre’s uncle in the book.

The importance of the Apostle’s cupboard in Jane Eyre will be on the next post.

This entry was posted in 1700's, 1800's, Eyre, John Stubbs relations, Stubbs. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Eyres , North Lees and “Jane Eyre”, also “Little John” buried Hathersage Church

  1. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading
    it, you happen to be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back later in
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  2. Dianne says:

    Harriet Wright was the younger daughter of Joseph Wright of Derby. Joseph Wright Cade was the eldest son of Harriet’s elder sister Anna Romana Cade.

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