Haddon Hall is the perfect setting for a Gothic romance filled with mystery, intrigue and drama.
The ancestral home of the Manners family is a hauntingly beautiful mix of courtyards, opulent halls, and hidden nooks and crannies. Some say that it was the inspiration behind Charlotte Bronte’s Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre.
The hall was famously the location for the 2011 film version of the novel and other TV adaptations by the BBC.
Now Lady Edward Manners has commissioned a new play by Derbyshire storyteller and actress Gillian Shimwell, which will be performed as a live promenade in various parts of the hall.
Gillian has been a guide at the hall for many years and was thrilled to be offered the challenge of writing and directing the play to fit into the home she knows so well.
“In the film and television productions, the hall has been dressed opulently, in authentic early 19th century style. For this new adaption the hall’s peculiar and unassuming beauty corresponds to the character of Jane Eyre, its sterner, stonier aspects reflect the conditions of her early life and its passages and stairways whisper secrets,” she said.
Visitors booked for one of the performances will be greeted by Thornfield Hall’s housekeeper Mrs Fairfax who will lead them on a tour during which costumed actors will recreate significant events from the book.
As well as Jane guests will meet the bullying schoolteacher Mr Brocklehurst and the brooding Mr Rochester.
From behind locked doors they will hear the insane screams of his first wife, and the pitiful calls for Jane by the lovelorn Mr Rochester will echo around the hall.
The actors, Rob Laughlin as Mr Rochester, Rachael Moore as Jane, Carole Copeland as Mrs Fairfax and Marcus Scotney as Mr Brocklehurst are all from the region and have a wealth of performing experience.
A series of performances will take place between April 26 and 29, but Lady Edward has not ruled out adding more dates if there is a demand.
You will have to book in advance – go to haddonhall.co.uk to find out more.