Wycoller Country Park lies four miles from Colne, up along narrow country lanes dividing farms. You have to park about 500m away in a car park and walk into the hamlet. There are a handful of expensive houses, a café, a trickling ford, stone bridges and a gift shop. I wasn’t here to see any of this though but the pitiful ruins of Wycoller Hall. Charlotte Bronte immortalised this hall as “Ferndean Manor” in her 1847 novel Jane Eyre. It’s here the lovers Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester come together after fire destroys the latter’s home Thornfield Hall. It’s in a poor state though not much worse than when I visited four years earlier.
Charlotte and Emily Bronte would often travel the six miles over the moors from the parsonage at Haworth to Wycoller. They may have come to visit generally though Charlotte would have passed through on her way to Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham to stay with the Kay-Shuttleworths. I had a wander around the ruins and wondered if Charlotte had stood in those rooms – did she every go inside? Probably, as it had stood empty for years. She was two when the last owner died in 1818. Squire Cunliffe was a keen gambler who borrowed money against the hall to fund building work. After he died under a weight of debt stones from the house were stolen to build nearby houses. Campaigners fear Lancashire Council won’t do anything so soon it will be lost forever though I doubt it will be going anywhere for a few hundred years.
There are two ghosts but I did not see any: a headless horseman who ascends the (now missing) stairs on moonlit nights and a lady dressed in black who looks out through a window.
I had a stroll around Wycoller. Ramblers passed through intermittently. A family sat on a bench and each eat ate an apple. There’re probably about fifteen families living here now but it was a busy village when the Bronte’s passed through it due to most households owning a manual loom. Sadly the advent of the power looms led to the village’s decline. Weavers moved to nearby towns to find work and over 35 houses were abandoned and fell into ruin. By 1896 the village was virtually deserted and became a hamlet.
Light rain was starting to come down. I had one last look at the ruins before leaving. It’s a shame the sun wasn’t out as it’d have improved the general look the place. It was still nice though I could understand why it had featured in the film The Railway Children.
Charlotte Bronte passed through Wycoller Hall..
A few photos of the hamlet…
Photos from a previous visit…