All thought of her flies to those sparse hills and moors of the North. Who can forget the scene where Jane Eyre, ousted from Paradise by a mad wife in Thornfield’s capacious attic, lies down on the moor, to die?
But fate has many years of prosperity and happiness in store for Jane. She cheats death and grasps life as only a Bronte heroine can.All the more unsettling, then, to discover her grave. In an entirely un-Northern, counter-rugged location.For I found Jane Eyre buried in Salisbury.
It is never difficult to find the cathedral in a cathedral town. You park, you look up, you follow the spire. And I was doing just that when I came upon a little church: the rather lovely mediaeval church of Thomas Beckett.
Step inside and feast upon the spectacular wall paintings, the exquisite wooden tracery. It is a jewel among churches: and as I carefully read each notice and label, I came upon references to Jane Eyre’s tomb.
Really? I thought. Can it be, so far from Thornfield and home? The church was used to enquiries, and Jane’s black slate stone is kept beneath a protective rug, away from the footfalls of tens of thousands of inquisitive literary tourists.
This Jane Eyre was Eyre by marriage: she wedded Nicholas Eyre,and they had three sons and two daughters. She lived to a ripe old age: almost 70; and she died in 1695.
But so far away from the Bronte parsonage. Is this a coincidence, do you think? Or did Mrs Eyre’s history reach the ears of an aspiring writer 130 years later?
Time, I suspect, will never tell.