It has long been known that Jane Austen based Thornfield Hall, in Jane Eyre, on the Norton Conyers estate. The secret stairway leading to the attic, in which Mr. Rochester hides his first wife, was always supposed to have existed though its location was never found. The current owner of the estate, through some simple wall tapping (why did no one think of that before?!) found the famed staircase which led into the servants quarters in the attic. The full story is in The Independent.
On a side note: Over the weekend Saturday Night Live re-aired the show with Jude Law as host. They did a very amusing Jane Eyre skit in which Mr. Rochester (Jude Law) is sneaking up to have “relations” with Mrs. Rochester (Maya Rudolph). I now will forever have that skit in my mind when thinking of Jane Eyre.