Daphne du Maurier and Fowey
Daphne du Maurier first came to Fowey in her early twenties, and immediately fell in love not just with the town but the whole of Cornwall. For many years she lived at Ferryside, the house her parents bought in 1926 on the Bodinnick side of the River overlooking the Ferry Crossing, where she spent so many happy early years and where she wrote The Loving Spirit, published in 1931. The house is private so please respect the owners right to privacy.
The House on The Strand
Du Maurier's penultimate novel The House on the Strand features the picturesque village of Tywardreath, the novel's title is a translation from the Cornish language of the village's name. She was then living in Kilmarth Estate a short distance from Tywardreath, having moved from Menabilly.
In Daphne du Maurier's novel The House on the Strand the central character Dick Young
finds himself transported back to the 14th Century where he witnesses life in Tywardreath Manor.
In the Lady Chapel of Tywardreath Church memorials to members of the Harris family
recall "The Kings General" and the days of the Civil War.
Rebbeca-"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again"
Polridmouth Cove, a few miles along the Cornwall Coast from Fowey. Only reachable by a stiff 20 minute walk, from the nearest inland National Trust Car Park but nonetheless a popular family beach in season. The then beach house provided Daphne with the inspiration for Rebecca, and where she (Rebecca)met her untimely death shipwrecked on the Beach. Behind the Cove is Kilmarth, part of the Menabilly Estate, private and not open to the public, where Du Maurier lived for 24 years, and the setting for Manderley of Rebecca.- "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again..." Published in 1938, and made into a film two years later by Alfred Hitchcock.
A short walk along the coastal footpath from the Beach is Gribben Head marking the eastern limit of St Austell Bay and the entrance to the Fowey Estuary. Though there is a car park about a mile inland from the Gribben Daymark, the most rewarding walks are along the Cornish Coast, either from Fowey or west from Polkerris, with its sheltered harbour.
Jamaica Inn published in 1936 was inspired by a visit Daphne made to a coaching inn situated high on Bodmin Moor . With its granite courtyard, slate roofs, low beams, and swirling winter mists, one can easily see how it had a reputation as a smugglers haunt. Nowadays the inn provides good food as well as being a nice place to stay. Fans will find their du Maurier Room with its memorabilia both fascinating and poignant. Her famous Sheraton writing desk, numerous portraits including one of her aged 16, and another of her husband the then Lt General Sir Frederick Browning. Photographs of her father, grandfather, and her three children - Tessa, Flaria and Christian, are just some of the artefacts on display.
Lanteglos St Willow is the Church where Daphne married the dashing Grenadier,
Major Frederick Browning on 19th July 1932, sailing up so unspoilt Pont Creek before walking to their Wedding service at St Willow.
Notice the carved 16th century bench ends and the church's Norman Font?
The happy couple spent their honeymoon aboard his motor cruiser moored in Frenchmans Creek
on the Helford River in West Cornwall.
Picturesque St Winnow Church, nestling close to the waters edge, off the beaten track, but so beautiful. The setting for the Poldark Novels, also where Daphne's sister Angela worshipped and is buried. The Slade Family and shipbuilding, many of whom graves can be in Lanteglos churchyard. This family from Polruan were the inspiration for "the Loving Spirit" about four generations of a Cornish ship building family.
My Cousin Rachel, set on a large estate in Cornwall was Daphne's tenth book. Written during the winter of 1951, based like two previous novels around the Menabilly Estate, her then home.
'Du Maurier' festival of art literature held from mid to late May every year. http://www.dumaurierfestival.co.uk
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Page updated Feb. 2011
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