When we heard that the BBC had commissioned a three part adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s gothic novel Jamaica Inn we were very excited. Although Bodmin Moor and Launceston were inspirations for the novel, du Maurier lived and wrote here in Fowey from a young age. Du Maurier once said: “Fowey has a magic all of its own” and we definitely agree. Our town is scattered with cornerstones of both the authors life and works, so we’ve traced a timeline of our favourite Du Maurier novels which are set, or inspired, by Cornwall and all just a short pilgrimage away from us here at the Old Quay House.
Travel with Pinterest
If you want to delve a little deeper into the heart of ‘du Maurier County’, click on our Pinterest map below and discover where a short expedition from the Old Quay House could take you. Whether you’re looking to travel by foot, car, ferry or boat, spectacular views await.
The Loving Spirit
Written in 1931, The Loving Spirit was Daphne du Maurier’s first published novel. It was penned at her family home Ferryside in Boddinick, Fowey. The novel is set in Polruan, renamed as the fictitious Plyn, a fishing village in the Parish of Lanteglos. Polruan has a rich literary and fishing heritage, and a draw to anyone wishing to sample the quaint harbour side lifestyle of Cornwall. Polruan sits at the mouth of the river Fowey, and is just a fifteen minute boat ride away from us, the fastest route to the village.
Jamaica Inn was immortalised by du Maurier in her novel of the same name written in 1936. This legendary Inn is just a forty minute car ride away from us, and well worth a visit if you’re looking to follow in the authors’ literary footsteps. It has created a smuggler’s museum and memorial room following the death of Daphne du Maurier in 1989 where visitors can browse a collection of artefacts relating to Cornish smuggling and the writer’s life. The haunting yet beautiful landscape of Bodmin Moor where the pub is sited, is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty with breathtaking footpaths through the moorland.
Rebecca, written in 1938, features one of the most famous opening lines in literary history, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Manderley, a gothic estate in the novel, was inspired by Menabilly here in Fowey, which became du Maurier’s own home during the second world war. It is shielded from public access, echoing the mystery of Manderley. A south west coast path from Fowey to Gribbin Head, following a wild footpath down to Polkerris beach, passes points of interest including Menabilly, the remains of 16th century St Catherine’s Castle (free to enter), and the arcadian Readymoney Cove where du Maurier once lived, a prominent setting in Frenchman’s Creek. Gribbin Head boasts dramatic coastal views over Polridmouth, a sheltered cove which inspired Rebecca’s famous boathouse scene. During low tide times, you can spot the very shipwreck featured in the novel.
Written in 1941, Frenchman’s Creek will draw you away from Fowey to Helford Passage in Mawnan Smith. This is approximately one hour away from us by car, but certainly warrants an expedition. It is a captivating area of Cornwall, and where Daphne du Maurier spent her honeymoon aboard a motor cruiser. A pitstop at the Ferryboat Inn will fuel you for an excursion up Helford River to Frenchman’s Creek. You can either catch a ferry from the Inn and follow the footpath back to Helford village, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, take your own boat or kayak northwards towards the secluded creek. Make a note of tide times, as the creek can be inaccessible during low tides.
Castle Dor, meaning ‘castle of gold,’ is set around the River Fowey, a tale which reimagines Arthurian legend, Tristan and Yseult. The novel was originally penned by du Maurier’s close friend, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, the renowned ‘Q’. The namesake of our Q Restaurant here at the hotel. Following his death in 1944, the unfinished narrative was recommended to du Maurier for completion in 1959 given her natural affinity with Cornwall. The real Castle Dor, which inspired the title, is a medieval circular hill fort on the outskirts of Fowey, set amongst ancient earthworks. We recommend parking in the nearby lay-by and walking back towards the entrance to breath in panoramic views of Cornwall’s evocative landscapes.
The House on the Strand
Tywardreath, translated from Cornish as The House on the Strand, is a village just three miles from us and inspired Daphne du Maurier’s penultimate novel of the same title written in 1969. You can follow protagonist Dick as he time travels through time to fourteenth century Tywardreath and Kilmarth House. Today, the village boasts diverse landscapes of farmland, woodland, valley and coastline, bringing into view Par Sands beach.
Jamaica Inn will air on BBC One over Easter.