A-Z Challenge – ‘F’
I went to Fowey in Cornwall for the first time after my son moved there to live. In May 2007, not only was it my 70th birthday but it was also the time of the Daphne du Maurier Festival which celebrated the centenary of her birth.
I had read several of her books, including Rebecca and Jamaica Inn, but otherwise was fairly ignorant about her connection with Fowey. I finished up writing an article on her life as an assignment on a creative writing course.
At Fowey I could see first hand the house Ferryside where Daphne wrote her first novel, The Loving Spirit. Daphne was inspired to write the book after discovering the wreck of the schooner Jane Slade in Pont Creek. The Slade family were shipbuilders in the village of Polruan which lies across the estuary from Fowey. The figurehead from the schooner was added to the house later.
The opening of Rebecca, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” is world famous. The fictional Manderley was based on a house near Peterborough and what Daphne called her ‘house of secrets’, Menabilly, the home of the Rashleigh family just outside Fowey. Daphne was to move into Menabilly and wrote many of her books there, but not Rebecca.
In 1943 Daphne lived at Readymoney in Fowey after Ferryside had been requisitioned as a naval HQ. The gardens of the cottage at Readymoney Cove are open to the public on occasions. The house carries a plaque recording Daphne’s time there.
St Catherine’s Castle stands on the point to the seaward side of Readymoney Cove and used to guard the entry to the estuary. The Fowey estuary was one of the deepwater harbours from which American troops departed for the D-Day landings in 1944.
St Catherine's Castle
Container ships and large cruise ships now visit Fowey and it’s a haven for boating enthusiasts; if you wish you can have a trip in a little steamboat.