Saturday, 15 April 2017

A-Z Challenge 2017 - Houses, some real, some not - 'M'

M - Menabilly

Menabilly, The Seat of Rashleigh, Esq. Cornwall
(Antique print - in public domain)
I first went to Fowey in Cornwall in 2007. By chance our visit coincided with the Daphne du Maurier Festival celebrating her centenary.

The opening of Rebecca, possibly Daphne's most famous novel begins - 

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited."

That opening introduced Manderley, a forbidding house with an equally forbidding, black-clad Mrs Danvers as its housekeeper. The fictional Manderley was modelled on Milton House, near Peterborough the ancestral home of the Fitzwilliam family and the house and gardens of the Cornish Menabilly. 

Menabilly House, Fowey, Cornwall
(Created Jan 1, 1920 - in public domain)

Belonging to the Rashleigh family, Menabilly, became the home for Daphne and her husband from 1943 to 1969, its history and grounds also provided input to novels later than Rebecca.

The first novel she wrote at Menabilly was The King's General. Set during the English Civil war, it was prompted by the discovery, during alterations to Menabilly in the 1820s, of a walled-up skeleton thought to have been a Cavalier. It tells the story of the love between Richard Grenville, The King's General and Royalist Honor Harris, one of du Maurier's strongest heroines.

in 1969 the year she was made a DBE, the Rashleighs wanted to return to Menabilly; despite all the money she had spent on its restoration Daphne was forced to accept a move to its dower house, Kilmarth, where she was to live until her death.


Carolyn Paul Branch said...

Fascinating! I've always loved Rebecca and all Daphne's books and it's fun learning Manderly was based on a real house.

sage said...

I haven't read these books, but I like your journey through houses. This structure is amazing (as they say, they don't build them like that anymore.

Anonymous said...

I love all things British - I'm a second generation American. I've never read Rebecca, but perhaps I will. Interesting post. My Virtual Vineyard

FinnBadger said...

I really like these posts which combine the real houses fictional ones are based on.

Phillip | M is for Mail Me Some Art

Jo said...

Thanks Bob, you reminded me of The King's General which I read many years ago. Interesting that authors use houses of one estate and gardens of another. I recently re-read Rebecca - not a very nice person LOL.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Manderley has always fascinated and haunted me. Sometimes the actual houses are even more striking than the fictional ones they to which they gave birth, right?

Kristin said...

A walled up skeleton! That would send me looking for another house. Good inspiration for a book though.

Finding Eliza

Trin Carl said...

This house reminded me of a plantation style house. Then I got to thinking about The novel "The Help." and "Beloved." Interesting how the mind works.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - at least she had the Dower House to go to ... though I can imagine her distress at having to leave ... I'm sure they made things went reasonably happily. It's an area I know well ... the present Rashleigh wife 'looked after' a near aunt of mine ... they knew each other well. Sadly as I became interested my aunt was too old - she died at 95 - with her wits in tact ... such is life - the wish list of getting older and thinking it'd be nice to know some things. I know du Maurier has a special place in your heart ... cheers Hilary: I hope the weather is being kind to you up there ... Happy Easter ...

Birgit said...

I love the film Rebecca and always wished for huge fireplaces like that.mthis was interesting that this home is the basis for Manderlay

Anonymous said...

I read Rebecca years ago and haven't thought about it for such a long time. Feel like re-reading it if my reading pile wasn't falling down already.
I belong to a flash fiction group the Friday Fictioneers and they can be quite a gory bunch with their tales of murder etc. They could do a lot with a walled up skeleton. If you're interested, you can find the link on my blog.
xx Rowena