Connections to Fowey
We recently came across an offer to stay in a hotel in Fowey in Cornwall for two nights at a good discounted price and we couldn't resist! It is forty years ago since I last stayed in Fowey - it was where my Granny and my Mother's family lived and it has always been a special place for me. It cemented my love of the sea and ultimately led to me starting this blog.
Oh the harbour of Fowey
Is a beautiful spot
And it's there I enjowey
To sail in a yat:
Or to race in a yacht
Round a mark or a buoy-
Such a beautiful spacht
Is the harbour of Fowey!
Poem written by Sir Arthur Quiller Couch
Daphne Du Maurier who spent most of her life in the area said that "Fowey has a magic all of it's own." Daphne's family arrived in Fowey in 1926 and they bought a holiday home. Daphne wrote her first novel in "The Loving Spirit" in Ferryside (the house with the blue shutters below.) This book was read by a handsome major who was entranced by her descriptions of the Cornish coastline, he sailed into Fowey, they met and were married three months later!
It is however the story of Rebecca that Daphne is best known for, and those first lines of the book, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." Although Manderley was based on Milton Hall in Cambridgeshire it was the setting of Menabilly a house that had fallen into disrepair just outside Fowey where Rebecca was based. Daphne took on the lease of the building and lived there for many years, using the money earned from her books to improve the building. Menabilly is a private house hidden in the woods, but the beach and this cottage below is believed to be the location of the boathouse featured in Rebecca. Funnily enough this is also the location that first brought my family to Fowey at the beginning of the 20th century!
My Granny and her family were invited to stay with her Great Uncle Nick Haly, who was a gamekeeper on the Menabilly estate. This was well before the estate started to deteriorate. At that time the beach had notices up saying that it was Private property and no bathing was allowed. I wondered whether they were allowed on it as they were on the estate, or could just look at it from a distance!
They mentioned staying with their uncle in Grotto Cottage. This name intrigued me and I discovered that Johnathan Rashleigh who had been Lord at the Manor at the time had created an octagonal folly. This consisted of marbles and serpentines, relieved with shells, crystals and pebbles, the sides a mosaic of fossils, jaspers, agates, shells and coralloids. In the centre stood a table fashioned out of 32 specimens of polished Cornish granite. It does sound an amazing sight! I discovered the Haly's had keys to the building so they could show the general public. Unfortunately this building deteriorated too and when it was put on the National Historical Buildings Register in 1951 it mentioned that most of the polished stones had been removed and the building was roofless and in a poor state.
|Reflection in the lake|
The lake behind the beach was created in the late 1920's and during the Second World War the lake formed a decoy site for Fowey Harbour. There were many decoy sites around the country using methods from Shepperton film studios. An imitation of Fowey harbour was created here to fool and divert the German bombers. This was especially important in 1944 when 2,000 US Navy personnel were based in Fowey before D Day.
Our family over the years continued to visit Fowey and the surrounding area and my Great Uncle eventually bought a home in Fowey, overlooking the river. My Granny, who was recently widowed was invited to live in a self contained flat on the ground floor.These are the words from my Great Uncle's book The Antique Dealer describing the location :-
|View looking back towards the house|
"From the bay window of my little room in Cornwall there's one of the finest views in England. The waters of the Fowey Harbour lap the walls of my small garden; straight across and exactly opposite, in a high embracing arm of land, lies the beautiful old village of Polruan. Slightly to the left is Pont Creek whose steep banks are covered with gorse,bracken and bramble.
The water fronts of the house extending to Fowey quay can be seen from one of our windows; moored off there lies the Fowey lifeboat, gaily painted in red,blue and yellow, ever ready for her errand of mercy.
From another window there's the view of the mouth of the harbour, flanked on either side by the picturesque ruins of the old castles built centuries ago to protect the ends of the great chain boom that was stretched across the harbour in troubled times to keep out the foreign invading warships. And, beyond the harbour mouth the open sea stretches away to the horizon."
|Looking across to Polruan from a higher level|
|(There are probably more trees on the banks of Pont creek now -so beautiful with the changing colours.)|
|The lifeboat in Fowey - different colours are used now!|
|Colourful boats in Polruan|
|Beyond the harbour mouth the open sea|
We stayed in an amazing hotel it was so homely, comfortable and children and dog friendly. It is thought that this too has a book connection and was the inspiration for Toad Hall, in the Wind in the Willows.We could quite easily have spent all our time there! The weather was unbelievable for October and we had two wonderful five mile walks. It wouldn't be another 40 years before we stay in Fowey again!
|View of Fowey from Polruan|
Hope you enjoyed this visit to Fowey too!