Tuesday, 25 October 2016

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.


FOWEY

 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


Pont creek

(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!
Sarah x

35 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful harbour, tucked in, lined with beautiful homes. Gorgeous. You have wonderful memories of the place and continue to make more. Lovely. Thanks for taking me there!

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  2. Fowey is situated in such a lovely location, and what stunning October weather you had in which to enjoy it.
    It was really nice to be able to read the words of your Great Uncle, and to be able to see and admire the same view as him.
    We love bargain breaks, and are often tempted by them - it is a great way to see different parts of the country too.

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    1. The hotel we stayed was in the same chain as Moonfleet where you stayed on a bargain break. It is nice to have a bit of luxury at a cheaper price. Sarah x

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  3. A sight for sore eyes and utterly enchanting! It looks like a place I would love to visit someday.

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  4. Hi Sarah,

    I can see why you would have wanted to get back to visit Fowey again and what a magical place. Loved seeing your photos, the beautiful harbour, houses and thanks for showing us.
    have a great week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  5. That was a lovely, fascinating, post with some wonderful photographs. i have never visited Fowey - you made it come alive and your Great Uncle's words were just perfect. Love the Rebecca novel - need to visit!

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  6. What a fascinating post Sarah. A lovely place for your family to have come from. I have amazing memories of both Fowey and Polruan from last autumn. We did the manors walk on the opposite shore to Fowey. The final stretch on the cliffs coming back to Polruan was stunning. I can well understand you returning as it is so beautiful. B xx

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    1. We did the Hall walk too, it was fun catching two ferries at the beginning and the end of the walk. The views were amazing and we took too many pictures as usual! Sarah x

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  7. Oh I did Sarah. So interesting to read about your family connections too. For more than 20 years my family and I have stayed at Triggabrowne just above Pencarrow Head and wonderful Lantic Bay seen in its beautiful autumn colours in your last photo. Our ferry trips to Fowey for shopping and the Hall Walk were always a highlight. My husband and I were there at the end of August this year and we walked from our cottage to Polruan, caught the ferry to Fowey and continued along the coastal path to the Gribbin. We picnicked and paddled in the sea at Polridmouth, the Menabilly beach. Our other favourite walk is from Lerryn through the woods to St Winnow. Sadly Fowey is not what it was since the arrival of the cruise ships and like St Ives when we stay at our other favourite Cornish holiday home west of Zennor we give it a very wide berth. I suppose it is progress but I do miss the old Cornwall. We are off to another favourite haunt in Cornwall on Friday so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good weather.

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    1. It must be awful when the cruise ships visit, we saw the impact of that when 5 cruise ships arrived in Dubrovnik, we hated and took a boat to the neighbouring island. Your walk sounds amazing, we would have liked to go over to Gribbin Head but had to get home! We did stop at Lerryn on the way down, it was beautiful with all the leaves turning colour and the tide out. Hope you find good weather in Cornwall too. Sarah x

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  8. It's one of our favourite places too, we go at least once a year and have lunch at the Old Quay House sitting out by the water. Lovely to hear about your connection with Fowey.

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  9. What a lovely place and such gorgeous photos (as always!) Thank you for the tour!

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  10. A lovely and interesting post about Fowey and your family connections to it. It is such a pretty place and your photos of it are beautiful. I imagine it will always feel very special there for you and I'm glad the weather was so good for your visit.

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  11. I can see why you love Fowey just for its beauty. But your personal connections really bring it alive. I have been sucked into the world of the Poldark novels for the last sixth months, so enjoy seeing a little glimpse of Cornwall.

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    1. The harbour scenes from Poldark are filmed quite close to Fowey, we should have stayed another day so we could have gone there too. The second series of Poldark finished this week it will seem a long time until it is back on our screens again! Sarah x

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    2. I still have three books to read in the twelve-book Poldark saga, so even when the TV season ends, I will be immersed in Poldark's Cornwall for a while longer. I've been reading these books for so many months now, it will feel very strange when I'm done.

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  12. How lucky that you spotted that bargain break! It's so easy to keep putting off going somewhere unless you have a solid reason to go. Cornwall especially can be so expensive. I think I'll have to look out for bargain breaks now - where did you spot it?!?! Caro x

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    1. I get a weekly email from Travel Zoo, we have done a few of their offers. If nothing else it is fun to look at the deals and dream! Sarah x

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  13. I think there's been a muddle and there's at least one more episode of Poldark. Indeed, I think there are two? (Apologies if I'm wrong but don't miss them if they do happen!)
    I enjoyed your trip to Fowey and will be keeping my own eyes out to sea, waiting for a handsome man to come in with the tide.

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    1. Thank for this,it looks as if the last episode is November 6th, so I won't be to long to wait! I'll be looking out to sea from here for a handsome man coming in with the tide too! Sarah x

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  14. I am, enchanted.

    I hope before I get too old, that I can go back to Europe and visit your countryside dearest Sarah. Such beauty. AND, thank you for visiting!

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  15. My mother grew up in Perranporth, so my heart sings there too.

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  16. Great story, beautiful photos. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  17. Thank you for the photos, they are so beautiful. And the Story too. I have visited Fowey two times, one with a garden Tour. We eat Cornish pastries. My knees do not like the town, but it is beautiful.

    Sigrun

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  18. We are used to hills living where we do, but we did find the ones in Fowey even steeper! You can't go to Cornwall without having a pastie. Sarah x

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  19. Beautiful views...I could easily live there!
    Warm hug from Titti

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  20. I thoroughly enjoyed a tour around this beautiful part of the world, and interesting to know your own family connections. The view of the harbour mouth is absolutely stunning.

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  21. Thank you for sharing your special trip. It sounds like a lovely hotel. What an interesting family you have! And what a beautiful place they lived in. Juliex

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  22. It looks idyllic Sarah. I'm glad you had such a lovely stay.

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  23. Yes, I have enjoyed visiting Fowey, through your blog post Sarah. What a lovely visit you had there and it's good reading about your family history there too. Nice to go back to these special places sometimes isn't it.

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  24. Thank you, Sarah. It looks just delightful.

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  25. What a wonderful place! I wish I could click my heels together and zap myself there right now. Lucky you to be able to visit. :o)

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  26. Oh Sarah, such a lovely post to read and look at.
    You were so fortunate with the weather.

    Through your post, I too enjoyed this visit to Fowey.

    All good wishes for the coming new week - and month.
    November 1st will be here so soon!

    All the best Jan

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  27. These photos are gorgeous. They remind me of when I visited the Irish countryside a couple of years ago. I think the UK is so lush. Makes all the rain worth it, yes?

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  28. I'm glad these reminded you of holiday in Ireland. The landscape would look so different without the rain we really should appreciate it more! Sarah x

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