Trenython Manor lies just outside the proper Cornish village of Tywardreath – in Du Maurier country, with many of the places which inspired the famous 20th century author to be found hereabouts.
Daphne Du Maurier made Cornwall her home in 1943, and stayed up until her death in 1989, much of her time as a tenant of 17th century Menabilly – recognised as Manderley in her much loved novel Rebecca – at close by Fowey.
Her love affair with the county was sparked at the age of 19 when she visited her parents’ holiday home at Bodinnick, where she wrote her first novel The Loving Spirit. Many of her novels and numerous short stories owe to her passion for Cornwall.
She was utterly entranced by Fowey, with its lights and boats, and the estuary’s Readymoney Cove – a location which features in several of her works, including Frenchman’s Creek. She lived in a cliff top coach house here during the 2nd World War, subsequently the home of another famous Fowey resident: comedienne Dawn French.
Visitors can tread in Du Maurier’s footsteps to experience a real sense and atmosphere of Cornwall. The ‘Freedom to write, to walk, to wander, freedom to climb hills, to pull a boat, to be alone’ which thrilled her are as relevant today as they were then.
Secretive Menabilly is hidden by woodlands but her parents’ former home, Ferryside, is visible on the quay that lies across from Fowey Estuary and can be reached by ferry, from where the south west coast path can be walked to Polruan.
In her latter years, Du Maurier lived at Kilmarth House, a short distance from Par Sands in St Austell Bay – which is overlooked by Trenython Manor. Kilmarth features in her novel The House on the Strand, a translation from the Cornish Tywardreath. It is here on the road to Castle Dore that Trenython Manor sits resplendent with both magnificent sea and country views across the Luxulyan Valley, a World Heritage Site.
Trenython means the gorse farm in Cornish, though today it is ancient woodland and landscaped gardens that surround the main house. With its bucolic scenery and dozens of Du Maurier references close by, it is an ideal location for fans of the author to discover the reasons why Cornwall so inspired her.
Each year Fowey pays tribute to Du Maurier with a festival dedicated to the author held during the month of May. In 2013 it has been renamed The Fowey Festival of Words and Music, for more information visit www.foweyfestival.com/
photo credit: Jonathan Brennan