of west cornwall
A literary tour of West Cornwall taking in myths, movies and fairytales…
Rosamunde Pilcher OBE was born in Lelant (between St Ives and Hayle) in 1924. After attending school at St Clare in Penzance she began her writing career under the pen-name of ‘Jane Frazer’, for Mills and Boon.
She went on to write thirteen books, many of which are based around the west coast of Cornwall, in her own name. One of her most famous was the The Shell Seekers which was made into a film with scenes shot around St Michael’s Mount. Visit St Michael’s Mount, across the causeway from Marazion (use the sea front parking) to explore the fairytale castle, gardens and village.
The 1998 tv production of Coming Home featuring Joanna Lumley and Peter O’Toole was shot partly in West Cornwall at Lamorna Cove and Porthgwarra (also used for Poldark). Visit both before driving on to Sennen Cove to walk the South West Coast Path to Land’s End which featured in the The Shell Seekers.
The author DH Lawrence lived just outside Zennor during WW1. He described the area as “the most beautiful place, lovelier even than the Mediterranean”. Visit the Tinners’ Arms in Zennor where he stayed with his wife before renting a cottage nearby. Unfortunatly his wife, Frieda, was German and the Lawrence’s were forced to leave the area after being accused of spying in 1917. While in Cornwall he wrote Women in Love, but it is the two novels, The Fox and Kangaroo that feature Cornwall.
The coastal landscape, especially its industrial heritage, features heavilly in the recent TV adaptations of Poldark, and in R. M. Ballantyne’s Deep Down novel of 1868.
The area is also rich in folklore, nowhere more so than Zennor where The Mermaid of Zennor is a legendary tale about a mermaid enchanted by the voice of Matthew Trewhella, who used to sing at the church. It is said she covered her tail and visited the church every day. Eventually they fell in love and Matthew swore he would follow her wherever she went, which in this case was into the sea and he was never seen again. Visit St Senara Church (TR26 3BY) to see the 600 year old Mermaids Chair or Pendour Cove where it is said you can hear the two lovers singing happily together.