Jamaica Inn: 10 Cornish sites to visit in the footsteps of Daphne du Maurier

The writer drew influence from places all over the West Country, including Frenchman's Creek, Pendennis Castle and Fowey. Read our travel guide to her great works...

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Jamaica Inn: 10 Cornish sites to visit in the footsteps of Daphne du Maurier
Written By
Jade Bremner

The works of Daphne du Maurier were hugely influenced by her time in Cornwall, where her and her family would holiday, and where she later lived in the village of Fowey. Read on for ten great spots that influenced her works, then visit them for real...

1. Launceston

This ancient town features in Jamaica Inn, when Mary and Jem spend the day together. This is the same spot that Jem sells the horse he stole from Squire Bassat back to Mrs Bassat. Today, there's less horse selling and more hang gliding, art galleries and mini golf to get involved in.


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2. Altarnun

The Church of St Nonna at Altarnun was where du Maurier drew her inspiration for the home of the criminal Reverend Francis Davey in Jamaica Inn. Part of the building dates back to the Norman era and is famous for it’s detailed pews, old woodwork and communion rails.

3. Lanhydrock

In novel The King’s General, this is the home of the chief parliamentarian in Cornwall – Lord Robartes. Today, visitors can look inside this country estate and mansion, managed by the National Trust. After a fire in 1881, the Jacobean house was redecorated with Victorian furnishings and makes for a fascinating day out.

4. Tywardreath

This village featured in du Maurier’s The House on The Strand, about drug-induced time-travel. In order to do research for the book, du Maurier lived in a house named Kilmarth (where she spent the last years of her life), not far from the village. Today, the place offers a typical Cornish experience, complete with a local butcher, local inn, stone cottages, and a marvellous view over the countryside.


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5. Pendennis Castle

Featured in du Maurier’s novel The King’s General, this grand device fort was built in the 16th century for King Henry VIII. Visitors can wander around the grounds, take in views overlooking the coastline and attend events from cannon firing to pirate re-enactments.

6. Frenchman’s Creek

The mysterious Frenchman’s Creek, an offshoot of the Helford River, is where du Maurier’s Lady Dona St Columb falls in love with a French pirate. Daphne and her husband Tommy also sailed on this romantic journey during their honeymoon. Today, local company Koru offers kayaking adventures along the peaceful and mysterious banks, past an ancient ship wreck named Iron Duke, and with a pit stop on the grassy bank where it's believed that Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman moored his ship.


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7. Fowey

The co-author of Castle Dor, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, lived near the du Maurier family in the historic town of Fowey. The du Mauriers bought Ferryside, their grand riverside home on the water's edge, in 1926. Daphne lived here until 1943. Daphne’s son Kits still lives in the infamous house, and although the residence is private, visitors can snap a picture of the property from across the river.

8. Menabilly

Otherwise known as the house that inspired the gothic setting of Manderley in Rebecca. The opening line in the book famously reads: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again... the gray stone shining in the moonlight of my dream, the mullioned windows reflecting the green lawns and the terrace. Time could not wreck the perfect symmetry of those walls, nor the site itself, a jewel in the hollow of a hand.” Although the house is private, two cottages on the estate are rented out to holidaymakers.


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9. Polridmouth Cove

This is where Rebecca kept her sailing boat and met her death. The cottages in the area could well have inspired the “cottage on the beach” from the novel, where Rebecca would meet her lover.

10. Lanteglos

This is where Daphne married ‘Boy’ Browning in 1932. In true romantic fashion they arrived by boat for the ceremony. Renamed Lanoc Church, Lanteglos Church features in her first novel The Loving Spirit. The stunning 14th century building also displays a plaque from Charles II in 1668, which given in thanks for the parish's support during the Civil War.

For Jamaica Inn-specific locations see here


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