A Castle, A Church and A Cowslip with Dovegreyreader

My friend Lynne, alias Dovegreyreader, lives not a stone’s throw from Endsleigh and it was my pleasure to spend a day with her during my stay at Pond Cottage.

The Wednesday dawned grey and misty but not deterred we met at the hotel car park and swanned off in her car to Launceston in nearby Cornwall. “We be in Cornwall now” declared Lynne in authentic Cornish accent as we crossed the Tamar bridge that separates it from Devon. During the short journey Lynne pointed out landmarks such as the church at Milton Abbot and other Endsleigh cottages lived in by Horace Adams.

Launceston : ‘a real Cornish town’ says the tourist leaflet picked up at the TIC our first stop in the town. Interestingly, and isn’t always the same when you live somewhere? Lynne had thought she had never been to the Castle; at least not in the last few decades, maybe when the children were very small.

Welcome to L Castle

Welcome to Launceston Castle

“The town is notable for its impressive castle built by Brian de Bretagne, the first Norman Earl of Cornwall. It has never been besieged or captured.” Well, I’m not surprised it’s a short, steep climb up the mound to the keep and the the walls are several feet thick. In fact the steps up to the battlements are built within the thickness of the walls.

The castle is now in the care of English Heritage who have created a small exhibition with displays and information boards that set the scene.

Launceston Castle

 The Approach to Launceston Castle – on a dull day

As with all climbs, it was worth the effort for the views from the top. On a good day they would have been exceptional but on this day we could really only study the town in the foreground.

Launceston from battlements

The View NW from the Battlements – in the foreground on the right is Castle Street. Sir John Betjeman called it “the most perfect collection of 18th century townhouses in Cornwall” the tourist leaflet declares. In the middle in the distance is the location of the Cowslip Workshops which we visited later.

Misty Cornwall from LC

Looking west from the castle to a very misty Cornwall: the Earl’s hunting park stretched towards Bodmin Moor

LC Church from castle

East of the castle is the Church of St Mary Magdalene

In fact the Church was our next port-of-call.


A striking brass with inscription commemorating an unidentified 16th century lady

Disturbing memorial

A rather disturbing memorial

Altar tryptich

The Altar Triptych : The Nativity of Our Lord; The Adoration of the Magi; The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (sorry photo doesn’t do it justice)

The poet Charles Causley was born in Launceston in 1917 and spent most of his life there. I discovered the Causley Society website which includes his biography and a Causley trail around the town. He wrote a poem about St Mary Magdalene which is available on a little leaflet from the church.

C Causley poem

Mary Magdalene Poem :

Mary, Mary Magdalene
Lying on the wall
I throw a pebble on your back
Will it lie or fall?

A relief of Mary Magdalene is to be found on the east wall of St Mary Magdalene church. It is said that a stone lodged on her back will bring good luck.

Mary Magdalen stained glass

The Mary Magdalene Stained Glass Window

By this time we were ready for something to eat and Lynne drove us out of town to the Cowslip Workshops.

Misty Launceston from Cowslip

View of Launceston from the Cowslip Workshops

Anyone, even the least artistic person, would find something to interest here. The Workshops are based at a very working farm, there’s a café, where we had soup for lunch, sewing classes, a fabric shop which also sells pottery by Nicholas Mossse, a gallery, and a farmhouse/kitchen garden. On a good day there will also be distant views!

Cowslip allotment

The Farmhouse Garden


Inside the Fabric Shop

Much as we were tempted by the cakes and pastries in the cafe we knew that very soon we would be back at Pond Cottage and tucking in to Bettys Yorkshire treats as Lynne came back with me for tea and to meet my friends. Thanks again, for showing me your local area, Lynne. What a lovely part of the country you live in!


Movement and Light … and More : St Germanus Church, St Germans, Cornwall

NB This post was prepared in July during the Port Eliot Festival


St Germanus Church (the teepee is part of the festival!)

Last Sunday, the final day of the Port Eliot Festival 2014, my train was not due to arrive at St Germans until 11.29. Lynne was scheduled to speak with our first author of the day Peter Benson (“The Farm” and “The Valley”) at 11am. So when I arrived I made straight for the church. Sunday was the only day on which it was open and I joined the last 20 minutes of the local parish Service. I had read great things about this church. It achieves three stars in my Simon Jenkins “Bible” – England’s 1000 Best Churches; its description runs to 5 pages in Pevsner’s Cornwall  and I read an article about just one of its monuments in Country Life earlier this year. P1140345

Peter Beacham signs his ‘other’ book “Down the Deep Lanes” in the DGR Tent

Peter Beacham, who updated the Pevsner Guide to Cornwall (published in May this year), was one of the guests in the Dovegreyreader Tent last Sunday.


Pevsner’s Cornwall

But back to St Germanus itself. My heading is taken from the Country Life article which I have been unable to find a link to so will copy out here.


My picture doesn’t do justice to the monument

Set in the base of the north-west tower of the former priory church in St Germans, Cornwall, is the large monument to the MP and landowner who died at the age of 38, in 1722. It was commissioned by his widow and is enclosed by a fine iron railing. The monument is one of the earliest English works of the brilliant Antwerp-born sculptor John Michael Rysbrack, who settled in London in 1720.

With its obelisk and animated figures, it is ultimately inspired by Roman Baroque example. It could have been designed by the architect James Gibbs, an early associate of Rysbrack in England, who trained in Rome.

The subtle lighting of the space in which the monument stands sets off its carefully arranged constituent marble – white, veined-grey and dark-grey – to superb effect. Eliot, in Roman armour, stares upwards, with a mourning figure at his feet. On the obelisk is a roundel portrait – presumably his deceased first wife – supported by cherubs.

The relative simplicity of the architectural elements focuses the visitor’s attention on the interrelationship of the different figures that is suggested by their gestures and lines of sight. Busy drapery also adds to the illusion of movement and life that Baroque artists struggled so hard to capture.”

[Text by John Goodall. Country Life 22 January 2014, p.36]


Text of the description attached to the monument

Simon Jenkins comments on the first-rate Morris & Co. Burne-Jones windows.




The East Windows

The east window is a Burne-Jones masterpiece, a ten-light composition in his most mature style. The background is soft green-yellow, leaving figures in red and blue to glow even more vividly in half-light. Burne-Jones also designed a window in the south wall of the aisle.” Representing Joy, Justice, Faith, Hope, Charity and Praise


Window on South Wall

As Peter Beacham expresses it at the beginning of the St German’s section of Pevsner’s Cornwall “The memorably picturesque ensemble of church, house and park is of the highest architectural and historic interest“. I wonder what the Anglo-Saxon Bishops responsible for the creation of St German’s Priory would have said if they had seen last weekend’s picturesque ensemble of tents and stalls scattered over the estate.

It is easily overlooked that what is now called vintage was once brand new!

NB This report was prepared back in July during the Port Eliot Festival


And that includes me! I spent yesterday afternoon at Port Eliot. I went straight there on the train from Par Station. Alight St Germans for Port Eliot. From the station it’s a mere few steps to Never Never Land the Festival. For many months now I have been wondering whether I am going to “fit in” at a festival and whether I will really be any help as I neither knit nor crochet nor sew nor flower arrange. After one afternoon I still felt as if I was an observer and not a participant. Even though I had a wristband that said “Port Eliot Festival Crew”.

DGR Tent

I think I will be quite safe from full festival conversion in the Dovegreyreader Tent. I already knew a couple of people and have now met four new ones including the very welcoming and hospitable Dave, the Dovegreyreader’s husband, who makes the tea and hands out food and generally turns his hand to anything that is required of him.

Rear dove grey tent

The decorations were just finished when I turned up and it was time for a cuppa and sandwich – most welcome but I felt I had done nothing to deserve them.

There’s a big programme of events (in both meanings of the word); the festival bookshop is right next door to us; there is food everywhere; there are stalls selling vintage stuff and there will be events all over the place.


Vintage deckchairs

Get it here


Love Lane Caravans


More vintage stuff


More vintage


Old buttons and stuff


Old maps

Somewhere near the heart of Port Eliot House is the Big Kitchen – just as somewhere near the heart of the festival is a passion for food. Over the weekend, local chefs and foodie legends give talks and demonstrations, celebrating all aspects of food from planting and growing to prepping and eating.”

Vintage Airstream


Lemon Jelli

My first taste was a delicious Gumbo from Strawbridge & Son BBQ Smokehouse which I took back with me to the B&B.

BBQ Smokehouse

Also there are many many campers. From in front of the house you see a sea of tents of all shapes and sizes and colours … but I’m glad that’s not me. I will take the train back to my B&B each evening. Being vintage myself I am past that sort of thing!

Sunny PE

Port Eliot Festival

It is all great fun and I couldn’t wait to get back today and to get started …


As I made my way to the station I noticed you can even stay in a vintage railway carriage at St Germans station.

Great for Rail fans




Miladys Grand Tour and August Summing-Up

After Cornwall and Port Eliot Festival I returned home briefly on 28 July, made excursions to Manchester, Jervaulx and Scarborough and on 12 August set off on a Swiss adventure with a foray into Italy only returning last Thursday 21 August.

Here are links to a couple of my posts over at Lynne’s blog Dovegreyreader



Not my post but here is my entry for the Port Eliot Flower and Fodder Show Tea Cosy Competition:

On 11 August I re-opened My Swiss Diary  briefly and a further Swiss Post will follow here shortly. Meanwhile I can show you a few photos of the places visited in Italy :

The View

The View from the house at Luino (Lake Maggiore)

The Pool

The Ecological Swimming Pool


Il campanile (1585-1774) Varese

Art Deco Varese

Art Nouveau in Varese

Varese Art Deco

Art Nouveau Varese

Cannobio Market

Arriving in Canobbio on Lake Maggiore for the Sunday Market


In Daphne’s Corner of Cornwall

OS Map

On my walk ‘Strolling hand in hand with romance‘ I visited the church in which Daphne Du Maurier married Major Tommy “Boy” Browning in July, 1932. I’d visited the Daphne Du Maurier Centre in Fowey and seen one of her former homes nearby in my only previous visit to Cornwall in 2008.


Daphne Du Maurier Centre

The Literary Centre in Fowey in 2008


Daphne Du Maurier’s former home (1942-1943) at Readymoney Bay

But I hadn’t realised that I would come across so many other  Du Maurier connections in my small corner of Cornwall and during such a short visit.

For a start when I drove into the village where I was staying I noticed that it features The House on the Strand in its sign. And when I asked my hostess about this she declared “This IS the house on the strand!”.


I decided to find out more and came across this walk and the following :

Tywardreath means “House on the Strand”, as the village was once surrounded by tidal waters on all sides bar the east, and the ground beneath the church was a creek.

A Benedictine Priory was founded here soon after the Norman Conquest, and the possessions included the church, St Sampson’s Chapel at Golant and huge nearby estates. The monks were a corrupt, drunken and dissolute bunch as described in du Maurier’s [time travel] novel; knowing it was true adds to the fascinating reading.

Bumblebee Farm

Bumblebee Farm, alias The House on the Strand …

Priory Lane

… is on Priory Lane, Tywardreath

In fact archaeologists were visiting the site that very Saturday to ascertain exactly where the Priory stood and what remains might be found on the farm’s land.


The House on the Strand from the Village Road

Then at the Festival I heard talk that Port Eliot House itself had been Daphne’s inspiration for Manderley the house featured in her most famous book : Rebecca.

Port Eliot front

Port Eliot House in Festival Spirit

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering closer through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited. No smoke came from the chimney, and the little lattice windows gaped forlorn. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me.” [Opening lines to Rebecca]

Port Eliot - rear view

Rear of Port Eliot House

Daphne Du Maurier was a prolific writer. She produced novels and volumes of short stories, five biographies and her own autobiography. The place Cornwall held in her heart and the inspiration it provided was captured in many of her books. Her special connection above all was this small estuarine area where by chance I happened to stay.

Strolling Hand in Hand with Romance

Perhaps I should mention first of all that the romance is all Daphne Du Maurier’s.

Walk details

I snipped this walk out of The Observer (I think it was) decades ago and at last I have had the chance to actually step it out for myself! I stayed at a B&B for five nights in Cornwall in the village of Tywardreath (pronounced “towerdreth”). Almost all my daytime hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday were spent at Port Eliot Festival but on Thursday I was not required until the afternoon so decided to do the walk that morning.

I took the bus to Fowey and arrived back at Par Station to take the train to St Germans, which is where Port Eliot House and the festival are located, at about 1pm. Unfortunately the day started with rain but I was glad I’d set out and the weather improved as the day progressed.  I’ve added my photos to some of Christopher Somerville’s text and instructions.

Bodinnick car ferry

Bodinnick Car Ferry leaving Bodinnick for Fowey


MS Prinsendam Cruise Liner in the Fowey Estuary

From car park (I took the bus from Par Station) descend steps into town. Bear left along Fore Streetand on to Bodinnick ferry. Cross to Bodinnick;

Old Ferry Inn

The Old Ferry Inn Sign near the Ferry

go up the street past St John’s Chapel.

St John's Chapel

St John’s Church, Bodinnick

The little stone chapel stood back modestly from the village street, its dark interior cool as an icebox. The building had been a stable until  its conversion in 1948. In the chapel’s early days, its furnishings were primitive – worshippers were obliged to carry their own chairs down the lane to evensong.

Hall Walk

Go right above Old School House (sign “Hall Walk – Polruan 4 miles”); follow Hall Walk above Pont Pill [the muddy creek curls down between wooded hill slopes to join the River Fowey … Hall Walk follows the northern rim of the creek a couple of 100 feet above the water] for one mile.

Glimpse Fowey

A Glimpse of Fowey from Hall Walk

Boats bobbing

Boats Bobbing in the Fowey Estuary

With the rain coming down luckily most of Hall Walk was covered over by trees with occasional glimpses of the creek below and now and again a viewpoint opened up to reveal the boats bobbing in Fowey harbour and estuary.

Q memorial

Cornwall’s grand monument to Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, a tall granite monolith, faced another stunning view of Fowey, where the great Cornish-born man of letters lived for more than 50 years. Back in 1900, “Q” – as he was known – had edited his classic edition of the Oxford Book of English Verse. … “Courteous in manner,” the monument’s inscription eulogised, “charitable in judgment, chivalrous in action, he manifested in life as in literature the dignity of manhood, the sanctity of home and the sovereignty of God.”

Cornish stone stile

Cornish Stone Stile

When nearly opposite church tower, cross stile; follow wood edge for 150 yards; right across Cornish stone stile; down through woods following “Polruan” signs and over Pont Pill.

Pont Pill

Pont Pill with National Trust Holiday Cottages clustered around

Pass Pont Creek Farmhouse; up the path through trees to road. Left for 10 yards; right through gate (sign “Footpath to church”) to St Willow’s church.

Lanteglos church

St Willows Church Lanteglos

Here, after a boat ride up the creek, Daphne Du Maurier was married under the simple and beautiful wagon roof and the wide granite arches in 1932. St Willows also features as Lanoc Church in her first novel “The Loving Spirit”.

Barrel roof

The Wagon Roof, St Willows Church, Lanteglos-by-Fowey

Pew End

Close-up of Pew Ends

Left opposite Churchtown Farm to road. Right for 150 yards [now a field path that avoids walking on the road]; left (fingerpost “To the Coast Path” to cliffs. Right on coast path for one-and-a-half miles to road in Polruan. 

Looking back

Looking back to the church, Hall Walk woods and Fowey

To Coast Path

The coast path walk is part of the national trail – The Southwest Coast Path. The rain had stopped by this point but the skies were still overcast.

Beach and Lantic Bay

Lantic Bay from the Coast Path

From SW Coast path

View from Coast Path near Polruan

Left down School Lane; right at bottom to road; left to Fowey Ferry. Cross to Fowey; climb to the Esplanade; turn right into town. I then had a stiff walk uphill to the bus stop with only seconds to spare. Luckily for me the bus was a few minutes late arriving but I still managed the train with time to spare.

Polruan Passenger Ferry

The Polruan Foot Passenger Ferry Approaches

OS Map

Map Showing Places Mentioned

Lanhydrock House, Cornwall

Yesterday I took the train from Totnes, in Devon, to Bodmin, in Cornwall, from where, I had discovered recently, it is possible to walk along the carriage drive for a mile and three quarters to Lanhydrock House“The finest house in Cornwall”.  The weather stayed dry but the clocks were put back an hour on Saturday night so the days are now shorter.

When you alight from the train at Bodmin Station it is a bit like stepping back in time. There’s a hustle and bustle as people are met and packed into waiting cars and there’s a delightful station buffet … in the former signal box. Then the London train pulls out of the station on its way to Penzance, the cars roar away and all is still and quiet and you can hear the birds sing. But maybe it was just the whistle of a steam train whose line shares the station that took me back to earlier days.

At the end of the car park there’s a red gate. Go through it and you are already on the Lanhydrock House Carriage Drive.  At first you walk through woodland alongside the River Fowey. After about a mile there’s a lodge house and car park. Cross the road and head uphill to another lodge, go through another gate and at the brow of the hill you can see the seventeenth century Gatehouse and Lanhydrock looms into view.

A bit of investigation before setting out lead me to discover in my Blue Guide to Literary Britain by Ian Ousby that Thomas Hardy based his description of Endelstow House, the home of the Luxellians in A Pair of Blue Eyes, on Lanhydrock House, moving it to St Juliot near Boscastle for the story.

“For by this time they had reached the precincts of Endelstow House. Driving through an ancient gate-way of dun-coloured stone, spanned by the high-shouldered Tudor arch, they found themselves in a spacious court, closed by a facade on each of its three sides. …  The windows on all sides were long and many-mullioned; the roof lines broken up by dormer lights of the same pattern. The apex stones of these dormers, together with those of the gables, were surmounted by grotesque figures in rampant, passant, and couchant variety. Tall octagonal and twisted chimneys thrust themselves high up into the sky, surpassed in height, however, by some poplars and sycamores at the back, which showed their gently rocking summits over ridge and parapet. In the corners of the court polygonal bays, whose surfaces were entirely occupied by buttresses and windows, broke into the squareness of the enclosure; and a far-projecting oriel, springing from a fantastic series of mouldings, overhung the archway of the chief entrance to the house.” 

A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy (Ch.5)

The house today is not the original seventeenth century edifice but a late Victorian reconstruction following a disastrous fire which destroyed most of the earlier building in 1881. It was taken over by the National Trust in 1953. After refreshments and a browse in the second-hand bookshop I toured the fifty rooms in the house open to the public. These rooms included many below stairs: kitchen, scullery, bakehouse, dry larder, fish larder, meat larder, dairy – all very Downton Abbey. Most interesting to me amongst the family’s rooms were a Family Museum, Captain Tommy’s dressing and bed rooms, the drawing room and the Long Gallery.

The obligatory visit to the shop revealed that the popular author E. V. Thompson based many of his novels on Lanhydrock.

By 3.30pm the mist was beginning to thicken so I made my way back to the Carriage Drive and enjoyed the reverse walk back to the station for my 4.25pm train back to Totnes. The cafe was closed, the steam engine was being shunted away and we stood in the gloomy, misty, light rain waiting for our Paddington-bound train.