Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Of Trenarren and Menabilly and Their Famous Tenants

A. L. Rowse's hankering after Trenarren House, nestling in splendid gardens and woods, at the head of a magical coombe, leading down to the sea and a little beach at Hallane, dated from his boyhood and his father predicted that one day the boy might live there. In fact, it wasn't until 1953 that he took a lease of it, but he lived there until he died. The top two pictures show Trenarren House, which he never owned outright.

As a youngster, Daphne du Maurier went on holiday with her parents to Cornwall, to stay in Ferryside at Bodinnick by Fowey, a former boathouse in imitation of a Swiss cottage, which her actor-manager father, Gerald, had bought with the proceeds of one of his plays. She never really left. For some years she then trespassed on land belonging to the Rashleigh family and discovered the deserted Menabilly and hankered after it, until the owner granted her a twenty year lease of it, in time for Christmas 1943. This house is shown in the lower two pictures. Most famously, it was the setting for her novel Rebecca and the long winding drive and the beach cottage in the book, exist in fact. But, just the same as A.L., she never owned the house, to which she brought such fame and, when the Rashleighs wanted it back, she moved into the dower house, Kilmarth, where she lived until she died.

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