The first BBC television production of Poldark was aired in 1975. The English Manner's CEO & Founder, Alexandra Messervy, who has designed this programme, read the first books at the age of 8 during her annual family holidays to Cornwall, whilst staying on the Lizard Peninsula, and was captivated by the stories and the history behind them. Each year she and her father collected the books, sharing the stories and locations as they spent their holidays in the area.
When the series was first shown, Alexandra and her father watched it avidly, and so it was with some trepidation that they watched the new 2015 series. Would it be as good? Would it ruin our memories of the books and the original? Happily, it has lived up to its predecessor and we believe the author would be proud. Over twelve books were written before Winston Graham's death and we very much hope this tour will whet the appetite not only to read the whole series, but also to watch the television series.
The second series covers the period 1790-1794. King George III was on the English throne, the French Revolution was raging, and the Theatre Royal first opened its doors in Drury Lane as London to become a sophisticated place to be seen. Ross and Demelza are beginning to penetrate society, beyond the bounds of Cornwall, and, whilst they continue to have deep friendships with the key families of the south west, as their growing family develops, so do their visits to Georgian London and the Royal Court.
The third series covers the period from 1795. King George was still on the throne and the French Revolutionary wars continued to rage, whilst Cornwall’s proximity to the battlelanes of Britanny creates ample opportunity for smuggling and turmoil. Ross is now firmly established as a Member of Parliament and is making his mark in his quest to support William Pitt and Wilberforce in their legislation. Meanwhile the first commercial mining engines, powered by coal, are being produced for use in the mines.
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Met by your guide, guests will convene for a group transfer to Bath, the beautiful Georgian spa city where Georgian society gathered to take the waters. On arrival there will be a chance to relax a little and perhaps take a light lunch before an afternoon visit to Prior Park by special permission of the headmaster. Prior Park is a leading independent school and was used as the Warleggan’s family home and office in the television series.
Today we have a private visit to one of our favourite family ancestral homes: Chavenage, the home of the Lowsley-Williams family and always assuring our guests of a spectacularly warm welcome. Not only will we have lunch here and a special tour, but the opportunity to learn at first hand of the stories of filming Poldark and it’s cast, with Chavenage as the now very well known location of Trenwith, the Poldark family home for generations. Guests will be joined by Alexandra Messervy, founder and CEO of The English Manner. Alexandra will talk about Poldark, the programme to come, and her great love of the West Country and how it ties the books with the history and culture of the area.
An early breakfast today before we depart for The Meudon Hotel, Falmouth. En route, we enjoy a private visit to the home of the Earls of Clifford at Ugbrooke Park. Their family home for over 900 years, Ugbrooke has only recently opened for private visits. Lord and Lady Clifford, a leading interior designer with Colefax & Fowler, have now handed the estate to their son Alexander, and guests will be highly impressed by stunning interiors and lovely gardens.
This morning, a private visit to the estate castle at Caerhays. Always a favourite, Ross and Demelza frequented Caerhays several times in their socialising in Cornwall and this is a fascinating example of how an ancient estate has remained relevant and diversified to keep going today. Owner Charles Williams, himself an RHS Gold Medal award winner for the his famous plant nursery at Burncoose, will give a talk, subject to diary commitments, and guests will be able to tour the house and gardens for the morning. This afternoon, after a stop for lunch, we visit the Ship Museum at Charlestown and the historic port used in the series filming.
Our first visit this morning is a private tour of the Levant Mine and Beam Engine. We then go to the Geevor Tin Mine, at St Just. Here we will visit the newly established Cornish Tin Miners’ Memorial Garden. Commemorating Cornish tin miners with plants from four continents, this reflects the countries to which many travelled for work once the mines were established here. A particular feature will be the Agave plants which this year, after an unprecedentedly hot summer, seem to have thrived. After a stop for lunch, we visit the softer landscape of Trelowarren House and Estate, used as a refuge by actors in the series. The current owner and High Sheriff of Cornwall, whose family have always lived here, the Vyvyans, has transformed the run down house and estate into a vibrant showcase of Cornish arts and crafts, an award winning bistro and pizza restaurant and beautiful woodland estate walks.
We will make a brief visit this morning to the seat of Sir Francis Bassett at Tehidy. Sir Francis, who features a lot in Poldark as Ross’s friend and benefactor, was in reality a member of the family whose brother went out to Virginia and settled there. Situated in the parish of Illogan (Illugan in the books!) near Redruth, the manor was the family seat gleaned from the riches of mining. Now a country park, the mansion was built in 1734 and after 600 years of Bassett ownership became a TB hospital in 1918. The house was converted into luxury apartments in 1990 and there is no public right of way through the house. Then on to Poole and the famous Portreath Bakery, for a chance to sample an award winning Cornish pasty. We stop in the lovely Cathedral city of Truro, before a private visit to the seat of Viscount Boscawen, who loomed large in Poldark. On the estuary of the Fal River, the estate looks out over acres of parkland and we will have a private garden tour and a traditional Cornish cream tea.
Heading back to London, we stop en toute to visit visit Killerton House, just outside Exeter. The first owner, Sir Thomas Acland, was Member of Parliament for Devon and later for Somerset, sitting at the time of Poldark’s election to Parliament. He commissioned Killerton in 1767 on his appointment to the baronetcy and this simply-designed Georgian estate and glorious gardens are an outstanding example of West Country architecture of the period, and the lifestyle of a wealthy country gentleman and his family. Whilst Ross and his family lived at Nampara, his family farm, he was never a ‘gentleman at leisure’ and nor would he have been happy without pursuing a cause or a career. The estate remained in the family until it bequeathed it to the National Trust in WWII when costs and lack of local help made it unviable. We will be able to have lunch here. On our arrival at the prestigious private members’ club, The Sloane Club, the evening is free.
This morning there is an opportunity for sightseeing or a visit to the glorious St Paul’s Church Knightsbridge or St Luke’s Chelsea, or shopping, before we are re-joined by Alexandra Messervy for a guided tour of Chiswick House, with architectural history expert, Rose Balston. A magnificent neo-Palladian villa set in 65 acres of beautiful historic gardens, the opulent interiors created by William Kent display a rich collection of Old Master paintings and the house is often used for film and television shoots. Dinner this evening in a private room at The Sloane Club with Alexandra.
We begin today with a private tour of Spencer House, a splendid Georgian mansion in the heart of St James’s, beautifully restored and renovated for the nation by Lord Rothschild. Family home of the late Diana, Princess of Wales and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, the state rooms here are truly a magnificent sight. Then on to William Kent’s other masterpiece, Kensington Palace, birthplace of Queen Victoria in 1819 and a chance to follow in the footsteps of the Georgian courtiers of Poldark’s day, with exhibitions regularly changing (to be confirmed for May 2019) and beautiful gardens. The Orangery café should be open for a chance to have lunch, and guests will then return to The Sloane Club for a chance to pack and change for dinner. A Champagne Reception and Farewell Dinner at the Army and Navy Club with Lord Fermoy and invited guests. Maurice Fermoy is cousin to Their Royal Highnesses Prince William and Prince Harry, and former Page to Her Majesty The Queen. Maurice will talk to guests about the traditions of London and social changes we have seen since Poldark entered Parliament in the 18th Century.