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 became 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.
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Individual arrivals will be met for transfer to the Sloane Club, a private members' club in Chelsea, built and developed by Sir Hans Sloane, the infamous Georgian collector and designer. Accommodation here is arranged by special invitation of Alexandra Messervy through her membership, where a delightfully civilised and comfortable stay is offered, with impeccable housekeeping, well-appointed rooms and excellent dining facilities. There is a full concierge service for those who may wish to arrive a day or two early and enjoy some London downtime. We will gather this afternoon for an introduction and background to Georgian London, which will include a visit to the London Silver Vaults. We return for an early welcome dinner in the private dining room at the Club.
King George III shared his time between Kew Palace and Windsor Castle before settling on Buckingham House (later to become a Palace!), and Kew was a particular favourite of Queen Charlotte. This morning we will visit Kew Palace and Gardens to get a flavour of life in Georgian London and see what Ross and Demelza would have experienced at the time. The afternoon and evening are free in the city. Depending on theatre schedules, it may be possible to see a performance at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane, which was opened during this period or visit Queen Anne's Orangery at Kensington Palace.
Leaving London this morning, our first stop will be to visit the baroque country house of Dyrham Park, used in series three as George's home. We then drive north through the Cotswold Hills for a private guided tour of Chavenage House (the setting for Trenwith, the Poldark family home) with the owners, the Lowsley-William's family, and a talk on the location filming for this wonderful production. We'll be their guests for afternoon tea. From here, we will drive to Georgian Bath, via Corsham High Street and Town Hall (used as Truro in the series). There will be time to relax and freshen up at the hotel before dinner.
Today, we will have a private tour and lunch with the Count and Countess Charles and Carolyn de Salis at Yarlington House. Charles is an enthusiastic collector and expert on Napoleonic war memorabilia and history, and he will talk to guests to about England's involvement in the wars of the period. Poldark's first entry in our lives was his return from the American War of Inde-pendence and, as the series evolves, he is very caught up in the battles with the French, the Admiralty and, later, those he fights as a Member of Parliament. Returning to Bath, the rest of the day is free for individual exploration.
Our drive to south Cornwall today will take us over Bodmin Moor, where we cut across past Launceston Gaol & Castle (scene of many of the book's story lines!), to St Breward (a farm here is the location for Nampara). We continue to Prideaux Place for a private tour and drinks with the owners. Winston Graham was a great friend of the Prideaux-Brune family and the house and estate were used extensively in the filming. You will have an opportunity to have lunch here if you wish. We arrive at our hotel on the Cornish coast, just outside Falmouth, in time to freshen up before dinner.
Our first visit this morning will be to the beautiful house of Trerice, used in the original television series and a wonderfully historic home of note. Winston Graham lived nearby at Perranporth and always said that Trerice was his inspiration for Trenwith in his novels. We will stop for lunch (own arrangements) at the Cornish Pasty shop in Cubert before visiting the expanse of golden sand beach in Holwell Bay. We end our day with a visit to the town of Perranporth, before returning to our hotel for a free evening
Our excursion today takes us to the Poldark Mine at Wendron where we can tour the mine and explore the history of mining in Cornwall. After lunch at the Hazelphron Inn, we'll take a walk to Gunwalloe Church Cove and see the amazing church nestled into the rocks where the shipwreck scene was filmed - some of church scenes from the series. The rest of our afternoon explores Mullion Harbour, scene for most of the harbour locations in the series, and then onto Trenance, where the village farm is home to a fabulous handmade chocolate factory, café and shop. The little village of Mullion is a truly historic Cornish scene in itself. We end the afternoon with a visit to Trelowarren, Caroline Penvenen's house and return to the hotel for dinner.
This morning we will have morning coffee at Caerhays Castle, the private home of the Williams family before an exclusive guided tour. The castle is featured in book three of the series, and nestles above a private beach between Portloe and Mevagissey, offering interesting interiors and gardens of particular note. Charles Williams runs the award-winning Burncoose Nurseries (RHS medal winners) and hosts the national collection of magnolias, and will personally escort us for our visit. From here we will drive to Charlestown and visit the Heritage Shipwreck Museum for a fascinating insight into the treacherous waters of the South West and the wrecks of Poldark's day. The historic harbour is the scene for Falmouth and Truro in the television series. We have an opportunity for lunch here (we recommend the Pier Head Hotel and Inn) before visiting Trelissick, used in the series for its stunning house and grounds and beautiful views of the Fal Estuary.
Today we travel back toward London by train. Our coach will take us to the station for a leisurely 10.30am departure, and, on arrival in Reading, we'll transfer to a nearby hotel for a final farewell dinner.