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Reverend Frederick William Densham of Warleggan Church

The Reverend Frederick William Densham (BA ACA) died aged 83 in 1953 after a strange and enigmatic life. A life which has left unanswered questions even though his story has been discussed world- wide. He was seen in the mid 1930’s by Daphne du Maurier and reputedly inspired her vicar in Jamaica Inn.  It is also believed that Densham’s spirit still haunts the church in which he was vicar for 22 years prior to his strange death.

The Reverend Frederick W Densham was born in 1870 in London to a Methodist Minister and his wife. It is likely that this upbringing laid the foundations of his intransigent non-acceptance of the ‘High Church’ congregation he was to meet later in his life at Warleggan. He was a clever man , graduating from London University and the Divinity School at Oxford. It is not known why Densham ordained in the Church of England while he held these at odds beliefs. Perhaps, as with many people, Densham initially wished to shake off the views of his parents and as he aged, found himself becoming the same man as his father.

A tall strong man, standing over six feet, Densham was also pompous, pious and sure of himself and certain that his beliefs were the only correct ones. He was at his best when working with the needy and found positions working in a Boys’ Home in Whitechapel and at a Home for Inebriates.

By 1921, Densham decided to enlighten foreigners and travelled to Natal in Africa as a missionary.  He was unsuccessful and after learning of the teachings of Gandhi, applied to work in India but was turned down. It was this temporarily demoralised man who turned up to minister at St Bartholomew’s Church in Warleggan in Cornwall in 1931.

There he found 168 parishioners, Cornishmen born and bred, distrustful of strangers and unwilling to change their patterns of worship. It seems that they may have been against Densham from the beginning as even early in his residency there, the congregation averaged only between 4 and 9 people. On very rare occasions there were as many as 15 or 20 worshippers. Equally, there were many days when he would preach to an empty church. As the church emptied, it became Densham’s practice to place small cards in the first six pews inscribed with the names of prior vicars and so preached in his imagination to his peers.

It may have been a result of this habit, from which grew the legend of him preaching to the cardboard cut outs of parishioners, a story which some say originated from Daphne du Maurier in her book Vanishing Cornwall. However, Miss du Maurier did not write this legend until 1967 and heard about it around 1932.

Daphne visited the church with her friend Foy Quiller Couch a short time after Reverend Densham had arrived. He had been invited to tea at The Haven along with another clergyman, by the Quiller Couch family. They found him to be amiable and loquacious, although a little odd. Daphne du Maurier wrote about her conversation with Foy following this encounter,

“In what way?” I enquired.
“He asked me,” she said, “to recommend a gardener to live in.” He was a bachelor, and whomever he employed would receive for his services a penny a year and all his potatoes free.
“I told him,” said my friend (Foy), the most courteous of persons, “that gardeners are rather hard to find, and possibly the wages he suggested were a little low.”

Vanishing Cornwall by Daphne du Maurier

It was from Foy and her father, the highly respected Arthur Quiller Couch, that Daphne heard of the cardboard cut-out congregation. Other writers have disputed the story, stating that Densham only preached to hand written cards left in the pews.

It wasn’t long before Densham and his parishioners fell out. He wished to change the services and had various ideas to update the services but soon fell foul of the Parish Council. He responded by removing the complainants from the parish electoral rolls. He could find no staff, as he wanted them to live in on little or no wages. It was highly likely that he was lonely and could not understand why it was his own actions clashing with a long-established community belief that were to blame. It was his job to work with his congregation and not against them.

It has also been reported that he kept strange books in his library, possibly to do with witchcraft and devil worship. It seems more likely that his academic books on Eastern religions and folk and pagan beliefs were causing the trouble. He was however, preaching the merits of vegetarianism and had banned whist drives and concerts, declaring them ‘amusements from hell.’

Densham then took it upon himself to purchase an entire litter of Alsatian puppies, cute at first, but which soon ran wild killing sheep belonging to local farmers. This caused more antagonism and there were loud demands for the destruction of the dogs. Instead of this, Densham had his entire property at The Rectory fenced with eight-foot-high barbed wire as a compromise, while he insisted that his dogs, including his favourite Gandhi, were not to blame.

Now, there was a twelve-foot-high gate as an entrance to The Rectory, outside of which Densham left a box where his meagre shopping requirements could be left. Appointments to visit him had to be in writing and Densham would wait for them inside the gate.  Any visitors without an appointment would have to bang loudly on an old oil drum left there for the purpose.

Mindful of his tiny congregation, and wanting to please them, Densham decided to repaint the church, choosing to do it at night and using colours of deep red, blue and yellow. Horrified, his small congregation walked out of the church upon seeing his work, fearful of Densham’s clear pagan beliefs. Densham responded by painting over the church windows and bringing in only one candle when a meeting was held to object.

In 1933 Densham had closed the Sunday School and the shocked congregation called on their Bishop, Walter Frere, hoping he would remove Densham, but he could find no ecclesiastical reason so to do. It appears that the Bishop was alarmed by some of the accusations, such as the threat to sell the church organ, a World War 1 memorial, and Densham telling one parishioner that he would kill him by ‘Holy Magic’. But Bishop Frere in response asked for peace and reconciliation.

Densham remained in his place at St Bartholomew’s.

It was around this time, that Daphne and Foy visited. They stayed at Jamaica Inn and trudged to Warleggan early one morning. A journey of over two hours.

Daphne wrote in Vanishing Cornwall;


The trek was long, the day was hot-surprisingly, for mid-May – and Warleggan was not easy to find. We arrived weary and already rather scared, having eaten a pasty lunch unwittingly upon a nest of adders, the strange hissing noise beneath warning us, just before they uncoiled and rose, that the stone was occupied. Warleggan church already had an air of desolation, the small churchyard tall with unkempt grass, the silence profound. No one, save the pastor, had said a prayer within for many years. Our courage waned. We left the church and approached the rectory, which was screened by tall trees nested in by colonies of rooks whose restless cawing held a baleful note.
We found the entrance gate barred and wired, with the box upon it for provisions empty. Daringly we sounded the bell.
Hardly had it clanged than eight – my companion afterwards said ten – enormous dogs, wolf-hounds and Alsatians, sprang from nowhere upon the fence above us, leaping, snarling, yellow fangs bared in rage. Like the organist, we fled in terror to the moor, preferring the nest of adders to this pack of hungry dogs, and there consulted as to our next move.

Vanishing Cornwall by Daphne du Maurier

A year or so later, Daphne and Foy were joined by their friend Lady Clara Vyvyan in her car. Clara was determined that they should all gain entry, although she disliked dogs and they hoped to avoid them.

They hid the car by parking in a nearby lane and crept by the rectory garden, disturbing the rooks. But there were no dogs, they mused,


Possibly they had starved to death.

Vanishing Cornwall by Daphne du Maurier

They climbed the far hedge, hoping to see the vicar. As they struggled up the bank through the ubiquitous brambles and nettles and ignoring the barbed wire, they saw the Reverend Densham.


There was the vicar, scarcely twenty yards away, pacing up and down his little plot of ground, a strange, unbelievable figure in a dark frockcoat green with age, a black shovel hat upon his head.
We stared. He did not see us. Up and down he walked, with heaven knows what melancholy thoughts, what lonely speculations. Suddenly the explorer (Clara Vyvyan) did a crazy thing. She took her handkerchief from her pocket and began to wave it wildly in the air.
“Cooee!” she shouted. “Cooee!” (her Australian roots showing here.)
The vicar paused. He lifted his head a moment to right and left and walked away, his hands behind his back. Scarlet with shame, I plucked the explorer from the hedge. The last of the trio (Foy) was already running for the car. This expedition, like the first, had proved ignominious. We retreated, cowed.


Vanishing Cornwall by Daphne du Maurier

The three ladies learnt later that the dogs had already gone, although it is not clear where. This was only a few years after he had bought them.

Densham had now fixed up speakers at the church and preached his echoing sermons so that passers-by could hear him even though they refused to enter. He built a playground for children and set up a little theatre in one of his buildings which would show films. He advertised a date and yet again, no one showed up. He cleared his house and stockpiled food during the war and applied to the authorities to house evacuees, but none were allocated to him, Densham, not surprisingly, being designated an unsuitable host for children.

He responded by raising the height of the barbed wire fence to 12 feet.

He had now painted the doors inside his Rectory with red crosses and drawn religious names thereon. He wrote new sermons, journals and continued to preach to empty pews.

Growing ever more insular, Densham did not clean either himself or his house and began to rip up floorboards for his fire.

After 1951, his story had travelled around the world and often journalists would turn up to interview him. He was photographed several times shouting at the local Methodists, but eventually even the journalists lost interest.  Densham was now spiralling into self-absorption.

One morning in 1953, locals noticed that for several days, there had been no chimney smoke and no sightings of Densham. They bashed the oil drum at the gate, but to no avail. Further investigations revealed the Reverend Densham had died partway up the stairs several days previously and lay there in his final sleep.

Reverend Densham of St. Bartholomew’s Church, Warleggan

His funeral service was attended by no one, save his solicitor and his ashes were not scattered on his own Garden of Remembrance as he had requested, but in a Plymouth cemetery.

This sad, possibly misunderstood old man, died alone and lonely and yet his story still circulates as a mystery. It is rumoured that his spirit even now, paces the Rectory Garden and he has been seen walking the lanes with his favourite dog, Gandhi.  Densham has been immortalised in several books and most recently in a film called, A Congregation of Ghosts 

There has never been another Rector of Warleggan after Densham. The Rectory was sold, and his paltry possessions taken by his brother or sold off. The church was soon whitewashed and cleared of any trace of the Reverend Densham.

It is worth mentioning that not everyone believed Densham to be a strange man. As he had often attended the local Methodist Church, some of their congregation remember him as a misunderstood and kind man, who would attend the bedsides of sick parishioners and bring them flowers in addition to his prayers. These fond memories, however, are few and far between.

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Lady Clara Coltman Vyvyan 1885 – 1976 aka C C Rogers

It only took opening and beginning to read the first chapter of The Old Place by C C Vyvyan before I was hooked. I have read everything of hers that I can get my hands on – several times and never tire of her words.
Clara Vyvyan can take the reader into her circle and experience her life alongside her. One feels as though one knows her friends and associates and could enter into a conversation with them quite comfortably upon first meeting.
She was born into a family with great social standing and should, by rights have entered into an early marriage and produced children and good works. But she didn’t.
I have never seen her name and character bandied about as an example of female empowerment and it may be that Clara, like many similar women just got on with her adventures and challenges and travels.
She was a social worker in the East End of London, a writer, a market gardener and fearless explorer.
I have seen no detailed biography of Clara. A blog by a woman who chooses to embrace spinsterhood (nothing wrong with that) informs us of some of the travels of C C Rogers and how she never married. I took away from that article that she was possibly a lesbian. She was not and neither was Daphne du Maurier, Clara’s friend and often travelling companion, although popular reports still infer this.
Clara Coltman Rogers was born in 1885 at the family’s cattle ranch in Stanage, Queensland. Clara, her elder brother Michael and elder sister Harriet were also born there. The ranch is on a peninsula, which at the time was extremely remote, ranchers there going months without seeing another human. The nearest town was 120 miles away and the nearest ranch 100 miles away. They lived by the sea, overlooking the Great Barrier Reef. This ranch provided the family with their principal source of income and that was substantial.
Her mother Charlotte Williams was a member of the Williams family of Caerhays, Burncoose and Scorrier of Cornwall. Her father, John Michael Williams, had been High Sheriff of Cornwall. The family made a fortune from mining and were also famous for their gardens and horticultural expertise. Charlotte was very aware of and proud of her social roots. It was to Gwennap and in 1916 to Burncoose that the Rogers family moved after leaving the Australian ranch in the hands of managers and later to their eldest son, Michael. The family regularly travelled back to Queensland and Michael often came back to England.
Her father, Edward Powys Rogers was a member of the Coltman Rogers family of Stanage Park in Powys. Clara spent a great deal of her time with her relatives. She holidayed during several summers in the 1920’s exploring Wales, particularly from Stanage Park to Snowdon in a horse drawn caravan with her Coltman Rogers cousins. She described one night out on the lakeside at Bala, when they awoke, surrounded by cattle.
A great aunt and godmother, Mrs Pocklington Coltman owned Hagnaby Priory in Lincolnshire and Clara and her siblings went there as often as they could and loved every minute. Clara need only use the proverb, ‘the peace of Hagnaby’ and her family understood immediately. This was the phrase she used to let her brother Michael know exactly what Trelowarren meant to her.
Two further children, Harry Powys and Elizabeth Naomi arrived on the family’s return to Gwennap in 1887. Naomi was a weak child who suffered from debilitating asthma and was babied by the family. She was not taken on the family travels around Europe or on the six month stays at the ranch in Queensland.
The girls had governesses until they were sixteen and then Clara chose a  school in London. She loved learning and eventually studied for a Science Degree at the Women’s University Settlement in London and trained to be a social worker. She had a job working amongst the very poor and used her salary to help pay for her education and accommodation. Clara was enjoying her life of freedom and independence.
Then the news came that her sister Harriet was to marry James Malcolm MacLaren, a geologist. Charlotte didn’t really approve, thinking he was not the ‘right sort,’ but their marriage was happy and produced five children and seven grandchildren. This meant that Clara  must return home to Gwennap as Naomi was under 20 and considered too young to be the ‘Home Daughter’. Clara fought this and managed to remain fairly independent in London until 1914.
Then horror struck.
Naomi had been getting much better and was able to travel to Brittany with trusted friends who had stayed with her in the past on several of her ‘cures’ in Switzerland. They all returned happily to their Surrey home, where Naomi caught a cold, developed pneumonia, heart trouble and asthma. She was dead soon after on 8th May 1914 and was brought back to Gwennap by Clara and Harry. Her parents had managed to race to Surrey following an urgent message and Naomi died in their arms, but they returned alone to prepare for the funeral.
Clara left her work and studies in London following the funeral. The family then went on a European tour during which war broke out and they struggled to make it back to England safely. Harry, now a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, was killed in action on November 1st, 1914 at the battle of Coronel off the coast of Chile when his ship HMS Monmouth was sunk. Harry was 27 years old. Their parents had a memorial stone erected in the church to Harry and Naomi. Two children dead in under six months.
Clara travelled to Hagnaby Priory to find some peace.
There she pulled herself together and began war nursing as many women did at that time. She went to Rouen and here was introduced to the 56-year-old, (born 5th June 1858) Sir Courtenay Bourchier Vyvyan, 10th Baronet, whose stately home was Trelowarren, Cornwall where he lived with his wife. His son and heir Vyell, had died in 1898 and the property would eventually go to cousins. Clara and Sir Courtenay got on very well and remained friends.
After the end of the war, Clara began her adventures in earnest. She returned to be at home during her father’s final illness when he died following an operation on his cancer of the oesophagus. Clara had not approved of the operation, feeling that although his life was extended by a few weeks, it was a terrible life. The family had moved into Burncoose in 1916 and this was where Edward spent his final years before joining his daughter and the memorial stone to his drowned son in Gwennap Church.
Clara soon left home again and with her friend Gwen Dorrien Smith successfully travelled across Canada and back at great cost and with great bravery, details of which she wrote about in An Arctic Adventure later in her life.
She was now getting some articles published and making a name for herself with her writing.
On the 3rd January 1928, the wife of Sir Courtenay died, and the couple began to see a lot more of each other. Clara stopped travelling and bought a car so that she could visit him at Trelowarren often. They married on the 21st November 1929 despite dire warnings from all members of the families that this was bad match, due to the age difference.
They however, remained happily married and content until his death on 15th November 1941, prior to which Sir Courtenay had signed Trelowarren over o Clara.  His ashes were scattered at his request over the bluebells in the beech grove. Clara was adamant that the soldiers who stayed there during the war years and did so much damage to the house and grounds should leave this sacred spot alone.
Her friend Daphne du Maurier, wrote the foreword in Clara’s book, Letters from a Cornish Garden. It was in 1932, just before Daphne’s marriage when Daphne and Foy Quiller Couch, daugher of Arthur Quiller Couch, rode to the Lizard where they explored before spending time with the Vyvyans in their home. Daphne loved Trelowarren and never forgot her first journey there.
She wrote,

‘Foy’s friend Clara, and her husband Sir Courtenay, were standing waiting on the steps to greet us. My diary says nothing of their appearance, but memory tells me that he was smiling, silver-haired, leaning on two sticks and her eyes were penetrating, curious and interested, like those of a very perceptive bird. All that my diary says is this: “This evening we came to Trelowarren, the most beautiful place imaginable. I just can’t believe it is true. The strength, the peace, the kindliness of these people and this place.”’

Daphne talked of the library full of books and a housemaid and the striking of the stable clock. Clara cut flowers from the Lady’s garden as Sir Courtenay leaned on a stick as a robin flew on to his hand. Daphne felt moved by the place and thought that this place was the last of old England as she would ever know it.

She wrote in her diary,

‘I simply hated leaving Trelowarren. Few places have made such a profound impression on me.’

Daphne set her book Frenchmans Creek at Trelowarren and the surrounding lands.

Incidentally, Daphne du Maurier used the house and setting of Trelowarren in her novel Frenchman’s Creek. She also used the gardens in Rebecca.

Friends and Contemporaries by A L Rowse

(on Frenchman’s Creek) The book is very atmospherical, the inspiration, I noted, nostalgia. The action concentrates on the Helford Rover, below her friend Clara Vyvyan’s 17th century Trelowarren. (The colonnade of trees in Rebecca, by the way, is the avenue of over-arching ilexes there, like a cathedral aisle)

She also wrote to Oriel Malet in 1953 that Sir Courtenay had said once, “If the line isn’t drawn somewhere, there would be no line at all!”

Lady Clara was used as a hopefully persuasive tool against Daphne after she had written I’ll never be young again by Arthur Quiller Couch.

Friends and Contemporaries by A L Rowse

He carpeted her at The Haven: ‘My dear Daphne, people don’t say such things,’ the old innocent reproved her. The young lady, who knew, replied, ‘But, Sir Arthur, they do.’ The dear old boy couldn’t face the thought, especially with his old fashioned gallantry about women, and wondered whether this made suitable company for daughter Foy and her friend Lady Vyvyan of Trelowarren.

Trelowarren was requisitioned by the Army during World War 2 and Clara did her ‘war work’ in Bristol. She returned to Cornwall to supervise Trelowarren at various times, although a bailiff and her Head Gardener George Bryant were overseeing the property. She had one meeting with the Army where she let them know in a dignified way, the utter carnage they were doing to the property. She wrote about it movingly in ‘Requisition’ which featured in the periodical My Garden and her book The Old Place.
It was Theo Stephens and Malcolm Saville, editors of My Garden who printed many articles of Clara’s and along with other publications such as the Manchester Guardian and the Western Independent.

Clara was  summoned at the West Kerrier Petty Sessions on the 26th February 1940 for driving a motor car without a licence.
Following the war, Lady Clara needed money to maintain and run Trelowarren. Her inheritance was subsidised by her writing and the income they made from running a market garden, producing, fruit, vegetables and flowers. She writes about these times in Letters from a Cornish Garden and The Old Place, much better than I can paraphrase. I was particularly moved by the death of her great friend and employee George Bryant and the  tribute to him in the West Briton, a paper he used to read cover to cover.
She also returned to see her mother during her final days until her death on 17th April 1944 and see her buried at Gwennap alongside the rest of the family.
Clara still adventured around the world often alone and sometimes accompanied by friends such as Daphne du Maurier and Foy Quiller Couch. She would trudge around the lanes of Cornwall even in great age. Her brother Michael would come and visit when he was able.
Oriel Malet, another friend of Daphne du Maurier remembers one stormy afternoon when Clara hammered at the window of the Long Room at Menabilly.  Clara was clad all in black oilskins and soaking wet. Staying a few days at The Haven with Foy she had decided to tramp over to visit her old friend at Menabilly and go through maps and atlases to discuss her latest adventure.
Clara wrote over 20 books and many articles. Her books are still available.
Clara’s latter years were sad. She went blind and had made over Trelowarren to the next heir, a distant cousin of her late husband’s. She lived in a wing there and eventually had to confine herself to one room. She had few visitors, although her old friend Foy visited her very often. Then Foy became older and sicker and was unable to visit. Foy went into a home in 1982 and then to Bodmin Asylum where she died in March 1986 of senile dementia.
Daphne du Maurier died at home at Kilmarth of old age on the 19th April 1989 and her ashes were scattered on her favourite beach.
Another author friend of hers A L Rowse, lasted until 1997.

Lady Clara Vyvyan of Trelowarren died in her room on March 1st, 1976 aged 90, having lived a full life. Her funeral service was held in Trelowarren Chapel at 2.30pm on March 4th and she was cremated, and her ashes scattered at Trelowarren.
I found a cut out copy of her obituary from The Times hidden in a second-hand book I bought a few years ago and then another cut out copy of a death entry of a local Western paper in another second-hand book. That was when I decided to write this article. I would have submitted it to my friend Dr James Whetter  for An Baner Kernewek, but of course he has now left us.
One could become nostalgic if one thought about it all too much.

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Daphne du Maurier and her Cornish homes

Daphne du Maurier (1907 – 1989) and her Cornish homes.

Dame Daphne du Maurier, Lady Browning, DBE, first saw Fowey in 1923 while descending Bodinnick Hill during a search for a holiday home with her mother and sisters. The family had taken several holidays in Cornwall and Daphne had always enjoyed them but secretly hoped that if a holiday home were to be bought, it would be in France.
Upon seeing the town of Fowey across the harbour, seemingly painted against a backdrop of woods and with the business of a working port in the foreground, Daphne knew that this was the place she had often seen in her dreams. The family arrived at the bottom of Bodinnick hill and parked alongside the inn there. Gerald and Muriel du Maurier noticed a house to their left, which had previously been part of the old boatyard, was now for sale. Daphne and her sisters immediately trespassed, as was their habit.

Ferryside, Bodinnick

The small property occupied a delicious spot overlooking the estuary where the water rushed past the wall. The tiny lawn was often under water and only a few lilac bushes managed to straggle by the edge of the property. 
The house emerged from the side of the hill and was built using old timbers.  It had been designed with small rooms upstairs and down, linked by narrow staircases and corridors. It was not until 1926 when the alterations were finally completed that the family could spend more time at Ferryside.
Nineteen year old Daphne would walk her dog Bingo to Lanteglos Church and the other-worldly quiet valley in which it sits. She did not know then that she would marry at that church. On other days she would catch the ferry from outside Ferryside to Fowey from where she trudged to Readymoney Cove and Polridmouth past Gribben, Polkerris and Par. On these adventures she walked in her future footsteps, passing her homes and final resting place.
Daphne was 20 on the 12th May 1927 and celebrated the event with her mother Muriel and sisters, Jeanne and Angela at Ferryside. The following day the family left Daphne alone at Ferryside while they travelled home to London. During her short solitary stay, Daphne learnt to sail with a local man called Adams and listened to tales of his family and the schooner Jane Slade and she began to mentally ‘brew’ her first successful novel, ‘The Loving Spirit.

The Nook, Bodinnick

On 3rd October 1929, Daphne was given permission to stay at Ferryside for the winter and write. She was however, to lodge with Miss Roberts at The Nook, across the lane from Ferryside. This tiny cottage had no bathroom and the ‘lav’ sat at the bottom of the small garden. Miss Roberts cooked for Daphne and washed her clothes and trotted upstairs with her washing water. Miss Roberts gossiped and comforted Daphne while allowing her freedom. Daphne slept and ate her meals at The Nook and then wrote at Ferryside and later walked or sailed before she locked up Ferryside at 7 pm and returned to the care of Miss Roberts. There she chatted, read and went to bed early, listening to the comforting sound of the water.
Daphne  further researched the stories she had heard from Adams. She had written many notes on the history of the schooner, Jane Slade , Fowey and Bodinnick from information gathered during her sailing lessons. Now she was free to set about writing ‘The Loving Spirit.’ She wrote diligently and had only a couple of breaks from her work, travelling back to Cannon Hall in London to be with her family. She left her unfinished manuscript and dog Bingo in the safe care of Miss Roberts. It took only a few months for Daphne to complete her novel and The Loving Spirit was soon on the journey which would ultimately bring Daphne fame, fortune and a husband.
The artist Frances Hodgkins enjoyed similar hospitality with Miss Roberts during 1931 when she painted ‘Wings over Water, which imitated the view from The Nook across the river and featured Miss Roberts’s large red parrot with which Daphne had enjoyed many conversations.
Daphne kept in touch with Miss Roberts in the following years and visited her in hospital in the autumn of 1938 where she lay stricken with cancer of the bowel. Miss Roberts still chattered and gossiped and told Daphne not to worry about the possibility of an upcoming war, bringing Daphne to shame for her own fears.


The Haven, Fowey

The Haven has been owned by Sir Arthur Quiller Couch since 1892 and occupied by him for half of every year when he was not at Cambridge where he held the chair in English. J M Barrie had introduced him to the du Mauriers when he discovered that they were to live at Ferryside. Daphne greatly admired Q and his work and reputation and it was his influence in her writing which helped her to mature and hone her craft.
During Daphne’s Winter of 1929, she would take supper with the Quiller Couches every Sunday.
Q’s daughter, Foy Quiller Couch became great friends with Daphne and they spent a good deal of their time in each other’s company. They walked and rode together, one of their rides being across Bodmin Moor where Daphne was introduced to Jamaica Inn, sowing seeds of an idea for one of her future bestsellers.
The Haven is a Grade II listed building, making the list on the 11th March 1974,

C19 house of Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. Stucco and brick with slate hipped roof. Front to harbour has 2-storey bay flanked by 2 sash windows, without glazing bars, on each side. Quoins. Facade to road has verandah on left.

Listing NGR: SX1233251462

Q died in 1944 and in the following years, Foy persuaded Daphne to complete his final work, ‘Castle Dor’, which she did eventually publish in 1962. Daphne, such an admirer of Q’s, was terrified that she had not done his work justice, but reviews and sales proved the contrary.


8 Readymoney Cove (Readymoney Cottage)

In late 1942, Daphne now married to Tommy (Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Arthur Montague “Boy” Browning, GCVO, KBE, CB, DSO) for ten years and the mother of three children, left the Puxleys at Langley End and moved to Fowey. Tommy was living his war and Daphne being unable to move to the family home at Ferryside which had been requisitioned by the Navy, instead rented 8 Readymoney Cove.
The property had originally been the old stables and coach house for Point Neptune House, which had been built for the Rashleighs of Menabilly. It was a nice house, albeit small but with a garden leading directly to the beach.
She was writing ‘Hungry Hill’ based heavily on the life story of Christopher Puxley’s family. He and Daphne had had a dalliance at Langley End and writing this new novel meant that he must visit her at Fowey. He stayed at The Fowey Hotel where Daphne would meet him surreptitiously.

The Watch House

This stone and slate twelve foot square building sits above Watch House Cove between Polruan and Polperro and during the war was in a restricted zone. It had been a coastguard’s hut from where stone steps led to the beach. Daphne rented it for £5 per year and she and Puxley would go there for their trysts aka information-gathering meetings for the new novel.
They felt safe from nosy neighbours and gossips and believed their visits to be secret, although anyone who had lived in a small community knows that it was highly unlikely that they were not seen.

Menabilly

As the lease for Readymoney Cove was nearing its end, Daphne heard that Dr. Rashleigh may consider leasing Menabilly to her. Daphne and her sister had first seen the beautiful house on one of their 1926 walks when they had investigated several routes in order to find this mystical place. Daphne fell in love with the unoccupied house immediately upon seeing it and would ‘trespass’ many times during the following years, imagining that she lived there. Latterly Dr Rashleigh had allowed her to walk through the woods anytime she wanted to.
Dr Rashleigh was 71 and had no heir, so the estate was to go to his cousin. He decided that he would sell the contents of Menabilly and lease it at a very low rent until his own death. The tenant would however be responsible for the upkeep and repair of Menabilly. The first job would be a new roof, a huge outlay of £30,000 as it turned out.
In 1943, Daphne agreed to a 20 year lease in spite of advice to the contrary. She intended to plug the financial gap by writing more books and this she did. Several of her best sellers such as, ‘The Kings General, ‘My Cousin Rachel’, ‘The Birds’ ‘Rule Britannia and ‘Rebecca’, amongst others, were based there.
Careful reading of the first chapter of Rebecca reveal her memory narrative  of searching for Menabilly with her sister and the difficulty of traversing the overgrown pathways through the woods.
By 1958 as the lease was nearing its end and Daphne began trying to persuade Dr. Rashleigh to give her another lease. His cousin’s son Philip was now the heir and he intended to live at Menabilly as soon as he inherited. They negotiated for two more years until in 1960 Dr Rashleigh agreed a further 23 year lease so long as Daphne took responsibility for the care of all the woodlands on the estate. She readily accepted and looked forward to the future again. She also began negotiations for the lease of Kilmarth, the Menabilly dower house further along the coastline towards Par.
Dr Rashleigh died shortly afterwards and Daphne learned that her highly paid lawyer had omitted to have the agreed lease signed and her 23 year future at Menabilly was vanishing before her eyes.
However, further negotiation with Philip Rashleigh gave her a seven year extension to the 1943 twenty year lease and Daphne felt safe enough to write another novel.
It also meant that she was also able to entertain The Queen and Prince Philip there in July 1962.
Tommy died in 1965 and Daphne was now living alone at Menabilly when Philip Rashleigh began pushing for her early departure. She had four years left on the Menabilly lease and had been negotiating for a further fifteen years, although she had also paid a deposit on the Kilmarth property. The two parties negotiated quite keenly, even having a serious talk at Menabilly where Philip Rashleigh told her he may extend the lease for seven years if she paid for the demolition of a decaying wing at the property.
Daphne was always willing to fight for her dreams but was still feeling fragile from her so recent widowhood.
Eventually Rashleigh decided that he would not renew Menabilly when the current lease expired and he intended to move there with his family. He would however allow her to have Kilmarth for her lifetime.

Kilmarth

Daphne signed the lease for Kilmarth in 1968 and began more renovations and repairs there which she complained were draining her finances. She had spent so much of her own money on Menabilly that it is of no surprise that she complained. But the house was beautiful and had the lovely views and privacy she craved. She could walk down to the beach and along the coast path with her West Highland Terrier, Moray at least once a day.
She had the builders convert a small basement room into a chapel. She kept in the orchard, what was left of Ygdrasil, the boat in which Tommy had first chugged past Ferryside all those years ago under the eyes of Daphne and her sisters and in which they had honeymooned at Helford.
Daphne soon realised that Kilmarth had a wonderful atmosphere and the epic views from the house of St Austell Bay, she wished Tommy could have seen.
She finally moved to Kilmarth in June 1969 and began her new routine. She initially often walked over to Menabilly but soon stopped because it distressed her so much. Instead she took her walks around the fields at Kilmarth and down to the beach there. It was several years before she began her regular Monday visits to the Rashleighs at Menabilly.
As Daphne settled at Kilmarth, she began writing yet another novel, ‘The House on the Strand.’  It was based on her research of her new property and then merged with her own incredible imagination.
In 1989 Daphne was 81. Most of her friends were dead and she had decided she wanted to die too. She stopped eating and dropped down to six stone. On the 16th April she asked her friend to drive her down to Pridmouth beach where Rebecca had died, followed by a visit to Menabilly and lastly, to her sister at Ferryside.
Daphne went to bed on the 18th April and died in her sleep.
Her funeral was on the 26th April with a thanksgiving service at Tregaminion Chapel by the famous gates at Menabilly. The chapel was filled with her favourite camellias.
Her ashes were scattered on the beach below Kilmarth, where she had walked almost every day of her life there.