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Holidays in Cornwall: Immerse yourself in a romantic trip to Menabilly, the real Manderley by Daphne du Maurier

Lose yourself in a romantic journey to the real Manderley – the ‘hidden’ Cornish estate that inspired Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca

  • Sally Hamilton ambles through the grounds of Menabilly, which is near the pretty town of Fowey. is located in Cornwall
  • Author Daphne du Maurier rented the estate for 25 years after discovering it while walking in the area
  • Nearby, fans of du Maurier will find Ferryside, the white and blue house where she wrote The Loving Spirit

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Pictured is Menabilly, the mansion that inspired the mysterious Manderley at the center of Daphne du Maurier's 1938 classic novel, Rebecca.  The estate does not allow the publication of contemporary photos

Pictured is Menabilly, the mansion that inspired the mysterious Manderley at the center of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 classic novel, Rebecca. The estate does not allow the publication of contemporary photos

Menabilly, the mansion that inspired the mysterious Manderley at the center of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 classic novel Rebecca, is hidden from prying eyes in a private woodland near the pretty Cornish town of Fowey.

Du Maurier hired Menabilly 25 years after discovering it on a walk, and if you take the coastal walk from Fowey which runs close to the Menabilly grounds, you can feel the atmosphere that permeates one of the country’s best-loved books.

You pass miles of wooded landscapes, scrub with hydrangeas and mossy walls on one side and rugged sea coves on the other, not to mention a few gates that inspired du Maurier’s description of the entrance to Manderley.

The Menabilly estate is surrounded by wooded countryside and undergrowth of hydrangeas and extends to Polridmouth Cove, home of the cottage in this photo, which is available to rent

The Menabilly estate is surrounded by wooded countryside and undergrowth of hydrangeas and extends to Polridmouth Cove, home of the cottage in this photo, which is available to rent

The Menabilly estate is surrounded by wooded countryside and undergrowth of hydrangeas and extends to Polridmouth Cove, home of the cottage in this photo, which is available to rent

Daphne du Maurier, pictured here in 1947, rented Menabilly for 25 years.  Image Courtesy of Creative Commons

Daphne du Maurier, pictured here in 1947, rented Menabilly for 25 years.  Image Courtesy of Creative Commons

Daphne du Maurier, pictured here in 1947, rented Menabilly for 25 years. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Menabilly is near the pretty Cornish town of Fowey, pictured above.  Cornwall became a fixture for Daphne du Maurier at the age of 19 when the family bought a second home on the Fowey Estuary

Menabilly is near the pretty Cornish town of Fowey, pictured above.  Cornwall became a fixture for Daphne du Maurier at the age of 19 when the family bought a second home on the Fowey Estuary

Menabilly is near the pretty Cornish town of Fowey, pictured above. Cornwall became a fixture for Daphne du Maurier at the age of 19 when the family bought a second home on the Fowey Estuary

I felt as if I had followed in the footsteps of the novel’s heroine as she stumbled across the estate’s paths after marrying widower Maxim de Winter.

Along the way, there’s even the stone house that is said to have been home to the boathouse where Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife, held secret rendezvous (menabilly.com).

Cornwall became a fixture for Daphne du Maurier at the age of 19 when the family bought a second home at the Fowey Estuary. There she wrote her first novel, The Loving Spirit.

Take a boat trip across the estuary and you’ll get a closer look at the emblematic blue and white house – Ferryside – still owned by the du Maurier family.

Pictured is Ferryside, the signature blue and white house where Daphne du Maurier wrote The Loving Spirit

Pictured is Ferryside, the signature blue and white house where Daphne du Maurier wrote The Loving Spirit

Pictured is Ferryside, the signature blue and white house where Daphne du Maurier wrote The Loving Spirit

Take the ferry to Polruan, pictured above, a pretty harbor town with long steep streets

Take the ferry to Polruan, pictured above, a pretty harbor town with long steep streets

Take the ferry to Polruan, pictured above, a pretty harbor town with long steep streets

Above is Rook With A Book, a statue on the quay that is a nod to du Maurier's short story The Birds

Above is Rook With A Book, a statue on the quay that is a nod to du Maurier's short story The Birds

Above is Rook With A Book, a statue on the quay that is a nod to du Maurier’s short story The Birds

A must is the five minute ferry ride from Fowey to Polruan, a pretty harbor town with long steep streets. Back in Fowey, walk through the town, where du Maurier’s influence can be seen in house and street names.

Look out for an impressive statue of a giant bird holding a book in its talons on the wharf. It’s called Rook With A Book and is a nod to her short story The Birds, which was later made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock.

Stay at the boutique Old Quay House Hotel on the waterfront – or at least have a drink on the terrace and enjoy the same view that inspired du Maurier (theoldquayhouse.com).

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