Novelist Rosamunde Pilcher was born in Lelant, two miles from St Ives, in 1924. Although she moved away to study and work and later lived with her husband in Scotland, her writing is wholeheartedly inspired by Cornwall. Admirers will be pleased to know that many of our St Ives and Carbis Bay cottages and apartments are perfectly located for a visit to ‘Rosamunde Pilcher’s Cornwall.’
Stories such as The Shell Seekers, Coming Home and Summer Awakening powerfully evoke the beauty of the Cornish landscape. They are infused with nostalgia for a way of life which has largely been lost, as Pilcher drew on her childhood experiences of growing up on the coast. Many of Pilcher’s novels can be bought at St Ives Bookseller on Fore Street.
Even though almost a century has passed since a little girl called Rosamunde spent her formative years here, it’s still possible to see Cornwall through her eyes. Adaptations of her novels were mainly filmed in Cornwall and Devon. Every year thousands of enthusiasts – especially from Germany where over 100 of her novels were made into German-language short films – tread in the footsteps of her characters.
For example, The Shell Seekers features the iconic landmarks of St Michael’s Mount and Land’s End, with Penzance and Lamorna also used extensively as filming locations. Nearby Mousehole was used as the setting for stories including The Empty House, Snow in April, Another View and Voices in Summer.
Gwithian Beach, which hugs St Ives Bay (there’s a great view of this gorgeous stretch of sand from Wave Top), was used as a backdrop in many adaptations of Pilcher novels. St Ives itself has also played a role in many of ZDF’s adaptations, with St Nicholas Chapel and Tregenna Castle both featuring.
Pilcher fans shouldn’t leave Cornwall without visiting a mine ruin or two, and St Agnes Head is the most recognisable from the ZDF series. The stretch of the coast between Chapel Porth and St Agnes Head is dramatic and was used in the filming of the BBC’s Poldark too.
Those firmly on the Pilcher trail will want to visit some of the stately homes used as filming locations. Prideaux Place at Padstow features in 16 films including End of Summer and Coming Home, while Pencarrow House and Garden near Bodmin is the location of the vineyard in the film English Wine. The interiors of this Georgian house were also used, and it makes reappearances in The Red Dress and The Weekend. Lanhydrock House is a National Trust property and an easy stop-off when travelling in or out of Cornwall along the A30 – it features in ZDF’s Question of Love and The Cliffs of Love.
Our top tips on where to stay in Rosamunde Pilcher country:
The Holding House – A farmhouse sleeping eight, surrounded by true Pilcher countryside – indeed some of her family still farm near here.
Shellseekers – A cosy, romantic retreat for two in the heart of old St Ives. Perfect for bookshop browsing and leisurely beach strolls.
Pier Cottage – A stone’s throw from Smeaton’s Pier on St Ives Harbour, this is the perfect location to soak up the sights and sounds of the Cornish coast where Pilcher spent her childhood.
Norway Cottage – One of the oldest and most beautiful Grade II listed cottages in St Ives, Norway Cottage oozes charm and romance. Pilcher fans will really get into character with a stay here!
Old Court House – A stay at Old Court House conjures up a bygone age, yet with all the modern comforts to-hand.
Old Court Cottage – Stay in the village of Lelant, Rosamunde Pilcher’s birthplace. We recommend a visit to the church of St Uny, where Rosamunde Scott married Graham Pilcher in 1946.