Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Beautiful Cornwall, the Setting for Poldark

by Debra Brown
He [Joshua Poldark] felt he would like one more look at the sea, which was licking at the rocks behind the house. He had no sentimental notions about the sea; he had no regard for its dangers or its beauties. To him it was a close acquaintance whose every virtue and failing, every smile and tantrum he had come to understand.
A great many residents of Cornwall (Kernow) over the milleniums have had such a relationship with the cold swells of the briny deep, for Cornwall is a peninsula resisting the temper of the water and winds of the Celtic Sea and English Channel. Treacherous cliffs are the neighbors of some, but for others there is sloping access to sandy beaches.
They reached the edge of the cliff where they were seventy or eighty feet above the sea. On the left the cliffs slipped down to the inlet of Nampara Cove, then rose again more steeply toward Sawle. Looking east, upon Hendrawna Beach, the sea was very calm; a smoky gray with occasional patches of violet and living, moving green.

The patchwork fields of West Penwith, misty Bodmin Moor, and centuries old villages built around glassy coves paint a pretty picture of the Duchy that once was an independent trading nation with its own royal line.

Even today the people, customs, and place names left over from a Celtic tongue differ from those farther north. Many prefer not to be called English, but Cornish. Indeed, Westminster recently recognized them as a national minority such as the Welsh, Irish, and Scots.
The narrow cobbled street with the streamlet of water bubbling down it, the close-built squat houses with their bown windows and lace curtains....
....A secretive, important little town, clustering in the fold of the hills astride and about its many streams, almost surrounded by running water and linked to the rest of the world by fords, by bridges, and by stepping stones. Miasma and the other fevers were always rife.

The earliest farming seems to have begun in the middle Bronze age; the well-ordered lengthy fields in the fringes of the Cornish uplands date from that time. In the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age, irregular, brick shaped fields were developed. Most have been reorganized and overlain by medieval and later field patterns.

Few Roman remains had been found as far west as Cornwall, and it was thought that they had not settled west of Exeter, but the relatively recent discovery of coins, pottery, and slag led to the uncovering of a fort, marching camp, and various annexes. It is now thought that three Roman forts existed west of Devon.

With the exit of the Romans and the takeover of eastern England by the Saxons and other Germanic tribes, Devon and Cornwall became the British kingdom of Dumnonia. They had strong cultural ties to Wales and Ireland whose missionaries came and developed communities known as Churchtowns. Celtic rites began to blend with Catholic observances.

The country battled with Wessex, the legendary King Arthur being one of the Cornish chieftains, but the warring ultimately resulted in Cornwall being cut off from other Dumonian areas, bringing an end to the kingdom. Cornwall became more subject to Wessex over time with Cornish estates being left to others in the will of Alfred the Great in the 880s.

William the Conqueror, after 1066, gave lands and manors to his barons. In 1337, Cornwall became a Duchy of England to be held by the monarch's eldest son and heir, the first being the Black Prince, the son of Edward III. By the time of Henry VIII, most Cornish autonomy was gone as England became a more centralized state.

The Reformation brought about the closing of Cornish churches. The New Prayer Book and the Bible were printed in English, a language the Cornish did not want, resulting in the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549.

They enjoyed relative peace, however, in coming centuries, and their tin mines produced well, employing many people. Other common occupations were "wrecking", that is the collecting of remnants from ships that were wrecked on the lengthy coastlines, smuggling, and fishing.

By the 18th century, the time setting of Poldark, Cornwall was incorporated into the Kingdom of Great Britain, and use of the Cornish language was in steep decline. Due to the lack of good roads, transportation of goods continued by means of mules and ponies. Homes were basic, usually consisting of two rooms--one for eating and living and another for sleeping. Children often slept in lofts above their parents.
The room was so full that all the children had to sit on the floor, and the juveniles, those from nine to sixteen, were arranged two by two up the wooden ladder to the bedroom--"just like the animiles in the ark," as Jud benevolently told them.
Sanitation and drainage were poor, resulting in infectious disease. Some families could afford a pig or a share in a cow for the luxury of milk and cream. Hevva cake and the bright yellow saffron cake or bun were common foods. The Cornish pasty, filled with any variety of ingredients, was a convenient meal for miners and their families alike. A phrase which describes in an exaggerated way the drinking habits of the county is "If there be but three houses together two shall be ale houses".

Though the Cornish language became extinct in the 19th century, when little was done to preserve it, it has lived on in place names and with effort is being revived. The economy is now mainly based on tourism. Perhaps you'd like to visit; no other part of England has such a range of dramatic landscapes.

Ross Poldark Blog Tour

“If Jane Austen met Charlotte Bronte and they drank too much port, the Poldark Saga would be their literary love child.” — Poldarkian.com

Captain Ross Poldark rides again in the new Sourcebooks Landmark tie-in editions of Ross Poldark and Demelza, the first two novels in the acclaimed Poldark Saga by Winston Graham, adapted into the inaugural season of the new Masterpiece Classic PBS’s series Poldark, airing June 21 – August 2 on PBS.

In celebration, July 6th through August 3rd, The Ross Poldark Blog Tour will visit thirty popular book blogs specializing in historical, romance and Austenesque fiction. Featuring spotlights, previews, excerpts and book reviews of these two acclaimed historical fiction novels, the tour will also offer readers a chance at a fabulous giveaway contest including copies of the books and a stunning Anglophile-themed prize package.

Win One of Three Fabulous Prizes

In celebration of the re-release of Ross Poldark and Demelza, Sourcebooks Landmark is offering three chances to win copies of the books or a grand prize, an Anglophile-themed gift package. Two lucky winners will each receive one trade paperback copy of Ross Poldark and Demelza, and one grand prize winner will receive a prize package containing the following items:

(2 ) Old Britain Castles Pink Pottery Mugs by Johnson Brothers
(1) Twelve-inch Old Britain Castles Pink Pottery Plater by Johnson
(1) London Telephone Box Tin of Ahmad English Breakfast Tea
(1) Jar of Mrs. Bridges Marmalade
(1) Package of Duchy Originals Organic Oaten Biscuits
(2) Packets of Blue Boy Cornflower Seeds by Renee's Garden Heirloom
(1) Trade Paperback Copy of Ross Poldark & Demelza, by Winston Graham

To enter the giveaway contest simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on the Ross Poldark Blog Tour starting July 06, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, August 10, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the entrants and announced on the Buzz at Sourcebooks blog on August 13, 2015. Winners have until August 20, 2015 to claim their prize.

The giveaway contest is open to US residents and the prizes will be shipped to US addresses. Good luck to all!

Blog Tour Schedule

Sources

The Prehistoric Landscape, Flying Through Cornwall's Past. http://www.historic-cornwall.org.uk/flyingpast/preland.html

Roman fort found in Cornwall 'rewrites history', BBC News. http://www.bbc.com/news/10372659

Cornwall is far more than just a county - and now it’s official, The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/10786212/Cornwall-is-far-more-than-just-a-county-and-now-its-official.html

History of Cornwall and Its People http://www.jewell.asn.au/family-history/cornwall.htm

Wikipedia


All quotes from Poldark by Winston Graham








42 comments:

  1. I love the show there is only 1 ep lefy but i know they are coming out net year for another season of it cant wait love Ross Poldark denise smith

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  2. I dont know how I missed the original series but I love this new adaptation. I cant wait to read the books and only wish my local library had them all!

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  3. I dont know how I missed the original series but I love this new adaptation. I cant wait to read the books and only wish my local library had them all!

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  4. Cornwall is indeed beautiful! I am loving the series. I can't wait to read the books.

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    1. My Blogger wouldn't put up pictures when I was putting up the post--so I couldn't show anything! I hope to have time to put some in, though, soon.

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    2. I am loving Poldark because it reminds me of vacations spent in Cornwall. It's one of my favorite places - beautiful coastline, magnificent scenery. If you need pictures, check out my photos on https://www.flickr.com/photos/kstatelibrarian/sets/72157625211744785 and thanks for the lovely post, Debbie.

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    3. Oh my, what fabulous pictures, Char! Thank you. I may get back to this and add pictures sometime if it will work--I'm buried with things to do right now. But how kind of you to offer, and it gives me an idea--you'll see in the group.

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  5. Cornwall is such an intriguing area. My husband and I have friends from Cornwall, and they told us that Cornwall even has a separate national anthem! I was surprised to learn in this post, though, that King Arthur was supposed to be a Cornish chieftain. I had read before that he was a Welsh chieftain.

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    1. Maybe we should say Dumnonian. "While it is not clear from the Historia Brittonum and the Annales Cambriae that Arthur was even considered a king, by the time Culhwch and Olwen and the Triads were written he had become Penteyrnedd yr Ynys hon, 'Chief of the Lords of this Island', the overlord of Wales, Cornwall and the North." (Wikipedia) The site of Tintagel Castle (the castle was built later) was settled during the Early Medieval period, when it was probably a seasonal residence of the king of Dumnonia. Arthurian legend puts him there, even in the castle, which would be impossible as it did not yet exist.

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  6. Very interesting! The scenery of Cornwall is one of the best things about the new show to me... I love the constant view of the sea! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  7. Thank you so much for this terrific historical look at Cornwall. Judging from the new Poldark TV series, it's a beautiful place!

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  8. Cornwall sounds like such a beautiful place. I have always wanted to visit the UK. :)
    caliwillette(at)gmail(dot)com

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  9. Would love to visit Cornwall!

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  10. I am craving Cornwall more than ever!

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  11. I love this series. Cornwall sounds beautiful. My daughter and I would both love to read these books. Thanks for the giveaway chance.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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  12. I love this series. Cornwall sounds beautiful. My daughter and I would both love to read these books. Thanks for the giveaway chance.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. Loving this series and would love to read the books as well. Thank you for hosting in the giveaway!

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    2. You're so welcome! Thanks for visiting.

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  13. Well this is a lovely, informative account of historical Cornwall with a brief spoiler-free book recap. I had to look up a map of Cornwall to follow along with your beautiful geography lesson. Thank you for participating in the blog tour and for listing your sources. I love reading all the different blogs on such a beloved story and your blog makes me want to learn more about Cornwall. Well done!

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    1. Thanks for visiting the blog and for your kind comments!

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  14. I am loving the series and can't wait to delve into the books. Would love to see Cornwall in person some day.

    tmrtini at gmail) dot) com)

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  15. You have a very interesting blog. I came here for the Poldark blog tour but I will have to look at more of your posts. The countryside is very beautiful on the tv series and you have added a great deal to its beauty. Thank you for the chance to win.
    cjay(at)iavalley(dot)edu

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post; it was meant to have pictures, but Blogger wouldn't do that at the right time. I hope to add them in later.

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  16. What a fascinating bit of history! I think the only things I knew at all about Corwall were that it's the home of the pasty (which I only recently learned how to pronounce and hold correctly) and about the wreckers (thanks to Daphne Du Maurier). I do want to visit Cornwall, someday. Wonderful post!!!

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  17. Got to your blog from the Poldark book tour - and was pleased to read about Cornwall.

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    1. Thanks for visiting! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  18. I'm also here through the Poldark Tour. An interesting post of information that I had never known. Thank you for the History. Thanks also for the giveaway chasnce.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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  19. Great approach for your stop on the tour! It's always nice to get some real historical facts about the places we read about. Thanks!

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    1. You could check at the Goodreads Group Historical Info for Historical Fiction Readers to learn the settings of many other novels!

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  20. Thank you so much for sharing the history of Cornwall. I enjoyed it so much. Couldn't have chosen a better post for an English Historical sight.

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  21. I loved the show and I want to read the books!
    cricketlady29@hotmail.com

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  22. The show is so great so after hearing all these great things about the books I especially want to delve deeper into this epic saga of Poldark! Dying to read the books now! Thanks for posting such a great giveaway!

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  23. This post was so interesting! I learned a lot about Cornwall that I never knew! I now have a place to visit in England if I ever get there. I really want to read these books now! This giveaway is awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to post this! :) Meredith

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  24. What a wonderful post! I learned so many interesting things about Cornwall that I never knew! Now I have a place to go if I ever get to England. I definitely want to read these books! Thanks for the awesome giveaway and taking the time to create such an interesting post! :) Meredith

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  25. What a great post! I really enjoyed learning more about Cornwall here. - glindathegood@bellsouth.net

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  26. my daughter & I love Sunday nights watching PBS, this show is amazing and we look forward to next season-it can't come soon enough!

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