The real places behind the names
Winston Graham had a rare and rich imagination but we’re sure he’d admit that Cornwall played no small part in inspiring him to craft the Poldark series of books. We hereby declare him guilty as charged for ‘borrowing’ these Cornish place names for his Poldark characters and locations.
The tiny hamlet of Warleggan on the edge of Bodmin Moor and the society hungry George Warleggan may have the same name but that’s where the similarities end. With two aims in life - to increase the might of his family’s banking empire and most importantly, get one over on Ross – George is manipulative and resentful. Warleggan the place on the other hand is peaceful and calm - albeit for a few ghosts! It has just eleven houses, a church and a chapel. However, it’s not without its quirks; the last vicar to live there preached to an empty church for over 20 years having been boycotted by parishioners for his eccentric ways. He is now said to haunt his former rectory!
Our sweet, tough, beautiful, feisty Demelza is named after a hamlet in the Parish of St Wenn. You’ll find it mid-way between Newquay and Bodmin. He may not have known it at the time but Graham started something when he turned the place name in a girl’s name. Many others followed suit as since the 1950’s and the first TV serialisation Demelza has been a popular Cornish name.
Another name used by Graham that also wins favour among parents of new born baby girls (particularly of the Cornish variety) is Morwenna. It is inspired by the patron saint of Morwenstow, a village in north Cornwall, and is debuted in series three of the recent TV production by Elizabeth’s cousin.
Wheal Leisure Mine
Living in Perranporth for over 30 years Graham didn’t have to look far to find inspiration as on his doorstep was the real Wheal Leisure Mine. It was central to mining life in the 16th Century and finally closed in the 20th Century. It's main dumps now lie under Wheal Leisure car park which is well used by beach goers enjoying Perranporth’s surf and three-mile golden sweep.
Another name taken from Perranporth is Nampara, Ross Poldark’s cottage. It is the name of an area of Perranporth as well as the name of Graham’s very own home, Nampara Lodge. Visit the town today and just off St Michael’s Road you can find a row of terraced houses called Nampara Row which stand on the site of the author’s former home.
Dr Dwight Enys; noble, honourable and dashingly good-looking. He’s the type of guy that women want to date and men want to hang out with so we can see why Graham credited him with a name derived from a long-standing Cornish family of admirable reputation. The Enys family have supplied Cornwall with a number of High Sheriffs and in their travels as merchants around the world brought seeds and plants back to the Enys Estate which sits on the outskirts of Penryn, near Falmouth. Today, Enys Garden is one of Cornwall’s hidden gems and is particularly stunning in the spring when it is covered in a carpet of bluebells.
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