Home where Dame Daphne Du Maurier wrote her first novel to be granted listed protection

The holiday home where Dame Daphne Du Maurier wrote her first novel has been given Grade II listed status by the UK Government.

The Former shipyard was the holiday home of the Du Maurier family where author wrote ‘The Loving Spirit’ and ‘Gerald: A Portrait’.

Originally developed as a boatyard and quayside in the 1800s, Ferryside in Cornwall was bought by the Du Maurier family in 1926 and it was there she wrote The Loving Spirit, which was published to critical acclaim in 1931 and later Gerald: A Portrait, a biography of her father.


Daphne Du Maurier Writing At Desk Xlarge

She is said to have written the book after discovering the wreck of schooner ‘Jane Slade’, named after a woman who became the inspiration for the main protagonist in The Loving Spirit. Its owner gave Du Maurier the figurehead which she had installed underneath her bedroom window and a replica now resides in the same location. Du Maurier later remembered “The Loving Spirit was inspired by the sense of freedom that my new existence at Ferryside brought”.

The building is a former shipwright’s workshop, yard and quay, constructed of local granite in the early 1800s. It is an important survivor of Cornwall’s maritime heritage and reflects the social developments in the region. The changing needs of the owners of Ferryside are also shown in the alterations and extensions to the building over the last 200 years. At Ferryside the original quay was turned into a domestic garden, the sail loft becoming bedrooms and a bathroom, and the former boat store becoming the family sitting room.

The Du Maurier family’s transformation of the building into a holiday home in the late 1920s reflects a wider trend for second homes which began in the 19th century. These second home buyers formed a crucial part of the Cornish economy in the 20th century. The protection of the house and quay is in recognition of its connection to Dame Daphne Du Maurier and to reflect on its wider architectural and historical significance.

Christian Browning, Dame Daphne Du Maurier’s son said:

My mother adored the house and fell in love with Cornwall which was to be the backdrop of her most famous novels. I feel sure that she would be immensely proud that Historic England have granted Ferryside a Grade II listing. It was my grandmother, Muriel du Maurier, who in 1926 purchased what was then a run down boatyard called Swiss Cottage and turned it into an enchanting holiday home for her family and renamed the house Ferryside. It was here that my mother wrote her first novel, ‘The Loving Spirit’. I am most grateful to my friend, Collin Langley and his Team who embarked on the difficult task of researching the history and origins of the building and his book ‘A Cottage by the Sea’ must have been of great help to Historic England in their decision to give the house a Grade II listing, which is much appreciated by my family.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today. 

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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