“It all started here in Cornwall, on the beaches, sitting on the rocks and making up little stories in my head, a long time ago…”
Born in 1924 in Lelant, Dame Rosamunde Pilcher spent her childhood enjoying the unspoilt countryside and village life of Cornwall. After marrying in 1946 she left for Scotland, where she went on to become a prolific writer – resulting in over 20 novels and many short story collections over five decades. Pilcher never came back to live in Cornwall, but her love of Cornwall never left her and many of her books are set in the wild landscapes of her childhood home.
She began her writing career in 1949 as an author of Mills and Boon romances under the pseudonym Jane Fraser. In the UK, she is best known for her international best seller The Shell Seekers which sold 5.5 million copies, making her one of the UK’s most successful contemporary female authors.
Over on German soil, the Cornish author has become a household name. With Sunday nights dubbed ‘Rosamunde Pilcher night’, as many as seven million Germans tune in to a long-running series of ZDF television adaptations of her stories – to date inspiring over 100 films! Showcasing the stunning scenery of Cornwall and Devon as a backdrop, they have been filmed in numerous locations around the South West since the 1980s and made in German, featuring mostly German actors.
Dame Rosamunde’s books have also been extensively adapted for TV and films in English, including The Shell Seekers which was filmed in Cornwall in 2006.
To help you to discover the Rosamunde Pilcher filming locations for yourselves, we’ve rounded up some of the spots you won’t want to miss… and of course our holiday cottages nearby!
So, is it time you discovered the stunning clifftops, wild moors, glistening seas and pretty coves that inspired the woman behind the stories?
Bonython Manor Gardens
The lovely Bonython Estate situated on the wild Lizard Peninsula is one of our very own retreats which has been used in her adaptations. This traditional Cornish estate was the location for the Rosamunde Pilcher ZDF film adaptations Blüte des Lebens (The Prime of Life), Sommer des Erwachens (Summer of Awakening) and Anwälte küsst man nicht (Never Kiss a Lawyer). A treehouse was built for one of the films, and retained as a feature of the garden. Guests staying at our 5-star holiday cottages on the estate can freely roam the estate gardens, dubbed one of the ‘Great Gardens of Cornwall’. They are the perfect backdrop to the unfurling drama of Rosamunde Pilcher’s romances. Other Rosamunde Pilcher filming locations on the Lizard Peninsula include Gunwalloe Church Cove and Mullion Cove.
St Michael’s Mount
Fans of Rosamunde Pilcher won’t want to miss the tiny island of St Michael’s Mount and its majestic hilltop castle – both The Shell Seekers and Coming Home (starring Joanna Lumley) were filmed at its doors. In real life, this iconic Cornish landmark is a fantastic place to explore and discover legend, myths and over a thousand years of incredible history, and has attracted pilgrims for centuries. Cross the causeway at low tide by foot or high tide by boat to explore the castle, gardens, village and picturesque harbour. The surrounding town of Marazion is home to quaint shops, large stretches of beach and incredible views of Mount’s Bay. St Michael’s Mount has also featured in many of the German TV adaptations of Pilcher’s stories. Why not fire your imagination with a stay in one of our nearby holiday cottages?
Many adaptations of Pilcher’s novels have featured Lamorna Cove and the pretty little fishing village of Mousehole. Lamorna Cove provides the beautiful setting for The Empty House, Another View, Snow in April and Voices in Summer as well as the screen version of The Shell Seekers. Every bit as enchanting as it looks on screen, Lamorna is also famous for its links with the Newlyn Art movement. Take time to stop off at the dramatic open air Minack Theatre carved into the granite cliffs above Porthcurno Beach, and watch an afternoon or an evening performance with the sea as a backdrop. Being British the show will go ahead whatever the weather (unless it really is torrential rain!). German visitors will recognise the landscape from many ZPF productions. A little way west down the coast at Gwennap Head there are some wonderful granite outcrops and cliffs featuring in several German adaptations including the helicopter station in Zu Hoch Geflogen. Our luxury cottages in West Cornwall make for a great base from which to explore these epic spots.
Just two miles from Pilcher’s childhood home of Lelant, the beautiful harbour town of St Ives, with its quaint streets, has long attracted artists from all over the world and today is home to the sensational Tate St Ives. The area still has a place in Pilcher’s heart, and she has admitted to having to return every so often to recharge her batteries and reconnect with her home turf. In easy reach of our Cornish holiday cottages, St Ives, Tregenna Castle and St Nicholas Chapel feature in many of the German screen adaptations.
Stürmische Begegnung (The Day of the Storm) and Lichterspiele (Lights Games) were filmed at the UK’s most westerly point, Land’s End. With imposing cliffs, golden beaches and striking fields of yellow rapeseed, Land’s End is the perfect backdrop for even the most dramatic of storylines.
Penzance, with its diverse range of beautiful architecture, subtropical gardens and mild climate, has attracted German film crews for many Pilcher productions. The historic market town and port features in Schneesturm im Frühling (Snow in Spring), Sommer am Meer (Summer by the Sea), Sommer des Erwachens (Summer of Awakening), Blüte des Lebens (Prime of Life) and Der Himmel über Cornwall (The Sky over Cornwall), amongst others. For nearby accommodation, why not check out our West Cornwall holiday cottages?
Another top filming spot is the lovely 16th century manor house of Prideaux Place, set in extensive grounds near Padstow. It has appeared in over 15 television adaptations of Rosamunde Pilcher’s stories, including Four Seasons, The Shell Seekers, Das Geheimnis der weißen Taube (The Secret of the White Dove), Blumen im Regen (Flowers in the Rain), Wind über der See (Winds Across the Sea), Das Ende eines Sommers (The End of Summer) and Heimkehr (Coming Home). The elegant manor has been home to the ancient Prideaux family for over 425 years. Current owner, Peter Prideaux-Brune, likes to play a cameo in any films shot – his credits so far including a chauffeur, a gin taster and a coroner. Over the years producers have used Prideaux as Lord Willoughby’s home, a luxurious hotel and even as a gin distillery, and the oval bedroom has been the backdrop to so many films in which a grandmother alters her will or reveals an heir’s illegitimacy that it’s now affectionately known as the ‘groβmutter room’! Tours of the house are available in season when German and French speaking guides can be provided. Please see the website for opening dates and times.
Bodmin & Bodmin Railway
The picturesque town of Bodmin was one of four Cornish filming locations for the film Klippen der Liebe (Cliffs of Love). Steeped in history, Bodmin is one of Cornwall’s oldest towns. It is set in the very heart of Cornwall, on the edge of rugged and romantic Bodmin Moor, and close to the beautiful country estates of Lanhydrock and Pencarrow. Bodmin General Station has also featured in many ZDF Pilcher adaptations. Our south east Cornwall holiday cottages provide perfect rural escapes for families and couples who wish to explore this lovely part of the country.
Pencarrow House & Garden
Every inch the traditional Georgian mansion, Pencarrow House, five miles from Bodmin, has starred in many of the TV adaptations of Rosamunde Pilcher’s stories, including Eine Frage der Ehre (A Question of Honour), Besetzte Herzen (Occupied Hearts) and Wind über der See (Wind over the Sea) as well as serving as the Benson Valley Winery in Englischer Wein(English Wine). The 50 room house is the family home of the Molesworth family whose descendants settled here in the 1500s. It is open to the public by guided tour only and boasts extensive gardens encompassing impeccably landscaped areas, a lake and pretty woodland. Our cottages at Killigorrick Farm are ideally placed just half an hour distant.
To the south of Bodmin is Lanhydrock, a spectacular country house and estate used as a filming location for Im Zweifel für die Liebe (Question of Love) and Klippen der Liebe (Cliffs of Love). Described by the National Trust as the ‘grandest house in Cornwall’, visitors can pick up a house trail and discover the Victorian interiors above and below stairs. Or head straight to the huge park and explore the woodland area.
Mount Edgcumbe, near Torpoint, makes a fabulous setting for many German adaptations of Rosamunde Pilcher’s novels. With 10 miles of beautiful coastline, 865 acres of parkland in a Grade I listed landscape, glorious gardens, ancient barrows, mystical woodland, forts, chapels, secret beaches and coves and a historic sawmill to explore – what more could the producers want? Between 30-40 minutes’ drive from our south east Cornwall holiday cottages.
Fowey, Looe and Polperro
Other great Rosamunde Pilcher filming locations include the picturesque harbour towns and villages of south east Cornwall. Fowey, beloved by the sailing set, the bustling port of Looe and the stone washed, slate hung fisherman cottages of Polperro all feature in the German TV adaptations of her books. We have some wonderful retreats from which to explore these filming locations from farm cottages to a stunning four bedroom coastal retreat … fit for a Rosamunde Pilcher novel, we say!
Ottery St Mary, Devon
This little town on the River Otter is possibly best known as the birth place of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and avid Harry Potter fans will know Ottery as ‘Ottery St Catchpole’, the home village of the Weasley family. Our German readers of this blog will recognise the town from its frequent appearance in the Rosamunde Pilcher films. Ottery St Mary’s main claim to fame is the annual Tar Barrels festival, held every 5th of November – a spectacle that must be seen to be believed. As well as Ottery St Mary, fans can visit many other Rosamunde Pilcher filming locations nearby, including Beer, Branscombe, Hooken Cliffs, Exeter and Budleigh Salterton, all within an easy drive of our gorgeous East Devon cottages.
If we’ve stirred your appetite for a Rosamunde Pilcher adventure, book a stay in one of our beautiful Cornwall or Devon holiday cottages. From luxury properties to homely farm cottages, they are perfectly located for your Pilcher-themed holiday! And, if you need any help or advice about where to stay, you can always call our crew on 01275 21 75 75.