Based on Winston Graham’s acclaimed novels set in Cornwall in the 18th Century, Poldark tells the story of Ross Poldark, an Army officer who returns to England after fighting in the American War of Independence to discover that his fiancee Elizabeth had believed him dead and has since married his cousin. Poldark then marries his maid, Demelza but is forever torn between the two women.
The long-awaited BBC drama was shot in Cornwall and other parts of the south west. When the cast and crew filmed in Cornwall during the summer of 2014 they caused quite a flurry of excitement. Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson were spotted up and down the county.
Here is Visit Cornwall's behind-the-scenes guide to the towns and beaches that took a turn in the spotlight:
Charlestown near St Austell, famed for its collection of ships and traditional appearance, has long caught the attention of location managers and in some scenes plays the role of the principal town. As you wander along the side of the original Grade II Listed harbour complete with Tall Ships, you can almost imagine that you’ve been cast as an extra or have been transported to Graham Winston’s 18th Century setting.
Church Cove Gunwallow on The Lizard relived its smugglings past when Aidan Turner and a hoard of other cast members and extras descended to film night-time ship wrecking scenes. While the events of the night highlight the nicer side of Turner’s character, the villagers don’t come off in such a good light - away from the cameras though and the scene on a normal day is a much more peaceful. An attractive sandy cove overlooked by the tiny church of St Wynwallow.
Once a thriving fishing cove, the beautiful Porthgwarra sits at the heart of St Aubyn Estates and boasts a peaceful existence with its days surrounded by wildflowers and birdlife. The tunnel cut through the rock makes it perfect for swimming and rock pooling while the South West Coast Path offers unsurpassed views. Stop in the Porthgwarra Cove Cafe (seasonal) or pack a traditional picnic for a circa 18th Century Poldark experience.
The cast and crew found themselves on Bodmin Moor for a large part of their time in Cornwall. Scenes featuring the exterior of Ross Poldark’s cottage, Nampara, were shot here along with many capturing the cast on horseback. With a rugged character and wild streak, Bodmin Moor provides the perfect backdrop to Poldark’s plot of passion and family dramatics.
Location managers couldn’t resist the rich mining heritage of the stretch of west Cornwall coast linking Botallack and Levant. Cameras rolled with Levant Mine playing the role of the fictional Tressiders Rolling Mill while Owles and Crowns near Botallack stared as Wheal Leisure.
For some of the cliff scenes the filming action moved to the Padstow area. Fans of north Cornwall will recognise the spectacular views across the Camel Estuary and Tregirls beach, while the beauty of the wide sandy beach of Porthcothan is hard to miss in the scenes featuring Poldark’s fictional Nampara Cove.
In the latest adaptation the spectacular headland at Stepper Point, at the mouth of the Camel Estuary, part of thePrideaux-Brune Estate, was used for some of the most dramatic cliff scenes of horse drawn carriages filmed hurtling across the cliff tops. Be sure to visit here whilst in the area.
Another area that enjoyed a taste of Hollywood is St Agnes Head where iconic engine houses perch serenely on the cliff-tops offering a silent reminder of Cornwall’s mining heyday. A natural location choice, it doubles as Nampara Valley in the show.
While Corsham in Wiltshire doubled as Truro for filming, the City itself was Winston Graham’s true inspiration for the story and was the location of choice for the world premiere of the series. Producers, writers and the headline cast joined lucky locals for an exclusive viewing of the first episode and won their first of many rave reviews.
Further afield and filming took place in Bristol – where battle scenes were recreated at Ashton Hill Woods – and Chavenage House, an Elizabethan manor house in Tetbury, Gloucestershire.
Make like Ross and Demelza and step into the 18th Century world of mining, smuggling and romance with a Poldark experience.