Wandering down the hill into Charlestown harbour you’d be forgiven for feeling a little confused. A curious mixture of old and new the town has suddenly become a top tourist attraction thanks to Poldark, and yet it has held a starring role in so many productions over the years because of its unique positioning and its steadfast hold on the seafaring history it portrays.  In some ways it reminded me of the Dartmouth or Exeter Quay of the early seventies which had featured epically in the popular costume drama of the time, The Onedin Line ( theme from Spartacus, starts up in my head and rests there as a bygone ear worm!).   Charlestown is currently besieged by Poldark fans, I wandered along the quay and heard one woman excitedly saying to her long suffering husband ” and this is where we saw Verity climbing aboard Captain Blamey’s ship to elope!”. Only a moment before I had walked the harbour wall and pictured the merchants walking with Ross and commenting on his newly married status. Yes, it seems that Charlestown is coming into its own again and it will be forever the ‘Falmouth’ of eighteen century England now. 

About a decade ago a friend of mine had been supplying pumping equipment into the dock when he found himself standing next to a fully costumed Mel Gibson who nodded to him and said hello and they passed a short exchange that was ( unsurprisingly for those of us who experience Cornish weather daily!) centred around the futility of pumping out a dock that the heavens would soon set about refilling! He was most excited by the fact that that wasn’t the shortest thing about Mr G!

Charlestown is enchanting and shouldn’t just be viewed as an eternal film set however. It’s restaurants serve amazing Cornish fare and the heritage centre is a wonder to behold for anyone interested in the history of our seafaring nation.  We will be revisiting it later in the summer with some recommendations for all our followers. 


Leave a Reply

  1. Cornish Alan

    Charlestown was a very popular tourist attraction long before Poldark was filmed there.
    It was, in fact, used for many of the harbour scenes for the Onedin Line in 1972 to 1979.
    It appeared in other historical films and television series including Mansfield Park (1999), Moll Flanders (1996), the first Poldark series (1975 – 1977), Rebecca (1940 and 1997), The Missionary (1983), The New World (2005), The Three Musketeers (1993), The Voyage of Charles Darwin (1978), Two Men Went to War (2002), The Eagle Has landed (1976), Doctor Who: The Curse of the Black Spot [Series 6 Episode 3] (2011), About Time (2012), Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Creation (2009).
    The earliest recorded filming at Charlestown was in 1937 with “Farewell Topsails”, an early colour documentary film about the Mary Barrow, the last of the topsail schooners, transporting China clay from Cornwall to London.

    Incidentally the harbour depicted by Charlestown in the Poldark episodes is supposed to be Truro harbour and not Falmouth. At the time when Poldark is set, the River Truro was navigable as far as Lemon Quay in the centre of Truro.

    1. Karen Listing Owner

      Thanks for that Alan,
      Actually quite a bit of artistic license has been used with Charlestown. Some of the scenes are as your rightly point out suppose to take place in Truro, but others are also definitely in Falmouth as written in the books. However navigable Truro was, and it did indeed take up to 300 ton ships at one time. It never had open sea around it. It seems a new amalgamated maritime town of Trumouth has been invented by the makers of the series! That’s the beauty of drama! It doesn’t have to be historically rigid in all things,…. Like the inclusions of lighthouses in certain shots, which were not built for 80 odd years! It looks nice, so artistic licence prevails! Thanks for your comment though.

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