By Georgina Stewart
The popular, Georgian historical drama; Poldark has an exhibit in Cornwall. It’s dedicated to the history of the period, and a little section about the author. The Poldark TV series started off as a book written by Winston Graham, the first book was published in 1945, and he went on to write 11 more. The first book is set after Poldark comes back from the American Revolution, in the 1780s, and continues on to the early 19th century. The series is set in Cornwall, and most of the TV series is shot there.
The author himself was born in Manchester on 3rd of June 1910, and died on the 10th of July 2003; he was 93 years old when he died. The Poldark series isn’t the only famous book he’d written. The movie ‘Marie’ (the 1964 film starring Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery), which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock; Graham had written the novel the film was based on. He was originally born in Manchester, but moved when his father became disabled. Graham’s novels were quite well known, however, he was not. Apparently, he liked to be known as “the most successful unknown novelist in England”.
The Poldark TV series began in 2015, and is going to start its fourth series next year. It’s extremely popular in the UK, (especially Cornwall). It stars Aidan Turner (as Ross Poldark), Eleanor Tomlinson (Demelza Poldark), Jack Farthing (George Warleggan) and many more. The TV series first aired on the 8th of March, on the BBC, with Poldark coming home from the American Revolution. During the course of the series he reopens his family’s tin mine, (which was common in those days). Tin mining used to be a key part of Cornwall’s survival. A website called: http://www.poldarkmine.org.uk/cornish-mining.php. Wrote:
“Archaeological evidence indicates that Cornwall has a history of tin production dating from at least 1800 BC. From the Bronze Age the County was an important producer of tin, which when mixed with copper forms the alloy bronze.
Until the 14th century tin was produced from rich alluvial deposits. By the 18th century Cornwall had developed into the world’s major producer of tin and copper as well as commercially producing many other metals including lead, silver and arsenic.
By the early 19th century Cornwall was the world’s most technologically advanced mining district”.
You can tell by some of the posters on the Cornish buses that, they are proud of their tin mining past. There’s a legend that their St, Piran (the feast day on the 5th of March), discovered tin by accident, the Cornish flag’s design has links with this legend. The white cross on the flag represents tin, and the black background represents a black rock, good overcoming the evil; of course St, Piran didn’t invent tin, it was around 3000BC that people started using it (in the start of the Bronze Age).
The exhibit itself is located in the Royal Cornwall Museum (RCM) in Truro. The museum was founded in 1818, and next year will be celebrating its 200th birthday. There are many other exhibits at the museum, such as an Ancient Egyptian and in the main hall, Cornwall’s journey through time, there’s also art exhibitions.
The exhibit is located on the second floor. The whole exhibit displays historical objects, and stills from the TV show. You could see quotes from the author written on the walls. It had a range of exhibits, like a type writer belonging to the author, logbooks from the period and a whole manner of historical objects. If you’re interested in the TV show, then it will be something you’d enjoy. It also goes into the mining history of that time. However, the size of the exhibit isn’t huge, it’s based in a small room; but it’s definitely worth having a look through.
When asked about the exhibit, Jayne Wackett (the Head of Collections and Exhibitions), said:
“Winston Graham used to come to the Museum and use the library and objects for historical research. When we put the exhibition together, we used quotes from Graham’s books to lead us into themes in order to display true objects from the period. It’s an interesting thought that what people had seen as props in the BBC series actually exist as real objects in the museum”.
The companies supporting and funding this exhibit are: The Arts Council England and Cornwall Council. You don’t have to pay anything extra to come into the exhibit; just the usual rate. You can visit from Tues-Sun (closed on Monday), between 10am-4pm; with the cost of an adult ticket being: £5.50 for the day (under 16’s go free).
I asked a student why they liked Cornwall and she said:
“…I’d say what’s particularly unique about Cornwall is the lack of industry, and the very low population density. All the settlements are, or were, built around either mining or fishing…”
A student called Skye-Blue Scott responded to the student’s comment on Facebook.
“Yes, I agree about the lack of industry – I moved here from the Black Country… and the difference on the landscape and culture is pretty huge”
It’s a fun exhibit for anyone who is interested in Cornish history or in the TV series. The exhibit is open until the 30th of December.