The Admiral’s Daughter
In Kydd’s Footsteps
Kathy and I greatly enjoy going on location research for the Kydd books and to date the series has taken us to all kinds of exotic places around the globe – from Antigua to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania).
Was it our wanderlust behind the fact that it wasn’t until the eighth title in the series that the story was set in home waters, I wonder… Whatever the reason, writing that book highlighted to me just how strong the maritime heritage is in the West Country. But that’s the topic for another blog!
Recently, when two friends (and fans of the Kydd series) from the States had a short stay in Devon it was a perfect excuse to revisit two of the locations in The Admiral’s Daughter.
Our first stop was Saltram House, a George II era mansion near Plymouth. It’s one of the best preserved examples of an early Georgian house, and in Kydd’s day was the finest estate in the area. The actual name Saltram derives from the salt that was harvested on the nearby estuary and the fact that a ‘ham’, or homestead, was on the site before the Tudor period.
Film buffs may have spotted the true identity of Norland Park in the film Sense and Sensibility. Yes, it was Saltram House!
In The Admiral’s Daughter, Kydd, now an officer and a gentleman, is invited to Saltram and approaches the grand estate with some trepidation:
‘The spare, classical stateliness of Saltram was ablaze with lights in the summer dusk and a frisson of excitement seized Kydd as a footman lowered the side-step and stood to attention as he alighted. In a few moments he would be entering an existence he could not have dreamed of before and so much would hang on his motions of the next few hours.’
Then, for my little tour it was on to Polperro, 25 miles west of Plymouth. In Georgian times it was a notorious smugglers’ haunt but the village’s reputation for ‘free trade’ dates back several hundred years before that.
Kydd takes in the scene when he arrives:
‘It was a pretty village; the small harbour was central with its piers and little fisher boats in rows on the mud.’
In Polperro Kydd meets sweet Rosalynd and is then torn between her and the admiral’s daughter, Persephone Lockwood.
Polperro retains much of its history and character to this day. Take away the electricity supply and a few other trappings of modern life and the little village hasn’t really changed all that much. It’s one of the most charming spots on the Cornish coast and I heartily recommend a visit if you ever get a chance.
All too soon our friends had to depart and return to the States but I hope when they re-read The Admiral’s Daughter, as they were keen to do, they will find their visits to Saltram and Polperro have enriched their appreciation of Kydd’s world. I know Kathy and I certainly did!
I’d love to hear from readers who have visited other locales in the series.