Wednesday, 12 February 2014

LAMORNA, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT: SUMMER IN FEBRUARY



I was born in West Cornwall, just a few miles from the pretty little cove of Lamorna which forms the centrepiece of the story told in the film Summer In February, based on a true story about a colony of artists known as the Lamorna Group and the love triangle which develops between one of the artists, Sir Alfred Munnings (Dominic Cooper) and his friend Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens, who met an untimely end in Downton Abbey) who both fall for the visiting beauty Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning).  I was therefore looking forward to settling down to watch the film, hoping to catch a glimpse of some of my favourite childhood haunts.  In fact, Lamorna itself features surprisingly little in the film, although there are a number of beautiful Cornish locations for location-spotters to feast their eyes on. 

The film's most gorgeous beach scenes were filmed at Holywell Bay, a short distance from Newquay on the north coast - perfect for horseriding as demonstrated by the film's characters - and at Porthcurno, famed for its unique Minack Theatre, which is actually quite close to Lamorna.   Prussia Cove, further round Mounts Bay beyond St Michael's Mount, was used for most of the Lamorna scenes in the film, as the crew deemed it more practical for filming purposes.  Prussia Cove, which actually includes four tiny coves set among an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is a private estate which includes holiday and event accommodation.  The notorious smuggler John Carter operated out of this stretch of coast in the late 1700s, hence his nickname, the King of Prussia.  Trereife House in my home town, Penzance, was another filming location; this elegant country house is open to visitors and offers upmarket accommodation.  The woods featured in the film looked suspiciously un-Cornish to me, and I was right: it turns out the woodland walk scene was filmed in Hertfordshire.

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Holywell Bay. Photo by Nilfanion, via Wikimedia Commons

As for Lamorna itself, the village and its cove lie at the end of a lush green valley.  There is a tiny harbour, which has sadly fallen victim to the violent storms which are still battering Britain as I type: the harbour wall was literally broken in two by the force of the waves.  Art fans who want to immerse themselves fully in the Cornish landscape so beloved of Munnings and his friends can rent holiday accommodation adjoining the converted barn used as a studio by the artist.  Alternatively, The Cove Hotel was once home to Gilbert, and later to Florence and Alfred after they were married.  While in Lamorna a drink in the village pub, The Lamorna Wink, is a must - one of the film's early scenes features a boozy evening in The Wink.  There are lovely cliff-top walks from Lamorna, towards Porthcurno in one direction and towards Mousehole in the other - one of the film's scenes features a short clip of the latter.  Near Lamorna is a stone circle called the Merry Maidens, where Florence and Gilbert used to meet.  Legend has it that a group of maidens were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday; I vividly remember being told this as a small child, to my utter terror.  Finally, Lamorna is only a few miles away from some of Cornwall's most artistic towns and villages, including Newlyn, Mousehole and last, but by no means least, St Ives.  
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Lamorna Cove. Photo by Tony Atkin, via Wikimedia Commons




Map of Lamorna.
  

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