Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Looking for Ross Poldark's London Home

Ross Poldark, London
Winston Graham is well known for giving more than a passing nod to real life people, places and events in his novels so, with some of the action for Poldark series four moving to London, I thought I'd check out the streets Ross, Caroline and George are said to live in in Warleggan and The Angry Tide to see if they ever existed. To my delight I was able to track them all down.  Caroline's Aunt Sarah's house was the easiest to find and Hedge Lane the hardest but let's start with the house Ross Poldark lives in when he comes to Westminster as a Member of Parliament.

Romantic London: Horwood's Plan  1792-99 (9)
Ross lives at 6 George Street, just off  the Strand.  We know this because in The Angry Tide Book 3 Chapter 3, Caroline takes Demelza to buy a new gown: "But before price could be discussed it was arranged that the gown should be finished and delivered to No. 6 George Street 'at this hour tomorrow'".

Earlier in The Angry Tide (Book 1 Chapter 3 III) Ross describes the rooms to Demelza: "They were good rooms. Mrs Parkins is a tailor's widow. George Street is off the Strand, near the Adelphi Buildings, and quiet after the noise of the main streets. Eighteen shillings a week I paid."

Ross Poldark, 6 George Street
No. 6 York Buildings  Photos by Evie Bowman for Poldarked
Today, George Street is known as York Buildings (Its name changed c.1852).  It is a small street that slopes down from John Adam Street to Victoria Embankment Gardens and, as I walk down it, I feel a twinge of excitement at the prospect of seeing  Ross Poldark's London home. I know the house exists from British History Online  (1) which describes it as a three storey building dating from the late 17th or early 18th century.  And, halfway down the hill, there it is in front of me. Painted white with grey windows, it does not disappoint!

George Street is less than a mile from Westminster although Ross says: "It's a way from Westminster, but there were always ferries at the foot of the steps to take me there," so I guess he was missing his horse!  The photo top right shows the entrance from York Buildings to what is now Victoria Embankment Gardens which, in Ross's time, would have been where the landing stages for the ferries were. One additional snippet:The Angry Tide covers the years 1798-1799 and in real life at this time a woman called Jane Moore resided at No. 6 (3).

George and Elizabeth live in a different part of town. The Angry Tide Book 3 Chapter 3 II says: "The Warleggans had arrived in London only two days before and taken up residence at No. 14 King Street, just near Grosvenor Gate, having brought Valentine with them, since scarlet fever was so rife in Truro that he was unlikely to be  at greater hazard in London, with the fresh fields of Hyde Park on his doorstep."

Romantic London: Horwood's Plan  1792-99 (9)
There were several King Streets in London in the early 1800s but Grosvenor Gate identifies this King Street as the one off Grosvenor Square. King Street became Northop Street in 1886 and then Culross Street in 1899 according to British History Online (2) but Horwood's Plan of 1799 (9) shows there was no No.14. However, in 1914, all the houses were renumbered and No.11 became No.14 so this may be the house Winston Graham was thinking of. With this in mind I knew, as I walked towards Culross Street, I would not be able to identify the Warleggan's with certainty. As it turned out,  this wasn't the only obstacle! Culross Street backs onto what was, until this year, the US Embassy and, as such, is in a restricted area with gates and security! George would have loved it! In 1914 there were plans to demolish the houses on the north side of Culross Street but the outbreak of war led to the plans being put aside and, after the war, the need for smaller houses meant the properties were renovated instead.

I did my best to get a couple of shots of the houses and the current No. 14 (centre left).

Warleggan, Culross Street, King Street
The Warleggans live in King Street, now Culross Street

Caroline, Hatton Garden
Caroline stays at 5 Hatton Garden
Caroline Penvenen lives with her Aunt Sarah when she visits London, which is where Ross finds her when he comes to thank her for clearing his debt and to talk to her about Dwight. Warleggan Book 4 Chapter 4 says, "It was snowing the following day when Ross set out to find Caroline. Her address was No.5 Hatton Garden, which he knew to be a superior residential district."
Romantic London: Horwood's Plan  1792-99 (9)
This was the easiest of the addresses to find as Hatton Garden is an area of London well known for it's fine jewellery shops and is the centre of the UK diamond trade.  I was not surprised to find then, that No. 5 now houses Premier Jewellers. The grey building, which is just off busy Holborn, has a plaque to the Italian political activist Giuseppe Mazzini on the wall, as Mazzini founded the first Italian school here (1841) during his exile in London (4).

At the end of the chapter in Warleggan, Ross tells Caroline where he is staying."If  you should change your mind before Thursday, you'll find me at the Mitre in Hedge Lane. It is just off Leicester Fields." Although this is just a lodging for Ross I thought it worth looking up. I could find references to Hedge Lane being near Suffolk Street, close to what is now Leicester Square, but couldn't quite pinpoint it until I looked on a map from 1746 (5). It then became clear that it was what is now known as Whitcomb Street and I was able to find it in British History Online (6).

Ross Poldark, Mitre, Hedge Lane
Map: Locating London's Past (5)
Present day Whitcomb Street (Hedge Lane)

Unfortunately, I could not find any reference to the Mitre in Whitcomb Street in (7) There was, however,  a Mitre on the other side of Leicester Square in St Martin's Lane (8), although this is no longer standing.

I had great fun tracking down all these places and it was such a thrill to see Ross's house.  Here are the references I used in case you want to find out more.

(1.) 'York Buildings', in Survey of London: Volume 18, St Martin-in-The-Fields II: the Strand, ed. G H Gater and E P Wheeler (London, 1937), pp. 81-83. British History Online [accessed 10 April 2018].

(2) 'Park Street and Culross Street: Culross Street east of Park Street, and Blackburne's Mews', in Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings), ed. F H W Sheppard (London, 1980), pp. 259-262. British History Online [accessed 25 April 2018].

(3)  Appendix B BHO     

(4) Giuseppe Mazzini's Houses in London

(5) Locating London's Past

(6) 'Whitcomb Street', in Survey of London: Volume 20, St Martin-in-The-Fields, Pt III: Trafalgar Square and Neighbourhood, ed. G H Gater and F R Hiorns (London, 1940), pp. 104-105. British History Online [accessed 5 May 2018].



(9) Romantic London: Horwoods Plan 1792-99

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Pics from the 'Poldark' S4 Preview Screening at the BFI

Here are a few pics from last night's preview screening of Poldark S4 at the BFI.  Sorry, there's no report as news from the Q&A is embargoed for a while.  I did ask the BFI Box Office if the panel would be filmed and disappointingly, it seems not.

Eleanor Tomlinson was unable to make the event as she is busy filming War of the Worlds but she did send a video (below) with the wonderful news that there would be a series 5!

Luke Norris, Esme Coy, Christian Brassington,  Joshua Whitehouse, Aidan Turner, Ellise Chappell, Beatie Edney
Luke Norris, Esme Coy, Christian Brassington,
Joshua Whitehouse, Aidan Turner, Ellise Chappell, Beatie Edney

Debbie Horsfield, Aidan Turner and Karen Thrussell
Debbie Horsfield, Aidan Turner and Karen Thrussell

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Film Review: 'Modern Life is Rubbish'

Modern Life is Rubbish is described as a sort of anti-romantic comedy and, in many ways, that's what it is.

Natalie (Freya Mavor) and Liam (Josh Whitehouse from Poldark)  are splitting up after ten years together and key moments in their lives are played out to a backdrop of the indie music of the time. In fact, their love of the same type of music brought them together and has always been a major factor in their relationship. Liam is a struggling musician; Natalie gives up her dream of becoming an album designer to work in advertising so as she can support the pair. The trouble is, Liam doesn't seem to notice Natalie's sacrifices. He's so absorbed in himself, his band and his music and so opinionated about the negative influence of modern day technology on our lives he has little time for anything else, including work. This might be okay if his band was going somewhere but they spend more time arguing than playing music.Will taking on the mysterious The Curve (Ian Hart) as their manager turn things around?

Seeing Liam's band on stage adds a nice sense of authenticity to the film for it's obvious that Josh Whitehouse is a musician, although sometimes I had to remind myself that I wasn't watching 'Josh Whitehouse in Concert'. Fellow Poldark actor Will Merrick plays Olly, the band's bass player and, as Liam's best mate, often comes up with some pearls of wisdom.

Liam soon begins to realise what he's lost by letting Natalie slip through his fingers and sees he has to change his ways. But is he too late?

Natalie's work colleague Adrian (Tom Riley) has started to take an interest in her.  He's bright, thoughtful, good-looking, shares her interests - I mean, what's not to like?

Ultimately, while Modern Life is Rubbish is a story of the compromises we make in a relationship, it does leave us wondering if it isn't better to change relationships rather than the people inside them.

Modern Life is Rubbish is in cinemas in the UK from Friday 4 May. Follow the link for venues and tickets

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

When will 'Poldark' Return?

Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Poldark Series Four

We all know Poldark series four will be back on our screens in the next few weeks but the question is when?

Last year Poldark began on 11 June but when asked the air date at the Radio Times Covers Party in January Aidan Turner said, "Sooner rather than later. I think it's probably a different time to last year, it's probably earlier from what I can gather," and Damien Timmer at the Poldark on Stage event said it might be slightly earlier than last year. Here at Poldarked we think it will start on Sunday 20 May. Why?

Well, BBC One's drama The Woman in White starts at 9pm on Sunday 22 April. It is a five part drama and parts two and three follow, we believe, on Sunday and Monday 29 and 30 April. It's probably safe to assume the fourth episode of The Woman in White will be on Sunday 6 May but what about episode five? The following Sunday (13 May) the BBC is likely to air the BAFTA Television Awards so it makes sense for the finale of The Woman in White to be on Monday 7 May rather than wait until Sunday 20th.

And so we speculate Poldark will be back on 20 May.  What do you think?

Related Links:
Poldark on Stage
Aidan Turner Talks Poldark Air Date and Series Five

Friday, 23 March 2018

Poldark S4 Preview Screening at BFI

Poldark series four is to get a preview screening at the BFI Southbank this May!

The first episode will be shown and Aidan Turner will be there for the Q&A along with writer Debbie Horsfield and executive producer Karen Thrussell.

The event will take place on 2 May at 8.15pm. Tickets are available from the BFI website from 3 April for BFI members and 10 April at 11.30 am for non-members. Tickets are limited to two per person.

Details and tickets are available from the BFI website.

Aidan Turner Supports HIV Charity with Dinner Date Prize

Photo: Kitty Gale


Terrific news from the Terrence Higgins Trust. Aidan Turner is supporting the HIV charity by offering dinner with him as a prize in their charity auction!  The auction, which is at Christies Auction House on 16 April, has loads of fabulous prizes including a painting of Russell Tovey and a watercolour by Tracey Emin.

The Terrence Higgins Trust is at the forefront of the fight against HIV and works towards improving the nations sexual health. Last year this event raised £240,000 and, over the years, has raised £4.2 million.

This is such a wonderful offer from Aidan. While at £150, even a ticket to the event is out of the question for many of us, let alone a bid for the dinner, it's great to see Aidan supporting such an important charity.

Tickets for the auction are available online until 15 April, 2018. Follow the link for more information.

Check out more details on the Terrence Higgins Trust  Facebook page

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Aidan Turner on Stage

One of the things I'm most looking forward to this summer is seeing Aidan Turner make his West End debut in Martin McDonagh's The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Aidan returns to the stage after a break of ten years. Back in 2008, when he played Paris in Dublin's Abbey Theatre production of Romeo and Juliet, he probably had no idea that his career would take him away from live performance for so long and since 2012 he has been saying he would like to get back to his roots. As he told ARTICLE magazine recently, "It's gone beyond something I want to do at this point; it's actually something that I need to do."

Aidan Turner, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Martin McDonagh, Noel Coward Theatre, Michael Grandage
The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Photo: Johan Persson
A while ago I was lucky enough to talk to Aidan about returning to the stage. As he says, "Going to the theatre is such a different experience than, say, watching TV.  It's like, well, it's the reason I started acting. Performing in theatre is just something that's completely different. You're on stage for two hours and it's just electric and anything can go wrong. It's that fear. Nothing can go wrong on a TV set and, if it does, you call cut and just go again."

Aidan plays Mad Padraic in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, a terrorist deemed too violent for the IRA, who loves his cat and is determined to find out how it met its end. Padraic can go from being brutal to disarmingly nice and fans familiar with Aidan's television work will have no trouble bringing to mind the roles he's brought both charm and menace to. Just think Philip Lombard in And Then There Were None which Variety describes as, "...the best work of his [Aidan's] career." But it's worth remembering that The Lieutenant of Inishmore is first and foremost a comedy, be it ever so black. And here, perhaps, Aidan's work in the theatre comes into play as he's no stranger to comedy on stage.

Aidan Turner, Crock of Gold
Crock of Gold Photo: Liam Halligan
Aidan played several parts in the fantasy play Crock of Gold (2006) which was noted by critics for its strong performances. From a cast of 30, reviewers sought out Aidan for the humour he brought to one his roles saying, "You have characters beautifully played such as Pan by Aidan Turner. His strutting around the stage is hilarious." Part of the fun of the theatre is having players interact with the audience which is just what Pan did, even at one time offering someone a cup of tea!

Aidan Turner, Cyrano
Cyrano Photo; Patrick Redmond
Later in 2006 Aidan played Christian in the comedy Cyrano. Reviewers praised the sharp writing of this funny play and called Aidan a "fabulous young actor who really stole the show," despite playing a "priapic lughead". As Christian, Aidan had the audience with him as he talked to Cyrano about never having been with an older woman, "except for that one time with my Aunt", responded to Roxanne's question about what makes him angry with "Britney Spears" and likened sex to paintball. There was plenty of visual comedy too with reviewers finding the sword fight with leeks inspired!

Although Aidan has been in many productions over the years the plays have often had short runs (Cyrano was eight days) with Romeo and Juliet at Ireland's national theatre The Abbey, having the longest run of 47 shows. The Lieutenant of Inishmore will run for over 100 performances. Aidan is realistic about the repetition whether it be for Poldark or on stage telling WWD magazine, "When you're anchoring a show there's some responsibility to take the lead and not to let boredom settle in. It happens in every job, it happened when I was on stage for years. After opening night, or a few weeks after, you begin to think it's old hat, that there's nothing new to discover. But it's just about re-engaging with the role, the experience and the project. I'm still having a lot of fun."

Aidan Turner, Romeo and Juliet, Abbey Theatre
In rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet Photo: Ros Kavanagh
Of course, Aidan and the cast are in the very capable hands of Michael Grandage, one of our finest directors. Aidan has not worked with Michael before but it seems they share the same ethos. Michael likes his actors to be happy and, as we know, everyone who joins the cast of Poldark says it's a lovely show to work on; Michael expects the cast to arrive at the first rehearsal knowing all their lines and Aidan's advice for auditions is to "get off book as quick as you can"; Michael hopes that, by the end of rehearsals, every line of a play will have been examined and Aidan says, "With theatre you’re kind of four-to-five weeks locked down in the room with the guys figuring stuff out. It’s back to play school.That’s what I miss the most — almost. There’s nothing like an opening night or like the curtain going up and having a full house, but also having weeks and weeks to work with your director and cast members and try to crack the play."

Aidan Turner, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Martin McDonagh, Noel Coward Theatre, Michael Grandage
The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Photo: Johan Persson
The Noel Coward, where The Lieutenant of Inishmore will be staged, is a pretty Rococo style  theatre dating from 1903.  Aidan is certainly familiar with it as a member of the audience having seen Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw there in Peter and Alice and Sarah Greene in The Cripple of Inishmaan (which he went to with some friends from The Hobbit) - both Michael Grandage productions, The Cripple of Inishmaan being a Martin McDonagh play.  I've been to the Noel Coward several times (I particularly enjoyed The Cripple of Inishmaan). The seats have a comfortable amount of leg room and there is air conditioning during the performance. A word of warning though. The Ladies loos are few in number and the foyer ones are tiny!

The Lieutenant of Inishmore  runs from 23 June to 8 September.  Follow the link tickets and more information.

Please remember to credit Poldarked when reposting this article.

Related links:
Aidan Turner's Career