“Rosamunde who?…” This is very often the answer when a Brit is asked by a German speaker, usually with a beaming smile, if they are familiar with the work of Rosamunde Pilcher. The Cornish born author, who died earlier this year, should be better known by her countrymen – after all, her novels have sold over 60 million copies!
While other writers have a place in the collective British heart, Rosamunde Pilcheris curiously missing. Not so in Germany (and parts of Austria and Switzerland), where Mrs Pilcher’s novels are something of a Sunday night television institution, feverishly adapted in the same way that Devon born author, Agatha Christie’s novels are adapted for British TV.
Although Rosamunde left Cornwall early in adulthood and moved to Scotland, her upbringing in the West Country formed the backdrop for many of her novels. Since 1993 more than 100 episodes, inspired by Rosamunde Pilcher’s stories, have been made for German TV by ZweitesDeutschesFernsehen (ZDF).
This explains her huge popularity in Germany and also explains the significant number of ‘Pilcher Pilgrims’ who come to the British West Country every year. From Bonn to Berlin, Dresden to Düsseldorf, and the Baltic coast to the Black Forest, an estimated 250,000 German tourists travel to Cornwall to visit the stunning locations which bring this TV show alive.
Many of these German tourists choose to break their journey along the way by stopping off in the beautiful region of North Devon. In the early days it was more as a matter of convenience, but as word of mouth spread about this unspoilt part of the UK, North Devon has become a more familiar stop on a German tourist itinerary.
Why Choose North Devon?
Co-owner of The Carlton Hotel in Ilfracombe, Eliot Seabourn-Wren, has noticed an increasing number of German visitors passing through the town. “Obviously we are aware of who Rosamunde Pilcher is now!” says Eliot, speaking in the hotel’s library, which could itself be a scene from a period drama. “But I have to admit she was news to me to begin with.”
He sees the attraction of North Devon for German visitors as being the dramatic coastal landscape and its beautiful countryside. “The terrain of Cornwall is very dramatic, but quite stark. The coastal landscape of North Devon is dramatic too, but it is softer – with rolling green hills, more sheltered waters and quiet bays.”
The variety of North Devon’s beaches has made the region a favourite stopover for German visitors; from the epic Saunton Sands (a regular backdrop for movies and record covers, including the iconic Pink Floyd Momentary Lapse of Reasonalbum) to smuggler’s coves such as nearby Watermouth Bay, which was the backdrop for a TV adaptation of the mystery tales of children’s writer Enid Blyton.
Ilfracombe: The Perfect Stopover!
German tourists have also found the pretty town of Ilfracombe a great place to spend some time in. The town, twinned with Herxheim in the Rhineland-Palatinate, offers some fine examples of Victorian architecture and unique features from the historical era such as the ‘Tunnels’ beaches. Recently in Spring 2019 the twinning association visited Ilfracombe and Herxheims finest Kolpinskapelleband gave an impromptu performance at a reception held at The Carlton.
Ilfracombefirst came to prominence during the reign of Queen Victoria (Nineteenth century) when the development of the railway opened up Britain’s small coastal towns to tourism and the era of theVictorian seaside resortbegan. Victoria was herself half German, descended from the House of Hannover, and spoke German fluently.
Ilfracombe (just two hours from Bristol airport and four hours from Heathrow) also sits on the edge of the magnificent Exmoor National Park, which is a combination of sweeping moorland, superb coastal views and hidden valleys. The area was made famous by the classic English tale, Lorna Doone, and the drive along the coast of North Devon (and neighbouring county of Somerset), via the towns of Taunton and Minehead, is spectacular.
From Ilfracombe the landmarks of Pilcher novels – such as Bodmin Moor and Padstow – are just a two hour drive. This makes the North Devon seaside town the perfect stopover point to relaxand refresh! The Carlton offers luxurious modern rooms, spa treatments and gym facilities. Its restaurant, The Brasserie, also serves great food– from locally caught fish to tasty traditional cream teas (German visitors will learn that in Devon the cream comes after the jam on a scone, while in Cornwall it is the other way around!). There are of course also great local ciders and ales to sip while browsing the pages of such Pilcher classics as The Shell Seekers, Coming Home or Winter Solstice!
Book a break at The Carlton, or contact the hotel for more information on firstname.lastname@example.org.