The rusting Iron Duke and the man who sailed her to Frenchmen’s Creek are believed to have inspired Daphne du Maurier
A decaying boat which has been moored in the same spot on the Helford River for over a century may have been the inspiration for one of Cornwall’s bestselling novels.
Partially hidden under trees that have grown over it, the rusting vessel, which is around 40ft in length, is tucked away on the shore of a tiny cove at the mouth of Fisherman’s Creek.
The ‘Iron Duke’ has been there since London-born artist Percy ‘Powder’ Thurburn and his wife Ann sailed into the creek in 1920, and decided it was where they wanted to live.
Thurburn bought the land above the shore where his boat came to rest, and built a wooden shack on it over the following years.
Soon after, in 1932, Daphne du Maurier honeymooned at Frenchman’s Creek with her husband Lieutenant-General Frederick “Boy” Browning, spending much of their time exploring the waters on a motor cruiser.
With Percy ‘Powder’ Thurburn and his wife living at the mouth of the inlet in their wooden shack, with the Iron Duke pulled ashore below them, they undoubtedly made an impression on du Maurier.
She would go on to write one of her best-sellers, Frenchman’s Creek, about a woman who escaped from London, only to fall in love with a pirate living by the river.