Eleanor Tomlinson stars in T&C’s winter issue

As ‘Poldark’ nears its final chapter, its heroine looks ahead to her next adventure

Eleanor Tomlinson wears silk dress with ruffle collar and belt, Louis Vuitton. White gold and diamond earrings, William & Son. Leather boots (just seen), Church’s. Photographs by Richard Phibbs and styled by Miranda Almond

In Cornwall, Eleanor Tomlinson has become a household name. The tremendous success of Poldark over the past three years has bolstered the fortunes of the county as tourists flock to visit the dramatic coastline and wild landscapes seen in the television series. From greetings cards that read “Be the Demelza of whatever you do” to Visit Cornwall’s “Experience Poldark” app, it’s incredible to see first-hand how much a period drama about a 17th-century mining community has captured the collective imagination.

At the beating heart of the show is Tomlinson’s character, Demelza Poldark, a fiery-tempered flame-haired heroine, who debuted on our screens as a ragged urchin, dressed in boys’ clothes. Over the five seasons she gradually transforms into the programme’s most mesmerising figure, winning over Ross Poldark and indeed everyone she encounters, her impulsive nature as compelling as her beauty.

Silk dress with ruffle collar, Louis Vuitton. White gold and diamond earrings, William & Son. Leather boots (just seen), Church’s

I meet Tomlinson at Godolphin House, an ancient manor several miles north of Helston, where the surrounding countryside is dotted with the ruins of soaring chimneys, relics of the many copper and tin mines that once made the area a hive of industry. Godolphin was one of the most fashionable houses in Cornwall, and served both as an inspiration to Poldark’s author Winston Graham and as the location for Trenwith in the BBC’s original 1970s adaptation.

Tulle dress, Elie Saab. Riding jacket, calf-skin riding boots, matching chaps, all Hermès. Gold ring (just seen), Louis Vuitton

In the estate’s crowded tea shop, the atmosphere among the day-trippers and locals seems oddly animated. The cause of the excitement turns out to be Tomlinson herself, who had been spotted by many of the visitors earlier that day, posing in the grounds for the Town & Country shoot. Abandoning all thoughts of conducting the interview in the café, I instead wait for her in the adjacent manor, where she eventually returns, chilled after a long day of traipsing about cliff-tops and galloping along beaches.

Cotton dress, petticoat, calf-skin belt, brass and crystal ring (just seen), all Dior

Tomlinson is tall and slender, with alabaster skin and tumbling auburn curls that make her look like a Pre-Raphaelite muse. She has wrapped herself in a thick dressing gown and clasps a cup of steaming green tea for warmth. With the room’s mullioned windows, oak beams and huge stone fireplace, it feels as if we’ve strayed onto a set. It’s a Sunday, the one day when she isn’t filming the final series, yet she seems remarkably sanguine at giving up her only chance to rest.

Silk dress, Oscar de la Renta

“I see it as such a privilege to be part of Poldark,” she says. “I still feel extremely lucky to be working, and it has opened up so many doors for me. Without sounding too corny, it’s taught me about the kind of actress I want to be; and playing Demelza has shown me how to be fearless and follow my heart.”

This is an extract from Catriona Gray’s interview with Eleanor Tomlinson in T&C’s winter issue, on sale from 15 November.

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