Brittany has long been a favourite location for Britain's holidaying in France. John & Winifred Fortescue were no exception. In 1922, following a Spring visit to Gibraltar, they took their summer holiday in Brittany staying in a converted windmill in St. Jacut-de-la-Mer, near to Dinard. They crossed to St. Malo on a sweltering day and, as is often the case, had to wait outside for hours because of the notorious tide. When they finally landed they had missed the little ferry across to Dinard and had another long wait. They eventually reached St. Jacut and were compensated for the journey by their accommodation, an old windmill, converted by a clever Parisienne (who was also an excellent cook). During their stay they enjoyed exploring on the wide sandy beaches and John was persuaded to paddle for the first time in his life!

One afternoon they came across two young girls who were also staying in the area. Winifred decided these girls would make perfect models for her 'Cintra' fashions and persuaded them to take part in her fashion show in the rose garden at Admiral's House, Hampstead Heath. One of the girls was Betty Stockfield who went on to make a name for herself on stage & screen.

The swiiming pool at Dinard.

The swimming pool at Dinard c.1940

The swiiming pool at Dinard in 2007.

The swimming pool at Dinard - May 2007

The beach at Dinard c.1920.

The beach at Dinard c.1920

The beach at Dinard today.

The beach at Dinard today

A casino at Dinard, now the town cinema.

The casino at Dinard, now the town cinema

Dinard Promenade 'Clare de Lune'.

Dinard Promenade 'Clare de Lune'

Dinard - St malo ferry arriving at Dinard

c1930's St. Malo - Dinard ferry arriving at Dinard

St.Malo - Dinard ferry arrives at Dinard in May 2007.

The St. Malo to Dinard ferry arrives at Dinard - May 2007

Hotels at Dinard in 2007.

The same location as above in May 2007

Dinard beach in 2007.

The beach at Dinard in May 2007

The swiiming pool at Dinard in 2007.

Another view of the swimming pool at Dinard - May 2007

Slipway Dinard in 2007.

The slipway where ferries used to arrive in May 2007

In 1924 John & Winifred took another holiday in Brittany, this time close to Pont Aven. Winifred had suffered another bout of ill health connected with her 'poison'. She had received surgery in London and John decided Brittany would provide a good location to recuperate. Despite a struggle back to full health and plans to continue the expansion of 'Cintra' it was during this stay that John decided that Winifred must close her business for the sake of her own health. She was devastated at first.


'........I slipped out alone that night and pounded for miles along the shore until reaching a wild and desolate spot I flung myself face downwards on the sand-dunes and fought out my battle alone.' (There's Rosemary, There's Rue)


Click to see larger pictures of the windmill

The converted windmill at St. Jacut-de-la-Mer (c.1920) where John & Winifred took their 1922 summer holiday

The beach at St. Jacut - De - La - Mer.

The beach at St. Jacut-de-la-Mer

The converted windmill & restaurant at St. Jacut - De - La - Mer where John & Winifred stayed while on holiday.

Still operating as an hotel today

Visit the hotel web site

At the start of WW II Winifred, now widowed, was facing the possibility of being interred as an alien in the south. She decided to return to England to help the French war effort from there. The decision was made just in time and there followed a frantic dash by car across the entire country. As she neared each of the channel ports she discovered they had been taken by the Nazis. She finally reached the last port in French hands, St Malo, only to discover the last ship for England had sailed the day before. She managed to get a room at the Hotel de l'Univers where she had stayed on holiday in happier times. There followed anxious days, not knowing if another boat would leave before the Nazis arrived, and also in obtaining a licence for her faithful cocker spaniel, 'The Blackness', who had made the dash with her. Eventually another boat, and the licence, arrived and Winifred escaped to the relative safety of England.  

Hotel de l'Universe, St Malo, Brittany

Hotel de l'Universe
 16 Place Chateaubriand, St Malo

'Dinard' the Southern Railway St. Malo - Southampton ship

Southern Railways Ship 'Dinard'

Dinard built in 1924 by Denny (Dumbarton, River Clyde). When constructed she was 2294 gross tons and carried 1300 passengers (354 in berths). Dinard served on the night route between Southampton and St Malo. She served with distinction in World War 2 and is possibly the boat Winifred escaped on in the nick of time.

   St Jacut-de-la-Mer

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Pictures - P.Riley