At the beginning of the BBC One TV Series 4, Episode 3 of POLDARK, Ross arrives in the London town, which at the turn of the nineteenth century was a very busy place. The industrial revolution was well underway, meaning great growth of England’s monetary economy.
The population of London passed a million in 1800 and England’s provincial cities, although growing fast, had a population of under a 100,000 people. The British Navy effect controlled the seaways, industry was flourishing and the new manufacturing class was starting to prosper.
Daily however, a third of the nation’s population still faced a struggle to survive and from the monarch to the poorest of the land, there was a pyramid of power through patronage and property, which was hard to hurdle.
In the last episode when elected MP for his borough of Cornwall, local hero Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) stated ‘everything will change’ as he hopefully anticipated the positive effect he may be able to have when campaigning in the capital, representing his constituency in Cornwall. He is resolved to represent his people well in the House of Commons
By 1803 a third of citizens were labouring poor, along with cottagers, seamen, soldiers, miners and paupers with vagrants living at subsistence level.
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Writing to each other will have to satisfy Ross Poldark and his wife back at home on Nampara Farm, Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) during the time they spend apart, including over Christmas and the winter.
In London where he is involved in the anti-slavery debate, Ross is also actively trying to bring to the attention of the house the plight of small children forced to work in the ‘dark satanic’ mills located in the north of England.
History informs us it will be a long road ahead before changes occur.
Over at Trenwith House where Ross’s disappointed rival for the seat of Cornwell George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) lives with his wife Elizabeth (Heida Reed), her very kind cousin Verity Blamey (nee Poldark – Ruby Bentall) is visiting.
Friends with both Elizabeth and Demelza, Verity is enjoying her first visit to her family home in a long time; well at least since she ran away to marry a Sea Captain against all but a few family wishes. Despite all, her cousins and friends are glad to see her
Down in Ross Poldark’s mine Sam Carne (Tom York) and Zacky Martin (Tristan Sturrock) have noticed the ore is petering out in the part of the mine where the men are working. This means they may soon be all out of work, which would have disastrous results for their families.
In London Ross is attending a grand carnival event with fireworks, where he meets up with nephew Geoffrey Charles (Louis Davison). His deceased brother Francis’s son is now all grown up and active on the capital’s social scene. Ross is working among the elite of society and while his ‘friends’ in the house try to have him break his vows, he’s resisting all temptations so far.
George Warleggan is meeting with Captain Monk Adderley (Max Bennett) another MP for what can only be imagined as nefarious purposes. They agree introductions come at a ‘price’ and begin to plot George’s return to the ‘game’.
With parliament in summer recess, Ross is in a carriage on his way home, wishing to surprise Demelza who has been feeling his absence keenly.
He finds himself in a carriage with the truly awful narcissistic Reverend Whitworth (Christian Brassington), who is once again having ideas well above his station.
Cousin Verity is visiting with Demelza, having tea in the parlour at Nampara with Dr Dwight Enys (Luke Norris) and his wife Caroline (Gabriella Wilde), who is in the final stages of her pregnancy and anxious to be back at home.
Ross’s comment when he first sees Demelza is that she looks thinner and teases how she has been pining for him.
Prudie is teaching the children how to make bread when Ross enters the kitchen much to everyone’s delight.
Ross reveals to Demelza that he’s been anxious all the time he has been away wondering if they will laugh again like they used to. Demelza and Ross talk about how they have turned into strangers.
She tells him her grieving for Hugh has long been over and how she’s worried he’s mistrusted her. They are both worried about no longer knowing each other’s hearts.
The sun rises on a new day as Ross talks to Demelza about his life in London, about how decadent soft and fat he has become.
She laughs as he leaves for a swim at the beach, where he meets his best friend Dwight coming out of the water topless, who tells him how he has become a father. Overnight Dwight has delivered Caroline of their baby; Sarah Caroline Enys.
The ghastly Reverend Whitworth visits his wife Morwenna’s sister Rowella (Esme Coy), who in the last episode offered him her body for helping her to aid her income. He’s very tempted when she shows him her toes, which we all know he loves to distraction.
Ross and Dwight visit the mine together after their swim, where his miners while happy to see Ross return, act very awkwardly in his presence. He tries to put them at their ease, although he is worried about how fickle his workers seem to have become in his absence.
George goes to see his father and tells him he is going to ‘buy a borough’ to acquire influence of an unprecedented kind; Captain Monk Adderley (Max Bennett) has agreed to sell.
Reverend Ossie arrives to listen to a deathbed confession from old Matt Pierce about speculating on shares with money that was not his own. Ossie goes to see George to tell him how the bank, which is coincidentally where Ross does his banking, is in financial difficulty.
George starts to plot how he can use the information to his advantage. He meets Ross in the street and endeavours to unnerve him and later plots with Elizabeth to hold a ‘gathering’ of local wealthy people. He has plans to become ‘all powerful’ in the house to share with her.
She guarantees her support.
Demelza is also plotting with her brother Sam to help their younger brother Drake move on from Morwenna now a married woman, to find other women in his life. He’s resisting, despite one young woman in question being very appealing.
Ross is talking to his miners about tunneling through to his family’s old mine where he thinks there will be further pickings to be had. With parliament in summer recess he can give them three months of his time to assist and so they get to work.
Geoffrey Charles arrives home to Trenwith to see his mother and to attend the very lavish gathering, which is now well under way at Trenwith, where Elizabeth and George are dressed up to the nines!
Dwight is paying his baby daughter Sarah an excessive amount of attention according to her mother. We can all tell he’s worried about something, perhaps the baby’s sight but at the moment he’s keeping it from his wife.
Ross arrives on the beach where a group of men are beating up Tholly and rushes to assist Zacky, Drake and Sam in the affray.
After they celebrate saving Tholly’s life, Ross decides to stroll by Trenwith on his way home where the gathering is in full swing. He runs into Elizabeth in the garden where she is taking the ‘air’ and asks after baby Valentine.
He meets Captain Adderley, who at first thinks Ross is a ruffian bothering his hostess, until he reluctantly recognises him as a member of the house and offers his arm to his hostess to lead her back inside.
When Ross tells Demelza, she scolds him for intruding, and asks him to stop going after shadows that don’t exist anymore.
He gives her a gift of moonstone earrings; the gem being symbolic of healing, peace and harmony within the body and spirit. They agree to start again; a new beginning.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018