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Jamaica Inn has been sold – August 2022

Jamaica Inn

Jamaica Inn, which Allen Jackson has owned since February 2014, has been sold to RedCat Pub Company, a subsidiary of The Coaching Inn Group, for £8m.

Jamaica Inn was built as a coaching Inn in about 1750 and is located on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, just off the A30, close to the hamlet of Bolventor, and with Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall, about four miles north of the Inn.

Daphne du Maurier brought fame to Jamaica Inn with her novel of the same name, published in 1936.  In Daphne’s book, the Inn is the meeting point for a group of smugglers, and indeed wreckers, who carry out atrocious and violent deeds in order to acquire the bounty from ships that are lost on the treacherous North Cornwall coast.

An image of a UK first edition of Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, published in 1936 by Victor Gollancz

Jamaica Inn does indeed have a history of smuggling, and there has been a Museum of Smuggling at Jamaica Inn for many years, exhibiting many fascinating curios relating to smuggling in Cornwall and further afield.

The Inn has an array of exciting connections, including the fact that the novelist Alistair MacLean bought Jamaica Inn in 1963 when he retired from writing.  It was one of three hotels that he purchased at that time, but his hotel ownership career was not particularly successful, and he had sold all three hotels by 1976.
American singer-songwriter and pianist Tori Amos wrote a song called Jamaica Inn, which is on her 2005 album The Beekeeper.  Her inspiration came as she was driving along a Cornish road and thinking about the legends she had heard at the Inn.

Possibly the strangest connection to Jamaica Inn is Mr Potter’s Museum of Curiosities, created by Walter Potter in the 1850s and initially housed in his museum in Bamber, Sussex.  From 1984 the museum, which comprised an extensive collection of taxidermy animals, often in complex dioramas, such as the kitten’s wedding and a school classroom populated with squirrels, was relocated to Jamaica Inn, but was sold at auction in 2003.

The other museum at Jamaica Inn is the Daphne du Maurier Museum, which had been in situ for many years.  It comprises books, photographs and other items, including one of Daphne’s desks, her typewriter and other personal and family pieces.  Allen Jackson increased the collection in 2019 when he obtained many du Maurier-related items at the Maureen Baker Munton auction, which took place at Rowley’s Auction House in Ely.

During Allen’s eight-year ownership of Jamaica Inn, he developed the traditional 17-bedroom coaching inn into a magnificent 36-bedroom business while taking care to preserve the 18th-century parts of the Inn.  It will be interesting to see what the future of Jamaica Inn holds under its new ownership and what the future of the Daphne du Maurier Museum may be.

Ann Willmore, August 2022.

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