The Story Behind Jamaica Inn


On a cold night in 1930, authoress Daphne du Maurier stopped over at Jamaica Inn, a coaching inn located on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. Built in 1750, Jamaica Inn had long served as resting point for travellers crossing the desolate moor. The inn's isolated position led to it becoming a popular base in the 18th and 19th centuries for those smuggling foreign goods such as tea, tobacco, silk, and brandy. Indeed, the name “Jamaica Inn” is thought to have arisen from the significant amount of illegal rum trading that took place within its walls. Its exotic history and eerie atmosphere inspired guest Daphne du Maurier to write her novel “Jamaica Inn”, which was published in 1936.

Novel's plot

In short, the novel's story follows a young woman named Mary Yellen, who is sent to live with her aunt Patience and uncle Joss Merlyn at their gloomy coaching inn on Bodmin Moor. Soon after her arrival, Mary discovers that Joss is the leader of a gang of wreckers who mislead ships into running aground on the rocky Cornish coast so that they might loot the cargo. In addition to featuring several murders and the involvement of local vicar, the plot of the novel has Mary falling in love with Joss' horse-thieving brother Jem Merlyn.

Film adaptations

Despite the popularity of Daphne du Maurier's book, it has apparently only twice been adapted to film. The first, and possibly most famous version, was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and was released just three years after the novel's publication. The plot of his movie is significantly different to that of the novel; for instance, Mary's love interest (Jem Trehearne) is an undercover investigator from Lloyds of London, rather than being Joss' brother. In addition, the novel's vicar (named Francis Davey) is effectively replaced by a local magistrate (named Sir Humphrey Penhalligon). The second adaptation, which was released in 1983, was a made-for-TV mini-series directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark, and represents a version more faithful to the original novel.

Jamaica Inn's location

The real Jamaica Inn still exists today as a hotel, restaurant, shop, and museum (exhibiting smuggling artefacts and a Daphne du Maurier memorial room). It is located in Bolventor, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, U.K. More details can be found on the inn's official website.

Is Jamaica Inn haunted?

The numerous reports of Jamaica Inn being haunted led to it being featured in Living TV's paranormal documentary “Most Haunted” (the third episode of the fourth series). Yvette Fielding and the rest of the show's investigative team claimed to have discovered fifteen ghosts at the site! One of the ghosts was thought to be that of an American pilot who was trying retrieve a photograph of his wife and child.

Jamaica Inn as a filming location

The exterior of the real Jamaica Inn was used in Hitchcock's movie. The pilot episode of a new British TV series called “I Want To Believe” is apparently to be filmed inside the inn in January 2009.


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