Jamaica Inn and Bodmin Moor (Cornwall)Daphne du Maurier
Jamaica Inn and Bodmin Moor (Cornwall), Bodmin Moor
Dave Goodman (Dave Goodman), CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons


Originally built around 1760 and known as Cornwall’s most famous smuggling inn, Jamaica Inn is located in the north east of Cornwall on the Bodmin Moors. The inn has a long, historical association with smuggling (including from Jamaica) while the topographic features of Cornwall itself, including rocky coves, sheltered bays, and wild landscapes have also lead to Cornwall’s designation as a “haven of smugglers.” Today the inn is a Grade II listed building and home to the Museum of Smuggling. Surrounding the Inn are the dramatic granite tors of the moor, including Brown Willy and Rough Tor, and affording spectacular views or the rough moorland it is easy to see why this area has been designated as an Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB).

Gothic heritage

Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, and The Birds are among many of Daphne Du Maurier’s literary works that are set amongst the wild, dramatic, and at times sinister landscapes of Cornwall. Although Du Maurier is frequently labelled a romantic novelist (a label that she deplored), her stories often feature Gothic elements and supernatural and paranormal shades. Du Maurier’s stories have also been frequently adapted, perhaps most notably by Sir Alfred Hitchcock; Du Maurier liked Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) but repudiated his version of Jamaica Inn (1939).

It was after staying in Jamaica Inn and experiencing the nocturnal smuggling activities herself that Du Maurier penned her 1936 novel, Jamaica Inn. Like Du Maurier, the novel’s protagonist, Mary Yellan, resides in Jamaica Inn with her aunt and uncle following the death of her parents. Listening to secret and at times terrifying activities of her uncle’s smuggling enterprise at night, Mary also explores the surrounding bleak moorland as she adjusts to life in Cornwall: “Roads? Who spoke of roads? We go by the moor and the hills, and tread granite and heather as the Druids did before us.”

Other Literary heritage

Cornwall has a rich literary history, inspiring medieval passion plays, and various novels, short stories, and poems. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous literary detective, Sherlock Holmes, ventured into Cornwall in Doyle’s short story “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot.”

Further information

As well as its connections with smuggling and piracy, Cornwall also boasts beautiful beaches and coastlines and is, of course, home to the Cornish pasty. Surrounded on three sides by the English Channel and Celtic Sea, Cornwall is a popular location for surfing and its stunning landscape has ensured the county remains a beloved tourist destination.

Interesting fact

Bodmin Moor not only has its own phantom wild cat, the Beast of Bodmin Moor, but is also associated with Arthurian Legend. Dozmary Pool, a lake on Bodmin Moor, is thought to be the same lake into which Sir Bedivere threw Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake.

For Visitors

You can find more information about visiting Jamaica Inn and Bodmin Moor at the following links: