Jamaica Inn's Ghosts & Hauntings - Haunted History

The Jamaica Inn, Cornwall

Bolventor, Cornwall

It's historic, atmospheric, welcoming and supposedly very haunted. The traditional coaching inn is setback from the busy A30 in Bolventor, overlooking Brown Willy, the highest point on Bodmin Moor.

The paranormal activity includes the disembodied sound of footsteps throughout the building, unexplained tapping, the sound of children playing and babies crying, and most famously the sound of horses and carts moving in the courtyard. As well as countless reports of dark shadowy figures and ghostly apparitions.

The inn is now a popular tourist attraction, pub and hotel, but has had a varied history having been a hangout for smugglers and highwayman, as well as being visited by countless people making their way across the moor. Its notoriety has lead to a murder mystery novel in its name, written by Daphne du Maurier and originally published in 1936. The book was adapted into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock.

The oldest part of the two-storey building dates back to 1750, but the inn has been extended and added to over the years. It now has Grade II listed status, 36 rooms, a large restaurant area, a museum, a gift shop and farm store.

The inn doesn't shy away from promoting its haunted reputation and few who visit the Jamaica Inn would be unaware of the claim that it is haunted. However few would be able to retell the details of its hauntings, which seem to have been lost in myth and corrupted by folklore. Those with a passing interest will remember the inn being investigated by Yvette Fielding and Derek Acorah in a 2004 episode of 'Most Haunted'.

Evidence of Derek and the 'Most Haunted' team's visit still remains In the hotel's reception, guests are greeted with some rusty chains that were a significant part of the investigation.

A plaque above the chains reads, "the 'Most Haunted team from Sky TV came here and filmed one of their third series [episodes] where at Jamaica Inn. The room that you are now standing in was the old generator room. Although it was not mentioned in the programme, Derek Acorah said 'these chains were involved in an unscrupulous death many years ago'. Gruesome as it might sound, we thought we would leave it here on display for you to see and touch."
The Jamaica Inn, Cornwall

The strange thing about the hauntings in the inn is that the original part of the building only consisted of the bar and a handful of guest rooms, yet the strange goings on aren't confined to the old part of the building. Staff and guests have reported ghostly happenings in the newer parts of the building, including the extension at the rear that was built in the 1980s, the more recently added kitchen, and the new block of rooms that opened in 2017.
The Jamaica Inn, Cornwall

So well known are the stories of hauntings at the inn, that inside the wardrobe in room 5 you'll find a collection of toys and a folder of letters, all of which have been left by guests for Hannah, the ghost of the little girl who is said to have spent her last night in the room with her mother.

There's no record of anyone called Hannah living in the inn, but the story says that she stayed in the room one night, the following day they boarded a ship a Falmouth and were lost at sea.

Guests in room 5 have also claimed to have been bothered by the sound of footsteps walking around the room, and rattling noises coming from the bathroom. The room is said to be very unsettling for some who stay there. In fact in recent years a soldier fled from room 5 in the night, preferring to sleep in his car after an encounter.

One guest awoke to find the small, wet footprints of a child's feet on the room's carpet and female guests have reported having their leg touched while in bed on many occasions. Not to mention claims that Hannah's toys move around on their own.

One of the most famous ghostly stories is that of the sound of horses and metal-wheeled carts moving around on the courtyard. What makes this report unusual is that the witnesses say it sounded like the horses were moving on gravel. However, since the 1950s the courtyard has been cobbled, but it was once gravel. This story is most likely nothing more than part of the folklore of the inn. There are no known recent reports of this disturbance from guests.
The Jamaica Inn, Cornwall

Another of the inn's stories, albeit an unsubstantiated one, revolves around a young man named Jack who was said to have been lured away from his drink and was murdered on the moor. Since then Jack is believed to return to the inn in the form of a ghostly apparition seen sat in the corner of the main bar or leaning against the fireplace.

A ghostly man seen sat by the fireplace has been witnessed as recently as 2018 by a well-respected paranormal investigator during one of the inn's ghost hunting nights. The figure was described as having black curly hair, a white frilly shirt, black boots and a tricorn hat.

Some think that the ghostly figure of a man seen sitting outside the pub on the wall could also be the spirit of Jack. The figure was first reported in 1911. In one report, which featured in a newspaper, the man is described as being strangely dressed and ignored passer-bys' attempts to make conversation.

A man of similar a description has been seen all over the hotel, including one recent report of a sighting outside room five in 2016. Is this the murdered man, or are people confusing the stories of the notorious smuggler Jack Travellis? Some believe it's his spirit seen wearing a tricorn hat around the building.

Also in the main bar there have been reports by staff of the telephone coming off the wall, glasses falling and smashing for seemingly no reason, and even the figure of a monk seen in the cellar behind the bar.

The bar adjoins a smaller lounge known as the snug and the inn's original bar, now known as Mary's bar. In this area female staff have reported having their hair pulled and in the 1950s there was a sighting of a tall male phantom in a dark green cape.

Back up stairs in room 4 there have been reports of strange smells, the sound of muffled voices - sometimes in foreign languages, heavily booted footsteps, and sightings of a man standing by the side of the bed, near the window, watching those who sleep. The man is said to be dressed as a highwayman in a green coat with a tricorn hat.

More recently, guests staying in this room have reported seeing the someone stood in one of the room's internal doorways. The reports vary, but some have described it as being a monk-like figure.

In the adjacent room 3 guests are said to have seen a woman with a crying baby, others have reported hearing the baby crying, despite the fact that no baby is staying at the inn at the time. Some think she could be the ghost of a single woman named Mary Downing. In 1834 she sued the married landlord, Thomas Dunn, in order to make him recognise their illegitimate son.

Adding to the room's sorrow, some have also reported hearing a crying woman, believed to be Mary. So it's no wonder so many guests report feeling upset in the room. The ghost of a 10-year-old boy has also been seen at the end of the four poster bed, scratching has been heard coming from the walls, and housekeeping staff are forever having to clean off the small fingerprints that keep appearing on room 3's mirror.

Room 6, another of the rooms in the older part of the inn is also said to be paranormally active. An older couple staying in the room claimed that while they were in bed the furniture in the room started shaking. The shadow cast by an unseen man has been spotted in the bathroom doorway.

In the corridor the runs through the upstairs of the old part of the building there have been many reports of unexplained footsteps. On one occasion the heavy footsteps were heard by no less than 25 people in the bar below. The group were attending a paranormal night at the inn, when the event's hosts went upstairs to try to find a source of the footsteps, they found that the motion-sensitive lights in the hallway had not turned on, suggesting no one had been up there.

Room 23, located in the newer wing of the hotel, also has its fair share of ghostly goings on. Here a guest awoke in the night to see the vision of a woman dressed in the Victorian style clothing standing in the room. Paranormal researchers investigating the room have witnessed knocks on the door and the patio door, but CCTV footage captured at the time showed no one anywhere near the room.

Even the hotel's reception is said to be haunted by the ghostly apparition of a man in a cape seen walking past and the front desk and down the corridor.
The Jamaica Inn, Cornwall

An 1980s extension to the back of the building houses a restaurant, gift shop and toilets. There's said to be paranormal activity throughout this area.

Staff have seen a shadowy figure moving around the restaurant's kitchen and servery area and heard the sound of children giggling when the inn is closed. A similar ghostly figure has been seen walking from the farm shop over to the adjacent gift shop. Could this be the phantom described as a "big man with a cape" who has also been spotted?

There's also reports of a sighting of a young girl with blonde curly haired girl wearing a Victorian smock dress. She's been seen by staff at the end of the corridor to the side of the gift shop. Although relatively new, this corridor lies on what was once an outside walkway to the church.

In the gift shop itself, toys and books are regularly found scattered on the floor by staff when opening up the gift shop in the morning, staff have reported having their ponytails pulled, and a female spirit has been seen. She's often described as wearing Victorian clothing. Her age varies from mid-30s to looking much older and haggard, but her hair is always described as being in a bun.

Even the the toilets to the side of the gift shop are said to be haunted. It's said that the ladies toilet door regularly opens on its own, despite having a swing hinge, and in the men's toilet, the sound of arguing men has been heard when the room is completely empty.

The first floor of the old stable block is now occupied by additional guest rooms. The ground floor houses a Smugglers Museum that boasts one of the finest collections of smuggling artefacts in the country. The museum is said to be haunted by a former stable boy named David. Tourists exploring the museum claim to have seen a model of an elephant on display in one of the cabinet move on its own.
Jamaica Inn Floor Plan

Ghoulies & Ghosties

From 'Inn on the Moor: History of Jamaica Inn' by Rose Marie Mullins

Jamaica Inn has its share of ghosts, and is most certainly haunted by at least one man. Many years ago a stranger stood at the old bar drinking his ale. He was called outside and departed leaving his ale on the bar counter. He did not return and the following morning his murdered body was found out on the moor. The murder remained a total mystery, but in 1911 there was a great deal of interest and correspondence in the local press concerning a strange man seen by many people, sitting on the wall outside the Inn. He did not move, or speak, even when spoken to and his appearance was uncannily like that of the murdered man.

One of our main sources of information about the Inn and its recent history, is Reg Carthew, and more will be said of him later on in this book. In the sixty years that he has been associated with the Inn he has experienced many things. We asked him very seriously about the Inn and the supposed hauntings and he eventually told us that he truly does believe the Inn to be haunted. He said that whenever he had to go to what was the old engine room, to the back east end of the Inn, that - as he lifted his hand to the bolt - he always automatically looked over his shoulder feeling someone was standing behind him and that one day Mr Grose, who was Manager of the Inn in the early fifties, spoke to him hesitantly, asking - with a somewhat sheepish look - if he (Reg) had ever felt anything when he went to the engine room door? He seemed both relieved and apprehensive when Reg told of the sensation he always experienced there and Mr Grose (former Household Cavalry and no faint heart) shamefacedly admitted that he, too, sensed a presence.

Mr Palmer, one of the owners of the Inn after the War - the only one ever to live there with his family - also saw a ghost. The family frequently heard footsteps on the stairs when there was no one about and one evening as Reg and Mr Palmer were seated on two settles in the old stock room by a fire which was refusing to burn about to each light up a cigarette and talking together, Mr Palmer - with a muttered curse - suddenly leapt to his feet, his cigarettes and lighter falling to the floor, and shot across the room towards the outer door as Reg watched in amazement. When he returned he furiously asked if Reg had seen where the man had gone. But Reg had seen no one. When Reg stayed at the Inn, as he often has done over the years, he used one of the bedrooms over the Joss Merlyn Bar, in the part of the building that had been added onto the Inn in 1788. The only toilets then in the Inn were at the far western end of the passage downstairs, and whenever he had to leave his room and cross over into the older part of the Inn, night or day, he would experience a feeling of penetrating coldness, chilling his body to the bone. Mr and Mrs Duffy, managers in the sixties also reported hearing footsteps going up the back stairs.

In more recent times, one of the cooks who has worked for many years at the Inn, was waiting on the managers who were having their lunch in the Stable Bar, which leads into the Restaurant. The place was empty apart from themselves, but she saw a green cloaked man come through from the restaurant and go out towards reception. Puzzled she asked the Manager who the man was? He replied, in astonishment, "What man?" "The one who has just come out of the restaurant," she answered. The manager stared at her. "The restaurant door is locked," he said. And so it was. Two of the waitresses a few years ago were also frightened by unexplained happenings in the restaurant. Having finished laying up for breakfast one evening, long after the diners had all left, one of them returned to check that she had put clean ashtrays round, only to find that she had but that one of them contained a smouldering cigarette. The following evening she could again smell cigarette smoke after the restaurant had been cleaned and tidied, and called her colleague to see if she, too, could smell anything. They not only both smelled the cigarette but saw a spiral of smoke rising from nowhere.

In early December of 1996, my husband and I had to call a plumber in to replace the pump on our Baxi Boiler central heating system. He was very talkative, and my husband mentioned to him that I was in the dining room working on this book and had reached the Chapter on ghosts. The man told us both that he had worked several times in the sixties at the Inn, going up into the loft to work on piping and the two large water tanks which were up there. "I never saw anything," he said, "but I always remember that I used to make my way over to the tanks and look back longingly to the trap door. I hated being up there and could not wait to get down." The tanks were to the east of the loft!

The Jamaica Inn Features In

April 06, 2004Most Haunted At Jamaica Inn

Haunted Ranking

The Jamaica Inn Map

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