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The Ghostly Jamaica Inn

Updated on June 22, 2016

Who doesn't love a good pirate story? Moreover, how about a good ghost pirate story? The Jamaica Inn delivers both in spades. Located on the Cornwall coastline, in the United Kingdom, the Inn was built in 1750 as a staging post. But, this stagecoach crossover soon became one the most successful smuggling outposts on the coastline, setting the stage for one of the worlds greatest haunted places.

In the 18th century smugglers were at the height of their success. Locals desired the cheap untaxed goods these smugglers had to offer and often helped and protected this trade. For over a hundred years these smugglers imported cheap brandy, tobacco, tea, silk, cotton goods and more. Locals were more than happy to support the smuggling trade, preferring to bypass the British governments high taxation imposed on such products as tea and liquor. Smugglers were able to offer tea at one sixth the going price and French brandy at one fifth the going cost. Smugglers, or pirates and privateers, soon became the main focus of the British governments as the biggest threat to their financial interests.

Surrounded by moors the Inn was a success and in 1778 the Inn expanded and added to include a coach house, stables and tack room. Countless travelers and smugglers used the Inn as a stop and it is believed that is how it got its name, Jamaica Inn, from all the rum that passed through.

During the smuggling boom the Inn was the site of at least one mysterious murder. An unknown man was at the Inn drinking at the bar on dark night. The stranger was summoned outside, never to be seen again. He left everything behind, including his ale drink on the bar and he was unknown to all. The next morning his body was found on the moor, frozen to the bone. The belief is that he was most probably a revenue man, but his body was never identified or claimed and his murderer has never been identified either. With the smuggling passing through the Inn on a daily basis it is reasonable to believe that a smuggler didn't want to be caught and felt it safest to remove any threat this stranger may pose to him and his trade. It is believed that the spirit of the stranger still haunts the hallways of the Jamaica Inn today.

But, eventually the British government would respond to the smuggling and by the 1800s they increased their number of revenue men along the coastline. They also increased penalties enforced on smugglers, forcing smugglers more inland to continue their illegal trade.

Over the years the Jamaica Inn has seen many new owners and landlords, all with their own ghostly experiences. Reports of ghostly footsteps through the hall to the bar and a ghostly figure of a man passing through solid walls have added to the Inns legend. Many believe it is the ghost of the stranger returning to finish his last drink. Several people have also reported seeing the figure sitting on a wall outside of the Inn as well. By all accounts the description of the ghostly figure match the description of the murdered stranger from nearly two hundred years before.

It would seem that all reports of this ghostly behavior occur at night and it is not only reports of actual figures taking place. Many a visitor has heard the sounds of horses' hooves hitting the cobblestones and the ghostly sounds of a stagecoach pulling up to the Inn late at night. Although never actually seen, visitors swear that what they heard was so clear and distinct there would be no mistaking what it was.

There have been so many reports of ghostly activities the Jamaica Inn became quite famous and has lured many a ghost enthusiast to its grounds. It was made doubly famous when, in 1930, the famous writer Daphne du Maurier wrote her book Jamaica Inn. Stating that the Inn inspired her, it is a novel about a young girl who unwittingly gets involved in her uncles smuggling practices.

The Jamaica Inn is still open to the public and one can book an overnight stay and enjoy the Smugglers bar where the ghost of the stranger has been sighted. It's a regular occurrence for ghost hunting teams to investigate the ghostly haunt. The Inn has also created a museum, partly in dedication to the French writer Daphne du Maurier.


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