As you might be aware, I’m a collector of local folklore and history – particularly if it relates to anything supernatural.
Recently, I was delighted to make contact with Karin Beasant – one half of the Jamaica Inn Paranormal Team. I’ve written about Jamaica Inn in the past, but sadly, a lot of the info online isn’t that accurate – so it’s a pleasure to talk with someone who really knows all about it!
Here’s my interview with Karin, who was kind enough to give us some insight into Jamaica Inn’s fascinating history, and its resident ghosts…
Hi Karin, thanks so much for agreeing to chat to me. You’re part of the Paranormal Team for the Jamaica Inn; can you tell us a bit about what that entails?
Hi Lucy! Basically, myself and Colin (the Team Leader) have been Jamaica Inn’s resident team for nearly five years. I handle the research side of things.
And what’s the Jamaica Inn like?
When you first see this iconic building, high up on Bodmin Moor in the mist, it takes your breath away. The owner (Allen Jackson) is passionate about the venue. Over the years, he’s spent a fortune installing a new kitchen, renovating the bedrooms and bar area, and all while retaining the ‘old world’ feel of the place.
What attracted you to the job, and the Jamaica Inn in particular?
Mainly, it was the chance to have complete free rein to research and carry out investigations. We were also able to build up a vast database of real testimonies of paranormal encounters; from staff and guests alike.
The Jamaica Inn has so much folklore, but it’s the real things behind the scenes that make it so special. It was the place I saw my first apparition. I slept on my own in the haunted rooms, and had many strange things happen to me. Even as a sceptical investigator, these incidents have me scratching my head for a logical explanation as to why so much is reported there.
The place has such a rich, fascinating history – have you got any historical stories that aren’t in common circulation?
People always think of Jamaica Inn as a location where smuggling took place. But it has a rich, diverse history, which is so interesting to read about. Of course, a lot of this history isconnected to Jamaica Inn’s ghost stories.
Here’s one of my favourites:
There have been many reports of a wailing woman and a crying baby at the Inn. The woman has always been called Mary. Well, in 1834, Mary Downing, a lady with a good background, took the Landlord of the Jamaica Inn (Thomas Dunn) to court, to force him to recognise his bastard son, Thomas Dunn Downing.
The landlord was married with children, so gutsy Mary always brings a smile to my face!
At the moment, I’m researching WW2 and after at the Jamaica Inn. Not many people know that the Inn was a Temperance Hotel at this time, and that a very famous American General, George Patton, stayed there for three days. Also, during this time, over 8,000 US troops were stationed around Bodmin, Launceston and some other small villages.
On June 25th, 1944, Patton had eggs and ham (cooked by Claude Finnimore, the landlord at the time), before setting out to Exeter Station and picking up General Dwight Eisenhower, General Paul Baade and Colonel Grant Laying.
Within sight of the Inn, overlooking a bluff, these Generals inspected US regiments that were stationed there; awaiting the call to join the rest of the D-Day landing into Europe. One local did tell me a few years ago that the Inn hosted secret military meetings, but alas, I can’t confirm that yet!
Are there any myths you’d love to bust about the Jamaica Inn?
The most annoying one is the ‘sound of horses pulling a carriage on the cobbles’ outside the Inn. As the cobbles came up from Bodmin in the 1950s, it doesn’t make sense. Plus, in all the time we’ve been there, not one report of this has ever been said to me.
I’m glad we got that straight – that’s definitely one that’s all over the internet! Is there any evidence of the place having resident ghosts?
Absolutely. One of the most popular sightings which occurs regularly is a small, blonde, curly-haired Victorian-dressed girl. We call her Elizabeth, but of course, we can’t prove that’s her name. A little boy is always with her, and we call him Tommy.
The big ‘man with dark, curly hair, black breeches, a white frilly shirt and tricorn’ is seen all over the Inn. In the last two years, we’ve started calling him James Broad, the landlord who was there in 1797, which seems to get more response than any other name. There’s also a woman with her hair in a bun, seen in the gift shop, plus also in the new block, in room 23.
We know who lived at the Inn right from the start, but I like to gather all the reports, as some I withhold from the public. This is because I don’t want to influence people – instead, I want to see if the same thing occurs and in the same place. We have so much information on all the areas of the Jamaica Inn.
‘Jack’ is reportedly the one in the bar that was lured out to be killed. He was first reported in the local newspaper as early as 1911, and was seen sitting on the walls outside. He’s very mischievous, and takes delight in winding people up.
What paranormal activity have you witnessed personally?
In the museum a few years ago, I saw the little blonde-haired Victorian girl.
Just two years ago, I saw a small, black figure dart past me in the lower restaurant area, as I was calling out for Tommy to run around. Luckily, two guests were sat on the step leading to the gift shop, and heard small footsteps running into the shop at the same time.
I was staying one evening in the manager’s flat with Colin, after a public night. He was in one room and I was in the other, when I heard footsteps come towards the flat entrance (there’s thick carpet there, but I heard boots on a wooden floor). Then the footsteps started to walk around the double bed. I decided to pull the quilt over my head and go to sleep!
It’s a strange place indeed. One night you might be investigating and nothing will happen at all. Then another night it will totally surprise you.
What message would you give people about the Jamaica Inn?
There’s so much more to this amazing location than you might think – it’s huge fun finding out its secrets. Visit if you’re in the area!
Thank you so much to Karin for this insightful, intriguing interview – I’d second the call to visit (it’s been a while since I’ve been, I must go back at some point, my interest is piqued!). If you'd like to find out more about the Jamaica Inn or the paranormal team, click here.