Sunday, 5 June 2011

Jamaica Inn

Often on the way down to Cornwell we've thought about calling in at Jamaica Inn at Bolventor, and last week we finally did.

Today's Inn seems a million miles away from the dark and mysterious building portrayed in the book by Daphne Du Maurier and in the postcard below.

The sunshine of a Cornish summer day, combined with the picnic tables, the cheery yellow-jacketed car park man and the constant motor noise from the passing A30, all conspire to debunk any illusion of the 1820s and the wreckers of North Cornwall.

However, Jamaica Inn is not without interest. Apart from being the focus of the Du Maurier novel, the potted history - The Inn on the Moor by Rose Mullins - describes how in 1988 the collection of Walter Potter's stuffed animals was bought by the then landlord and put on display. Items exhibited included tableaux of kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs and more, acting like humans - playing croquet, taking tea, having lessons etc.

The collection was an attraction for the next 15 years, until the taxidermist who maintained it died in 2003 and then it was auctioned off.

Some of the collection ended up with Peter Blake (and has been on display at the Holburne as part of the Museum for Myself exhibition - now finished). Other parts were on show at The Museum of Everything exhibition 3 (now closed). Exhibition 4 ran at Selfridges from 2nd September to 25th October (also now closed). All that is left of Potter's collection at Jamaica Inn are a few photographs like these.

On the way out through the Inn shop I picked up a copy of Jamaica Inn and read the first half in a single sitting - It's a thumping good read and recommended for anyone exploring the area around Bolventor and Bodmin.

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