The Bush Inn has a long history of providing hospitality dating back to 950AD. It is believed at that time to have been a monk’s rest for those on the pilgrimage route from Wales to Spain who crossed Cornwall between the North Devon ports and Fowey.
In the main bar you can still see the celtic piscina cut from serpentine stone and a monastic cross is carved into the flagstone floor by the door leading to the garden. Situated in the middle bar is the “Leper’s Squint”; a tiny window through which scraps of food were passed to the needy of the parish.
In later years we are told the squint was used as a lookout, the Bush Inn having become a popular haunt for the wreckers and smugglers who operated on this treacherous part of the north Cornish coast and who naturally, were anxious to avoid the Revenue officers!
The most infamous smuggler on this part of the coast was Cruel Coppinger, a notorious, sadistic individual who came ashore at Welcombe Mouth in 1792, the sole survivor of a wrecked Danish vessel. He operated along this stretch of coast with his gang of cut throats and such was their reputation that even the Revenue Officers avoided them!
Coppinger’s dreadful deeds were the subject of writings of Rev Hawker, the famous Vicar and poet of Morwenstow. One legend says Coppinger escaped from the authorities by mysteriously disappearing one misty night, from nearby Marsland Mouth.
“Will you hear of Cruel Coppinger
He came from a foreign land;
He was brought to us by the salt water,
He was carried away by the wind!”
Rev JS Hawker (1803 – 1875)
It is also widely believed that The Bush Inn (The only Inn to exist on the wrecker’s coast between Bude and Hartland Point) was the inspiration for the famous novel Jamaica Inn. Writer Daphne Du Maurier was known to have been a visitor here whilst living in the nearby village of Kilkhampton.