John Mappin, the wealthy owner of a castle / hotel in Cornwall, is in the news again for his support of the ‘Qanon’ conspiracy (a particularly toxic conspiracy theory which helped stoke the Capitol Hill riot this month). Mappin, also connected to the pro-Trump and pro-Brexit group Turning Point, raised a Q flag over his castle, which must have thrilled his guests. He’s a good example of ‘conspirituality’ — the overlap of conspiracy culture and New Age magical thinking, as I discovered when I unwittingly visited his castle, Camelot, back in 2015….
Last week, Maria and I spent a few days in Cornwall. We visited Tintagel castle, and decided to stop off for a coffee at a flash-looking hotel right next to it, called Camelot Castle. It boasted a fancy restaurant, a bar overlooking Tintagel, and ‘the best coffee in Cornwall’. As we drove up, we passed a rather strange large sign, saying TED STOURTON, THE MASTER OF VENICE, IS HERE! With a photo of a man in a cream-coloured suit and hat holding a paintbrush and palette. Ted who?
We went into the hotel. The entrance was filled with photos of famous celebrities, who may or may not have stayed in the hotel. We went into the cafe, which looked surprisingly dingy for such an apparently posh hotel. We ordered two coffees and sat down on a sofa. I was struck by the incredibly garish paintings on the wall, which all seem to have been done by the same artist. They were grotesque, like Van Gogh’s untalented younger brother.
Then I picked up a special newspaper that had apparently been printed by the owners of the hotel. It appeared the owners were a couple, John and Irina Mappin. John was the heir of a two-century-old jewellry business:
Being born into a Jewelery and Silver family who served the Royal Houses of England and Europe continuously since the 1700’s, it can be said, almost literally, that John Mappin was introduced to the preferences of nobility and luxury from an early age. Keen, however, to make his own way in the world, the teenage John Mappin and a friend sold silver balloons outside the famous London store, Harrods.