A TripAdvisor user defines it as “ the most extravagant and reactionary hotel in North Cornwall ”. What is extravagant falls under its own weight. Just look at it: it is a kind of medieval toy castle located on top of a cliff of black rocks. A fantasy building between puerile and grotesque, with its battlements, its gothic windows, its banners and its parade ground, that would undoubtedly excite Tim Burton .
The “reactionary” thing does require a more detailed explanation. On the banner of its central tower there is a capital Q. Q for QAnon, the network of conspiracy theories and fake news fed on internet forums by Q, a supposed anonymous far-right activist (almost certainly a collective identity) who has found wide echo among supporters of Donald Trump or of Brexit.
This is not a coincidence or a joke of doubtful taste. Tintagel’s Camelot Castle is the first British hotel to be offered as a meeting place for the followers of this underground cult, people convinced that the American Democratic Party is part of a network of pedophile Satanists who rule the world from their sinister armchairs.
Those who flock to Tintagel, on the north-western coast of Cornwall (Cornwall in English, Kernow in the local language, Cornish), are often drawn to the legend of King Arthur . Very close to the hotel are the ruins of a 13th-century medieval fortress whose foundations hide a much more interesting and, above all, ancient building: a palace built in the last years of the Romano-British period, between the 5th and 6th centuries.
When this last structure was discovered in 2016, it was speculated that it could be the castle of Uther Pendragon, the place where the legendary British leader conceived his son Arthur according to the chronicle of Godfrey of Monmouth or the epic poems of Lord Alfred Tennyson .
In recent years, the fascination for the myth of Camelot and its Knights of the Round Table has become one of the main tourist attractions in this area, which not long ago was traveled mainly to watch shinty matches ( the fast and acrobatic Scottish hockey), visit its artisan distilleries and fishing villages or surf and take melancholic walks along its windswept white sand beaches.
Last October, four young people made the almost five-hour road trip that separates London from Tintagel to spend a couple of nights in the Camelot, described in the pages they consulted as a “picturesque and charming” place.
Arriving there on a misty and windy afternoon, the Q on the banner went unnoticed, but not the photo with the dedication of Donald Trump presiding in the lobby. Rachel Bate, one of the members of the party, told Air Mail magazine that “thanks to the mask I was able to hide how surprised and horrified I was.”
Later, in their rooms, they found on the pillows the “esoteric and patriotic” inspiration poems of the hotel owner, John Mappin, who turned out to be the man who appeared smiling in the photo with Donald and Melania Trump.
Bate took a look at the YouTube channel of Mappin and his wife, Irina (Camelot TV Network), and discovered that they were guests of one of the most delusional and conspicuous conspiracy theorists in the UK, a man who denounces the “diabolical conspiracy “Of the” progressive international “and presumes to have made a fortune betting, based on a mathematical algorithm of his own creation, in favor of Trump in the 2016 presidential elections.
Bate shared his experience with an Air Mail writer, who published an article about Mappin’s hotel, the first in a long list that appeared in recent weeks. In early January, Isobel Cockerell, from the digital magazine Coda Story , came to the castle and had the opportunity to interview Mappin.
The hotel owner turned out to be a talkative person, “with a neat British private school accent” and with nothing to hide. While strolling along the rocky promontory, between the hotel and the sea, Mappin, 55, presented his controversial theories and insisted that he does not consider himself “an eccentric”: “What I am is a seeker of the truth. I have a good nose for everything new, and when something catches my attention I delve into it until I become an expert ”.
QAnon, as he told the journalist, was an astonishing discovery for him: “For years, the Democratic party has maintained a clandestine network of sexual abuse of minors and satanic rituals in order to blackmail the politicians involved. The most surprising thing is that it went unnoticed all this time, until anonymous researchers like Q have managed to uncover it ”.
Mappin’s is not an isolated case. A recent study by the anti-racist group Hope not Hate concluded that one in four UK citizens believes in at least some of the theories put forth by Q.
Britain is fertile ground for QAnon. Mappin knows this, and has not hesitated to present his hotel as the first QAnon residence in the British Isles, an ideal place for people who “are looking at the truth, but miss a safe environment in which they can share it and deepen in her”.
Thus, he follows the example of apostles of the cause (or opportunists) such as the mayor of Sequim, a small town near Seattle, who intends to turn his municipality into “the place where you can freely speak about everything that the liberal consensus prohibits “, A refuge in which to live with his back” to the illegitimate and diabolical government of the radical democratic left. ”
Mappin nevertheless denies that his guest rooms are littered with pamphlets propagandizing his controversial ideas: “I’ve read it somewhere, but I must say that is false,” he assured Cockerell, ” All our clients are welcome, whatever their ideas are, it is not our intention to impose our vision of things or force the spiritual awakening of anyone. We only offer answers to those who have already asked the right questions. ”
The son of a marriage of jewelers and heir to a considerable family fortune, Mappin completed his studies in Los Angeles. There he became interested in Scientology and New Age mysticism. A fervent supporter of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher’s conservative revolution and a friend of politicians like the sovereign Nigel Farage, he returned to the UK as early as the 1990s to establish himself as a stock investor and hotel entrepreneur.
In 1999, while driving along the Cornish coastline, he caught a glimpse of the towers of Camelot Castle, then a decaying country inn, and decided to make its owner an offer. He restored it respecting its original Victorian plan, but reinforcing its neo-Gothic appearance, and wanted to integrate it into the so-called King Arthur tourist route, enhanced in later years by the archaeological discoveries in the area.
At that time, what predominated on the establishment’s walls and shelves were dedicated photos of famous Scientologists such as John Travolta or Tom Cruise and books by the founder of the sect, the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Today, they have been replaced by Donald Trump.
Mappin does not see anything strange in this drift: “It is my hotel, and it is logical that it reflects my beliefs and interests.” The entrepreneur invites neo-pagan and mystical tourists to Glastonbury, in neighboring Somerset County, to drive 150 more miles west to discover a place “with even more intense spiritual vibrations.”
And, whoever feels ready for it, he also invites them to join his esoteric and political crusade: “We are more than just soldiers in Donald Trump’s digital army: we are the warriors of freedom.”