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Bodmin Jail

bodmin jail

Delve into Cornwall’s Murky Past at Bodmin Jail

From gruesome executions to harsh prison conditions, sinister Bodmin Jail vividly brings Cornwall’s grim history to life in technicolour. Now a highly interactive visitor attraction, families can walk along the imposing Victorian prison’s creepy corridors and peer into cold cells hearing tales from its infamous past.

With informative tours showcasing its most notorious criminals plus special effects thrills after dark, it’s an immersive day out that may have some younger visitors peeking nervously over their shoulders! Here’s a complete guide to planning a visit to dramatic Bodmin Jail.

bodmin jail

Getting There

Bodmin Jail sits prominently on Bodmin’s eastern edge, just off Castle Street which links to the A38. Well signposted, it has a large paid car park beside the imposing slate-grey building.

Bodmin Parkway train station is 2.5 miles away with taxi ranks. Frequent bus routes connect the jail with Wadebridge, Padstow and Newquay.

Opening Times

Bodmin Jail is open daily throughout the year. Opening times are:

  • Attractions: 9.30am – 6pm
  • Tours: Every 20 minutes, 10:30am – 4:30pm

The jail closes later into the evenings, especially during Halloween festival weeks.

Ticket Prices

Entry prices:

  • Daytime Admission – Adults from £18.50, children from £12.40, under 4 free
  • Special Event Tickets – Family £60
  • Night Tours – Adults £25

Book online to save 10%. Family and saver tickets offer discounts for multiple attractions.

bodmin jail cell

Historical Prison Tours

The best way to hear tales from the 190 years this foreboding jail held criminals is to join one of the engaging daytime tours:

  • The classic guided tour brings Cornwall’s villainous past alive with stories of smugglers, pirates and notorious murderers imprisoned here over centuries of bodysnatching, piracy, graft and skulduggery in the county!
  • Costumed character tours involve pretending to be a newly arrived inmate getting registered into the harsh system before being given penal labour tasks to try like picking oakum fibres.
  • For an extra fright, join a night-time paranormal tour to hear about ghostly going-ons and eerie events experienced within the creepy confines after dark!

Grisly Attractions

Spine-tingling attractions around the jail open to freely explore include:

  • The Executions Shed with its chilling replica noose and holding cell recreating the final sinister moments before meeting the hangman’s rope.
  • The isolation cells of Doom and Gloom locking disobedient inmates into total darkness on meagre bread and water rations.
  • The eerie morgue where inmates’ dead bodies were stored before burial.

With sound effects, projection and costumed wardens adding theatrical flair, it’s an intriguingly macabre day out that older kids will relish!

bodmin jail exhibit

Famous prisoners

Bodmin Jail has a rich history with its fair share of famous prisoners. One notable inmate was Selina Wadge, who gained notoriety in the late 19th century. Wadge, convicted of murdering her young son in a fit of despair, became the last woman to be publicly hanged in Cornwall in 1878. Her tragic story and the controversial circumstances surrounding her execution make her a haunting figure in Bodmin Jail’s history.

Another infamous prisoner was Charlotte Dymond, whose tale is shrouded in mystery and tragedy. In 1844, Dymond was brutally murdered on Bodmin Moor, and her alleged killer, Matthew Weeks, was apprehended, tried, and hanged at Bodmin Jail. The case remains a subject of fascination, with various theories and speculations about the true events leading to Dymond’s untimely demise.

Bodmin Jail’s dark corridors also housed the notorious Thomas “Diamond” Pitt, a 19th-century criminal known for his daring escapades. Pitt was imprisoned at Bodmin multiple times for various offenses, and his reputation as a skilled escape artist only added to the jail’s intrigue.

These famous prisoners contribute to Bodmin Jail’s eerie atmosphere, drawing visitors eager to explore the historical and haunted aspects of the facility. The jail’s role in Cornwall’s criminal history, combined with the tales of those who once walked its halls, ensures that Bodmin Jail remains a compelling destination for those intrigued by the darker chapters of the past.

jail bodmin

Cafeteria and Shop

The Jail’s Jolly Hangman Bistro serves light hot and cold meals alongside cakes, hot drinks and ice creams.

The extensive gift shop stocks jail-branded souvenirs from clothing to tormenting torture devices!

Bodmin Jail Hotel

The Bodmin Jail Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel! It has been transformed from an 18th-century prison into a stunning hotel, offering an unparalleled guest experience that combines luxury and history.

The hotel features luxurious bedrooms, fine dining options, and a Champagne Bar, providing an elegant yet informal atmosphere for guests to relax and enjoy. The bedrooms are formed from former cells, blending contemporary design with over 250 years of history. The hotel also offers all-day dining at the Courtyard Restaurant, serving contemporary Cornish cuisine, barista coffee, and sweet treats.

The transformation of the 18th-century prison into the luxury Bodmin Jail Hotel has garnered attention as a unique and intriguing destination, attracting visitors interested in “dark tourism.” The hotel offers an elegant haven of luxury and history, providing guests with a memorable and immersive experience in the heart of Cornwall.

Find out more about staying at the the hotel here.

With gripping storytelling bringing crude criminals to life, a trip to atmospheric Bodmin Jail affords a thrilling glimpse into Cornwall’s unsettling past. Just don’t turn your back on those dastardly inmates…

bodmin jail hotel

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed in Bodmin Jail? – No, dogs are not allowed (except for assistance dogs)

How long does a tour of Bodmin Jail take? – You should allow up to 2 hours for a tour of the jail

Is the Jail wheelchair accessible? – Yes, Bodmin Jail can accomodate visitors in wheelchairs with no problem

policemen bodmin

Other nearby attractions to visit

When you are in the area, there are some other places you should think about exploring, including:

  • Eden Project – Massive educational botanical gardens housed in biomes containing thousands of plant species from around the world. An intriguing day out.
  • Lanhydrock House – Impressive Victorian country house owned by the National Trust with expansive gardens, scenic trails and formal rooms to explore.
  • Jamaica Inn – Historic smugglers inn on Bodmin Moor made famous by Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel about smugglers and pirates told in the museum.
  • Cardinham Woods – Secluded outdoor haven of woodland trails, forest activities and scenic walking spots surrounded by peaceful nature.
  • Camel Valley Vineyard – Scenic vineyard near Bodmin offering educational tours explaining the winemaking process and tutored tastings of their quality sparkling wines.
  • Golitha Falls – Picturesque riverside woodland walk leading down to the stunning waterfall feature on the River Fowey. Perfect for a picnic.
  • Colliford Lake – Beautiful 500 acre reservoir nestled on Bodmin Moor, perfect for walking, cycling, fishing and watersports within its wooded tranquil surrounds.
  • Trethorne Leisure Park – All weather family entertainment complex with activities from outdoor laser combat to archery, golf ranges and off road buggy driving.

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