Discover life behind bars as an 18th Century prisoner in the heart of Cornwall. Explore the many cells and features that make your visit to the Jail a fun and educational, and just a little bit scary, adventure!
Bodmin Jail was originally built for King George III in 1779; today’s jail was built with the help of the prisoners who brought 20,000 tons of granite from Bodmin’s Cuckoo Quarry.
During the First World War the Jail held state papers and the Doomsday book – The Crown Jewels have also been given safe haven here as well.
Visitors can wander through the depths of the Jail, over six levels, and browse creative exhibits depicting penal life in Victorian Cornwall.
Visit the cold dank cells, look up at the thin rays of light filtering through a small barred window and imagine being sentenced to even a week in such desolation, a very lonely life with the knowledge each day would bring more of the same cold, hunger and hard labour on the treadmill as a civil prisoner, or “cannon ball” catch for naval prisoners; designed to keep you fit for battle on your release.
Be sure to visit the Execution Shed; a fully restored, 4.5mtr deep, Victorian hanging pit. This is the only hanging pit in the UK and the site of the last man executed in Cornwall.
Marvel at the building’s unique design, architecture, and engineering; from the inspired heating and cooling systems constructed to keep the Jail environment comfortable, to the striking carved wood panelling and period features of the Old Chapel; now housing our popular Governors Hall restaurant.