Commissioned artist for Bodmin Jail
The internationally renowned Devon artist, Becky Bettesworth, has been commissioned to create a very special, exclusive artwork for Bodmin Jail, which will only be available to purchase in the Gift Shop of the new Bodmin Jail Attraction launching Summer 2020.
Becky, whose recognisable prints draw inspiration from the classic railway posters of the 1930s, is well known both in the UK and internationally for bringing a modern and fresh look to some of the most exciting spots to visit in the country. The moody and imposing print of Bodmin Jail forms part of Becky’s collection of Cornwall’s landmarks, including St Michael’s Mount, Bude, Padstow and Watergate Bay.
Bodmin Jail, which was first opened in 1779 as Cornwall’s County Gaol, is in the middle of a £40million re-development that includes a brand new visitor attraction due to open Summer 2020. Becky’s artwork gives a new lease of life to the iconic building, giving visitors a chance to purchase an inspired and exclusive memory from their visit to the jail.
Posted: 1st April 2020 By: Tara Jones
MEET THE GM – MARTIN LYALL
Those of you who have visited Bodmin recently will have noticed the tall, yellow crane and scaffolding surrounding the town’s most historic and iconic building. Cornwall’s former county Gaol which originally opened in 1779, is currently in the middle of the largest private leisure development in the South West since the Eden Project; a £40 million investment that will result in a world class visitor attraction and 70-bedroom boutique hotel, both scheduled to open in 2020.
Behind the scaffolding, the Bodmin Jail team is busy getting the new attraction ready for the opening launch, led by general manager, Martin Lyall. Martin was appointed in December 2016 to help steer the business through the development, and he’s really had his hands full!
Martin Lyall – pictured on the right – presenting Cornwall Hospice Care with a fundraising auction cheque from Bodmin Jail
‘What I like most is being instrumental in managing the transformation of such an iconic building from start to finish,” Martin says when asked about what he loves about his job. “I work with an amazing group of people who are truly passionate about what they do, and this dedication is going to be very obvious once we open the new attraction.’
Bodmin Jail is steeped in history and heritage, with a whole host of stories, legends and paranormal activities to keep visitors entertained. ‘Let’s just say there is definitely an atmosphere and a presence,’ Martin says about the haunted reputation of the Jail. Any favourite prisoner stories? ‘I love the chap who kept committing a petty crime each year, just before Christmas, so he could get a half decent meal and a warm bed for Christmas,’ he laughs.
The building works have not been without challenges, and Martin and the team have had to steer through some interesting situations over the last few years. ‘The biggest challenge we faced was probably the bats,’ Martin states. ‘Bodmin Jail is home to over seven species of bats, including two species of the very rare Horseshoe Bat. As part of the development we have worked very closely with ecologists to ensure we protect the bats and their habitat – we even built a bat bungalow to ensure they have somewhere to roost!’
Martin, who grew up with a father in the RAF, moved to Cornwall in 2016 with his wife, who’s from the South West. ‘I love the beaches, the walks and the culture of Cornwall,’ he says. ‘The heritage and the history are what attracted me to Bodmin Jail in the first place – the chance to deliver an experience like no other by restoring the ruins of this captivating monument so that new generations can experience and understand its importance. We want to give people the opportunity to really feel, hear and taste what it was like to be a prisoner in 18th century Cornwall!’
‘The new year has seen some real developments in the building project,’ he continues. ‘We have finally got a roof on the Jail for the first time in a century! What a milestone.’
Posted: 5th February 2020 By: Tara Jones
Is there such a creature?
The so-called Beast of Bodmin Moor has sparked stories and legends for three decades about a phantom black cat the size of a puma stalking the moors of Cornwall. Since 1978, more than 60 reports have baffled local police about sightings of a large cat-like creature with supposedly sharp, prominent teeth and white-yellow eyes; a cross between a domestic cat and a panther. A string of mutilated livestock has done nothing but fuel the rumours.
Some people have reported being chased by the powerful and scary cat-like creature. Others have spotted it in the distance, not quite believing their eyes. Grainy photographs and video footage exist, but not enough to prove that it is real.
In 1995 the Government ordered an official investigation into the existence of the beast, which concluded that there was no verifiable evidence of a big cat on Bodmin Moor. It is worth noting it was careful to state that there was no evidence against it, either.
Theories abound as to whether the beast is a myth or reality. A small boy found a large cat skull lying on the banks of the River Fowey in the late 1990s. It was thought this was finally evidence that the Beast of Bodmin Moor actually had existed. However, the Natural History Museum confirmed that the skull did, indeed, belong to a leopard, but that the leopard had been imported into Britain as part of a leopard skin rug!
Another long-held hypothesis about the Bodmin Beast centres around the release or escape of big cats from private collections or zoos. It was first claimed that Mary Chipperfield, a 1970s British circus entertainer, released three pumas into the wild following the closure of her Zoo in Plymouth in 1978. Another claim was made in 2016 by Dartmouth Zoo about a pack of pumas released in the 1980s, which would explain the existence of big cats on the moor for the last 30 years. However, scientists have rejected this theory based on the grounds that the numbers needed to sustain a breeding population of big cats would be too large for the food supply.
There is, of course, the possibility that the animal is a species of wild cat thought extinct in Britain many years ago, still surviving on the moors of Cornwall. Others blame the paranormal, believing the beast to be a mythical and ghostly apparition of a creature that roamed Cornwall in the past.
Meanwhile, the Beast of Bodmin sightings continue…
Posted: By: Tara Jones
Jail Break for Bodmin!
Bodmin Jail, one of Cornwall’s most loved historical attractions and Cornwall’s former County Gaol, announces today that it will close its doors for a 6-month period from 4th November 2019 to allow for construction to finish on the on-going £40million re-development and preservation project that is set to restore this important heritage asset to its former glory.
The current visitor attraction will close its doors from Monday 4th November, with the restaurant and gift shop remaining open for diners, pre-booked events, and weddings only, until 1st December 2019. During the closure, all special events, including After Dark Paranormal Events, will be suspended, returning with a new lease of life in May 2020.
On Sunday 3rd November the Jail invites locals and enthusiasts to join them for a Charity Open Day with FREE entry for all to raise funds for the Jail’s chosen charity, Cornwall Hospice Care. Visitors will get a chance to say goodbye to the current attraction, as well as the opportunity to own a piece of Bodmin Jail by bidding on selected memorabilia picked from the original jail and attraction in a silent auction, with all money raised going to the charity that runs two adult hospices in Cornwall. The auction, which opens online on www.jumblebee.co.uk at 9am on Monday 21st October, gives anyone interested in owning a real piece of Bodmin Jail a chance to bid.
The brand new £8.5million immersive visitor experience, which is due to re-open on the 1st May 2020, has been developed by international visitor attraction experts Sarner and sees the introduction of the new ‘Dark Walk’ experience and a complete re-design of the existing attraction spaces. Four linked experiences will take guests on a journey through an interactive, educational, fun and punishing depiction of life in the 18th and 19th century and provide them with entertaining and informative history of the region, the jail and its former inmates. Ghostly voices from Cornwall’s murky past will appear alongside highway robbers, smugglers, miners and tales of the Bodmin Beast, using the latest technology and theatrical effects to allow visitors to experience the life and death within the prison walls and Cornwall as a whole.
The 4-star boutique hotel, which is due to open in late 2020, is being built within the walls of the Grade II listed building, retaining original features including bars on the windows, original brickwork and the original guard tower. It has been designed with a view to retain and enhance the unique atmosphere and sense of history that exists in the ruins of the jail. The old cells are being used to create 70 spacious bedrooms with three cells to a room in the original civil, naval and women’s wings, alongside an exciting new restaurant concept.
Martin Lyall, General Manager at Bodmin Jail, says:
‘This is an incredibly exciting time for Bodmin Jail and Cornwall as a whole, with this being the biggest current private investment South of Bristol. Closing the attraction is an operational necessity at this point, in order to complete the construction work for our brand new, visitor attraction and historic hotel. We look forward to opening our doors in May next year as one of the top attractions in the region.’
The senior team at Bodmin Jail will all remain on site during the construction period, developing exciting and new experiences for visitors next year. It is estimated that the new visitor attraction and hotel will generate around 50 new jobs in the local area once it opens fully.
All images copyright ©Twelve Architects – 2019
Posted: 8th October 2019 By: Tara Jones
We are delighted to announce that we have achieved a Silver award in the small attraction of the year category at last night’s Cornwall Tourism Awards . A big thank you to our entire team for helping us achieve this great accolade and to the judges for spending time behind bars.
Watch a short video of the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2018
Posted: 2nd November 2018 By: Tara Jones
Bodmin Jail have been shortlisted!
Bodmin Jail have been shortlisted in the final three of the Small Attraction of the Year category, for the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2018/19.
We are absolutely delighted that are our hardworking Jail Team have pulled together to provide top-notch customer service and such great all-round experience for our visitors.
The Finalists be presented with their Gold, Silver, or Bronze Award, at the black-tie Cornwall Tourism Awards Ceremony in Truro Cathedral, on 1st November 2018.
We wish all the other finalists in their categories the best of luck on the night!
Posted: 3rd October 2018 By: Tara Jones
It’s Fathers Day on Sunday 17th June!
Notoriously the most difficult member of the family to buy gifts for – why not treat Dad to delicious meal in our Governors Hall restaurant; we’ll be offering a great deal for two from our Steak & Shank menu, which includes a bottle of house wine!
Posted: 30th May 2018 By: Tara Jones
Charity Golf Day
‘The Inmates’ had a great day out supporting Bodmin Rotary’s Charity Golf Day; raising funds in aid of research into Motor Neurone Disease.
MND is currently incurable, and is characterised by weakness & wasting of the limbs – it’s a cruel illness, exasperated by the fact that although the limbs, speech or torso may not respond from signals from the brain to operate, the brain remains fully functional. The average life expectancy for the commonest form of MND is 2-5 years from onset of symptoms.
Finishing the day placed 4th out of 40, ‘The Inmates’ have helped give a boost to the MNDAssoc. Cornwall Branch, and to those persons in the County that have to live with the disease.
Well done to all involved!
Posted: 16th May 2018 By: Tara Jones
Posted: 28th March 2018 By: Tara Jones
Meet the latest addition to our Jail inmates –
talented Artist in Residence Jess Marlton: Jess recently graduated from Falmouth University with a First in Authoritative Illustration.
Her work during this time focused on monsters and it was here that she developed the theme of whimsical macabre. Through the medium of paper cutting, Jess uses the figure of the monster to investigate what we consider to be monstrous, and ultimately to invite the viewer to question who the monster is.
Jess’ work at Bodmin Jail focuses on the prison’s infamous inmates as well as Cornish folklore. The paper cuts produced in residence are designed to carry tales of the prison and to address new ways of story telling.
Find out more about Jess
Posted: 15th November 2017 By: Tara Jones