Jess completes her first piece of work at the Jail
The tragic tale of Selina Wadge has been depicted in this original artwork – Jess has spent many hours snuggled under the heat-lamp in the old key-room down in the Jail; sculpting with care, her vision of Selina’s story and subsequent crime she committed.
The image is full of symbolism specific to Selina; frogs and frog spawn, moths, baby bird skulls and prison mice.
“I drowned the child.
I put it in the water.
Lord deliver me from this miserable world.”
The idea is to make the viewer think about Selina’s crime and her guilt; the frogs are from the well, the spawn and bird skulls represent children. The moths are symbols of the spirit.
The wording is the actual words Selina spoke, and she holds in her hand her handkerchief, as recorded at her execution…
Jess talks us through her creative process –
“Each cutting starts off with a story. I usually select a phrase or an image to work with first, from this the rest of the cutting develops. The size of the cutting is really dependant on the space I have to work on – sometimes that comes down to putting tables together to give the most surface area.
I then draw a grid on the paper and sketch the words onto the grid; this helps me with letter size and spacing. Once the wording is in place, I draw in some of the larger elements, in the case of Selena Wadge, this was the mice, frogs and cobwebs. From here, I then draw in the connecting elements, foliage, frog spawn, smaller insects. It is this process that takes the most time.
Every part of the picture has to touch, mess that up and the whole thing will fall apart. To further complicate matters, the image is drawn in reverse so you have a clean image after the cutting when you turn the paper over. Writing letters backwards is never easy!
Once the outline is drawn, I start cutting. There is no real technique for this, I tend to start with the letters and outline and then work into middle. You can never be really certain how the image will work until the piece is finished.
Each picture is designed to tell the original story through image and wording, but they are also created to be visually intricate with hidden details and symbols. At the end of the day, they are about tales, and my intention is for each one to speak to the viewer in whatever way they want to see it and hopefully carry the story on.”
Follow Jess on Facebook and see more of her fantastical creations on Etsy
Posted: 7th December 2017 By: Tara Jones
Our Commercial Manager, Chris, donned his brave pants and a hard hat this week to join the survey team in a tiny, wire enclosed ‘basket’ suspended 120ft above the ground: a perfect platform from which to see the extent of the mammoth task that is ahead of us in renovating this lovely heritage site to secure it’s future.
You can see in some of the images the extent of the damage to stonework by years of vegetation penetrating the nooks and crannies. Large areas of collapsed masonry and eroded stacks are gradually being uncovered. Crumbled debris lies strewn where once hob-nailed boots stomped and chains clanged, as inmates and warders went about their daily routines…
Posted: 15th November 2017 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: By: Tara Jones
Most tourist attractions in Cornwall may be drifting purposefully towards the end of a busy tourist season, but here at the Jail we are still full speed ahead organising a raft of exciting and spooky Halloween events for all the family; from our Children’s Fancy Dress Party and Scary Cinema Night, to After Dark and Murder Mystery Dinner, there’s something for all ages. You can find out more on our ‘Events’ tab.
Recent visitors to the Jail may have noticed furtive, hi-viz clad, goings-on, as we start Phase-1 of our site development and restoration. The site has been invaded by a throng of hard working scaffolders, architects, and project managers, all intent on creating an amazing restoration and expansion of the old Jail.
To ensure our visitors still get a full experience of life, and death, in this infamous County Jail we have a thorough plan in place to keep disruption to a minimum during this period, and keep as much of the Jail accessible to the public as possible.
Visitors can also browse our story boards depicting the development plans, and see details of the restoration and expansion work that will be carried out over the next 18months.
This month we have moved some of the exhibits to new sites within the old Jail while reconstruction begins. Our outside seating and picnic area has now moved to the lovely courtyard in front of the main building; a real sun trap, and warm enough for shirt sleeves on a sunny day, even in October!
Ground clearance and the removal of land-fill has started behind the Jail, and the arrival of an absolutely HUGE crane in the old exercise yard this week has sparked excited chattering from our neighbours.
There is a real buzz in the local community and genuine excitement to watch this massive project get underway!
Excavation work of the old Hospital Wing is just beginning; this will be the site of a brand new attraction entrance and informative displays.
For the first time since 1931 the towering, grand walls of the Civil Wing cell block, have been cleared of loose debris and damaging plant growth. Buddleia, rampant Ivy, and various other shrubs & small trees have established themselves over the decades; their roots invading the nooks and crannies of the stonework, creating cracks and undermining the structure of the walls. The beautiful local stone can now be seen in all its glory.
As the title says, ‘We’re still open!’
Admittedly, we are currently on our winter opening hours 9.30am – 6pm, but this is 7 days a week, so loads of opportunity to come along and enjoy a visit to the Jail, and have a nosey at the development works at the same time!
This is the start of a very exciting new period in the Jail’s history, and you can follow our development and restoration through this blog page, or follow us on Facebook for the latest instalment!
Posted: 24th October 2017 By: Tara Jones
Before any of the long-awaited development and restoration of Bodmin Jail can begin, we need to ensure the safe relocation of our resident bat population.
The Jail has been home to 9 species of bats for many years, including the Greater, and Lesser Horseshoe, and the tiny Pipistrelle; we have a duty of care both legally, and morally, to ensure this population continues to thrive under our care and monitoring.
Working alongside bat experts Bodmin Jail have provided a swanky new abode specifically designed and constructed to be the most attractive, comfortable and safe environment which will enable these fascinating little creatures to thrive.
We’ve even incorporated CCTV cameras that will enable the ‘Bat Team’ to monitor the comings and goings of this winged community day to day. Film footage will at some point in the future be live streamed via our website so you can watch them for yourselves.
The completion of this luxury Bat House is the start of a very exciting new period in the Jail’s history, and you can follow our development and restoration through this blog page, or follow us on Facebook for the latest instalment!
Posted: 23rd October 2017 By: Tara Jones
We are now serving a delicious Breakfast Menu at Bodmin Jail from 9am – 12 noon, Thursday – Sunday.
Choose from a traditional Full English, Jail Porridge, Toast or Muffins, and some scrummy Vegetarian alternatives.
There’s something for everyone!
What a great way to have a catch-up with friends and family in the atmospheric surroundings of our historic heritage site.
Posted: 25th May 2017 By: Mark Grice
We have been running After Dark events here at the jail for many years now.
No matter how sceptical the people are who arrive at these events, more often than not they leave as either believers, or with at least a tiny niggle of doubt.
Photo Credit: Bernie Pettersen
Bodmin Jail recently invited members of the UK press along with their photographers and bloggers, to an After Dark evening. We thought we would see what they made of the experience.
We knew before hand that there were a few definite sceptics in the group, so who better to give an honest opinion of our nights?
Photo Credit: Bernie Pettersen
The three course meal that is included in the experience, went down very well with our media group. So much so, that the evening was running a little behind before it properly started. Not that we like to brag or anything, but our food is delicious and hard to resist.
The night was as ever run by our resident expert Mark Rablin with the assistance of Kirsten Honey. They took the group through the usual workshops including the Bubble Bounce technique and more. To get them open and receptive to what they may be able to see and feel during the night.
Photo credit: Bernie Pettersen
A workshop may sound a bit like a boring educational task, but in fact the workshops are quite short and mostly fun. Mark always does a great job of making everyone relaxed and helping them to enjoy the experience. After all, as he has said before it isn’t about scaring people.
The night was a resounding success, with everyone enjoying themselves and the glass table proving to be very active. The glass table involves some of those present placing a finger very gently on an upturned wine glass on a small table. On the evening Kirsten asked lots of questions to determine who of the many spirits reportedly in the jail were present.
The glass flew around the table, much to the amazement of the group. Sceptics or not, not one of them could explain it or apportion blame to anyone purposefully moving the glass. The speed at which it moved, and the lightest of touches from their fingers, made the theory of someone moving it on purpose null and void.
You can see the video of the Glass Table experience on The Mirror website, as part of Jo-Anne Rowney’s write up about the evening. It is mentioned in The Sun, where Antonella definitely left more of a believer, and by the sounds of it a little bit scared. You can also read on A Cornish Mum their version of how the evening went and the glass table.
The moving glass wasn’t the only hard to explain thing that happened that night for the media. There were reports of people feeling almost as if they were pushed. Strange lights seen in the dark, shadows that seemed to almost expand and retract and more.
No definite sightings that perhaps couldn’t be explained away with science, but the After Dark nights have to be experienced to really see why so many believe in other causes so strongly.
Photo credit: Bernie Pettersen
The Mirror have another video on their site, showing strange green lights in the cell where one of the workshops took place. A reflection from someone’s camera light or phone, an error on camera or something else? Pop to The Mirror and see what you think. Just before this was filmed, one member of the group had to leave in a hurry, possibly due to sensing something themselves.
Believer, sceptic or anywhere in between, being at the Jail at night time is one of those Bucket List experiences and at time a little unnerving.
If you would like your own After Dark experience, then pop to our After Dark page and get booking! You can make your own mind up in person, go on we dare you.
Posted: 4th October 2016 By: Stevie
Photo Credit: Bernie Pettersen
An interview with our resident psychic medium and energy therapist – the paranormal expert who runs our After Dark evenings, Mark Rablin.
You may have read a few of our Meet the Staff posts by now. If not pop to the main Meet the Staff post, where you will find the links to all of the posts in the series.
One person has been noticeable in his absence though. My original questionnaire that I sent around wasn’t suitable for the questions I wanted to ask Mark Rablin. As such a big part of the paranormal side of Bodmin Jail, I really couldn’t miss him out.
Instead I recently interviewed Mark over a delicious lunch in the Governor’s Hall here at the jail. Here is what he had to say about the jail, working here and all things paranormal.
How long have you been working at Bodmin Jail?
Around ten years, I am one of the longest running members of staff. In fact I recently spent my 1000th night here.
What job did you do before starting work at the jail?
I was a long distance lorry driver.
Wow, quite a change in direction career wise then. How did you end up making such a big career change?
I had a minor heart attack at the age of 40, which had me re-evaluating things already. Then I attended a charity event at Bodmin Jail and was just drawn to the place.
My life changed after this and I ended up working at the jail on a self-employed basis. Last November I became employed fully by the jail.
Why do you work here in particular?
Like I said I felt drawn here initially and I just feel that this is where I am meant to be. I feel that I am doing what I am meant to be doing. Bodmin Jail is perfect for the work I now do.
The construction of the building itself, the materials used and the height mean the energy here is amplified. Also being a correction facility in the past, a huge number of people have been through its doors. These people have left behind traces of residual energy.
What I and others do isn’t ghost hunting, it is working with the energy of the building. Bodmin Jail therefore couldn’t be much more perfect for this. So many people are drawn here looking for something, and many like myself find it.
What is your favourite part of working here?
The interaction with the spirits and the sense of belonging to the building itself. Not to mention just being able to be here when I want to, including at night time.
…. and your least favourite part?
I can honestly say nothing. I am where I want to be, where I am meant to be and doing something that I feel makes a difference.
Photo Credit: Bernie Pettersen
You run the After Dark experiences, what actually happens at them?
To start there’s a three course meal for the people to get to know each other and to fuel them for the night ahead. We then start the rest of the evening with a history tour, workshops on bubble bounce, energy projection techniques and on sensing the energy of people. You can find out a bit more on what’s included in the price and how to book on the After Dark page.
We don’t allow anyone who is drunk to stay, for safety reasons and to stop them ruining the evening for everyone else. I don’t go around suggesting what you should feel or putting suggestions in to people’s heads. I just want you to be open to feeling what you want to feel on the night.
There are usually around 10 people on a tour, which keeps it nice and relaxed although we can sometimes do bigger groups. I like to work to the fraudulent mediums act of 1951. There are no guarantees that you will feel or see anything, however I do have a very high success rate.
Any tips for those attending an After Dark event?
Dress sensibly, we have had people turn up in flip-flops before. The jail is cold even in the hottest weather and at night it is even more so, therefore you should wear sensible flat shoes and bring plenty of layers. Most of all though, come with an open mind.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
When I’m not working, I tend to do things like building mannequins for the jail. To me what I do isn’t working, it’s just life.
Tell me a random fact about you?
I am in to the study of instrumental transcommunication. This is an old 70’s technique of communicating with the world of spirits through the use of electronics.
What would you say to the non-believers in the World?
It is not up to me to make up your mind about the world around you. All I can do is offer my perspective and guide you towards experiencing the power in the world around you.
Posted: 30th August 2016 By: Stevie
If history is your thing, then Bodmin is absolutely one of the places that should be at the top of your list for a visit. Obviously there is Bodmin Jail – we were hardly going to not mention that, but there is so much more to keep you coming back to Bodmin.
As well as Bodmin Jail which is clearly steeped in history and has so many tales to tell, when you’re in the Bodmin area you really can do a bit of travelling back in time.
There are other locations that can complement your Jail visit, from the local National Trust run Lanhydrock with its beautiful location and house to the Bodmin and Wenford Railway. These places both can make you feel as if you have stepped in to another era, just like you do at the Jail.
There is a free Museum in Bodmin itself, the Bodmin Town Museum and a Regimental Museum if military history is your thing. Obviously Bodmin Jail itself has the naval wing to interest you if so.
Beautiful houses such as Lanhydrock and also Pencarrow House and Gardens – a mostly Georgian mansion still owned and lived in by the same family who settled there in the 1500’s – show a direct contrast to the conditions at Bodmin Jail.
At Lanhydrock, there are beautiful rooms for children including several toys. This works as a striking contrast to Bodmin Jail, where children were sometimes incarcerated for stealing. Stealing food to help to keep themselves and their families alive. When you walk through Lanhydrock, there are huge kitchens with food everywhere.
I can think of no better way to visually show and teach children about class differences, poverty, law and order and possibly even being that little extra bit grateful for their own lifestyle, than to show children both the grandeur of Pencarrow or Lanhydrock, and then show them Bodmin Jail.
Not all of history is happy and positive, and it is important that this is taught as well as the more glamorous and beautiful parts of our history. Every event in history no matter how good or bad, has played a part in the world that we live in today and I really do think it is important that there is a balance in the teaching of history.
The stark reality of Bodmin Jail and the pictures on the walls of some of its youngest criminals, really will help to bring history alive for not only children but adults too. Reading about history and experiencing it are very different things.
Walking around historical sites, where you can touch, smell and just feel the atmosphere of what it must have been like for people in the past is much more effective and likely to stick in the mind. Bodmin has such a historical heart, where so many different eras are covered.
So why not come to Bodmin and do a spot of your own time travelling?
Posted: 23rd May 2016 By: Stevie
When you arrive at the jail, you will likely first be in awe at the sheer size of the place. Then you will feel the surprise that most feel on arrival, surprise that the place is actually really rather beautiful considering it’s previous role.
When you first drive through the archway, you will see a small car park. Don’t panic if this one is full, as you only have to drive straight on and around to the left to find the bigger car park.
The next part is something that confuses some visitors, and is something that is on the list of future improvements that everyone at the jail are very excited about. The confusing comes with knowing where to enter and where to pay for entry to the jail.
If you see the photo above, that beautiful doorway is where you enter, and at the moment you turn right once you enter and go into the bar area. Pop to the bar and someone will sort your entrance to the jail – cards are accepted. If you don’t actually want to go in to the jail, or any members of your party don’t, the bar and restaurant area is very comfortable for whiling away some time enjoying a drink – tea, coffee, something stronger, it’s entirely your choice.
Depending on the time you arrive, you may even want to eat before going in to the jail, or just come for a meal the restaurant is open to non jail visitors as well. There is a nice varied menu with options for everyone – feel free to ring the very friendly staff if you have any queries about the menu or concerns about dietary requirements. At busier times, it may be a good idea to ring and pre-book a table just in case.
TIP: Don’t forget to check the specials board for even more options!
The jail itself can be very cold, so wrap up warm and sensible shoes are a good idea as there are steep steps. With this in mind unfortunately wheelchairs and pushchairs aren’t able to go into the jail. Working with an old building regrettably, this isn’t something that can be helped. So if you have a baby coming with you, don’t forget the baby carrier or sling!
A member of staff will show you where to go to get in to the jail, there are toilets just beside the entrance as well handily. Once you enter the jail, the yellow line on the floor will get you started on where to go.
Now we won’t spoil it by telling you too much about exactly what you’ll see, but there will obviously be cells to look in, plus stocks to find to put anyone naughty in your party within, mannequins showing you the crimes of people previously sentenced to spend time behind the grand walls of the jail and a wealth of information to read.
When you find the stocks, why not take a photo for social media posted with a #BodminJail to show us! IN fact feel free to share any images with us, we may even share some of the best ones on the Bodmin Jail Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
The jail is widely reported to be haunted, if you have a spooky encounter whilst visiting or ever have, then we’d love to hear about it!
Posted: 1st March 2016 By: Stevie