Long-eared and Whiskered!

Two Thirds of Britain’s Bat Species can be found at Bodmin Jail.

Fittingly, for an old building steeped in history, Bodmin Jail is much loved by bats.
Of the 17 resident bat species in Britain, Bodmin Jail is home to seven of these (Common Pipistrelle, Brown Long-eared, Lesser Horseshoe, Greater Horseshoe, Whiskered, Daubenton’s and Natterer’s).
An additional four species (Nathusius’ Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle, Barbastelle and Noctule) have been recorded foraging within the immediate environs of the jail, meaning that two thirds of Britain’s bat species occur here!

Bat Nursery

Photo by Mark Tunmore

The jail is particularly important for its colony of Greater Horseshoe and Lesser Horseshoe bats, including a maternity roost of the latter species. Horseshoe bats are among the rarest of Britain’s bat species, being restricted to south-west England and Wales, and estimated to have declined by 90% during the twentieth century. All of Britain’s bat species are protected by law as a result of their historic declines and threats to their habitats.

The best way to see bats at Bodmin Jail is to keep an eye out just after sunset, when they may be seen foraging around the car park or emerging from buildings; they are also sometimes seen during night walks flying along the corridors of the jail.

Horseshoe batIf you are lucky enough to encounter a bat during your time at Bodmin Jail don’t be afraid as it won’t harm you and bats don’t get caught in people’s hair as folklore would have us believe. Bats are not blind and their navigational systems allow them to fly fast with pinpoint accuracy, to rival the skills of any RAF pilot. There are no vampire bats in Britain and all our native species feed upon insects – a single pipistrelle bat can eat more than 3000 insects in one night

Bodmin Jail has invested heavily in the construction of an additional bat abode to help secure the future of this colony – a bespoke building, designed with the bat’s welfare in mind; to be an attractive, comfortable, and safe environment in which these fascinating little creatures can thrive.

Further information about bats can be found on the Bat Conservation Trust’s website.

Posted: 14th March 2018 By: Tara Jones

What’s NEW at the Jail for 2018?

The on-going development of the Jail site has enabled us to add more features to enhance our visitor experience – this month we have introduced:

Ghost Walks

– every Wednesday night from 8.30pm to the witching hour… take a guided walk through Bodmin Town to view key points & buildings, and hear all about their historical & paranormal links with the Jail, finishing with a Paranormal Tour of the Jail.

Timeline Room

– learn about the history of the jail and our plans for the future…

Jail timeline roomJail timeline room





Heritage Guides

– we now have friendly free-roaming guides within the jail; pass the time of day in the knowledgeable company of Jess & Kirsten and learn more about the jail, its history & future, and its nefarious past residents. We also have personal Guided Tours available to book in advance.

Paranormal Room

– discover more about the science of paranormal.

Paranormal RoomEtymology board












Posted: 6th March 2018 By: Tara Jones

Testimony to the Builder

As rays of sunlight pierce the broken glass of the cell windows and cast
their warming light deep into the derelict cells, you can’t help but think of
the men that did time in those four cells ripped apart by the demolition
blast of 1930.

One can’t help but also admire the work of the builders who,
some 160 years ago so skillfully built the formidable Civil Wing here at
Bodmin Jail.

Robert Goodyear & Sons of Adelaide Street, East Stonehouse in Plymouth,
certainly were master craftsman, and the responsibility of preserving their
work now falls upon another generation of skilled craftsman and stonemasons
to ensure the buildings are here to admire in another 160 years.

Work is underway and scheduled for completion in 2019 – keep watching for

Posted: 5th March 2018 By: Tara Jones

NEW Meal Deals for March

Time to take some ‘time-out’ for yourself & enjoy a catch-up with friends!

Join us for delicious home cooked food in our Governors restaurant, and take advantage of our latest great menu deals.

Valid from 1st March 2018











Booking is recommended – just give us a call on 01208 7692, or email info@bodminjail.org

Posted: 23rd February 2018 By: Tara Jones

Whimsy & BOO to you!

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

A Birdseye View!

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

Artist in Residence

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

Yes, we’re still open!

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

We Must Be Totally Batty!

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