Twilight Tours – Entertaining Executions

It’s that time again where our Twilight Tour (Tuesdays at 6pm) changes its theme, and this time it’s a gruesome one!

Published on 10 April 2024

You may be aware that here at Bodmin Jail we hanged 55 prisoners by a mixture of short drop & long drop hanging executions. If you’ve visited us previously, then I’m sure you will have seen our original Victorian Hanging Pit, the last of its kind in the whole of the UK. Hanging was the main form of execution in the UK for over 2,000 years, but it’s not the only method used to send the condemned to the other side!

How about boiling someone alive? Or beheading? Anyone fancy a date with Madame Guillotine? I didn’t think so…

This new tour takes you on a journey through our Georgian and Victorian prison to learn the gory details of how different forms of execution worked, who received them and how effective they really were. You’ll also learn about some famous executioners including the UK’s own Pierrepoint family. A truly fascinating breed of human beings, these men had to be incredibly skilled, not that they always were mind you!

We don’t want to spoil anything on the tour, but how about an exclusive section we didn’t include for our lovely readers...


Execution: Buried Alive

This form of execution has been around for millennia, but it takes off in the medieval period however, there are reports of this being used into the Georgian era in Europe! This horrid punishment is usually reserved for crimes such as infanticide (the murder of infants). 

At this point in history, marriage did not need to occur in church to be legally binding. You could just say a simple vow, consummate the marriage and that was that! But some men would abuse this power to lure young love stuck maids into bed, then after getting what they wanted, they would up and leave the young lady in a rather awkward position. There is no way they could continue to earn a living now they were with child, so many were forced to resort to infanticide once the baby was born in order to keep their job.

Here at Bodmin Jail we hanged women for this crime, 4 of them to be exact, including the infamous Selina Wadge who dropped her youngest son down a well. But in the medieval era, they faced this awful execution instead.

The spot for the burial is traditionally under a set of gallows or at a crossroads. This is so when her soul would rise to ascend to the heavens, it would be confused and not no which road to take to reach the pearly gates. Obliviously, no woman went to this death in an easy manner. One woman in Germany, around 1500, fought her handlers so hard she tore out large areas of he own flesh to try and avoid the agonising death. If she struggled too much, her arms would be pinioned, and a stake driven through her heart instead. 

So now I’m sure I’ve whetted your appetite (or turned your stomach) join us to learn about other gruesome forms of execution on our Twilight Tour – Entertaining Executions tour, running every Tuesday at 6pm until 25th of June 2024. We look forward to seeing you…

Check out our Twilight Tour here!