100 Years, 100 Stories
Our brand new immersive exhibition
100 Years, 100 Stories: Our brand new immersive exhibition
Selina Wadge was 28 years old on Thursday 15th August 1887 when she left the condemned cell at Bodmin Jail and made the short walk to the hanging spot, the old goods in goods out door above the archway between the wings of the jail. She was to be the last woman hanged in Cornwall. Prison legend claims she carried a handkerchief as she made her final journey and was said to utter, “Lord deliver me from this miserable world.”
A miserable world indeed for someone in Selina’s position, unmarried with illegitimate children in tow. In 1887 she was considered to be socially and morally corrupt; in addition her children would carry the stigma of being born out of wedlock. The pressure put on women like Selina to fit into a patriarchal governed society was insurmountable and that combined with the promises given in a love letter Selina had received from a former soldier by the name of James Westwood lead her to commit the most heinous crime imaginable…
Selina’s letter is just one of 100 objects on display at Bodmin Jail’s brand new exhibition, ‘100 Years, 100 Stories,’ celebrating 100 years since the last prisoner left the Jail and boarded a train out of Bodmin.
The 100 objects have been carefully curated by the jail’s team of experts, each telling their own tale of love, loss, debauchery, retribution and new beginnings throughout the almost 250 years since the Jail was built. Each object holds a story about the building, the people in it, and its history - all of which are curious, tragic, and always intriguing.
For example, a bathtub asks you to consider which type of prisoner was regarded as so unimportant as to be unworthy of a bath. You can also view the dress in the paranormal room which has many strange stories associated with it (no spoilers!) Alongside a bottle of arsenic used by Sarah Polgrean to poison her unsuspecting husband, you will also see the blood-spotted clothing worn by Matthew Weeks when he supposedly murdered Charlotte Dymond - but was he really guilty?
To mark the occasion, three more cells have been opened up to the public and the team have introduced scent into the building to further enhance the immersive journey. The spaces and stories are deeply personal, as if the prisoners have just walked out of their cells and left behind a tantalising glimpse of the past.
This family-friendly exhibition features tales to be enjoyed by people of all ages. Our hope is that people are intrigued by the Jail’s vast array of stories and will continue to visit to learn more about this building’s history and heritage throughout our 100 Years celebrations in 2023.
The ‘100 Years, 100 Stories’ exhibition is running until the 30th April, and access is included with general admission to Bodmin Jail.