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: 5th February 2020 By: Tara Jones
We are delighted to confirm our next guest speaker for our Paranormal Conference being held at the Jail this coming November.
Jason focuses chiefly on beliefs in witchcraft and popular magic from the early modern, to the modern era; particularly at a regional level, as well as how belief in the supernatural world relates to early science.
Originally from West Cornwall, Jason is currently the Director of the Army Medical Services Museum, Ash Vale, Surrey. He is an independent researcher with Master of Arts degrees from the Universities of Exeter and Leicester.
His publications include The Cornish Witch-finder: William Henry Paynter and the Witchery, Ghosts, Charms and Folklore of Cornwall, and Tammy Blee’s Cabalistic Agency: Witchcraft and Popular Magic in History and Interpretation (forthcoming 2016) – along with numerous contributions to journals, including Folklore, Cornish Studies and the Journal for the Academic Study of Magic.
Tickets are now on sale for our Paranormal Conference, BOOK HERE
Posted: 17th July 2018 By: Tara Jones
We are excited to confirm Brian Sterling-Vete as guest speaker for our Paranormal Conference, to be held at the Jail in November.
Brian was born in Manchester, England, and is a former Stuntman, BBC TV news veteran, TV Broadcaster, Guinness World Record Holder, Author, and Internationally recognised Martial Arts Instructor. He has also worked on the first season of Star Trek – TNG, and co-stars in the new horror movie “Geist” due for release later this year.
Brian has had a life-long interest in all aspects of the paranormal, while at the same time, mostly thanks to his BBC TV News background, he remains as neutral, balanced, scientific and objective as possible.
He has participated in over 1000 investigations throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom, and is a regular guest speaker on the Dark Matter Digital Radio show “More Questions Than Answers” with Adrian Lee.
Brian has recently published his latest book – ‘Paranormal Investigation’ The Black Book of Scientific Ghost Hunting and How to Investigate Paranormal Phenomena, and will be book signing on the night.
On July 1st, 2017, Brian was one of the 6-person team in the now famous Redwood Falls UFO incident which Minnesota MUFON has said is “One of the most significant UFO encounters of recent years.”
Posted: 3rd July 2018 By: Tara Jones
“I don’t believe in ghosts. That’s something I’ve always told myself and others – partly because I’ve never experienced anything from the paranormal, and partly because the thought of anything ghostly scares me! So when Bodmin Jail, in Cornwall, invited us down for an overnight stay at Britain’s most haunted venue I wasn’t so sure! Staying overnight and exploring a jail I hadn’t visited before, with a group of people I didn’t know, – not quite for me on my first paranormal experience I don’t think.”
Read more about how Rachel copes with her while spending the night in the Jail; one of the UK’s most haunted venues…
Posted: 25th April 2018 By: Tara Jones
We recently received a great review of our After Dark Experience…
“I am writing to say thank you for a wonderful evening, from start to finish; We arrived for a friends 50th birthday treat. We were greeted at the restaurant door by a fab team, both ladies were most helpful, polite and very welcoming. We were seated, and it was explained there were 3 other ladies to join us on our evenings ‘after dark experience’. The atmosphere was lovely in the restaurant. The meal was served and fantastic, I think everyone on the table were surprised how good the food was for the price. I was unsure what wine to have, but the ladies were very kind to advise me on what to have. Very good choice of red wine.
We then were prepared to go for the ‘after dark experience’ – By that I mean coats on and wrap up!!
The evening had begun so well it was going to be a hard act to follow. Once on the tour with Kirsten and Mark, we were made to feel at ease and just have fun. The depth of knowledge Kirsten has on history coupled with the passion for her job, is contagious. It just made for a wonderful evening. Mark also has a depth of knowledge about his area of expertise.
This was an experience my friend had been wanting to do for a few years, and it totally lived up to her dreams.
I thank you and your team for delivering the complete experience.
I must also say I have a recently visually impaired husband, who is very passionate about history, and because your signage information is so large he will love going there. I will be using my 20% off voucher to take him for a special meal, and a tour of the museum beforehand.
Thank you once again for a totally amazing evening and night.”
Pen Davies-Gregory – After Dark participant
Posted: 3rd April 2018 By: Tara Jones
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:
– 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.
– learn about the history of the jail and our plans for the future…
– 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.
– discover more about the science of paranormal.
Posted: 6th March 2018 By: Tara Jones
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.
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