In a nutshell
A former jail on the edge of the town, built in 1779 by prisoners of war. Inside the gloomy and imposing granite building there are six floors of chilly cells, life-size models of inmates, and grim tales of crimes and punishment. Thanks to its grisly past, it claims to be one of the most haunted attractions in the UK, with a resident medium and a cast of ghosts. In short, it’s the perfect attraction if you want to scare your children with some real-life horror stories. The jail is in the midst of a £30m development that will add a 63-bedroom
hotel within the two original prison wings, and a new £8.5m attraction and education centre.
As a jail famous for its long-drop execution pit and replete with nasty detail, it’s low on fun facts. But one of the more innocent information boards describes the 43rd rule, which stated that “all prisoners, except debtors, should have a tepid bath once in every three months”.
Best thing about it
Depends how much you love gory details and sad stories. It gives a real insight into the squalid conditions and cruelty that prisoners, including children, faced – sometimes for minor misdemeanours like stealing honey.
What about lunch?
The usual suspects of jacket potato (£4.95), soup (£4.25) and sandwiches (from £4) are served in the Tea Room in the gift shop, which also serves “breakfast in jail” – with porridge (of course!) for £1.90, bacon or sausage baps (from £2.50) or a full-fry-up (£6.95). The Governor’s Hall is a full-service restaurant with a menu of classic British fare: slow-cooked mutton with an ox-cheek pie and celeriac puree (£10.50); jail-ale beerbattered fish and chips (£9.95); or vegetarian dishessuch as butternut squash risotto (£8.95).
Exit through the gift shop?
Yes, with a chance to pick up some pilchards or other Cornish delicacies: clotted cream fudge, sea salt, plus T-shirts in convict stripes, and “I braved Bodmin Jail” hoodies and tea towels.
Parking is available in the town centre. The jail is a 20-minute walk from Bodmin General station, which is on the Bodmin and Wenford heritage steam railway (you can combine the two attractions in one day). You will need a taxi if you travel from the mainline station, Bodmin Parkway (four miles away), where trains arrive from Penzance, Plymouth and Paddington.
Children under 10 should enjoy some aspects of the attraction, if not all of it.
9.30am-6pm. Restaurant noon-9pm.
Value for money
We rushed through the jail because my son (eight) and niece (seven) were a bit too young for it but it’s good value if you can take your time. Adult (16+) £10, over 65 £8.50, 5-15 years £7.50, family (two adults/two children) £32. After Dark tours (8.45pm-5am) cost £80 and include a three-course meal. Other events include scary film screenings and historical tours. It’s not wheelchair or pushchair-friendly.
7/10. It’s open to children of all ages and younger children will enjoy the ghost stories and discovering what prisoners ate (bread, gruel and sometimes scouse, a mutton stew), but in my opinion it’s better suited to older kids. We whisked the children past the more gruesome tales to avoid having to explain more serious crimes.
The Guardian original post
Posted: 9th January 2019 By: Tara Jones
Bodmin Jail have been shortlisted!
Bodmin Jail have been shortlisted in the final three of the Small Attraction of the Year category, for the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2018/19.
We are absolutely delighted that are our hardworking Jail Team have pulled together to provide top-notch customer service and such great all-round experience for our visitors.
The Finalists be presented with their Gold, Silver, or Bronze Award, at the black-tie Cornwall Tourism Awards Ceremony in Truro Cathedral, on 1st November 2018.
We wish all the other finalists in their categories the best of luck on the night!
Posted: 3rd October 2018 By: Tara Jones
Jess is one of our Jail Guides, and has been voted Staff Member of the Month by our lovely visitors.
Always bright and chirpy, with a talent for telling the best stories ‘Miranda Stylie’ Jess is a very knowledgeable member of the Jail team who will enhance your visit with fun and educating tales.
You can find our Jail Guides haunting the different levels of the Jail between 11am – 3pm, Monday – Friday; answering your queries about the Jail’s history, and regaling entertaining stories of previous inmates and their wrong-doings…
Posted: 25th May 2018 By: Tara Jones
Posted: 28th March 2018 By: Tara Jones
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!
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.
If 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
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