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Bodmin Jail, Bodmin

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An eerie reminder of the squalor in prisons during the 18th and 19th centuries, exhibits at Bodmin Jail have been likened to the London Dungeon. Much of the prison is in ruins, but sections are open to the public. See how an inmate may have lived during England's thriving Victorian age through the exhibits, which use mannequins dressed as prisoners inside the cramped cells. Before you try your courage in the cells with an evening "Ghost Walk," stop by the Witness Box Wine Bar or the on-site restaurant, which features local produce. To visit Bodmin Jail and get the most from your holiday in Bodmin, create itinerary details personal to you using our Bodmin vacation route planner.
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1,263 reviews
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  • Very dissapointed. Naive and old fashioned museum. No atmosphere at all. From the advertising I had seen was expecting a spooky feel to the place but it was not like that at all. Even dim lighting may...  more »
  • The view as you drive to the jail is spectacular, I couldn't wait to get in! Unfortunately because it was a bit of a rainy day, the car park was full but luckily we could park right outside it. It is ...  more »
  • If you like history then this is a place to visit . You can look in the cell blocks and read stories of prisoners and their punishments . Hanging , Lashes and even Deportation which includes children ...  more »
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  • We were pleasantly surprised. There was more to see than I thought. Very interesting few hours, if you read all the information. I would be interested in going again if they built on what they already have, though liked the eeriness of the ruined cell block. Had a cream tea in the tearoom, then later had a lovely curry in the upstairs restaurant, all very reasonably priced. Would definitely recommend it for a rainy day. Though small children might be scared.
  • Bodmin Jail is an historic former prison situated in Bodmin, on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. Built in 1779 and closed in 1927, the large range of buildings is now largely in ruins, although parts of the prison have been turned into a tourist attraction. Bodmin Gaol was designed by Sir John Call and built in 1779 by prisoners of war, and was operational for 150 years, in which it saw over 60 hangings and countless other forms of punishment. It was the first British prison to hold prisoners in individual cells although this changed to multiple occupancy as the prison population increased after the Napoleonic wars. The Debtors Act of 1869 abolished imprisonment for debt so the prison then had spare space which was taken over by the Admiralty for naval prisoners. Eventually, the naval prison occupied an entire multi-storey wing of the building, before it was closed in about 1922. The first hanging was apparently in 1785, but the finishing date of the jail was in 1788. Executioners were paid about £10 a hanging. The last person to be hanged was in 1909, subsequent executions took place in Exeter Prison. The jail closed in 1927. Since that date, there has been no prison within the borders of the Duchy of Cornwall. During World War One the prison was used for holding some of Britain's national treasures including the Domesday Book and the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Much of the jail now remains in ruins. Some parts have been refurbished and these now form a tourist attraction with exhibitions telling of the history of the jail and of offenders imprisoned there. The exhibits showcase gory mannequins accompanied with plaques, describing the offence committed by particular people (and their sentence), in their respective cells. Because of the style of exhibit, it has been likened to such attractions as The London Dungeon. There are some narrow and steep winding staircases to negotiate (obviously optional) as you tour around the jail. There is a pleasant restaurant and the jail is available for weddings, dining or functions and school visits. The jail is reputed to be haunted and there are regular ghost walks overnight available for tourists and led by a resident medium (booking is required). Entry cost into the jail is £10 per adult although there are concessions for Seniors and families. A visit can take the best part of a day if you pause to read all the available information spread throughout the jail. Personally, I found this to be a very enjoyable and interesting part of Cornish history.
  • I am no prison connoisseur but this experience was incredibly frustrating. We drove for 2 hours to get to this substandard establishment. It became apparent that all of the 6 parking spaces were occupied and we had to park 1 mile down the road and walk. After our 20 minute traversal we arrived and got inside. We were immediately informed by a printout that the card machine was broken. Why not put the printout with the sign that says the car park is full so we don't have to oscillate between the car park and the jail. This "tourist attraction" only has 1 card machine. Sorry I don't posses the extortionate entrance fee in cash! Next time I'll bring my briefcase full of notes. Im joking,there won't be a next time. Go to Dartmoor prison as a superior alternative. It's much better and the staff are competent.
  • Really enjoyed our visit to Bodmin Jail. Very interesting. Fairly priced. Would have been nice to be able to get into the older wing but there's no roof on that section. Car park is a little dangerous as it's a sharp blind bend on gravel. Proceed with caution as many cars were skidding going down into the car park and struggling with wheel spinning getting back up the hill. Entry price was fair less than £20 for two. Gift shop was fairly priced too. Would visit again but I will keep checking for updates online to see if they've renovated any more of the building before returning
  • really good 1-2 hours out. there is a great deal to learn about the jail and the time in history it was open. couple of things - the mannequins are creepy / very much centered around death and murder - might not be great for little kids / they have a "ghost" which might freak smaller kids out. not your usual thing to do in Cornwall but its good and fairly cheap

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