My day out in Cornwall: Bodmin Jail

As we didn’t expect to visit Bodmin Jail all day, we planned in a walk along the Camel Trail to have lunch at The Borough Arms.


Attractions close to home

For the majority of my days out I have decided to explore all corners of Cornwall. As such I’ve ignored anything closer to home. I thought it was about time I hear of and pass regularly yet have never thought of visiting before.

Bodmin Jail’s reputation goes before it. It’s architectural presence, albeit crumbling and ruined, is unmissable if you’re in the area. Many of my friends and also many of our guests have mentioned that they been there and ventured an opinion or two. As such I had a pretty good idea of what to expect: an eerie prison steeped in unpleasant history.

Visiting Bodmin Jail

What I enjoyed about the visit itself was the different stories from prison inmates over the centuries. Indeed many moons ago, some of the crimes committed seem rather ridiculous and funny to us today: stealing milk and running off with someone else’s cow. But then there were the altogether more abhorrent crimes and murky tales of no-good. Its governors weren’t shy of executions, is all I’ll say. I’ll spare you the goriest of details here!

Stealing milk

It’s a truly fascinating place. Imagining how it was crammed to the rafters with inmates in previous decades and what living conditions must have been like, is quite a thought process. Considering its construction was started in 1779 and it was ‘modern’ and reformatory for its time boggles the mind! It’s hard to imagine it being seen as light and airy compared to the way we live today and given how crowded it felt at times as I walked through. Although it’s quite impressive to hear it had hot and cold running water.

Watch out for the policemen!

Given how busy it was and how small the actual exhibition is, it didn’t take us long to see everything. Yes, we could have lingered longer over certain parts but the crowds didn’t really make that very easy, or enjoyable.

A Cornwall attraction for older kids

I would suggest this day out for families although perhaps with kids over the age of 7 just because of the need to be able to read and walk around by themselves. Also some of the scenes, especially in the basement of the prison, may not be suitable for a younger audience.

Visitor need to know:

•On the site there is also a restaurant, café and a small gift shop.
•There is no parking at the prison itself and you are better off parking a couple minutes down the road at the Camel Trail car park, which is free of charge.
•This day out wouldn’t be suitable for visitors with limited mobility due to accessibility at the prison being very limited.
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About the author: Rob is our customer experience advisor.