Bodmin Jail, which was built as the County Prison in 1778 and was notorious for its cramped conditions and public hangings, is now a fascinating museum
Bodmin Jail was built in 1778 to house criminals from throughout the county of Cornwall. It was the first jail known to hold inmates in individual cells and was notorious for the public executions by hanging, which took place outside the jail until 1862. These were extremely popular events, attended by large crowds. After 1862, the executions continued within the jail until 1909.
The large 18th century jail structure towers above the car park. In fact, even the first sight is enough to make anyone shiver a little, but the shivers increase as one enters the jail and walks down the stairs. The air cools even further in the gloomy underground passages, through which hundreds of prisoners have passed.
Bodmin Jail's dark and sinister past has made it popular with tourists and ghost-hunters alike. Today, the jail is a museum, open to the public. There is information about notable prisoners, giving descriptions of their crimes and with details of the sentences they were given. It is possible to visit the condemned cell and to see some rather grisly exhibits of the former inmates of Bodmin Jail. During the First World War, both the Crown Jewels and the Domesday Book were stored here.
The prison finally closed in 1927 and since then has become a popular tourist attraction Its dramatic history has brought it to the attention of paranormal investigators and it was recently a location for a television series about the most haunted places in Britain.
There are various facilities on the site including a bar, restaurant and gift shop. The jail is open from 10am until dusk throughout the year.