We started our recent holiday with a visit to Bodmin Jail on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Now partially ruined, the ominous, crumbling building looms over the town of Bodmin and within the thick, stone walls, over 50 executions have taken place, for crimes such as rape, murder and stealing. 51 of these executions were open to the public.
The last public hanging took place at Bodmin Jail in 1909, and while supposed to be a deterrent, the executions became popular excursions of the time.
Bodmin was the first jail to feature separate "cells", and a couple of the well-known prisoners included: Anne Jefferies, thought to be a witch, who was starved to death and Selina Wadge, who was publicly executed for the murder of her bastard son. Hardly surprising then that Bodmin Jail has become known as a haunted hotspot.
Over the years, the jail went through a number of changes, including a major extension in 1859 to deal with overcrowding. At one point several prisons were located on the site. These included the Civil Prison for males, The Civil Prison for females, The Debtors prison, the Naval Prison and at one point the prison for Juvenile offenders. The roof has now collapsed, and so have many of the floors underneath.
Inside the building, you enter through the licensed bar and as you descend the steps into the jail, the cold seems to seep through the very brickwork. It’s hard to imagine being cooped up inside one of the gloomy cells for a long duration, where there would have been a lack of light and the smell was probably horrendous at the time when the jail was in use.
Now the visible cells only occupants are the most repellent looking mannequins I have ever seen. They are marginally lit, adding to their creepiness, especially when you turn a corner and run into one, but using the camera brings the flash into play, only highlighting their ugliness.
Accompanying plaques describe the prisoners, and what crime and punishment they suffered, everything from bestiality to murder.
Although we didn’t see anything strange while we roamed through the building, we didn’t linger too long either.