We went to Bodmin Jail at the weekend for a family day out, something we haven’t been doing enough of lately with how awful the weather was for most of the winter.
Luckily although it was still not that great on Saturday, Bodmin Jail is all undercover so perfect even on a really rainy day. That’s part of why it has been in my things to do in Cornwall on a rainy day post for a while now.
Before I go any further I have to say if you are going to be visiting, wrap up in layers, it’s an old building and it does get cold. Wrapped up though, it’s fine and it really does add to the atmosphere. Sensible shoes for the stone steps are also a must in my opinion.
I know many will think that it’s a bit of a morbid place to visit, as people were hanged there, but history isn’t all about the happy moments and I love learning about all sides of it. Added to which, there really is something quite fun about going somewhere that is supposed to be haunted and proving how brave you are!
I was mostly brave….when Simon wasn’t hiding behind doorways to jump out at myself and the boys!
Bodmin jail or gaol as it used to be known, is made up of the most beautiful buildings. I can’t imagine anyone thinking our modern jails are beautiful, but the Bodmin one really is. I can see it appealing to lovers of architecture as well as history buffs, paranormal fans and families (individuals and couples too) looking for somewhere a little bit different for days out.
First sight of the jail is really so impressive and awe-inspiring, and then driving through the old arch gateway into the courtyard really feels like going back in time…. if you ignore the other cars in the car park. By the way on arrival don’t panic if the little car park is full, there is a bigger car park if you follow the signs.
After parking and entering the main building, you need to head in to the bar/restaurant on the right and pay for your entry to the jail. This confuses some people apparently, but it is something they are planning to change.
According to a member of staff, having a new owner means they are looking at everything and seeing where they can improve. It would be great to have a few more interactive things that children can get involved with, the boys did love the stocks in part of the jail though!
The bar area, where you can also eat is lovely. There is just a lovely warm welcoming feel to it, plus the bonus is if you have someone with you who doesn’t fancy going in to the jail for any reason, then you can leave them at the bar or in a cosy corner to have a drink – tea or otherwise!
Si did try to suggest that maybe he would wait for us by the bar (typical man), but I didn’t let him get away with that. We all went into the jail, with the boys deciding they were Ghostbusters since Si mentioned that it’s meant to be haunted and the television show Most Haunted filmed there more than once.
They actually do Paranormal Ghost Walk nights there with a three course meal and an overnight experience in the jail – are you brave enough? Si really fancies this, I’m a bit more of a wimp but we’ll see who wins this one ha! *I actually ended up doing an After Dark Experience!*
Some parts of the jail are in much better condition that others, and for safety reasons you can’t enter the more derelict parts. There are places where you can still see in to them easily though, and there is a certain eerie beauty to them especially the part where nature is sneaking its way in.
Walking around the jail, there are various cells with mannequins in that show you what crimes the people who were incarcerated there had committed. Some also show the punishments people were given. There’s one with a boy being flogged I pointed out to the boys…. just wanted to let them know how lucky they are!
As you walk around the jail, you can also read loads of information on facts about the jail, the people who were forced to be there, and the ones who were executed. It really does show how much the times have changed. I found the information on children who were classed as criminals a little sad, but as I said earlier history isn’t all about the happy.
Walking around somewhere like Bodmin jail makes you so grateful for everything you have and the time that we live in. Growing up my family really didn’t have a lot of money, so who knows if I grew up back then maybe I too would have been jailed as a child for stealing to try to feed my family.
We ate in the restaurant at the jail whilst we were there, but I will save that for another post as this one is getting very long already!
We all really enjoyed the jail and I think the boys learnt a lot as we walked around, as well as gaining a bigger sense of gratitude for everything that they have – since they’re tweens we’ll see how long that lasts ;)
I’d definitely recommend a visit, though I would bear in mind it might not be suitable for small children who scare easily or anyone with a phobia of mannequins for obvious reasons! You also won’t be able to use a pushchair, due to the steps to get in to and around the jail
There are two areas where you can see how people were executed, but if you think that is too much for your children you can just avoid these two areas.
One is outside as you come out of the jail to the left and straight on and the other is upstairs somewhere I can’t remember exactly, but if you ask a member of staff when you arrive they can let you know. We found everyone to be really helpful and friendly, especially the lady who greeted us and who we paid for our tickets.
Our tickets cost £33 for the four of us, which I think is really reasonable considering you also get to know you are giving something back by helping to fund the upkeep and improvements to the jail.
If you’re looking for more places to go in Cornwall, I have a post with over 100 places to go in Cornwall, one with things to do in Cornwall when it’s raining and another with places to go in Cornwall all year.
*Our entrance was refunded after our visit, but no staff members working at the time we visited were aware we were coming for the purpose of a review, and all thoughts and opinions as ever are my own and honest***To comment on this blog you do not need to leave your name, email address or website if you don't wish to. Any information entered will remain private and will not be shared with anyone other than the site owner.