My After Dark Experience at Bodmin Jail

I work on a freelance basis for Bodmin Jail and so when they were having a media evening recently with lots of top journalists, they decided that I should gate crash the night and come along. This was my first experience of an After Dark evening at the jail.

 

Bodmin Jail at night time

 

Thirteen journalists, photographers and bloggers went into the jail…… and thirteen very tired ones came out.

 

Everyone keeps telling me how brave I was to go there at night, but in all honesty, it wasn’t the spirits of those who lived before us that I was nervous about. It was the journalists who walk among us. Having been blogging for less than two years, hanging out with professional writers had me wracked with nerves beforehand.

 

My company for the night was as follows Andy Jones – Daily Star, James Dadzitis – Daily Star photographer, Lou Whealen – Muddy Stilettos, Leah Harper – Guardian, Antonella Lazzari – The Sun, Neil Hope – The Sun photographer, Jo-Anne Rowney – Daily Mirror, Laura Barnes – Tasting Britain, Keeley Walker – Tasting Britain and Lee Trewhela – West Briton. There was also Sue Bradbury, the really lovely PR who did such a great job arranging the night and the photographer working with her Bernie Pettersen

 

Unfortunately for those around me, when I get shy and nervous unlike most people I don’t become quiet. Oh no, I talk and talk and talk a bit more. Often complete random crap, that I am powerless to stop spouting out of my mouth. So I apologise to those who got to sit near me at the table to start with, whilst I was at my most nervous verbal stage.

 

We started the evening as all After Dark experiences are started, with a three-course meal. As we weren’t eating until 9pm, I did regrettably have a snack at home before I left. By snack, I mean that I stole a lot of Chinese food off of other people’s plates at home. Therefore I could barely eat.

 

Which is a shame as the food was delicious as always. I was sat opposite a photographer named Bernie Pettersen who was in the same predicament of being faced with such delicious food without much of an appetite. We soldiered on, though.

Food at Bodmin Jail

Bernie was fascinating to talk to over dinner, his stories of being in the forces had me laughing through the meal. We were eating in the Governor’s Hall, which is a beautiful room. There was even a small band playing in the corner.

 

Bodmin Jail often has free music nights, where children are more than welcome to come. You might think it odd to bring children to somewhere like the jail at night, but the front building is actually really rather beautiful and not scary at all.

 

Once we had all been wined and dined, it was time to head into the jail. To start with we had a chat with Mark Rablin and Kirston Honey. Kirston has been working with Mark at the jail for the last year and helps out on After Dark evenings.

 

They talked us through what would be happening for the evening and set us up in ‘base camp’ where all the tea, coffee and hot chocolate making facilities were. This was where we returned for as many hot drinks as we wanted through the night. Considering the events last from 9pm until 5am, this is definitely a popular part.

 

We started with a personal tour of the jail with Mark. The tour of the jail was fascinating, as Mark told us tales and facts about the jail that I hadn’t heard before. He really brought history alive and his passion for the place was obvious.

 

Tour of Bodmin Jail

 

I have interviewed Mark Rablin before, for the Bodmin Jail Blog. We did this over lunch, which although enjoyable I found it difficult to get the sense of the real man. I suspect that Mark has been interviewed so many times over the years, that he understandably almost goes into auto pilot when answering inane questions from people like myself.

 

This meant that before my After Dark experience, I was expecting a very serious night and worried that if I laughed too much that I might insult Mark. His beliefs are very strong, as I found when I interviewed him. However, I could not have been more wrong.

 

I already knew Mark was a nice guy, but I didn’t realise what a great sense of humour he had before. He had me laughing a lot during the night. That said, through the workshops and activities, it was always obvious when we should be quiet and turn off our lights and be a little more serious.

 

Once the lights go out at Bodmin jail, Mark is in his element. He was so much more relaxed than when I interviewed him. He has said to me before, that the jail is where he feels he belongs and he feels that he is doing what he should be doing and I can well believe it.

 

The jail itself looked beautiful at night-time, which I know seems a weird thing to say considering what the building was used for and that so many people were hanged there. architecturally it is just stunning, though. I can see why people choose to be married there.

 

Going into the more run down parts of the jail at night-time, was a very different experience than during the day. In the daytime, the green colours of the plants above you make it look almost whimsical. At night, in the darkness with only the sound of the occasional pigeon or bat (or random journalist) moving around, the atmosphere definitely changed.

 

Bodmin Jail After Dark

 

In the dark, you become so much more aware of your other senses, and weirdly although I didn’t feel as though I sensed any ‘spirits’ outside, I was rocking back and forth on my heels some of the time without being sure why.

 

As you go around the jail, Mark does explain to you that a lot of what you feel can have a scientific explanation. He also refuses to tell you what you may feel, as he says that is stepping into the realms of suggestion.

 

He doesn’t want to tell you what you should experience, he just wants you to be open to seeing what you do experience. This is what part of the workshops you do are about.

 

In one of the rooms we were in, I did see some strange lights. Mark pointed out it could be something or it could be our eyes adjusting to the darkness. Other people reported seeing similar.

 

We all had different levels of scepticism as we went around, but even the most adamant sceptics seemed to not want to go off to the toilet on their own. In one dark room, one of the photographers actually had to leave the room. Supposedly for a glass of water, but he left pretty quickly and at the darkest most intense time of the evening.

 

At night-time, with motion sensors on in one part, it really did look eerily beautiful. The sensors activated a walking talking projection of Selina Wadge in one of the cells. Having been hung for killing her own child, this part was slightly chilling but impressive all at the same time.

 

The projection is a new addition to the jail and it was the first time that I had seen it. Such a brilliant idea, but like I said definitely creepy at the same time.

 

Motion sensors at Bodmin Jail

 

Selina Wadge at Bodmin Jail

 

There are a lot of steps at Bodmin Jail and it does get very cold, so if you did decide to do an After Dark event there, definitely wear plenty of layers and sensible shoes.

 

I won’t tell you about the techniques Mark taught us, or the workshops as such because if it will be your first time going I don’t want to ruin it for you. However, I will say it is definitely nothing scary, intense at times, but Mark makes it fun.

 

The last thing we did that night, was the glass table. I was expecting a table made of glass, but it was actually a glass on a table in one of the rooms. Here’s Kirston re-enacting it a little for one of the photographers.

 

The glass table at Bodmin Jail Kirston

 

This was the bit where the night got a little strange. With some of the other women in the group, I had to put one finger on the glass very lightly whilst Kirston tried to speak to the spirits of the Jail.

 

She asked questions and asked them to move the glass in response…. and the glass not only moved a little, but it actually flew around the table taking our fingers with it. Now I can’t promise that not one of the other people were moving it on purpose, but what I can say is that if they were, then they were very good at hiding it.

 

At times it was hard to keep your finger on the glass, all of ours kept crossing over each other as we were touching it so lightly and the glass was moving so fast. Like I said, I can’t promise that someone wasn’t moving it…..but I can’t see how they could have been. No doubt there is a scientific explanation, but personally, I have come away from the jail with less scepticism than I entered it for sure.

 

Overall the night really was a lot of fun. Learning facts about the jail, having the free run of the place whilst it was empty, the food and the company all made for a great night. I really do recommend it. It was more fascinating, fun and one of those bucket list experiences to tick off.

 

I have a competition ending today to win two tickets for an After Dark event at Bodmin Jail, so if you fancy trying all this for yourself then pop over and enter quickly.

 

Have you ever been to the jail yourself?

 

Stevie x

I work with Bodmin Jail on a freelance basis, and did not pay for this experience myself, however as always all thoughts and opinions are my own and honest.
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45 Comments

  1. 24 September 2016 / 1:26 pm

    Oh I have been looking forward to reading this. It looks like a great, spooky night! And fascinating too.

  2. 24 September 2016 / 2:05 pm

    I’ve always thought that it would be interesting to look around the Jail. Probably in daylight as of am a scaredy cat!!

  3. 24 September 2016 / 10:00 pm

    oooooh, it sounds quite exciting! I would have definitely done this pre-kids, but now I think I worry too much and would get too scared myself, or fall asleep standing up! How spook is the glass table, really interesting to hear what you thought of it all. Now the spirits know who you are maybe they will make their presence known the next time you visit! xx

  4. 25 September 2016 / 11:33 am

    Oh fab I have been waiting to read how you got on! It sounds such a great experience and the setting very atmospheric!

  5. 25 September 2016 / 8:16 pm

    Ooooh I don’t know about that. I haven’t even been during the day, and I tend to spook myself. I will enter the comp though!! Yikes!

  6. 25 September 2016 / 11:59 pm

    Oh eek! I’m not sure I’d like the bit with the glass! Sounds like an amazing evening though, really fascinating to learn about the place and frighten yourself all in one go!
    Nat.x

  7. 27 September 2016 / 10:17 pm

    It all feels very ‘most haunted’ but glad you enjoyed it lol

  8. 29 September 2016 / 6:53 am

    Sounds like an amazing experience but I’ll admit that I’d probably be too chicken to give it a go! I’m not a sceptic so I firmly believe that there would be spirits there! x

  9. 29 September 2016 / 7:57 pm

    Oh my! I don’t think I’d have been brave enough! We stayed near Bodmin back in July but didn’t visit the jail, maybe one for next year. I think we’ll stick to visiting in the daytime though!

  10. 30 September 2016 / 8:49 am

    What a fun and very different night out! Sounds like you had a great time! I’ll be sure to share with my Westcountry chums! #picknmix

  11. 30 September 2016 / 8:55 am

    You are braver than me – I like the idea of it but it would totally freak me out! #picknmix

  12. 30 September 2016 / 10:24 am

    This sounds right up my street. I’m a little sad that the competition has ended! But it looks as if you had an amazing experience! #PicNMix

  13. 30 September 2016 / 11:21 am

    I’ve only ever had a meal there, never actually explored. My in-laws live walking distance from the Jail so I’ll have to think about checking this out next time we travel down. Sarah #PicknMix

  14. 30 September 2016 / 11:37 am

    Oh wow!! I really don’t think I could have done this! I like the food part, but the rest of it, I would have been freaked out! My husband and I went on a ghost tour in Edinburgh and we went down to some underground vaults and I totally freaked out, I was scrambling at the door to get out!! Great photos and you’re much braver than I am! #picknmix

  15. 30 September 2016 / 11:55 am

    Wow how amazing and I would have been nervous too round the company. Sounds like an amazing and very interesting experience. I would love to give it a go one day that’s for sure #picknmix

  16. 30 September 2016 / 12:08 pm

    I love old buildings and it is such a great thing to experience one at night time. I am sure that is a night you wont forget. #picknmix

  17. 30 September 2016 / 1:44 pm

    Sounds eerie but great! Reading about the glass table gave me shivers!

  18. 30 September 2016 / 2:51 pm

    Sounds like an amazing evening, I’d love to take part in one of these but id be a nervous wreck for sure! Not sure if I would take part in the glass table activity, that would send me running for the hills :) x

  19. 30 September 2016 / 5:02 pm

    What an amazing experience. I don’t survive well with no sleep so I’m not sure I could have done it myself but it sounds fantastic. I bet it felt so different in the dark! Well don you. #PicknMix

  20. 30 September 2016 / 5:22 pm

    Oh my word – that glass table would have completely freaked me out – you did so well! I’ve always thought this pace looked so cool, I wish it was nearer to me. #picknmix

  21. 30 September 2016 / 6:28 pm

    Oh wow, that ending with the glass, I think that would have sent shivers up mys spine! It does sound an interesting place to visit. #PicknMix x

  22. 30 September 2016 / 7:57 pm

    I’ve been looking forward to reading about this. It’s sounds amazing. I love anything even remotely spooky and mysterious and would love to do one of these nights. We live too far away unfortunately but maybe one day.
    #Picknmix

  23. 30 September 2016 / 8:52 pm

    What an amazing experience for you! Your wrote about it beautifully! I loved spooky nights in my youth am looking forward to enjoying outings like that again as my children grow older.

  24. 30 September 2016 / 9:26 pm

    Oh this sounds fantastic. I couldn’t do it though, I’d be too nervous, I don’t like the dark as it is! #picnmix

  25. 30 September 2016 / 9:28 pm

    We are off to Cornwall for a long weekend soon with some friends who have done the Bodmin Jail before but insist on taking us with them for a second trip. Can’t wait! #PickNMix

  26. 1 October 2016 / 4:17 pm

    Sounds like a fascinating evening. I’d definitely be up for a spooky night somewhere. I have seen a ghost so I’m very open minded! And what a great way to start – the food looks delicious. Such a shame you weren’t very hungry. #PicknMix

  27. 1 October 2016 / 6:43 pm

    Oh my goodness this sounds amazing and terrifying at the same time! I’m such a wimp but anything about the paranormal and old, eerie buildings fascinates me. It’s amazing that people get married there, how brilliant! #picknmix

  28. 2 October 2016 / 8:41 pm

    What a great opportunity Stevie, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I used to work on the TV show Most Haunted as a Production Manager and I think the team visited Bodmin Jail in the first series but if was before I joined. I got to stay in some incredible places whilst working on the show and as history lover, I always enjoyed hearing about the buildings past and the people that lived there years ago. I never actually saw any ghosts though! Tor xx #PicnMix

  29. 2 October 2016 / 9:54 pm

    That sounds incredible. I would love to do something like this, #picnmix

  30. The Unsung Mum
    2 October 2016 / 10:09 pm

    Just the idea of this freaks me out! When it comes to any scary things i’m a real wimp! Well done. #PicknMix

  31. Stuart
    2 October 2016 / 11:13 pm

    Iv visited bodmin jail twice while on holiday in Cornwall, I would like to visit at night , I think it will be quite spooky after all that went on while in use .

  32. 3 October 2016 / 5:38 am

    Intriguing Stevie! The history of these sorts of places absolutely fascinates me. The dankness of the jail ‘back in the day’ is something that I am sure would have added to the ‘atmosphere’ even more. Thanks for sharing the oohs and the aahs! And thanks for hosting #picknmix

  33. 3 October 2016 / 2:34 pm

    Rather you than me – very brave! #picknmix

  34. 3 October 2016 / 6:51 pm

    I’ve not visited the jail but maybe one day we will. My hubby liked watching Most Haunted. #PicknMix

  35. 4 October 2016 / 9:34 am

    Oh wow I would love to do something like this, it looks amazing! I love talking ghosts and anything spooky. The food looks amazing too! x #picknmix

  36. 5 October 2016 / 4:25 pm

    Oh my goodness – you were brave! I think the glass moving around would just about have tipped me over the edge and had me running out! It sounds like a really interesting night though. #PickNMix

  37. 6 October 2016 / 7:26 pm

    Wow what an amazing experience, I don’t know how I would have got on, I’m scared of the dark for a start and definitely not a sceptic. I found it creepy there in the daytime! xx

  38. Susan
    11 October 2016 / 4:22 pm

    Went to Bodmin jail last week, walked around, really fantastic place, then talked to restaurant manager who told us about the after dark hauntings, to which l will definitely be going back one night to do…. a three coarse meal in a fantastic, beautifully restored restaurant, amazing, which was once a chapel for the prisoners… can’t wait to see some paranormal activity down deep below in the cells…. … hope I am brave enough…
    If you have not been to bodmin jail… GO, it really is amazing…. have fun… Susan

    • 11 October 2016 / 6:42 pm

      It really is a fantastic experience, and their food is wonderful. I hope you get to do it soon!

      Stevie x

  39. Susan
    11 October 2016 / 7:07 pm

    Hi Steve..
    Thank you for your reply… l really can’t wait to go back to the jail and experience the after dark nite..
    Also to have the wonderful food that they do..mmm yummy
    Are you local to Bodmin!!!
    Susan x

  40. Susan
    11 October 2016 / 9:18 pm

    Hi again Stevie
    I live a long way away, but hopefully coming back down that way in December…
    I live in a little village called Hythe, in The New Forest, Hampshire, it’s about 2miles from Beauliue…
    I must admit l do love it all down your way, some beautiful places, beautiful scenery…
    Susan…x

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