I don’t believe in ghosts. That’s something I’ve always told myself and others – partly because I’ve never experienced anything from the paranormal, and partly because the thought of anything ghostly scares me! So when Bodmin Jail in Cornwall invited us down for an overnight stay at Britain’s most haunted venue I wasn’t so sure! Staying overnight and exploring a jail I hadn’t visited before, with a group of people I didn’t know, – not quite for me on my first paranormal experience I don’t think.
History and Paranormal Tour
We opted to go on the 2 hour Historical and Paranormal Tour. The jail offers this every Friday and Saturday night at 6.30pm. The tour is advertised as “an in-depth guided paranormal jail tour through the history of this unique destination”. And this is exactly what we got!
We were met by our host Kirsten in the restaurant and gift shop area of the jail. Kirsten introduced herself and told us we were going to have a private tour around the jail – how exciting! Kirsten told us about her work and her role at the jail; she seemed genuinely really interested in all things paranormal and was full of awesome stories and facts.
Our tour started outside by the front entrance to the jail – I was glad we brought our coats as it was a chilly night indeed – the ghost stories only made the goosebumps increase! Kirsten told us about how the prisoners would have arrived at the jail back in the 1700 – 1800 hundreds. She explained some of the common crimes that would have led to the prisoners being imprisoned here which was quite enlightening.
We moved on to where the medical section of the prison had been. Kirsten had lots of gruesome stories for this section of the prison! It was hard to believe that women would have given birth in this section of the prison whilst they were detained. Many children lived within the prison too – what kind of life must that have been?
Next we spent time looking around the stables and the execution pit. Apparently there were 60 executions at the jail between 1735 and 1909. You can see a list of all the prisoners that were hung whilst at the prison.
It’s mad to think that an execution used to be a public display and crowds of people (up to 25,000!) would go and watch; as it was some sort of family attraction. Apparently, people used to be able to see the executions from trains that run from London to Penzance – trains would stop below the prison wall so passengers could witness the execution from their seats! Imagine that! It’s certainly not something I would have wanted to see – the thought of it really gives me the creeps. In 1868 the law was changed which ensured that executions took place in private.
Whilst standing by the stables Kirsten said she felt a presence.. definitely time for us to move on!
Inside the Jail
We moved on through to the entrance to the jail – we were actually the first people to be taken through the new entrance – how exciting! There are quite a few renovations and building works going on at the moment but this didn’t disrupt our tour – only added to it when we heard about how the builders will now only work in pairs due to mysterious going ons!
We entered the jail and went down to the ground floor. Here, Kirsten turned off her torch meaning it was pitch black! Kirsten asked us if it was ok if she shared with us if she saw any orbs or felt any presence of paranormal spirits. I reluctantly said yes.
As we stood in the pitch black being able to see nothing, I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous and let out an anxious laugh. I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face! Kirsten told us she could see a shadow in the doorway behind us. I couldn’t see anything myself but I think that’s because my eyes were closed out of fear!! I oddly felt a cold sensation behind my left shoulder, near to where Nathan was standing next to me. I didn’t think anything of it until a few minutes later Kirsten told us there was a presence standing behind Nathan – now that really freaked me out! Could I have witnessed a sudden drop in temperature that Kirsten had told us we could experience if a prison spirit was nearby!?
Nathan, who believes in paranormal stuff and ghosts more than me, said at times felt he could see shadows and explained he felt a funny sensation on his nose – not sure what that was about but Kirsten was very interested in it! Apparently, all those that attend the overnight stays at the jail are added to a private Facebook page where photos and stories are shared based on their experiences.
Exploring the Cells
Having spent enough time in the dark we carried on our tour looking at the various displays with manikins. Each display is accompanied by information boards telling you what is being depicted in the scene. I read these with interest in the dim torchlight. It’s amazing when you’re feeling a little spooked how the manikins look like they are moving or winking at you!
We climbed the spiral staircases to the other wings of the prison. Here we found out lots more about prison life and about some of the prisoners that resided here. I won’t go into too much detail about the stories in case you go on the tour for yourself – I don’t want any spoilers!
Kirsten was great in answering all our questions and appeared to know so much about the prison and its history. She told us lots of stories about the paranormal activity she has witnessed during nighttime tours of the jail and also gave us information about how the overnight stays work – I was even tempted to book one up! On reflection, I’m still not sure I could handle it but I know we would be in safe hands with Kirsten and her paranormal partner Paul.
Whilst we were walking around we spotted some of the building works which are going ahead to make a hotel at the jail. Can you imagine staying within the jail knowing all the gruesome encounters that went on – I don’t think I’d sleep! I reckon it would be pretty cool though and something to tick off your bucket list – I mean how many people can say they’ve stayed in a jail which happens to be the most haunted hotel! We even saw where there would be a room right next to where people used to be hung over the side of the building – imagine sleeping well knowing that!
The building of the 63 roomed hotel has caused some controversy locally. I remember seeing some articles in the media about it, with some locals being unhappy about the proposed idea. I guess you can get married at the jail so why not stay the night there too! I think some people are worried it will ruin the attraction but I’m undecided. They are currently creating the hotel from two derelict cell blocks so nothing I assume none of the current exhibition will be disrupted.
I will be really intrigued to see how it looks and what the decor is like – I mean how do you decorate a room in a prison! I can’t imagine how much a nights stay will cost but I’m sure it would be a night to remember – especially if you combine it with one of the jail’s overnight tours! Maybe we will get invited back sometime!
After two hours our tour had come to an end – I couldn’t believe how fast the time had passed. I was relieved we had made it out without any dramas! My head was full of interesting ghost stories and prison facts – what a brilliant tour.
Nathan and I both really enjoyed the tour and it was something a bit different to do on a winter Friday night. We were talking about our experience for days and recommended it to all our friends. I think £25 per person is a reasonable price fun and memorable night out.
There is also a restaurant and tea room at the jail and they run many special events. I liked the sound of the tapas night they were holding the same week we visited. The jail also offers scary cinema nights and during the day people can visit the jail and walk around at their own pace exploring the exhibits. There’s a well stocked and fun gift shop too. Check out the Bodmin Jail Facebook page for the latest info and events list.
Big thanks to all the lovely staff at Bodmin Jail and special gratitude to Kirsten for guiding us around and sharing all her knowledge with us. You never know, we might be back!!
***Whilst the tour was provided to us on a complimentary basis, all thoughts and opinions within this post are my own***
Would you be brave enough to visit the jail? Take a tour and stay overnight? What do you think of a hotel being built within the jail? Let me know your thoughts below 🙂