Luxury • History • Cornwall
Nestled on the edge of Bodmin Moor, you’ll discover a place full of intrigue, wonder and mystery. Built during the reign of King George III in 1779, Bodmin Jail was a milestone in prison design. With individual cells, segregated male and female areas, and hot water, it formed the new ideal for prisons throughout England.
From 1887, the Royal Navy occupied an entire wing of the jail, and after the last civilian prisoners left in 1923 it was used to house the Crown Jewels during World War One before becoming a nightclub and casino in the 1930s.
As with most old prisons, Bodmin Jail envelopes a dark history within its formidable walls. Over the years, 55 executions took place here, for crimes such as murder and burglary, with the last execution taking place in 1909.
After thousands of people had passed through its doors, the jail was finally closed in 1927. Now nearly 100 years later, we’ve injected new life into this historic landmark. You will no longer find a dilapidated, derelict old building, but instead you will be in awe of the creative, contemporary design that weaves the past and present together. After 100 years of neglect, the Bodmin Jail is ready for new stories, cherished memories and unlimited possibilities. Come and see it for yourself!
BUILT IN 1779
Bodmin Jail was built by military engineer Sir John Call in 1779 as part of the Prison Reform. Building works started in early 1770s with construction carried out by Napoleonic prisoners of war using 20,000 tonnes of granite quarried from Bodmin Moor.
A MILESTONE IN PRISON DESIGN
Based on the plans and ideals of the prison reform John Howard, Bodmin Jail was one of the first modern prisons in the UK with individual cells, segregated male and female areas, hot water and light and airy areas for prisoners to live and work. In addition, prisoners were paid for their work from products sold by the Governor.
THE ROYAL NAVY ARRIVES
As the needs and interests of society as a whole changed, the prison’s inmate population shifted over the years. It was used largely as a debtor’s prison for many years, but this all changed in 1869, when imprisonment for debt was abolished. From 1887 parts of the jail were used by the Royal Navy, whose occupation lasted until 1922.
CLOSED IN 1927
Bodmin Jail closed in 1927, with the remaining inmates being transferred to Plymouth. The number of prisoners declined dramatically with the outbreak of the war, and the last male prisoner left Bodmin Jail in July 1916. The Jail was finally closed and officially decommissioned in 1927, and 1929 saw its sale to the demolition men.
BODMIN JAIL’S DARK HISTORY
55 executions took place within its formidable walls, for crimes such as rape, murder and stealing. Most of these executions were viewed by the public, and thousands would travel specially to witness the hangings. The last person taken to the gallows was William Hampton, who in July 1909 paid the ultimate price for taking the life of his 17-year-old girlfriend; he was also the last man to be hung in Cornwall.