Forget the beaches and head to Bodmin for a taste of Victorian justice

Photo: Samer International Ltd

Photo: Samer International Ltd - Credit: Photo: Samer International Ltd

Built in 1779 for King George III, Bodmin Jail has re-opened after an £8.5 million makeover to create an atmospheric attraction which will use state-of-the-art technology to tell the stories of life within the walls of this imposing prison

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Originally built during the reign of King George III in 1779 as part of the ground-breaking Prison Reform, it only closed in 1927 after carrying out harsh punishments - and 55 hangings. But it wasn’t all bad: it 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.

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

By the Victorian era the prison cells had multiple occupants and the original building was added to numerous times and was eventually totally rebuilt to include a debter’s prison, among other things.

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Among the 55 executions that took place within its walls, for crimes such as rape, murder and stealing. Eight were women. Most of these executions were viewed byan audience of hundreds - some travelling specially to witness the hangings. The last one took place in 1909.

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

During the day to can explore the jail on the Dark Walk Attraction and as darkness falls join a Ghost Walk, Scary Cinema, After Dark and Paranormal Tours and you can learn all about the gritty reality of smuggling, mining and the everyday hardships of the jail’s most infamous prisoners.

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

So what can you expect at the new attraction that tells the story (perhaps just a little too well) of the history of harsh (mostly) Victorian justice. The redevelopment involved substantial works to preserve the heritage and ecological importance of the building which was originally built in 1779 for King George III. As part of this, in excess of a quarter of a million pounds has been spent on wildlife conservation including installing new bat houses and roosting boxes.

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

For visitors the new Dark Walk experience uses state-of-the-art technology and the latest theatrical effects – it is the first of its kind in the South West.

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

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The jail hopes to welcome 200,000 visitors a year.

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

If you’re looking for something spooky for Halloween and Half Term Week, there are few places in the Uk that could do it better. Book online at bodminjail.org

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Photo: Samer International Ltd

Photo: Samer International Ltd - Credit: Photo: Samer International Ltd

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett

Photo: Layton Bennett - Credit: Layton Bennett

Bodmin Jail

Bodmin Jail - Credit: Archant