Bodmin Moor Gaol

Bodmin Moor Gaol

Bodmin Gaol, the former County Prison, was built in 1777 and replaced the old Debtor’s Prison (now the Hole-In-The-Wall Public House). The Prison was rebuilt in the 1840s and again in the 1850s each time increasing in size as the population grew. A grand total of 55 hangings took place of which 51 were public hangings. The last public hanging took place in 1909 prior to the prison’s closure in 1922.

During the First World War, the Domesday Book, and it is said by some, the Crown Jewels, were amongst the treasures entrusted to Bodmin Gaol for safe keeping.

Bodmin Jail has been opened as a museum, with exhibits re-creating the awful conditions in which many of the prisoners spent their final days. All those who met their end in the jail were buried in its grounds. The crimes and fates of many prisoners are displayed in the exhibits.

The Ghosts of Bodmin Gaol are varied in the nature and manifestation. Eerie sound of footsteps and rattling keys are accompanied by inexplicable voices and misty figures often seen roaming on balconies and cells high above. Visitors are always struck by the feeling of misery and sadness that seemed to fill the air and be contained in the walls. Truly an atmosphere of death is encased in the structure. Many people lost their lives within the walls and conditions were diabolical.

Some of the people who apparently still haunt the Gaol to this day include:

Matthew Weekes who was hanged at the Gaol for the brutal murder of Charlotte Dymond. It’s believed that he haunts the gaol because he was innocent.

Selina Wadge was hanged by William Marwood on the 15th August 1878 at Bodmin for the murder of her illegitimate son. Its often reported that to this day she tries to grab young children or put her feelings of remorse on pregnant women.

William and James Lightfoot, who were hung for the murder of Nevell Norway. William admitted the brutal murder of Nevell in which he repeatedly hit Nevell with the butt of his gun until he died before dumping him in a nearby river.

Anne Jefferies, was ordered by Bodmin’s High Court to be starved until she confessed that she was a witch. Her survival without nourishment for three months was cause for wide speculation and furore, and it was suggested that she had supernatural powers. Does she haunt the Gaol?

 First Broadcast: 22nd March 2005

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