Muddy Gets Spooked! My Bodmin Jailbird Overnighter
I’m the one in the Muddy household relegated to spider catching and burglar scaring (I fought off next door’s thieving goat once) and since horror is my favourite film genre, I think I’m qualified as brave enough for a stay over night in Britain’s most haunted jail, non? When the chance arose, I grabbed my EMF detector quicker than you can say Derek Acora. If you’re into the supernatural, a history buff, or just a braggadocio like moi, Bodmin Jail’s spooky After Dark Experience is one Cornish attraction for your (muddy) bucket list.
The evening started at twilight, with dinner in the splendiforous ‘Governor’s Hall’ – all Gothic flourishes and insanely impressive high ceilings. A drink first at the ‘witness box’ bar, then on to our table in the galleried mezzanine. Keeping it Cornish, and with a desire to load up on carbs for the long night ahead ghost hunting, I went with Cornish Yarg to start, followed by Fowey River Mussels, and then, because everyone else was, super stodge sticky toffee pudding. Prob a bad idea, as once the wine flowed too, I was about ready for my bed.
No chance of that – after a quick comfort break (we were warned that the toilets in the jail are one of THE most haunted spots), we were met by clairvoyant Kirston Honey and Mark Rablin, Bodmin Jail’s resident paranormal manager. Hows that for a job title? Before becoming BJRPM, Mark was a lorry driver, and after his own spooky experience in the naval wing, gave up the trucks, got himself a certified as a psychic medium and became Bodmin’s own spirit guide.
The history tour was fascinating: the jail was built in the late 1700’s following over crowding at Launceston and a need for a new county jail. Impressive for the time, it was designed as a short term ‘modern’ jail, less dungeony, with segregated wings for naval prisoners, those on remand, debtors, vagrants and women (who mostly murdered their own children). More inmates died of sickness than were hanged though as we learned on a tour of the gruesome execution pit. The jail closed in the 1920’s and had a short life as Cornwall’s only casino. Some claim that the terror is recorded in the stone walls: it is said that many of the souls that died here, remain….
After the tour it was LIGHTS OUT. Cue running around screaming in total darkness Blair witch stylie. No, not really: that was just the reporter from a well known tabloid, but those of us with a delicate disposition proceeded with caution. The temp seemed to drop and there was an audible silence for a minute or two. Sharp intake of breath and an even sharper word with myself (in my head of course).
Mark, who is a trained ‘energy therapist’ took us through the first workshop, sort of spooky Thai Chi. By torchlight. In a prison. Mark’s voice was soothing though, almost hypnotic. He’s not in the least dramatic or showy – unlike the clairvoyant whose tales of terror in one of the basement rooms had one photographer in our group fleeing ‘for a glass of water’.
We split into groups and experienced the dankest parts of the jail where paranormal activity had been recorded. Most interesting was the ‘table work’: spinny wineglass on a shiny table invoking the spirits thing. Those mischievous spirits were seemly trying to make contact by tampering with Kirston’s torch, and try as they might to make the glass move (it didn’t).
Before long dawn broke and it was time to go. I survived unscathed (if you discount the new rather roomy eyebags) and appear to have gone up (slightly) in the Muddy teens estimations. I’m like Cornwall’s answer to
Yvette Fielding Abby Yates.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
So was there anybody there? I didn’t personally experience anything untoward, except for the odd cobweb to the face and actually found Mark and his hypnotic voice quite relaxing. No feelings of utter depression, nor a sense of being watched sadly. Others claimed to see flashes of light and coloured orbs though and the group doing the table work while we waited for the aforementioned tabloid journalist to be possessed (another of Mark’s workshops) seemed to be having quite an adventure. It was a fascinating night that chilled us to the bone (though that might have been the weather, more than the spirits).
Good for: Groups wanting something different; foodies with an interest in history or the paranormal. Sceptics – there’s enough going on to satisfy even non-believers. History lovers will find the tour enthralling.
Not for: The feint-hearted. If you like being tucked up in bed by 9pm, this might not be the attraction for you. Those who get cold (you’ll need to wrap up, the spirits like to turn the thermostat down).
£££: A reasonable £90 for the experience that included our delish three course meal, some take-home merch and all the coffee needed to stay awake (other beverages were available).
Bodmin Jail After Dark Experience, Berrycoombe Rd, Bodmin PL31 2NR T: 01208 7629
Where to stay nearby: seriously, if you can drive home at 5:30am after a night in the jail you’re made of stronger stuff than me. I’d recommend making a weekend of it and catch up on some zeds locally. I stayed at the Lanhydrock Hotel: a luxe boutiquey place with a gym and 18 hole golf course on the outskirts of Bodmin, just a stones throw from the marvelous Lanhydrock estate. Maybe it was all the excitement, but I slept like the dead (see what I did there?).