Bodmin Jail, set in the middle of Cornwall, is a terrifying, yet gripping, family attraction which documents life in an eighteenth century jail.
It was featured on Most Haunted in 2005, and after spending a couple of hours exploring the six levels of spooky jail space, it is easy to see why Yvette Fielding declared it one of Britain scariest places to spend the night.
What is there?
The exhibition is set in three acres of the original jail which was built for King George III in 1779. It details how the jail was built, how its purpose has changed over centuries and shares the history of some of its notorious inmates.
You can see an execution pit, stand in a cell (if you dare), and put your other half in the stocks.
Is it any good?
It is slightly terrifying. The lower levels of the prison are dimly lit and creepy wax models of murderers and thieves stare at you from their cells. As soon as you enter the cold overwhelms you and the hairs on the back of your neck begin to tremble.
It is devastatingly saddening when you read about women hanged for drowning their illegitimate babies. You cannot help but feel a heart tug when you read stories of children imprisoned and flogged for stealing bread. Then you taste disgust at cold hearted murderers who beat their wives with irons and tossed them in the fire to burn.
I thought the children would be scared and worried we had brought them to something inappropriate for their age. However, they loved the exhibits, belly laughed at their father in the stalls and saw the exhibits as fantasy, unreal relics from a history that will never impinge on their present.
The only person really scared was me. I stayed away from dark corners, shrank back from the statues, and although I found it utterly fascinating I was very happy to feel the sun on my face when we reached the exit.
Value for money
The tour cost £25 for my family of five and we spent 2.5 hours wandering around the dark cells and learning more about the 18th century British correction system. It felt a fair price to pay and the whole family enjoyed the experience.
(Now I just hope those wax works don’t make it into my dreams!)