On Friday 17th October, Year 11 psychology students spent a day in the legendary Bodmin Jail. On the ride there, anticipation filled the bus as students speculated on what the jail would be like.
The forbidding exterior of Bodmin jail greeted the wide eyed students as we left the warmth of the bus and stepped into the frozen air.
The anxious group was split into two, each with a separate guide to give a detailed tour of the jail. Ours was paranormal expert, Mark who told us of the ghostly apparitions who came out after the sun went down. He showed us where some of the prisoners were executed, and told us gruesome stories of when the guards measured how far the neck would stretch, the longest being 11cm. Many students paled while looking at the place where so many had been executed.
We visited the Navy wing and walked in between two looming walls of cells – the weather wasn’t the only reason people were shivering! Some students peered cautiously into the murky rooms, while others took great delight in scaring them!
We then were led deep underground to where the mentally unstable prisoners had been, we were told they had been chained as they couldn’t be controlled by the guards and even posed a threat to themselves.
“Out of Sight, Out of MInd” were Mark’s words when he described it.
From there, we were shown more of the ancient prison, accompanied by unnerving mannequins, their blank eyes following us up the narrow stone stairways and through long dark corridors.
There were many scares along the way, and many claims of feeling a sudden chill, or hearing voices from an unknown source. While there, we learnt about a few of the more infamous inmates, for example, Joan Wyhart, a respected healer whose personality changed from the affects of an abscess under her tooth. It was said she lifted a man and threw him into his friends for offending her, that’s when she was taken into the jail. Her skeletal remains and tales are displayed in the Boscastle Museum of Witchcraft.
We then broke for lunch and finally the tense atmosphere thawed, some wanted to return to the prison and have another look around, while others were content to relax with a hot drink.
The weather completely suited the prisons atmosphere, low grey mist hung over the old stonework, while an icy wind howled outside. As we were leaving, torrents of rain fell as we all scrambled for the shelter of the busses. On the drive back to the school, pictures were compared to see whether anything paranormal had appeared, there were many with strange lights in the background, flashes of blue which before hadn’t been seen with the naked eye.
Ghosts? Or a simple illusion? We’ll probably never know, but what is known for certain, Bodmin Jail is one of the scariest places in Cornwall.
By Lysette Turner