Prisons aren’t the most welcoming of places at the best of times; which is understandable, given that they’re designed to house some of the country’s most dangerous people.
Whilst modern prisons are bad enough, there’s something spectacularly eerie about a deserted, ancient one; especially at night-time. According to supernatural experts, Cornwall’s Bodmin Jail, which has been closed for many years, is a hive of spectral activity – and some of the ghostly residents are particularly unpleasant.
Bodmin Jail – an Overview
Situated on the edge of Bodmin Moor, the forbidding grey walls of the jail set the tone before you even step foot inside. It was built in the late 1700s, and over the years, has been used to imprison literally thousands of inmates. It was also a site for public executions, and in total, over 50 people were put to death here. If that wasn’t bad enough, the prison also has the country’s last remaining execution pit – sometimes also called a Long Drop. Criminals were noosed by the neck, then dropped through this hole in the floor to their deaths. Nasty.
The Jail Ghosts
As you might imagine, most of the ghosts of the eerie jail are ex-inmates, who are reported to wander the dark corridors at night.
Selina Wadge is perhaps the most well-known. She was imprisoned after drowning her disabled child, after her lover said he wouldn’t be with her unless she did so. According to reports, her ghost roams the prison in a state of distress, begging women, especially pregnant ones, to forgive her.
However, she’s not always that unthreatening. Visitors have also reported their hair being tugged… an experience that I certainly wouldn’t want to have with the lights out.
Elizabeth Commins is another spirit who supposedly haunts the jail. At 22, she battered her newborn baby to death (there’s a theme going on here, isn’t there?) and as punishment, she was thrown from the roof of the prison with a noose around her neck. The execution pit is also a common place to spy a spirit or two. In this area, visitors say that they feel their clothes being pulled, or air blowing around their heads. Many say that the temperature gets excessively cold too, for no obvious reason.
As one of the UK’s most haunted locations, Bodmin Jail gets plenty of visitors, and many want to stay on to take part in the after-dark ghost tour. Plenty of people on the tour claim that they experienced ghostly activity whilst exploring the building; but perhaps the most convincing account is from Tony Ferguson, who caught what may be a ghost on film. You can watch it here, if you’re interested!
Whatever you believe, it’s fair to say that the jail leaves an impression on all those who visit it. I haven’t been yet, but it’s definitely on my list of places to go.