The History Behind Ghost Nights in Cornwall

Old abandoned mansion in mystic spooky forest

Everybody loves a good ghost story. It gives you a pleasurable thrill, especially if you are with a group of people to make you feel safe. Ghost nights in Cornwall are tours designed to give you an extra rush.

Perhaps the most frightening part of the tour is the Bodmin Jail, where many people have reported paranormal sightings. The prison is located at the edge of Bodmin Moor and is supposed to be the most haunted place in the UK. Here is a quick look at its history.


French prisoners of war built the Bodmin Jail in 1779 under Sir John Call. Despite beliefs that it was a terrible place, it was more comfortable than typical prisons of the time. It used the design of prison reformer John Howard and was the first prison to house inmates in separate cells. It also had a chapel, hot water and dispensary. After it closed in 1927, there has been no jail in Cornwall.


The Bodmin Jail housed many types of prisoners in its 150 years of history. They ranged from wayward soldiers to common criminals, including debtors. Women and children as young as five were not exempt, although they lived separately from men and the most violent offenders. It was a progressive jail for its time, but it was still a prison, with cold, dank cells and barred windows.


The reputation of the jail as a haunted place probably stems from the many public hangings that took place there. It is the only prison in the UK with a hanging pit, and it claimed the lives of anywhere from 32 to 60 people. Reports vary, but the first hanging may have happened as early as 1785. The last one was reportedly William Hampton, hanged in 1909 for murder.

The Bodmin Jail may not have been as terrible a place as most people believe. However, there is no denying that many people met their death there. It is perhaps not surprising that their ghosts would be hanging around to this day.