The former county town of Cornwall stands at the edge of the moors which bear its name. Bodmin is an attractive place, full of interesting historic buildings. Chief amoing these buildings must be St. Petroc's Church, which has the honour of being the largest parish church in Cornwall.
Petroc was a Welshman who became abbot of Padstow Abbey in the 6th century. Later the religious community moved to Bodmin. Petroc's reliquary, an ivory casket supposedly containing the saint's bones, rests in the south aisle wall. The casket is a splendid bit of craftsmanship, probably of Sicilian origin, and was donated by Walter of Coutances in 1177. One other feature worthy of special note in the church is the very large font, a product of the 12th century. The font bowl is covered by intricate carvings of intertwined foliage and strange beasts. Though the church contains some Norman remains, much of the current structure is a product of extensive rebuilding in the late 15th century. In the churchyard is a holy well traditionally used to treat eye troubles.
Visitors can take a ride on The Bodmin & Wenford Railway, Cornwall's only regular gauge railway still driven by steam locomotives. The rail journey takes in some lovely scenery over the course of its 6.5 mile length from the restored Great Western Railway station at Bodmin General. You can also view locomotives undergoing restoration at the Engine Shed.
The Bodmin Tourist Information Centre is housed in the former Shire Hall, an imposing Victorian building of grey granite. Within the hall is The Courtroom Experience, where you can relive the sensational 1844 murder trial of Matthew Weeks, and act as a member of the jury. Also at Shire Hall is the Town & Countryside Centre, with displays highlighting the natural history, geography, and scenery of the Bodmin area.
Bodmin Gaol was once notorious for its grim treatment of prisoners, and it has been the scene of numerous public hangings since it was built in 1778. You can visit the gaol cells where as many as 10 prisoners were confined in one cell (with no furniture or beds), and see where condemned prisoners were kept. Exhibits show what life was like for those unfortunate enough to be confined at the gaol.
There two museums in the town; Bodmin Town Museum tells the story of Bodmin from earliest times to the end of WWII, while the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Regimental Museum are in the former regimental barracks.
Bodmin is situated between two of Cornwall's most attractive historic houses. To the south of town is Lanhydrock House, a National Trust property that was the home of the Robarte family for 600 years. The house is set in wonderful gardens and parkland stretching along the River Fowey. To the north of Bodmin is Pencarrow House, an elegant Georgian mansion ringed by 50 acres of woodland walks and formal gardens.
To the east of Bodmin stretches the Bodmin Moor Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; superb, rugged countryside that is justly popular with walkers. Bodmin Moor is the setting for Daphne du Maurier's novel "Jamaica Inn", but long before the novelist discovered it the moor was home to Bronze Age settlers, who left evidence of their hut circles in several places. Lonely Dozemary Pool is the legendary last resting place of King Arthur's sword Excalibur.
Visit Bodmin website
Attraction Type: Town
Photo Credit: Rod Allday, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence