Ancient capital and market town


Bodmin Town Council


Bodmin was once Cornwall's county town and lies just west of the junction of the A30 and A38 trunk roads about ten miles west of Liskeard. The town was one of the original coinage towns privileged with stamping tin from the mines. Bodmin lies in the centre of Cornwall, south-west of Bodmin Moor to which it has attached its name, and was the capital of Cornwall from 1838 until 1877. The population of the town was 14,614 at the 2011 census.

Bodmin's history began in the 6th century when Cornwall's chief patron saint, St. Petroc, arrived here from Padstow and founded his famous priory. Benedictine monks refounded the priory in 936. By the time of Domesday Book in 1086, a town had grown up around the priory, the only one in the county recorded as having a market. Nothing remains today of the priory, having been dismantled by Henry VIII in 1539, but the 15th century church which probably occupies the same site, is the largest in Cornwall.

Bodmin was at the centre of three Cornish rebellions. The first was the Cornish tax rebellion in the Summer of 1497 co-led by Thomas Flamank. The rebels almost reached London before they were crushed. Then, in the Autumn of 1497, a man named Perkin Warbeck tried to usurp the throne from Henry VII. Warbeck was proclaimed King Richard IV in Bodmin. However Henry Tudor had little difficulty crushing the uprising. Finally in 1549 Cornishmen rose in rebellion when the staunchly Protestant Edward VI tried to impose a new prayer book. Cornish people were still strongly attached to the old Catholic religion and rose in rebellion but, once again, the king prevailed. Following the failure of that rebellion Bodmin returned to being a busy little market town.

The existing parish church of St. Petroc is dated 1469-72, and was until the building of Truro Cathedral the largest church in Cornwall. The tower which remains from the original Norman church and stands on the north side of the church (the upper part is 15th century) was, until the loss of its spire in 1699, 150 feet high. The building underwent two Victorian restorations and another in 1930. It is now listed Grade I.

Berry tower is completed in 1514 as part of a chapel on Berry Down overlooking the town from the north. It was closed again only thirty years later as part of the changes bought in by Henry VIII. During the Civil War in the 1640's the town was held by both sides at various times.

The Reformation and Civil War period brought a period of relative stagnation and in 1538 the Priory and other institutions were dissolved with the buildings re-used or demolished. With the basic strength of the economy derived from trade in such as wool and leather Bodmin survived and in 1563 received a Royal Charter from Elizabeth I establishing it as a self governing town. Although Bodmin experienced no fighting during the Civil War, the expenses incurred by supporting the Royalist cause (the town was the headquarters of the royalist army) meant that the town was impoverished by the late 17th century, with many buildings in a state of disrepair.

Bodmin Jail was built in 1776. A number of executions were carried out there between the late 18th century and the early 20th century. The last hanging happened in 1909. The jail finally closed in 1927.

The Bodmin Union workhouse was built in 1838 to designs by William Dwelly and was intended to accommodate up to 250 inmates.

Being the former County town of Cornwall, Bodmin can boast numerous interesting buildings, such as the the Turret Clock, marking the site of the ancient Butter Market, the Assize Hall, Shire House and of course the notorious Bodmin Jail, which is now open to the public.

Towering above the town on Bodmin Beacon stands the 144 foot obelisk built in 1857 to Lt.-Gen. Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert (1785-1853) - descendant of the Elizabethan sailors Raleigh and Gilbert - commemorating his distinguished services in India. The area is now Bodmin Beacon Local Nature Reserve which comprises of 87 acres of beautiful meadows, young woodland and Cornish lanes managed for the benefit of local people and wildlife.

A railway from Bodmin to Wadebridge opened in 1834. A railway from Bodmin Parkway to Bodmin opened in 1887 which is now restored and run as the Bodmin & Wenford Railway. Bodmin still has a station (known as Bodmin Parkway) on the main line railway through Cornwall.

The Hospital of St. Lawrence, was designed in 1901 by Silvanus Trevail (1851–1903), one of Cornwall's best-known architects. The building was not completed until 1906, three years after the architect's death. Described by Trevail's biographer as "one of his finest achievements".

The barracks of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry are now the Regimental Museum, where the regiment's history is told through maps, uniforms, dioramas, paintings and one of the finest collections of small arms and machine guns. Meanwhile the Town Museum tells the history of Bodmin from the earliest times to the end of World War Two.

Built in 1837 the Shire Hall is an architectural gem with its extraordinary interior cantilevered staircase and the imposing solid granite front facade. Used as the County Court until 1988 the building has now been carefully restored to its original glory by Bodmin Town Council using funds from the Lottery and from the European Fund. The building now houses The Courtroom Experience.

The original Bodmin Free Library was built using funds given by John Passmore Edwards. The Bodmin Free Library was formally opened to the public on the 24th of May 1897 by Right Hon. Leonard H Courtenay, MP for Bodmin. The building itself was designed by Silvanus Trevail.

Bodmin College is a large state comprehensive school which opened in September 1961 for ages 11–18 on the outskirts of the town. Callywith College is a Further Education college which opened in September 2017

There is a new leisure centre at the southern edge of the town in Lostwithiel Road, PL31 1DE.

The town's Tourist Information Centre is at Shire Hall, Mount Folly Square, PL31 2DQ.

Art Galleries

Barleyfield Gallery

Stable Art


Potteries in Bodmin


Bodmin Well Trail is a fascinating walk and history guide, not only taking in the Holy Wells but also some of Bodmin's interesting buildings such as St. Petrocs Church and Bodmin Jail.

The Bodmin Way is a new circuit around Bodmin linking five of its churches.

The Camel Trail, winds through some beautiful and little-known countryside around the Bodmin area. Cornwall County Council converted eleven miles of disused railway beside the River Camel from track bed to trail, linking the towns of Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow. An extension follows the river towards Camelford.

Notable Residents

John Arnold (1736-1799), a Bodmin man who perfected the ships chronometer in 1771 is still remembered with a plaque over the entrance to the narrow passage where he once lived - Arnolds Passage.

Sir Humphrey Arundell, (1513-1550) From Helland near Bodmin. The leader of Cornish forces in the Prayer Book Rebellion early in the reign of King Edward VI. He was executed at Tyburn, London after the rebellion had been defeated.

Charles Reginald Belling (1884-1965) was born in Bodmin. In 1912 he started his own business in Enfield, manufacturing electric heaters, water heaters, cookers and immersion heaters.

Captain William Bligh (1754–1817) is born at Tinten Manor, St. Tudy, near Bodmin. In 1787 he sets sail as Captain of the 'Bounty' to procure bread fruit trees from the South Seas.

Sir Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge (1857–1934) was an English Egyptologist, Orientalist, and philologist who worked for the British Museum and published numerous works on the ancient Near East.

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch the author, was born here in 1863.

Thomas Flamank (1468-1497), Co-leader of the Cornish rebellion of 1497 lived in Bodmin.

General Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert, (1785-1853) Effected conquests in Northern India, was born in Bodmin.

Sir Bevil Grenville, (1596-1643) Civil War commander and grandson of Sir Richard Grenville, was born near Bodmin.

William Hamley (1784-1866), founder of Hamleys toyshop in London was born in Bodmin.

William Robert Hicks (1808–1868) was a British asylum superintendent and well known humorist of the 19th century.

Al Hodge (1951-2006) Guitarist and songwriter was born in Bodmin. He was one of the most successful singer-songwriters to come out of Cornwall, writing music for numerous TV programmes and appearing on many TV shows throughout Europe.

Richard Lower (1631-1691) Born near Bodmin, was involved in some of the earliest experiments with blood transfusions.

Sir William Lower (1570-1615) Born near Bodmin, was an astronomer from the early telescopic period. In 1607 he observed Halley's comet and took a number of careful measurements and it was determined that the comet was following a curved course.

H C McNeile, known as Sapper (1888-1936), was born at Bodmin Jail whilst his father was the governor of the naval prison. He was one of the most successful British popular authors of the inter-war period and creator of the character Bulldog Drummond.

Ben Oliver, (1995-) Cornwall County record holder for the 100m and 400m in Wheelchair racing and ranked best in the world at 800 metres, having set a new European record, lives in Bodmin.


Bodmin Wassail Festival - Early January.

Bodmin Riding and Heritage Day - Early July.

Bodmin Alstock Festival - End July.

Bodmin Lights Up - End November.


Cafes in Bodmin


Pubs in Bodmin

Bodmin Beacon Local Nature Reserve       The Camel Trail       Camel Valley Vineyard       St. Tudy      Glynn House

Lanivet       Lanhydrock       Bodmin & Wenford Railway       Pencarrow House       Pinsla Garden and Nursery       The Bodmin Way

Bodmin Moor       Blisland       Cardinham       Liskeard       Lostwithiel       Luxulyan       Padstow       St. Neot       Roche       Wadebridge

DCLI Regimental Museum       The Courtroom Experience       Bodmin Jail       Bodmin Town Museum       Prindl Pottery       The Trafalgar Way