Ancient capital and market town
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. 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, but the 15th century church which probably occupies the same site, is the largest in Cornwall.
Bodmin lies in the centre of Cornwall, south-west of Bodmin Moor to which it has attached its name.
Bodmin was at the centre of 3 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 town was one of the original coinage towns privileged with stamping tin from the mines.
During the Civil War the town was held by both sides at various times.
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, 150ft high. The building underwent two Victorian restorations and another in 1930. It is now listed Grade I.
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 1922.
John Arnold, a Bodmin man who perfected the ships chronometer is still remembered with a plaque over the entrance to the narrow passage where he once lived - Arnolds Passage.
The author Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch was born here in 1863.
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 144ft obelisk to Lt.-Gen. Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert (1785-1853) - descendant of the Elizabethan sailors Raleigh and Gilbert - commemorating his distinguished services in India.
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 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 II.
Built between 1837 and 1838 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 Camel Trail, winds through some beautiful and little-known countryside around the Bodmin area. Cornwall County Council converted 11 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.
The town's Tourist Information Centre is at Shire Hall, Mount Folly Square, Tel: (01208) 76616.
Camel Valley Vineyard Lanhydrock Bodmin & Wenford Railway Pencarrow House Pinsla Garden and Nursery
Bodmin Moor Blisland Liskeard Lostwithiel Padstow St. Neot Wadebridge
The Courtroom Experience Bodmin Jail