For the hamlet in Canada, see Bodmin, Saskatchewan.
Cornish: Bosvenegh
 Bodmin shown within Cornwall
Population 14,916 (Civil Ward, 2011)
OS grid referenceSX071665
Civil parishBodmin
Unitary authorityCornwall
Ceremonial countyCornwall
RegionSouth West
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town BODMIN
Postcode district PL31
Dialling code 01208
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK ParliamentNorth Cornwall
List of places

Coordinates: 50°27′58″N 4°43′05″W / 50.466°N 4.718°W / 50.466; -4.718

Bodmin (Cornish: Bosvena[1]) is a civil parish and major town in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is situated south-west of Bodmin Moor.[2]

The extent of the civil parish corresponds fairly closely to that of the town so is mostly urban in character. It is bordered to the east by Cardinham parish, to the southeast by Lanhydrock parish, to the southwest and west by Lanivet parish, and to the north by Helland parish.[3]

Bodmin had a population of 12,778 (2001 census). This population had increased to 14,916 at the 2011 Census.[4] It was formerly the county town of Cornwall until the Crown Courts moved to Truro which is also the administrative centre (before 1835 the county town was Launceston). Bodmin was in the administrative North Cornwall District until local government reorganisation in 2009 abolished the District (see also Cornwall Council). The town is part of the North Cornwall parliamentary constituency, which is represented by Scott Mann MP.

Bodmin Town Council is made up of sixteen councillors who are elected to serve a term of four years. Each year, the Council elects one of its number as Mayor to serve as the town's civic leader and to chair council meetings.[5]

Situation and origin of the name

Bodmin lies in the east of Cornwall, south-west of Bodmin Moor. It has been suggested that the town's name comes from an archaic word in the Cornish language "bod" (meaning a dwelling; the later word is "bos") and a contraction of "menegh" (monks). The "monks' dwelling" may refer to an early monastic settlement instituted by St. Guron, which St. Petroc took as his site. Guron is said to have departed to St Goran on the arrival of Petroc.

The hamlets of Cooksland, Dunmere and Turfdown are in the parish.[6]


St. Petroc founded a monastery in Bodmin in the 6th century[7] and gave the town its alternative name of Petrockstow. The monastery was deprived of some of its lands at the Norman conquest but at the time of Domesday still held eighteen manors, including Bodmin, Padstow and Rialton.[8] Bodmin is one of the oldest towns in Cornwall, and the only large Cornish settlement recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086.[9] In the 15th century the Norman church of St Petroc was largely rebuilt and stands as one of the largest churches in Cornwall (the largest after the cathedral at Truro). Also built at that time was an abbey of canons regular, now mostly ruined. For most of Bodmin's history, the tin industry was a mainstay of the economy.

The name of the town probably derives from the Cornish "Bod-meneghy", meaning "dwelling of or by the sanctuary of monks".[10] Variant spellings recorded include Botmenei in 1100, Bodmen in 1253, Bodman in 1377 and Bodmyn in 1522.[10] The Bodman spelling also appears in sources and maps from the 16th and 17th centuries, most notably in the celebrated map of Cornwall produced by John Speed but actually engraved by the Dutch cartographer Jodocus Hondius the Elder (1563–1612) in Amsterdam in 1610 (published in London by Sudbury and Humble in 1626). It is unclear whether the Bodman spelling signifies any historical or monastic connection with the equally ancient settlement of Bodman at the western end of the Bodensee in the German province of Baden.

An inscription on a stone built into the wall of a summer house in Lancarffe furnishes proof of a settlement in Bodmin in the early Middle Ages. It is a memorial to one "Duno[.]atus son of Me[.]cagnus" and has been dated from the 6th to 8th centuries.[11]

The Black Death killed half of Bodmin's population in the mid 14th century (1,500 people).[12]


Bodmin was the centre of three Cornish uprisings. The first was the Cornish Rebellion of 1497 when a Cornish army, led by Michael An Gof, a blacksmith from St. Keverne and Thomas Flamank, a lawyer from Bodmin, marched to Blackheath in London where they were eventually defeated by 10,000 men of the King's army under Baron Daubeny. Then, in the autumn of 1497, Perkin Warbeck tried to usurp the throne from Henry VII. Warbeck was proclaimed King Richard IV in Bodmin but Henry had little difficulty crushing the uprising. In 1549, Cornishmen, allied with other rebels in neighbouring Devon, rose once again in rebellion when the staunchly Protestant Edward VI tried to impose a new Prayer Book. The lower classes of Cornwall and Devon were still strongly attached to the Catholic religion and again a Cornish army was formed in Bodmin which marched across the border into Devon to lay siege to Exeter. This became known as the Prayer Book Rebellion. Proposals to translate the Prayer Book into Cornish were suppressed and in total 4,000 people were killed in the rebellion.[13]

Bodmin Borough Police

The Borough of Bodmin was one of the 178 municipal boroughs which under the auspices of the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 was mandated to create an electable council and a Police Watch Committee responsible for overseeing a police force in the town. The new system directly replaced the Parish Constables that had policed the borough since time immemorial and brought paid, uniformed and accountable law enforcement for the first time. Bodmin Borough Police was the municipal police force for the Borough of Bodmin from 1836 to 1866. The creation of the Cornwall Constabulary in 1857 put pressure on smaller municipal police forces to merge with the county. The two-man force of Bodmin came under threat almost immediately, but it would take until 1866 for the Mayor of Bodmin and the Chairman of the Police Watch Committee to agree on the terms of amalgamation. After a public enquiry, the force was disbanded in January 1866 and policing of the borough was deferred to the county from thereon.

"Bodmin Town"

The song "Bodmin Town" was collected from the Cornishman William Nichols at Whitchurch, Devon, in 1891 by Sabine Baring-Gould who published a version in his A Garland of Country Song (1924).[14]


Parish church of St Petroc

Main article: Bodmin Parish Church

The existing church building 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 ft high. The building underwent two Victorian restorations and another in 1930. It is now listed Grade I. There are a number of interesting monuments, most notably that of Prior Vivian which was formerly in the Priory Church (Thomas Vivian's effigy lying on a chest: black Catacleuse stone and grey marble). The font of a type common in Cornwall is of the 12th century: large and finely carved.[15][16]

Other churches

The Chapel of St Thomas Becket is a ruin of a 14th-century building in Bodmin churchyard. The holy well of St Guron is a small stone building at the churchyard gate. The Berry Tower is all that remains of the former church of the Holy Rood and there are even fewer remains from the substantial Franciscan Friary established ca. 1240: a gateway in Fore Street and two pillars elsewhere in the town. The Roman Catholic Abbey of St Mary and St Petroc, formerly belonging to the Canons Regular of the Lateran was built in 1965 next to the already existing seminary.[17] The Roman Catholic parish of Bodmin includes a large area of North Cornwall and there are churches also at Wadebridge, Padstow and Tintagel.[18] In 1881 the Roman Catholic mass was celebrated in Bodmin for the first time since 1539. A church was planned in the 1930s but delayed by the Second World War: the Church of St Mary and St Petroc was eventually consecrated in 1965:[19] it was built next to the already existing seminary.[17] There are also five other churches in Bodmin, including a Methodist church.

Archdeaconry of Bodmin

Main article: Archdeacon of Bodmin

Sites of interest


Bodmin Jail, operational for over 150 years but now a semi-ruin, was built in the late 18th century, and was the first British prison to hold prisoners in separate cells (though often up to ten at a time) rather than communally. Over fifty prisoners condemned at the Bodmin Assize Court were hanged at the prison. It was also used for temporarily holding prisoners sentenced to transportation, awaiting transfer to the prison hulks lying in the highest navigable reaches of the River Fowey. Also, during the First World War the prison held some of Britain's priceless national treasures including the Domesday Book, the ring and the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

The Shire Hall
Berry Tower, all that remains of the Chapel of the Holy Rood

Other buildings of interest include the former Shire Hall, now a tourist information centre, and Victoria Barracks, formerly depot of the now defunct Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and now the site of the regimental museum. It includes the history of the regiment from 1702, plus a military library. The original barracks house the regimental museum which was founded in 1925. There is a fine collection of small arms and machine guns, plus maps, uniforms and paintings on display.

Bodmin County Lunatic Asylum[20][21][22] was designed by John Foulston and afterwards George Wightwick. William Robert Hicks the humorist was domestic superintendent in the mid-19th century.


There is a sizeable single storey Masonic Hall in St Nicholas Street, which is home to no less than seven Masonic bodies.[23]

Other sites

Bodmin Beacon Local Nature Reserve is the hill overlooking the town. The reserve has 83 acres (33.6 ha) of public land and at its highest point it reaches 162 metres with the distinctive landmark at the summit. The 44-metre tall monument to Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert[24] was built in 1857 by the townspeople of Bodmin to honour the soldier's life and work in India.

In 1966, the "Finn VC Estate" was named in honour of Victoria Cross winner James Henry Finn who once lived in the town. Langdon (1896) records six crosses in the parish of which the finest is at Carminow. An ornate granite drinking bowl which serves the needs of thirsty dogs at the entrance to Bodmin’s Priory car park was donated by Prince Chula Chakrabongse of Thailand who lived at Tredethy.[25]


There are no independent schools in the area.

Primary schools

St. Petroc's Voluntary Aided Church of England Primary School Athelstan Park, Bodmin, Cornwall was given this title in September 1990 after the amalgamation of St. Petroc's Infant School and St. Petroc's Junior School. St. Petroc's is a large school with some 440 pupils between the ages of four and 11. Eight of its fourteen governors are nominated by the Diocese of Truro or the Parochial Church Council of St. Petroc's, Bodmin.

There are a further three primary (or elementary) schools within Bodmin; Berrycoombe School in the north west corner of the town, St. Mary's Catholic Primary School and Robartes Primary Junior School, both situated west of the town centre.

Bodmin College

Bodmin College is a large state comprehensive school for ages 11–18 on the outskirts of the town and on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Its headmaster is Mr Brett Elliott. The college is home to the nationally acclaimed "Bodmin College Jazz Orchestra", founded and run by the previous Director of Music, Adrian Evans, until 2007 and more recently, by the current Director, Ben Vincent. In 1997, Systems & Control students at Bodmin College constructed Roadblock, a robot which entered and won the first series of Robot Wars and was succeeded by "The Beast of Bodmin" (presumably named after the phantom cat purported to roam Bodmin Moor). The school also has one of the largest sixth forms in the county.

Callywith College

Callywith College is a Further Education college in Bodmin, Cornwall, due to open in September 2017, with applications being accepted from September 2016.[26][27][28] A new-build college on a site close to the Bodmin Asda supermarket, it will eventually cater for 1,280 students, with 197 staff employed. A total of 660 places will be available in its first year.[29] It is being created with the assistance of the Ofsted Outstanding Truro and Penwith College to serve students aged 16–19 from Bodmin, North Cornwall and East Cornwall. It received the go-ahead in February 2016, funded as a Free School.[30][31] Its aim is to “provide the outstanding Truro and Penwith College experience for up to 1280 young people in Bodmin and North and East Cornwall.” [32]

Army School of Education

Aspirant National Service Sergeant Instructors of the Royal Army Education Corps underwent training at the Army School of Education, situated at the end of the Second World War at Buchanan Castle, Drymen in Scotland,[33] and later, from 1948, at the Walker Lines, Bodmin,[34] until it moved to Wilton Park, Beaconsfield.


Bodmin Parkway railway station is served by main line trains and is situated on the Cornish Main Line about 3½ miles (5½ km) south-east from the town centre. A heritage railway, the Bodmin and Wenford Railway, runs from Bodmin Parkway station via Bodmin General railway station to Boscarne Junction where there is access to the Camel Trail. The bus link to Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow starts from outside the main entrance of Bodmin Parkway.

Bus and coach services connect Bodmin with other districts of Cornwall and Devon.

Sport and leisure

Bodmin has a non-league football club Bodmin Town playing in the South West Peninsula League; a level 10 league in the English football league system. Their home ground is at Priory Park. Bodmin Rugby Club play rugby union at Clifden Parc and compete in the Tribute Cornwall/Devon league; a level 8 league in the English rugby union system.

The Royal Cornwall Golf Club (now defunct) was located on Bodmin Moor. It was founded in 1889. The club disbanded following WW2.[35]

There is an active running club: Bodmin RoadRunners.



The Cornish Guardian is a weekly newspaper published every Wednesday in seven separate editions, including the Bodmin edition.


Bodmin is the home of NCB Radio, an Internet radio station which aims to bring a dedicated station to North Cornwall.


Notable people

See also Category:People from Bodmin

Town twinning

Bodmin is twinned with Bederkesa in Germany; Grass Valley, in California, United States; and Le Relecq-Kerhuon (Ar Releg-Kerhuon in Brittany), France.

Official heraldry

W. H. Pascoe’s 1979 A Cornish Armory gives the arms of the priory and the monastery and the seal of the borough.

Official events

On Halgaver Moor (Goats' Moor) near Bodmin there was once an annual carnival in July which was on one occasion attended by King Charles II.[41] Halgaver is in the parish of Lanhydrock.[42]

Bodmin Riding, a horseback procession through the town, is a traditional annual ceremony.

'Beating the bounds' and 'hurling'

In 1865–66 William Robert Hicks was mayor of Bodmin, when he revived the custom of Beating the bounds of the town. He was — according to the Dictionary of National Biography — a very good man of business. This still takes place more or less every five years and concludes with a game of Cornish hurling. Hurling survives as a traditional part of beating the bounds at Bodmin, commencing at the close of the 'Beat'. The game is organised by the Rotary club of Bodmin and was last played in 2015. The game is started by the Mayor of Bodmin by throwing a silver ball into a body of water known as the "Salting Pool". There are no teams and the hurl follows a set route. The aim is to carry the ball from the "Salting Pool" via the old A30, along Callywith Road, then through Castle Street, Church Square and Honey Street to finish at the Turret Clock in Fore Street. The participant carrying the ball when it reaches the turret clock will receive a £10 reward from the mayor.[43] In 2015, beating of the bounds and Cornish hurling took place at Bodmin 8 April organised by the Rotary club of Bodmin.[44]

See also


  1. "List of Place-names agreed by the MAGA Signage Panel" (PDF). Cornish Language Partnership. May 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  2. Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 200 Newquay & Bodmin ISBN 978-0-319-22938-5
  3. "Cornwall Council online mapping". Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved May 2010. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. "Bodmin Population 2011". Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  5. "Bodmin Council website". Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved May 2010. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. "Cornwall; Explore Britain". Archived from the original on 2 June 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  7. Doble, G. H. (1965) The Saints of Cornwall: part 4. Truro: Dean and Chapter; pp. 132–166
  8. Thorn, C. et al. (eds.) (1979) Cornwall. Chichester: Phillimore; entries 4,3-4.22
  9. Powell-Smith, Anna. "Bodmin - Domesday Book". Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  10. 1 2 "History of Bodmin". Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  11. Discussion, photo and bibliography in Okasha, Elisabeth (1993). Corpus of early Christian inscribed stones of South-west Britain Leicester: University Press, pp. 126-128
  12. "Black Death". Archived from the original on 25 October 2007. Retrieved 17 September 2009.
  13. Sturt, John (1987) Revolt in the West: the Western Rebellion of 1549. Exeter: Devon Books
  14. A more authentic version based on the Baring-Gould MSS. appeared in 1974 in Gordon Hitchcock's Songs of the West Country.--Dave Arthur's notes on Martyn Wyndham Read's Andy's Gone Broadside BRO 134.
  15. Pevsner, N. (1970) Cornwall; second ed. Penguin Books
  16. Sedding, Edmund H. (1909) Norman Architecture in Cornwall: a handbook to old ecclesiastical architecture. London: Ward & Co.; pp. 21-36
  17. 1 2 Pevsner, N. (1970) Cornwall, second ed. Penguin Books.
  18. "Parish of St Mary, Bodmin". Archived from the original on 20 May 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
  19. Dyer, Peter (2005) Tintagel: a portrait of a parish. Cambridge: Cambridge Books ISBN 978-0-9550097-0-9; p. 119
  20. "Bodmin workhouse, later St Lawrence's Hospital (Illustration)". Peter Higginbotham's Workhouse website. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  21. "Middlesex University index of County Asylums". Archived from the original on 27 May 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
  22. "History of St Lawrence's Hospital, after its closure". Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
  23. Cornwall Masonic Yearbook 2012/13
  24. Chichester, H. M. (2004) ‘Gilbert, Sir Walter Raleigh, first baronet (1785–1853)’, rev. Roger T. Stearn, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 1 Jan 2008
  25. "New Zealand Cornish Association newsletter" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 July 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2009.
  26. "Truro and Penwith College's planned new Bodmin campus to be named Callywith College". 23 September 2015.
  28. "Controversial college for Cornwall in Bodmin gets go-ahead". 17 December 2015.
  29. "Teenagers keen to join Callywith College in Bodmin". 20 September 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  30. "Games Workshop founder and entrepreneur to open 2 free schools - Press releases - GOV.UK".
  33. "Illiterate Recruits" in The Times (London) (23 August 1947).
  34. Colin Day, National Service with the RAEC in Cornwall Part 1, at (accessed 7 December 2010).
  35. "Royal Cornwall Golf Club", "Golf’s Missing Links".
  36. "CORNISH COWBOY". Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  37. "Bodmin Moor horse whisperer featured in movie".
  38. "Truro College wheelchair athlete Ben Oliver sets his sights on competing at 2020 Paralympic Games | West Briton". 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  39. Cornish Guardian: Bodmin wheelchair racer breaks European record | Cornish Guardian, accessdate: June 23, 2016
  40. Fordham, John (10 February 2011). "Fringe Magnetic – review". Retrieved 12 October 2016 via The Guardian.
  41. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
  42. Ordnance Survey One-inch Map of Great Britain; Bodmin and Launceston, sheet 186. 1961
  43. "2010 Bodmin Hurl Rules". Rotary Club of Bodmin. Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2010.
  44. "Beating the Town Bounds – Photos". Rotary & Lions Clubs of Bodmin. Retrieved 15 April 2015.

Further reading

External links

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