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Cornish: Bosvenegh
Bodmin is located in Cornwall
 Bodmin shown within Cornwall
Population 14,916 (Civil Ward, 2011)
OS grid reference
Civil parish Bodmin
Unitary authority Cornwall
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United 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 Parliament North Cornwall
List of places

Bodmin (Cornish: Bosvena[1]) is a civil parish and major town in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is situated in the centre of the county southwest 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 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 16 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 1
  • History 2
    • Rebellions 2.1
  • Churches 3
    • Parish church of St Petroc 3.1
    • Other churches 3.2
    • Archdeaconry of Bodmin 3.3
  • Sites of interest 4
    • Institutions 4.1
  • Freemasonry 5
  • Other sites 6
  • Education 7
    • Primary schools 7.1
    • Bodmin College 7.2
  • Transport 8
  • Sport and leisure 9
  • Media 10
  • Notable people 11
  • Town twinning 12
  • Official heraldry 13
  • Official events 14
    • 'Beating the bounds' and 'hurling' 14.1
  • See also 15
  • References 16
  • Further reading 17
  • External links 18

Situation and origin of the name

Bodmin lies in the centre of Cornwall, south-west of Bodmin Moor. It has been suggested that the town's name comes from an archaic word in the Cornish "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 sixth 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 18 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 of the late 11th century. 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".[9] Variant spellings recorded include Botmenei in 1100, Bodmen in 1253, Bodman in 1377 and Bodmyn in 1522.[9] The Bodman spelling also appears in sources and maps from the sixteenth and seventeenth 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 sixth to eighth centuries.[10]

The Black Death killed half of Bodmin's population in the mid 14th century (1500 people).[11]


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 neighboring 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.[12]


Parish church of St Petroc

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 twelfth century: large and finely carved.[13][14]

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.[15] The Roman Catholic parish of Bodmin includes a large area of North Cornwall and there are churches also at Wadebridge, Padstow and Tintagel.[16] 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 World War II: the Church of St Mary and St Petroc was eventually consecrated in 1965:[17] it was built next to the already existing seminary.[15] There are also five other churches in Bodmin, including a Methodist church.

Archdeaconry 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 10 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 World War I 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[18][19][20] was designed by 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.[21]

  • One & All Lodge No. 330 was consecrated on 8 March 1810, it currently meets on the second Monday in each month
  • Beacon Lodge No. 9425 was consecrated on 15 February 1991, it currently meets on the third Tuesday in February, April, October & December, and the 4th Tuesday in May
  • Saint Petrock Royal Arch Chapter No. 330 was consecrated on 11 April 1878, it currently meets on the third Wednesday in January, March, May, July, September & November
  • St Nicholas Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 1188 was consecrated on 30 March 1955, it currently meets on the third Thursday in February, April, June, August & October
  • St Nicholas Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners No. 1188 was consecrated on 2 June 1979, it currently meets on the second Thursday in March, May, September & November
  • Conclave of Light of the Masonic & Military Order of the Red Cross of Constantine No. 498 was consecrated on 23 April 2009, it currently meets on the second Tuesday in January, July & November
  • Bodiniel Quarry Assemblage of the Worshipful Society of Free Masons was constituted on 15 October 1988, it currently meets the fourth Thursday in March and July, and the fourth Friday in November

Other sites

The 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[22] 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.[23]


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 14 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.Bodmin College

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.


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 F.C. who play at Priory Park.

The Royal Cornwall Golf Club (now defunct) was located on Bodmin Moor. It was founded in 1889. The club disappeared following WW2.[24]

There is an active running club: Bodmin RoadRunners. see their Facebook page for details.



The Cornish Guardian is a weekly newspaper: it is published, on a Wednesday in 7 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.

  • Seal - a king enthroned; legend: Sigill comune burgensium bodmine
  • Priory - Azure three salmon naiant in pale Argent
  • Monastery - Or on a chevron Azure between three lion's heads Purpure three annulets Or

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.[26] Halgaver is in the parish of Lanhydrock.[27]

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

'Beating the bounds' and 'hurling'

In 1865–66 Rotary club of Bodmin.[29]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 200 Newquay & Bodmin ISBN 978-0-319-22938-5
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  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. ^ a b
  10. ^ Discussion, photo and bibliography in Okasha, Elisabeth (1993). Corpus of early Christian inscribed stones of South-west Britain Leicester: University Press, pp. 126-128
  11. ^
  12. ^ Sturt, John (1987) Revolt in the West: the Western Rebellion of 1549. Exeter: Devon Books
  13. ^ Pevsner, N. (1970) Cornwall; second ed. Penguin Books
  14. ^ Sedding, Edmund H. (1909) Norman Architecture in Cornwall: a handbook to old ecclesiastical architecture. London: Ward & Co.; pp. 21-36
  15. ^ a b Pevsner, N. (1970) Cornwall, second ed. Penguin Books.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Dyer, Peter (2005) Tintagel: a portrait of a parish. Cambridge: Cambridge Books ISBN 978-0-9550097-0-9; p. 119
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Cornwall Masonic Yearbook 2012/13
  22. ^ 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
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Royal Cornwall Golf Club", "Golf’s Missing Links".
  25. ^
  26. ^ Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
  27. ^ Ordnance Survey One-inch Map of Great Britain; Bodmin and Launceston, sheet 186. 1961
  28. ^
  29. ^

Further reading

  • Henderson, Charles (1935) "Some Notes on Bodmin Priory", in: Essays in Cornish History. Oxford: Clarendon Press; pp. 219–28

External links

  • North Cornwall's BC Radio

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