The county of Cornwall is home to some truly fascinating and historically significant towns. Sadly, some towns get overshadowed in favor of others and Bodmin is unfortunately one of the latter. This is quite a shame because Bodmin has some downright fantastic architecture and some of the most prestigious churches in the area. History lives and breathes in the small town of only twelve thousand citizens and we would all lead richer lives if we knew a bit more about this wondrous locale.
Bodmin's roots officially began as early as the 500s when the beloved Saint Petroc erected the first monastery in the town. This was a tradition that would carry down through the years as more and more churches were erected in this holy town. When some people think of monasteries they no doubt conjure up images in their minds of small, musty, chapels with little or no splendor. Petroc's monastery, though, was truly enormous in every sense of the word. Over twenty splendid mansions were enveloped in the gigantic monastery and it has few peers around the world to this day. The Church of St. Petroc is something else entirely but it also possesses the grandeur of the saint's other masterpiece. The Church is the second largest in Cornwall after the massive cathedral in Truro. Built in the early 1400s, the chapel is a Grade I Listed Building which essentially means that it is one of the most prized and valued historical edifices in the country.
The Chapel of St. Thomas Beckett is even older than the Church of St. Petroc but, alas, this chapel is no longer standing. Visitors can still see the ruins of the church, though, and even the ruins are incredibly fascinating but one can only wonder what the chapel looked like in its glory days some seven hundred years ago. There are a half a dozen other fantastic churches in the town including the famed Church of St. Mary.
The story of Bodmin's history isn't always pretty, though. The town was the site of the first prison in England to ever house inmates in separate cells in the famed Bodmin Gaol. This gaol was the place where many prisoners met their death by hanging but, luckily, there are still some redeeming factors present in the now ruined location. During the first World War the Gaol was a hiding place for some of the most priceless treasures in England at the time. Another dark time in the history of Bodmin is that of the Black Death. Though the plague had an effect on nearly every part of Europe, Bodmin was hit particularly hard and lost over half of its population during the height of the plague. Fortunately the town bounced back with aplomb and didn't fall by the wayside like several other cities that were ruined by the massive disease. Though Bodmin certainly has its dark sides we must remember all the good things that it has brought us and cherish it for those reasons rather than admonishing it for things beyond its control.