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Bodmin

Bodmin was an early Christian religious centre and perhaps already a town by the 10th century. It was a medieval market centre, with the earliest mention as a borough dating from 1190. In the 12th century Bodmin was the most important ‘coinage town’ (for the taxation of tin produced in the region) in Cornwall. It was the county town for Cornwall in the mid-19th century, accommodating the county’s Shire Hall, prison and lunatic asylum.

Bodmin lies at the centre of Cornwall, both geographically (the precise centre being just two miles to the west at Lanivet) and in terms of the communications network. Cornwall’s spinal trunk road, the A30, is joined here by the main road from Plymouth and Liskeard, the A38, and the busy A389 links the town with the A39 ‘Atlantic Highway’ running up the north coast. The main rail line passes a short distance to the south of the town with a station at Bodmin Parkway, 5km from the town centre. The town lies on an ancient, possibly prehistoric, east-west route through Cornwall, perpetuated by the A30 and before that by the Bodmin-Launceston turnpike. It is also sometimes noted as being located on an ‘historic’ north-south route – recently titled the ‘Saint’s Way’ – between Padstow and Fowey. Such a route is not in fact well attested historically, but some element in the development of the settlement in the early medieval period and later may be attributable to its position mid-way between the highest navigable points on the Camel and Fowey rivers, then probably only about 10 km apart. John Leland referred in about 1540 to Bodmyn Pill (south of Golant) on the Fowey as a ‘having [i.e., haven or harbour] for wares then to be carried to Bodmin’. This was presumably a later medieval replacement for Lostwithiel as a transhipment point, after navigation of the upper part of the Fowey became difficult because of silting resulting from streamworking for tin upstream on Bodmin Moor; the upper reaches of the Camel were also subject to silting but prior to the medieval period may have been navigable as far upstream as Nanstallon.

Until the early modern period Bodmin was a  town almost encircled by open downs, heaths and moors. Carew wrote of Halgaver c 1600 that ‘the name signifieth the Goat’s Moor, and such a place it is, lying a little without the town, and full of quagmires.’ Leland in the 1530s found the road from St Laurence’s to Mitchell, ‘hilly and moory ground’. This setting is reflected in the 1994 Historic Landscape Characterisation of Cornwall, which identifies much of the area to the east, west and south of the town as Recently Enclosed Land (enclosed from the post-medieval period onwards), typified by the straight-sided early nineteenth century fields which now subdivide the Beacon; prior to enclosure these areas would have been open rough ground, primarily used for extensive grazing and as a source of domestic fuel. Much of Bodmin’s later twentieth century expansion has taken place over such Recently Enclosed Land. Anciently Enclosed Land, in the form of enclosed parcels of former strip fields associated with farming hamlets such as Bodiniel, Penbugle and Lancarffe, lies close to the town on the northern side, with a swathe of similar terrain, intermixed with ancient woodland, extending north towards Helland and Pencarrow. Even here, however, the tops of many of the hills in Helland parish, and to the east around Cardinham, have been enclosed and improved for agriculture only in the last two hundred years.


Downloads:

The downloads offered below represent the different elements of the CSUS Bodmin Report including the core text, seven illustrative figures and six character area summaries. The majority of the downloads are large files (to maintain some quality of image resolution) and therefore may take time to download.
 

  Title Description

Format

Size

CSUS Bodmin Report REPORT text detailing the results of the historic character study for the town of Bodmin. Graeme Kirkham, Historic Environment Service.

Format type: PDF

4633kb

Figure 1 - Location & Topography Map Map showing the location of Bodmin and its immediate topography.

Format type: PDF

706kb
Figure 2 - Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 1:2500 Map (c1907) Map showing the town of Bodmin in c.1907.

Format type: PDF

345kb
Figure 3 - Historic Development Map Map showing the historic development and expansion of Bodmin.

Format type: PDF

971kb
Figure 4 - Historic Settlement Topography Map Map showing the historic topography of Bodmin with key areas of historic activity.

Format type: PDF

875kb
Figures 5a/5b - Surviving Historic Components Maps Maps showing the surviving historic buildings of Bodmin. 5aFormat type: PDF 5bFormat type: PDF 705/788kb
Figure 6 - Urban Archaeological Potential Map Map showing the areas and sites of archaeological potential in Bodmin.

Format type: PDF

873kb

Figure 7 - Character Areas Map Map showing the seven character areas identified by the survey of Bodmin.

Format type: PDF

876kb

Character Area 1 - Down Town: Fore Street, Honey Street and Mount Folly Bodmin’s commercial, retail and civic centre, with high-quality historic buildings set along a busy, narrow and strongly enclosed principal street and around the town’s focal public space. The Character Area includes much of the medieval core of the town and derives its layout from it.

Format type: PDF

659 kb
Character Area 2 - Church Square, Turf Street, St Nicholas Street and Priory grounds This Area fringes and is secondary to Bodmin’s commercial and civic core (Character Area 1). It includes St Petroc’s church, some large houses, residential streets and open green space.

Format type: PDF

345kb

Character Area 3 - Top Town: Lower and Higher Bore Streets and St Leonard’s A very long and wide, predominantly residential street of strong urban character. It fossilises the site of a medieval fair on one of the major historic routes into Bodmin.

Format type: PDF

753kb

Character Area 4 - Dennison Road – Berrycoombe Road Formerly occupied by a mix of residential, industrial and communications uses, this area has been subject to major change since the mid twentieth century, resulting in substantial loss of historic fabric and topography. It is traversed by a busy main through route and service uses associated with cars and traffic predominate.

Format type: PDF

683kb

Character Area 5 - The Berry area: Church Lane, Castle Street and environs A quiet suburban area of cottages, former farms and smallholdings, villas and larger houses and institutions, with trees, gardens and greenery, set around an historic grid of streets overlooking the centre of Bodmin from the hillside to the north.

Format type: PDF

 707kb

Character Area 6 - The county institutions: St Lawrence’s, Bodmin gaol, Bodmin barracks Three discrete areas on the outer edge of Bodmin’s historic extent are characterised by the presence of large complexes of well-designed nineteenth-century institutional buildings set within strongly bounded grounds.

Format type: PDF

936kb

   

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