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Bodmin Murder Mystery Experience

Updated on September 2, 2017

A true story - decide the fate of Matthew Weeks - was Matthew guilty? Charlotte Dymond was murdered on Bodmin Moor in April 1844. Her boyfriend, Matthew Weeks, was arrested. In this fabulously different visitor attraction in Bodmin, you act as a member of the jury in a re-enactment of a real trial from 1844. This is the very building in which the trial took place, Bodmin Shire Hall.

Guilty or not guilty?

You decide!

The whole trial and decision takes an hour, you'll hear a re-enactment of the trial of Matthew Weeks, but what will you decide? Did he murder Charlotte? Or not? Are there holes in the defence?

Afterwards you can visit the spooky holding cells, just 1 metre square, where prisoners waited for their trial, imagine how it'd feel to be in one of those gloomy cells, knowing you might shortly be convicted of murder - and hung!


Jury Service Experience

When it comes to having fun with family or friends, then what better way than something like this that really makes you all challenge yourselves and your beliefs. Do you all agree he's guilty? Do you all agree he's innocent?

Afterwards you could spend hours in a nearby picnic spot, or local hostelry, discussing the facts of the case and arguing Matthew's innocence or guilt! A really thought-provoking day out.

This is a fabulous indoor attraction, ideal when the weather's not great - and great for the whole family.

First Date Ideas

Stuck where to go on a first date? Wondering where to take your fab new beau? How about something controversial? This gives you heaps to discuss afterwards - and can really sort out if you're compatible, or if s/he's just ... annoying and wrong! Save months of deciding if they're right for you! If they don't agree with you, maybe it's time for the next one :)

On a serious note though, the Matthew Weeks trial really happened. Charlotte really did die. Matthew was tried before a judge in the very building you'll be in. Was there a miscarriage of justice?

So, was Matthew guilty or not? I'll let you find out for yourself.

The Matthew Weeks and Charlotte Dymond Story

When Charlotte's body was found on Bodmin Moor in 1844, after a search party went looking for her, suspicion fell on her boyfriend Matthew Weeks, a crippled farm-hand. Matthew had been the last person seen with Charlotte.

Charlotte and Matthew both worked nearby at Penhale Farm, owned by a Phillipa Peter, a 61 year old widow. Mrs Peter ran the farm with her son John, 38, and their three live-in servants John Stevens, Matthew Weeks and Charlotte Dymond. Charlotte had four shillings (£0.20) in her bag when she was last seen alive, which would have been a week's wages at the time.

Charlotte's throat had been cut with a razor. Charlotte's shoes, bag, shawl and gloves were missing and she was discovered beside a stream, where it looked as if she'd been washed. her missing items were found buried close by.

With a potential new beau on the scene, did Matthew and Charlotte row on the moors as she was off to meet the other man?

One book that covers this story is Cornish Murders, by John van der Kiste and Nicola Sly. Published in 2007 this book of Cornish murders includes the story of Charlotte Dymond.

Charlotte Dymond's gravestone at St David's Church, Davidstowe, Cornwall
Charlotte Dymond's gravestone at St David's Church, Davidstowe, Cornwall | Source
Memorial Stone on Rough Tor, near where Charlotte's body was found.
Memorial Stone on Rough Tor, near where Charlotte's body was found. | Source

The Ballad of Charlotte Dymond, Charles Causley

Immortalised in a ballad "The Ballad of Charlotte Dymond", by Charles Causley, the Matthew Weeks' jury found Matthew guilty of murder and he was hanged at Bodmin Jail. But was he really guilty?

Matthew Weeks was hanged at Bodmin Jail on 20 August 1844.

At the time a stone was laid down where Charlotte's body was found. There's also now a tall memorial stone near to the spot. Charlotte Dymond is buried in Davidstowe churchyard. Perhaps you might like to visit where Charlotte Dymond is buried and leave her some flowers, or another token.

Murder Mystery Experience - Jury Service.  Plaque at Bodmin Jail about Matthew Weeks
Murder Mystery Experience - Jury Service. Plaque at Bodmin Jail about Matthew Weeks | Source

Doubts About Matthew's Guilt

At the time, the case was notorious, the Ballad of Charlotte Dymond helped immortalise the story, but it wasn't until the 1970s that doubts started to be raised about the reliability of Matthew's conviction. Perhaps he was innocent all along.

Pat Munn, a Cornish historian and author, was researching an article about Charlotte Dymond. Pat discovered the original 1844 Prosecution Brief for Matthew Weeks’ trial, sparking off a full investigation of the facts. Pat Munn went on to publish a book in 1978 "The Charlotte Dymond Murder". In her book, Pat Munn carefully goes through each piece of evidence that was presented at the trial, taking it apart, piece by piece.

Pat Munn's conclusion is that, if tried in a court of law today, the evidence would not stand up in court - and Matthew would have been found not guilty.

So popular is the story that the original 1978 book was republished in 2010.

However, a crime investigator disagrees with Pat's findings: http://www.lindastratmann.com/CharlotteDymond.html

Which one do you agree with?

Directions to the Courtroom Experience

A
The Courtroom Experience:
Bodmin, Cornwall PL31 2DQ, UK

get directions

Where, When and How Much?

The venue is in Bodmin town, at the Shire Hall. There are two car parks within 2 minutes' walk of the building.

Opening Hours: Sessions start on the hour, every hour, starting at 11am, last session at 4pm. Easter to end of October Mon-Sat. November-February, Mon-Fri.

  • Admission Prices (2017): Adults £3.95, Concessions £2.95, Children £2.50, Family (2+3) £10.95
  • Address: Bodmin Shire Hall, Turf Street, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL31 2DQ
  • Website: http://www.bodminlive.com/things-to-do/courtroom-experience

As Seen on TV

Following Pat Munn's book in 1978, the investigation was discussed on Pebble Mill, a BBC daytime television programme.

The trial of Charlotte Dymond's alleged murder by Matthew Weeks was re-enacted and televised.

Cornish Murders:

Cornish Murders (Sutton True Crime History)
Cornish Murders (Sutton True Crime History)

Covering numerous Cornish murders including: Charlotte Dymond (1844)

 

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    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      8 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      I always Love a Mystery, especially if it is based on a real story. The way you laid this out is very interesting, and of professional quality. Thanks for sharing.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 

      8 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      what an experience, will try and remember for next time we are down west

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      That is a bit a mind boggler. Thank you for your interesting hub.

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