The hamlet has been said to take its name from the "Bold Venture" that it must have appeared to build a farm in this moorland, but this is probably folk etymology, as "Bol-" is a common prefix in Cornish placenames. It is much more likely that the name derives from the 'Bold Adventure' tin-working area which was in operation near Jamaica Inn during the 1840s-1850s 
Daphne du Maurier, a former resident, chose Bolventor as the setting for her novel about Cornish smugglers titled Jamaica Inn. The inn that inspired the novel, Jamaica Inn, has stood beside the main road through the village since 1547. It is now a tourist attraction in its own right and dominates the hamlet.
The small church (dedicated to the Holy Trinity) that lies to the east of the hamlet closed some years ago. A mile from Bolventor there was a chapel of St Luke (from the 13th to the early 16th century): the font is now at the church of Tideford. Bolventor parish was established in 1846 (before that date the village was in St Neot parish) but has now been merged with Altarnun.