The historic jail is said to be the most haunted building in Derby, it was built in the 1500s to house local criminals and was replaced by a newer prison in 1756.
Part of the historic old gaol still exists in the basement below the building that once housed a much larger jail. Situated on Friar Gate to the west of the city centre, the gaol was built in 1756 as the second of three county jails in the city. Tiny dark cells would hold up to six prisoners for up to 23 hours a day.
At that time there were over 200 hanging offences in England, everything from setting fire to haystacks to murder. If you committed any of these crimes in any part of Derbyshire, you were brought to Derby to face trial and brutal execution right outside the prison, often in front crowds of thousands of spectators.
In 1817 the last hanging, drawing and quartering to take place in England happened at Derby goal. The jail also witnessed England's last pressing to death, the only peer of the realm to be hanged for murder and the execution of three witches.
Due to the huge amount of death, torment, anguish and terror, the old gaol is said to be very haunted. The paranormal
activity at the gaol seems to most frequently occur in June and July, and again between October and December. It ranges from doors opening and closing by themselves, through to full-bodied apparitions.
The jail is said to be plagued by unexplained sounds including clicking, dragging, scraping and heavy bolts sliding across doors. In the debtors' cell the sound of something turning over on the straw bed has been heard, and misty shapes and streaks of lights have been seen.
Throughout the jail dark shadowy figures have been seen, including by the property's owner, paranormal historian Richard Felix. Despite guiding the public on ghost walks for many years, Richard had never seen a ghost until he took over the old gaol. He had his encounter one Friday afternoon while it was still daylight outside. While on a telephone call, Richard saw a grey figure standing at the counter of the ticket office, but promptly vanished never to show itself to him again.
Similar figures have been seen on many occasions. One visitors reported seeing two dead men hanging from a beam inside the cell. Another said he saw a figure hanging, suspended just above the ground and swinging slightly. Could these be the ghosts of two prisoners, the Jones brothers, who hanged themselves in the condemned cell the night before their execution?
Other guests have had strange experiences in the condemned cell, including the sensation of feeling sick, and discomfort in the throat or the feeling of being suffocated or strangled.
Perhaps creepiest experience occurred in the the prisoners' day room, which is now a seating and table area with a cozy fireplace. The face of a dead person is said to have appeared over the face of a guest while they were sat in the room.