HMP Shepton Mallet - Haunted History
Shepton Mallet, Somerset
The grade II listed prison, also known as Cornhill was the oldest operating prison in the UK when it closed in 2013. At this time it was home to almost 200 inmates severing the final years of their life sentences.
Dating back to 1625, the prison has a pretty grim past. Originally men, women and children were packed into Shepton Mallet together, apparently in dreadful conditions. The cells held debtors, thieves, vagrants and people with mental health disorders. Poor amenities and primitive sanitation led to frequent outbreaks of ulcers, jaundice, asthma and venereal diseases.
Over the years there were plenty of deaths in this formidable prison, including murders, suicide, accidents and judicial executions. The total number of hangings at the prison is unknown, but some of the documented execution include a local man who battered a 10-year-old girl to death, a man who drowned his wife in the River Avon, and a man who cut his 37-year-old girlfriend's throat.
The body's of executed criminals weren't allowed to be buried in consecrated ground, so they were laid to rest in unmarked graves within the walls of the prison.
With almost 400 years of detaining murderers, violent criminals and notorious gangsters, plus a history of brutal executions, cruel punishments, suicides, and countless dead in unmarked graves within the prison walls, it's no wonder HMP Shepton Mallet is said to be the most haunted prison in the country.
The areas of the prison which are said to be the most active are the prison's eerie kitchens, the general's office, and the exercise yard, which is reportedly haunted by a former inmate, Captain Philip William Ryal, who climbed onto the roof of the prison and took his own life in 1914. Ever since his final words, "get back," have been heard echoing around the yard by inmates.
A cell in A Wing is reportedly haunted by a former inmate who was murdered here, while in B Wing visitors report the most negative energy in the whole of the three-acre site.
C Wing has a regular spook too in the former of a 'white lady', it's said she was wrongly convicted of murdering her fiancé, and sentenced to death in the 17th century. She's seen wearing her wedding dress, which she apparently wore in the condemned cell the night before her execution.
The prison is also said to be haunted by spirit of an American serviceman. He's been seen walking through walls in the prison in his uniform. He's thought to have been killed in the yard by a stray bullet from American army firing squad while overseeing an execution.
HMP Shepton Mallet Map
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