Is Somerset The Most Paranormally Active County In Great Britain?
June 03, 2019 6:00 AM ‐ Paranormal
The beautiful county of Somerset in the South West of England is known for its myths, legends, hauntings and extraterrestrial visitations, could this make it the most paranormally active county in the UK?
Somerset is the location of the mythical vale of Avalon, which is said to be a legendary island featured in the Arthurian legend. There's also stories of a beast on Exmoor, which crosses the boundary of Somerset and into Devon, and there's plenty of haunted country pubs scattered across the county.
Avon & Somerset Police recently revealed that they received over 100 calls about ghosts and aliens in the space of three years, and apparently this number is on the rise. The figures were released under a Freedom Of Information Act request and showed that calls about the supernatural were becoming more and more common.
Of course, everyone knows that if you see something weird in your neighbourhood, you don't call 999. The constabulary have reminded the public not to call this number, which is reserved for emergencies only. This doesn't include calls about ghosts, werewolves, witches, aliens and zombies, all of which have been the topic of phone calls over the last few years.
In total 139 calls were made about the paranormal over the three year period, the majority of these were about ghosts, a topic which has steadily increased from just four in the first year to 60 in year three. As well as these non-emergency calls, the police also have to deal with 2,800 hoax calls every year.
Somerset is known for its connection with paganism, occult and the witches of the county didn't escape the infamous witch trials in the Middle Ages. In fact, two alleged witches were hanged on charges of witchcraft in the county town of Taunton in the mid-17th century.
There's also the famous witch of Wookey Hole. Tourists visiting the impressive show caves today are told of the legend of an old woman, believed to be a witch, who once lived in the caves.
So, it's no surprise that many of the calls the police received about the supernatural related to witches and witchcraft, with 13 calls being made on the topic. Luckily, only three calls related to werewolves. So, it looks like the county is free of this particular mythical creature, and calls about alien encounters or UFO sightings tripled from three to nine over the three-year period.
A spokesperson told Somerset Live, "the police service is here to help to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. We now have a mental health triage system in place, with nurses working in our control room who are able to help to guide callers in mental health crisis towards appropriate support."
If you do encounter a ghost, alien or monster, then the advice is not to bother the police. The police reminded the public to think before calling, "is someone's life at risk? Is a crime happening now? Is an offender in the area? If you answer yes to one or all of these, ring 999. Otherwise, call 101."
The county also has plenty of paranormal hotspots, below are its most famous haunted locations.
Somerset's Top Paranormal Hotspots
Photo: © Nigel Mykura
As the A30 snakes through Somerset, along part of its route between Chard and Crewkerne plenty of paranormal activity has been reported. Ghostly sightings include unusual and eerie lights, sounds and figures seen around Windwhistle Hill, an area with a dark history of highwaymen, smugglers and witchcraft.
One family reported see two people at the side of the road, one was standing and the other lying down. Fearing the someone had been injured, the driver slowed down, when all of a sudden the person standing stepped out into the road. The family noticed that there was something odd about the person, they had one foot on the grass verge, while the other was in the middle of the road. The family all agreed that there was no one who could possibly have legs that long.
Keynsham Railway Station
Keynsham station is on the Great Western Main Line in that serves London Paddington, the station lies between Bath and Bristol is said to be haunted by a phantom locomotive. Railway staff and passengers say they have seen the train pass silently through the station on many occasions. Some have even said that the train's driver was visible in the cab with a concerned expression on his face.
On the A38 between Wellington and Taunton in Somerset, phantom hitchhikers have been reported since the 1950s. One lorry driver, Harold "Harry" Unsworth reported a hitchhiker he'd given a ride to earlier in his journey re-appear miles from where he'd dropped her off.
Yeovil Junction Railway Station
Photo: © Geof Sheppard
The station was opened in 1860 on the London to Exeter line, it is said to be haunted by the ghost of a female station worked named Molly. It's thought that she work in the railway restaurant during the 1960s and died on one of the platforms. Ever since her ghost has been blamed when items are moved around and electrical devices seemingly switch themselves on and off.
Sandhill Park Hospital
Sandhill Park was originally built as a private home, but in 1919 the Somerset County Council bought the house and converted it into a home for handicapped children. During the Second World War it was used as a hospital by the American Army, but after the War it reverted to use as a hospital for handicapped children. The hospital has now been closed and the House is now a Fire Engine Museum. The hospital has a long history of paranormal activity. Many staff and visitors have reported doors slamming, disembodied whispers and voices. Switches are said to turn on and off by themselves, and cold spots are often felt with no apparent reason for it.
HMP Shepton Mallet
Last year, one of the county's most haunted locations was opened to the public. HM Shepton Mallet prison recently closed and is now open to the public for tours as well as ghost hunts. 'Most Haunted' presenter Yvette Fielding described the prison as one of the most terrifying places she's ever visited.
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. 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.
Wookey Hole Caves
Photo: © Jim Champion
The famous show caves are said to be haunted due to their colourful past, most famously its former, a resident witch. She is said to have cursed a monk from nearby Glastonbury, he came to the caves in search of the witch in an attempt to break the curse. He splashed holy water on the cave walls, which is believed to have turned into the impressive stalagmites visitors can see in the caves today.
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