The 10 Most Haunted Prisons In The UK
This article is more than four years old and was last updated in April 2022.
The ten most famous haunted slammers in the United Kingdom from modern prisons to old Victorian jails and medieval lockups, all with a reputation for hauntings.
The grim prison is packed full of small cells on all its floors, and inmates would be confined to their cells as there's no dining area or exercise yard in this fairly small city centre prison. It was used as a remand prison, which meant criminals stayed here while on trial, hence the lack of facilities you'd find in a longterm penal establishment.
In recent years, the grand old building started to struggle to cope with the demands of modern policing and in 2017 its doors were slammed shut for the final time. Like most prison, Birmingham Central Lockup has its fair share of ghost stories. Many people have reported seeing dark shadows walking across empty corridors, and objects moving on their own. They've heard the moans of a distraught woman throughout the day and night, as well as the loud slamming of heavy doors, jangling keys, and heavy footsteps. Most of the paranormal activity is said to happen in cell B23.
Others have reported seeing menacing shadow figures, heard unexplained footsteps, and seen doors slam closed of their own accord. There are reports of the museum's exhibits mysteriously shaking, lights have flickered and objects on display have been thrown by unseen hands.
Perhaps the jail's most unsettling resident spook is that of a former jailer, who is said to make his presence known by touching visitors, throwing things at them, or even appearing in the form of a sinister apparition.
The prison's best known ghost is believed to be the spirit of a murderer named Martha Brown. She was executed at the prison after being found guilty of killing her husband. She was hanged at the gallows, which stood where a car park stands today near the prison gates. The apparition of Martha is said to have been seen around the prison.
Many visitors claim the prison is haunted by a woman called Jenny, it's said she was murdered in the 15th century on the land where the prison was later built. Now her spirit roams that land in search of her killer, her ghosts is said to have been seen by many prisoners and guards.
In 1969 a group of inmates conducted a séance in cell 25 of A Wing in an attempt to contact the ghost of Jenny and got more than they bargained for when books and even a flowerpot were thrown around the cell by a supernatural force.
This wasn't the last time the inmates saw Jenny, just a few days later her disembodied hand appeared to the convict inhabiting cell 25, it pointed directly at him before vanishing as suddenly as it appeared, earning cell 25 the reputation of being the most haunted part of the 200 year old building.
Staff and prisoners have reported hearing knocks and bangs throughout the prison's buildings, as well and slamming doors and shadowy figures which have mostly been sighted in C Wing, a newer part of the prison that was built in the 1970s.
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The prison's A-wing is said to be the most haunted, perhaps due to its dark history of suicides resulting in sad, angry souls being trapped between this world and the next. Most of those who took their own live did so on A-wing, at one point there was one a week.
Plenty of judicial execution were also carried out at the prison. In 1885 five prisoners were hanged in a single day. The hanging room was used until 1961, and was then converted into a group session room. This is said to be a very active area, possibly due to its location next to the condemned cell and with the mortuary is underneath it.
When the prison was in operation, some officers refused to work in C Wing alone at night, they've reported being pushed down stairs, hearing doors slamming, noises like moving all around them, and footsteps. It's said the atmosphere can change in the blink of an eye.
It is believed that one of the female prisoners has refused to leave, she has been seen dressed in a grey uniform many times walking the upper levels. She walks from cell 3 toward the execution room.
This was the location of the legendary incident that involved the show's producers feeding medium Derek Acorah false information, which saw him get possessed by a named Kreed Kafer. It came to light after the show that the spirit was fictionally and was in fact an anagram of the phrase "Derek Faker."
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.
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 form 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.
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