The 10 Most Haunted Prisons In The UK
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.
10. Ruthin Gaol, Denbighshire
Construction of a prison started on the site of a 17th century house of correction in North Wale in 1775. Initially the building had just four cells, but grew over the years to a four-storey prison. The prison closed in 1916 and the inmates moved to Shrewsbury. It was used as a munitions factory during the war, before being handed back to the council, it's now open to the public as a museum.
With a history of despair, desperation, incarceration and even execution, it's no surprise that the building has its fair share of ghost stories. Reports including disembodied voices, and the sensation of being followed, touched or pushed. The heavy cell doors are said to slam on their own.
One of the spirits that haunt the jail is believed to be that of William Hughes, the only inmate to be hanged in the prison. He was executed in 1903. for the murder of his wife. There's also said to be the spirit of a former prison guard and a happy young girl.
9. Inveraray Jail, Argyll
A 19th-century prison and courthouse with a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Scotland. The paranormal activity in the prison, which closed to inmates in 1889, includes a general feeling of unease, unexplained noises and even apparition captured in the form of photographs. The most active parts of the prison are said to be cell 10 and the prison's kitchens.
8. Derby Gaol, Derbyshire
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.
The paranormal activity at the gaol seems to most frequently occur in June and July, and again between October and December and ranges from doors close by themselves, the sensation of feeling sick, and discomfort in the throat or the sensation of being suffocated. One visitor claims to have seen two dead men hanging from a beam inside the cell.
7. Clink Prison, London
The Clink is the oldest prison in England, dating back to 1144 and as well as being a tourist attraction, it's also said to be home to a shadowy figure that has been witnessed in the Bishop's Room. Guests have reported hearing cries coming from the oubliette, and poltergeist activity is frequently reported here. Others have reported witnessing glasses smash on their own, doors slamming, and the spirit of a woman rattling chains.
6. Bodmin Jail, Cornwall
Today Bodmin Jail is a tourist attraction, but for almost 150 years it was prison, in which time it saw over 50 public hangings. The jail is a popular location for paranormal researchers, including the 'Most Haunted' team who visited in their sixth series.
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."
5. HMP Gloucester, Gloucestershire
HM Prison Gloucester in the West of England opened in 1791 to house some of the UK's most notorious criminals. In the prison's early days over 100 executions were carried out, the prisoners bodies were buried within the prison, to this day not all have been found. So with this gruesome tale in mind I thought the now-abandoned jail was worth a visit.
The prison closed four years ago and is now open to public. Many visitors claim the prison is haunted by a woman called Jenny, its 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, he ghosts has been seen by bother prisoners and guards.
In 1969 a group of inmates conducted a seance 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 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 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.
4. Birmingham Central Lockup
Birmingham's Steelhouse Lane Lockup, a historic Grade II listed police station which operated for 125 years. The prison was built in 1892 and has housed some of the most infamous convicts in British criminal history, including members of the Peaky Blinders gang, and the mass murderer Fred West.
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.
3. Galleries of Justice, Nottingham
The first records of the Galleries of Justice being uses as a prison was in 1449. It is built on the site of a Saxon settlement dating back to 600AD, and is said to play host to ghostly apparitions, poltergeist activity, disembodied voices, slamming doors and unexplained drops in temperature.
As well as the prison, the galleries housed court, and many executions took place on the steps of the building, making this the only location in the UK where you could be tried, sentenced and punished under the same roof.
2. HMP Shrewsbury, Shropshire
There's been a prison on the site since 1793, however the building as it currently stands was built in 1877. The prison has seen thousands of prisoners come and go over the years, including women up until 1922. The prison walls have witnessed many deaths over the years, including, murders, and inmates taking their own lives, so many suicides in fact that an enquiry was opened after three inmates hanged themselves over a period of just two weeks.
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.
1. HMP 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 their 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.
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