Haunted Shepton Mallet Prison Announces Its Closure

November 28, 2023 1:00 AM ‐ Paranormal
HMP Shepton Mallet, Somerset
Shepton Mallet Prison, a location synonymous with paranormal intrigue and historical significance, has announced its impending closure. This Grade II listed building, known as the world's oldest purpose-built prison, has been a focal point for both heritage enthusiasts and ghost hunters. Its closure, driven by a breakdown in relations between Cove Group and the property's owners, City & Country, marks the end of an era for one of the UK's most haunted sites.

The prison's nearly 400-year history is rich with tales of murderers, notorious criminals, and tragic events, including brutal executions and suicides. Such a dark past has led to its reputation as the most haunted prison in the country, attracting thousands of visitors keen to experience its eerie atmosphere and ghostly presences.

Joel Campbell, CEO of Cove Group, expressed his frustration and disappointment over the closure, citing significant investment and efforts to maintain the site's historical integrity. He said, "Over the past seven years we have invested over £1 million into Shepton Mallet Prison, and despite a relentless campaign of perseverance, our endeavours to safeguard and enhance this historical site have been met with a disheartening lack of support from City & Country."

"Our efforts to secure a future for the prison through direct purchase were not just undervalued but met with resistance and unreasonable financial demands, especially concerning property insurance costs that far exceed the market rate. Despite our continued efforts to negotiate and find alternative insurance arrangements, City & Country have informed us that if we do not meet their demands then notice will be served imminently."

"This impasse has forced us to make the heart-rending decision to cease operating Shepton Mallet Prison from the 2nd January 2024. The closure is a stark reflection of the disregard shown by City & Country towards a business that has not only celebrated but vitalised the history and economy of Shepton Mallet.”

The prison's paranormal reputation is steeped in specific tales and sightings. The most active areas include the kitchens, general's office, and exercise yard. The latter is notably haunted by the spirit of Captain Philip William Ryal, an inmate who took his own life in 1914. His final words, "get back," are said to echo around the yard. Other haunted locations within the prison include A Wing, where a murdered inmate's presence lingers, B Wing with its intense negative energy, and C Wing, home to the 'white lady' – a spirit of a woman wrongly convicted and executed in the 17th century.

It's a little too early to speculate, but we don't yet know the longterm fate of HMP Shepton Mallet. It could be snapped up by a new operator allowing tours and events to resume, or there could already be redevelopment and preservation work planned by the owners that would see all the history preserved, and paranormal investigation could still be part of that.

While the closure of Shepton Mallet Prison is a significant loss for the paranormal community, Cove Group brings hope with developments at Shrewsbury Prison. This iconic location is set for a transformation into a premier tourist destination, blending rich history with modern luxury. The project includes a boutique hotel, a state-of-the-art conference facility, and an on-site restaurant, all set within the historic prison walls.
HMP Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Joel shared his vision for Shrewsbury Prison, emphasising the balance between preserving history and offering a unique visitor experience. He remarked, "Transforming Shrewsbury Prison into a world-class destination represents a unique and thrilling venture for us. This project is not just about preserving a piece of history; it's about redefining the visitor experience."

The closure of Shepton Mallet Prison will leave a gap in the UK's heritage and paranormal tourism. With just weeks left before its doors shut forever, enthusiasts and the curious have a limited time to experience the haunted halls of Shepton Mallet Prison. You can still book your tickets before the site closes here.

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