Built in 1610, this location has a long and interesting history operating until 2013. It housed French P.O.W's during the Napoleonic Wars and was an American Military prison in World War II. During an inspection in 1773 it was described as 'extremely poor'. Disease was rife and men, women and children were still being housed together. Males and females began to be held in separate areas around 1800 although in a later report of 1842, some cells housed eight men yet only had six beds. It's not known how many executions took place in the early years but seven took place between 1889 and 1926. All were buried in unmarked graves within the prison walls. There are thought to be at least a hundred bodies. Eighteen American servicemen were also executed for crimes during the Second World War. Sixteen by hanging, two by firing squad. The prison is known for its paranormal activity. There is said to be a White Lady. She killed her intended groom in an argument and asked to see her wedding dress as a last request. She was found dead in the dress on the morning of her impending execution. Great story! There is also an apparition of an American soldier in the execution area. The Duty Room is said to have been a room full of frightening experiences and an exorcism was considered in 1967. We started our investigation in the execution area. The Condemned Man's Cell which is next to the hanging area seemed to have an oppressive atmosphere to some that entered and two people thought they had been touched. We called out the names of some of the hanged men and awaited some sort of response. One name possibly got some reaction but it seemed weak so we went to the room directly below. This room would have been where the hanged men would have fallen into. A bad breath smell was noted and we heard a few knocks.One investigator thought he heard a faint 'Hello' from behind him. A girls voice. All he wings were frustratingly quiet. We know that others had thought they heard cell doors banging, and seen shadowy figures moving between the cells but we had nothing at all. Being large, empty and echoey, you could hear every little noise and apart from when people were moving around, it was pretty silent. We played some big band music to invoke the soldiers but no responses. In B Block on the second floor, I did think I could hear something like feet shuffling within one of the cells. It was fairly quiet but enough for me to keep looking into that area. This was the opposite side to where The White Lady is said to appear. The oldest cells were also flat. Things picked up a bit when we got the the Firing Squad Area. Some small flashing cat balls were set off while sat in a case on the ground. We're not sure why. An SB-7 picked up a couple of words while we were asking out for the names of two soldiers killed in that area. Several investigators seemed to have trouble getting their words out while trying to record here, others felt slightly muddled and confused. They agreed this was not their usual behavior and didn't think tiredness was the cause although they felt physically drained. The mood left them when we moved to another area. We finished off by revisiting the execution room. This time we did seem to hear some responsive taps when we called out for a certain prisoner. So, although not much in the way of activity for us, it was a fantastic location to explore. I felt quite comfortable wandering around it although most people stated they wouldn't want to do it on their own!
Written by Selena Wright - Paranormal Wiltshire and Spiriteam member
Since Spiriteam has started their search for paranormal existence we have had the pleasure to investigate some fantastic locations. See here where we visited and what we experienced.
Frithfield Lane, Shepton Mallet BA4 5LU