Before its closure in 2013, the Somerset-based calaboose was a military prison during the Second World War. Gangland royalty Ron and Reg Kray were also imprisoned there after they deserted their military service in the 1950s and historical artefacts like the Domesday Book were stored here for safekeeping.
In case you were wondering why any of that makes it haunted, you should know also that before it became a military prison, HMP Shepton Mallet was previously home to child murderers, rapists and gangsters, many of which were executed and interred in unmarked graves on the prison site.
Founded in the 17th Century, Shepton Mallet began as a workhouse for the unemployed before transitioning to a prison for the most heinous of criminals. Sentences included back-breaking manual labour (sometimes literally) and confinement to cells in such poor condition even rats would leave comments of complaint on Trip Adviser.
Claims of paranormal activity made by visitors to the prison since it became a tourist attraction include the sound of footsteps through the halls and doors slamming randomly, despite the apparent absence of other people. Events company Bump in the Night, which specialises in ghost tours in multiple locations across the UK, are taking advantage of the spooky goings on by organising overnight tours and ‘sleepovers’ (yeah right, like anyone’s going to catch forty winks in a normal prison, let alone a haunted one) throughout October in the run-up to Brexit.
I mean Halloween. Same thing, right? They’re both on the same day. And it’s in Somerset, so Jacob Rees-Mogg’s probably going to show up with a machine that captures ghosts to give himself immortality like Mrs Croker from The Ghost Hunter …
Those brave enough to investigate have been assured of snacks and ghost hunting equipment provided during their stay, the length of which can be until either 2am or 6.30am.
One spokesperson for Bump in the Night said of the event: ‘Since I started working for Bump in the Night I’ve been on quite a few night-time tours of the prison and they really are terrifying.
‘I wasn’t convinced it would be that scary before my first one but that has definitely changed now.
‘I’ve seen and heard all sorts including shadows when nobody is around, doors slamming shut and footsteps only to see nobody there.
‘When we were in the prison once my colleague leapt up from his seat and ran across the room.
‘I asked what happened and he said he heard a loud growling sound in his ear, but we were the only two people in there.’
Bump in the Night’s events famously sell out and according to their website, spaces on the Shepton Mallet tour are going fast.
Other locations include Oxford Castle and the Skirrid Inn, both of which were also prisons whose hanged convicts are also said to be roaming the halls to this day, as confirmed by visitations from Yvette Fielding and the Most Haunted team.
Dates for tours of Pendle Hill in Lancashire, which was supposedly the site of a witch’s coven, and Annison Funeral Parlour in Hull where a woman was last seen alive before turning up dead in Preston, are soon to be released.
As I write this, my dog is barking manically at the front door, despite there being no one outside. Anyone got a number for Yvette Fielding?
Images via Devon Live
Max is an awkward Medievalist struggling with ever evolving technology. When not writing for The Hook, he can be found attending self-help classes for his decade-long addiction to KFC. His greatest achievements include getting blocked by Owen Jones on Twitter and completing the Metro quick crossword in just under twenty-seven hours.Follow