Haunted Shepton Mallet Prison


Haunted Shepton Mallet Prison - Paranormal and ghosts

By Alison Oborn

HMP Shepton Mallet Prison, nestled in a small Somerset town in England, was originally built in 1610-1625 after King James I decreed that all counties should have their own jails. It is also said to be one of the oldest working jails in the country, finally closing its doors in 2013.

In the early days, it held men, women and children in dreadful conditions.  Although it improved over the years, it was still said to be lacking adequate conditions.  Disease was rife with unsanitary conditions.  It was reported that prisoners who went in healthy changed to being emaciated in a few short months.  If prisoners died in jail, they were usually taken out and buried in unconsecrated ground just outside of the prison.  There are still nine unmarked graves within the grounds of the prison, thought to be those of the executed.

Many people were executed in Shepton Mallet prison, with some of the earliest being 12 local Shepton men.  They were sympathisers in the Monmouth Rebellion in 1642 before being captured.  They were Hanged, drawn and quartered with their insides burned and their heads placed upon spikes around the township as a lesson to others.

In WWII it was opened to the U.S.A. forces as a military prison.  They executed 18 of their servicemen with 16 of them hanged and two shot against a 75ft wall by a firing squad.  However, the method of shooting brought condemnation from the locals in the town. This was not because of any cruelty but instead because of the noise.  The military overcame this by timing the executions to 8 a.m., when the local church clock would chime and so cover up the offending sound.

The last civilian to be executed was in 1926, before these military executions.  It was handed back to the British Military at the end of the war and it was then used for Soldiers serving out their National Service.  This included the infamous Kray Twins who were serving out their National Service after going absent without leave and assaulting a police officer.  In 1966 Shepton Mallet Prison was handed back for civilian life, but no further executions were ever to take place in this prison.

After such a long 400 year history, including having kept the Doomsday Book and other documents safe during WWII from German bombing runs, it finally closed its doors in 2013.

Shepton Mallet Prison - Ghosts & Hauntings


Many eerie things have been reported, both by staff, volunteers and visitors at Shepton Mallet Prison.  Some report to have seen the supposed ghost of one of the executed servicemen, Private Lee Davis.  Private Davis was executed for rape and murder.  He refused to accept his fate and is believed to still wander the hallways today.

One prison tour guide even claims to have been burned by a cigarette while taking a tour one night.  He had just been talking about Private Lee and executions when he felt a burning sensation on his hand which developed into what looked like a cigarette burn.  He does not lock up alone now.

Other stories involve a lady dressed in white, thought to be a ghost of a woman who was either executed or died of a broken heart (stories vary) after being accused of having murdered her fiancé in 1680.

With reports apparitions seen, doors slamming on their own, people being touched, disembodied voices and footsteps, we so had to go and investigate!

Shepton Mallet Prison - Ball moves


On this occasion, we had booked into a public investigation with Haunted Happenings.  We always struggle to find venues on the weekend to hire for a private investigation.  The reason for this is largely due to tour groups operating there. We have found Haunted Happenings to be the best of the tour groups we have tried, and we wanted to visit Shepton Mallet Prison so we had no hesitation in booking our tickets.

Although for most of the night we had nothing much happen, apart from a couple of bangs in one of the cell blocks, it became more interesting when we did some glass divination.

The idea of this was to have an upside-down glass on the table. Placed underneath the glass, was a flashing cat ball.  The ball should not flash unless motion activated and this is where it became interesting.

There were four of us with our fingers placed lightly on the glass.  We shared this experience with a lovely couple, one of who was fairly sceptical.  Both were like us, determined to have a real experience and both wanting to trust us in return that the glass would not be pushed. Our table was at first, the least successful of all the other participants on their own tables.  Balls and glasses were flying everywhere, while ours remained unmoved.

Nearly giving up all hope, and being grateful that we were obviously with a couple who could be trusted, it began.  At first, the ball rocked gently under the glass.  Maybe our ideomotor movements, I thought.  These are small involuntary movements made by our muscles.  Then the ball started to rock more violently before setting off, hitting the side of the glass.  It continued its movement by suddenly rapidly circling under the glass.  I was a little taken aback any small amount of ideomotion movement we may have been making should not have produced such speed.  I took my finger off and rapidly went to grab my camera, but by the time I returned it was slowing, and I only caught the tail end of it.

After that, there were various movements of the ball under the glass and we even had the table moving when we were a good distance away from the edge of it.  Was it our movements?  We can never truly rule that out, but the final movement that the ball made really caught my attention.  On reviewing the video back, the ball starts to rock again and then it pivots on the spot.  It was this that caught my attention!  A ball pivoting on the spot is such an unusual move, and far from what we could have produced accidentally.  All of this is captured in the video below.

Although we didn’t see any ghosts at Shepton Mallet Prison that night, we would certainly like to get back there and explore it further.  The ball was definitely a ‘wow’ moment… it has us intrigued!


Shepton Mallet

Written By Alison Oborn
Owner of Adelaide’s Haunted Horizons and Paranormal Field Investigators
Paranormal Researcher, author and tour guide
All articles are the personal opinion of the author only and do not always reflect the views of Adelaide’s Haunted Horizons.

Alison Oborn - Owner of Adelaide Haunted Horizons

© Alison Oborn – Adelaide’s Haunted Horizons – 2020



  • Hi, Shepton Mallet is a medium size Town, nothing like a village let alone a sleepy one ! ????

    • Hi Mac,

      Did I put that? Oops, I wrote this a couple of years after I visited and remembered it as a charming place. Sorry about that. It is still a wonderful place to visit either way 🙂


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