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Want to Investigate the UK's Most Haunted locations?
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YOUR Ghost Hunt at Ruthin Gaol
Ghost Hunting at Ruthin Gaol in Denbighshire is not for the feint hearted. With the building being used to torment and hold the cruellest of criminals, a ghost hunt at Ruthin Gaol is sure to excite even the most experienced ghost hunter! Walk in the footsteps of past criminals, incarcerated for wrong doing – or simply for being in debt! Will you brave locking yourself in a cell, calling out to those who now remain in spirit and invite them to sit beside you all alone in the dark.
Ruthin Gaol is a Pentonville style prison in Ruthin, Denbighshire.
The first House of Correction, or Bridewell, was built at the bottom of Clwyd Street, next to the river, in 1654, to replace the Old Court House, where able-bodied idlers and the unemployed were sent to work. Following John Howard’s investigations into prison conditions the Denbighshire justices resolved to build a new model prison in Ruthin on the site of the old Bridewell.
Work began in January 1775. In 1802 the prison had four cells for prisoners and nine rooms for debtors. By 1837 it could hold 37 inmates.
The Prisons Act of 1865 set new standards for the design of prisons — as the Ruthin County Gaol did not meet the standards plans were drawn up for a new four-storey wing, and the new prison accommodating up to 100 prisoners, in the style of London’s Pentonville Prison was built at a cost of £12,000.
On 1 April 1878 the Ruthin County Gaol became HM Prison Ruthin, covering the counties of Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Merionethshire.
As far as is known, only one person was ever executed in the prison, William Hughes of Denbigh, aged 42, who was hanged on 17 February 1903 for the murder of his wife, his plea of insanity having failed.
Another colourful prison personality was John Jones, known as Coch Bach y Bala – who was a kleptomaniac and poacher who had spent more than half his 60 years in all the prisons of north Wales and many in England; he twice escaped from Ruthin Gaol, first on 30 November 1879 when he walked out of prison with three others while the staff were having supper — a £5 reward was offered for his capture, which happened the following 3 January. On 30 September 1913 he tunnelled out of his cell and using a rope made out of his bedding he climbed over the roof of the chapel and kitchen and got over the wall; after seven days living rough on the Nantclwyd Estate several miles away, Jones was shot in the leg by one of his pursuers, 19-year-old Reginald Jones-Bateman. Jones died of shock and blood loss, while Jones-Bateman was charged with manslaughter, though the charges were subsequently dropped.
Ruthin Gaol ceased to be a prison in 1916 when the prisoners and guards were transferred to Shrewsbury. The County Council bought the buildings in 1926 and used part of them for offices, the county archives, and the town library. During the Second World War the prison buildings were used as a munitions factory, before being handed back to the County Council, when it was the headquarters of the Denbighshire Library Service. In 2004 the Gaol was extensively renovated and reopened as a museum.
The Reported Ghosts of Ruthin Gaol
It is a common report that heavy prison cells door are known to slam shut on their own accord. What would you do if such a thing should happen to you when alone in the dark? The doors are also known to slam shut one by one along the whole corridor.
The spirit of William Hughes executed on site is said to still haunt the corridors and rooms of Ruthin Gaol. Particularly the “condemned Mans Cell.” His activities of a haunted nature are said to take place both day and night.
William is said to be particularly attracted to women and has been reported to enjoy touching the females in places that should not be touched without consent.
Another William is said to haunt Ruthin Gaol, a mean jailer who simply “vanished” one day whilst doing his rounds. It is thought his life ended in the hands of his inmate though his mistreatment. Will you encounter William Kerr in the darkened corridors?
Another report here is of a young girl’s laughter being heard resonating throughout the jail. Many mediums have said that they believe a spirit of a happy young girl still resides at Ruthin.
Other reports include the feeling of being followed, touched, and disembodied voices.