Ghosts without Parole

Gloucester prisonMaking ourselves unpopular, debunking the paranormal and failing to find ghosts. Calamityville Horror are back!

After a long, long LONG hiatus, we were finally back together for a ghost at Gloucester Prison. Neen’s mum Elaine booked it. It’s been over a year since we’ve investigated together so we were excited but also apprehensive as we’re not keen on public events. Usually because stuff is faked or there’s one guest there that really rattles our coconuts. And we went with this company to Newsham Park. You can read our thoughts on them here. Neen and Elaine assured us that on the past two events with this company, everyone was lovely and the team had different members. You’d think that now we’re a lot more socialised, our tolerance for people would have grown. In fact, it’s shrunk. And we now crave solitude.Gloucester prison

Gloucester Prison was a category B men’s prison that was built in 1792, designed by William Blackburn. It was rebuilt in 1840 by Thomas Fuljames, who created the flanking brick wings. In 1971, a new young offenders prison was built there, as was C Wing. A new gate, block and visits centre was added in 1987. In 2003 it was listed as one of the 20 most overcrowded prisons in Britain. The next day, prisoners staged a 3 ½ hour siege by locking themselves in a cell. Really? Climb on the roof like other protesting prisoners. They want you in the cell. In 2007 it was criticised for overcrowding, poor dining provisions and cramped cells. A month later, the ground floor flooded and 100 prisoners were moved to other jails. The following month, it was criticised for its woeful training and education facilities. It finally closed in 2013.

Gloucester prisonThere are over 100 unmarked graves in the grounds, not all of them prisoners. Some executed prisoners were claimed by relatives, but murderers weren’t allowed to be buried in consecrated ground. Before 1792, executions took place in the nearby village of Over (where we helped to build a Halloween attraction), and prisoners were taken there in carts, sitting in their own coffins. Oh that is cold. Why not make them dig their own graves too? Between 1792-1932, 123 prisoners were executed there. After 1792, hangings were carried out using a New Drop style gallows which was erected on the roof of the prison gatehouse in 1826. In the years 1792-1864, 102 prisoners were hanged in public – 94 men and 8 women. There were no executions between William Davis on 20th April 1839 and John Butt in July 1864. The last public execution took place on 27th August 1864 when 55 year old Lewis Gough was executed for murdering Mary Curtis.

The first private hanging took place on a raised scaffold in the prison yard on 8th January 1874 when 20 year old Frederick Jones was executed by William Calcraft (a hangman famed for bungling hangings, resulting in him swinging on the condemneds’ legs) on a raised scaffold in the prison yard. Jones killed his girlfriend, Emily Gardener. On 12th January 1874, the hangman, Robert Anderson, asked for a pit to be dug under the gallows for the triple hanging of Edward Butt, Mary Ann Barry and Edwin Bailey. Butt had killed his girlfriend. Mary and Edwin had poisoned Edwin’s illegitimate baby girl, who they considered a nuisance. Mary was the last woman to suffer the short drop hanging and struggled for three minutes.

A new gallows was built on the end wall of A Wing in 1912. It had double doors that separated it from the condemned cell. 6 people were hanged here, including Herbert Armstrong in 1922. The last hanging was in 1939, but the execution chamber wasn’t demolished until 1966, after the abolition of the death penalty. Herbert was the only solicitor in the UK to be hanged for murder. In May 1919, his wife, Kitty’s health weakened, but her doctor, Thomas Hincks diagnosed her with brachial neuritis. She recovered but in August 1920, her health deteriorated again. Hincks said she showed signs of a mental collapse and admitted her to Barnwood, a private asylum. She improved and was discharged on 22nd January 1921. She became ill and died exactly a month later. All the servants closed the curtains as a sign of respect. Armstrong opened them as soon as he came home.Gloucester prison

On 26th October 1921, Armstrong invited a rival solicitor, Oswald Martin over for tea. They were on opposing sides of a property dispute. As Armstrong handed Martin a scone, he said “excuse fingers.” Later that night, Martin became violently ill. A few weeks before, chocolates had been sent to his home. His sister in law ate some and became violently ill. Martin’s father in law, John Davies, had sold Armstrong arsenic for killing dandelion. Hincks noticed Martin’s symptoms were similar to Kitty’s and warned Martin not to accept gifts from Armstrong. Martin’s urine contained arsenic, yet Armstrong kept inviting him around for tea. Martin found it hard to make up excuses not to go. “Sorry, but I don’t want to be poisoned” would’ve alerted Armstrong that he knew. Kitty was exhumed and they found large amounts of arsenic in her body. Some people believe he was framed, as the prosecution witnesses were his rival and his rival’s father in law. He was found guilty and hanged by John Ellis on 31st May 1922. His last words were “I am innocent of the crimes for which I have been condemned to die.”

Cell 25 in A Wing, landing 3 is haunted by Jenny Godfrey. Furniture in that cell gets moved and pots, pans and books were thrown around the cell. In 1969, the occupant, Robert Gore, made a Ouija board out of scraps of paper and an upturned glass. The glass moved by itself, spelling Jenny’s name. A few days later, a disembodied hand appeared and pointed at Gore. Some say she was held in the cells of the nearby Abbey and now appears in the jail to mock the prisoners. Others say she was killed by an inmate and returns to search for him. Then another story says she was murdered by a drunk man in the 15th C and points to the spot where she died. She spelled out several events that were about to happen. Some prisoners scoffed, but some of them came true. Staff hear knocking and cells doors slamming. In C Wing, shadowy figures have been seen and a sceptical guard was locked in a cell that has no lock on the door.

We set out and parked outside the gates. A man came to tell us that the gates would open at half eight. At 8:50, they finally opened. Our time was spent with all of us moaning about how much we needed to pee. It’s all not all glamour and fun on Calamityville. As soon as the gates were open, we parked up and rushed in to pee. The other guests were more…polite about their need for bladder relievement so they had to queue. Sorry, but it’s a case of speak now or forever hold your pee.

There were about 50 guests and 10 team members. People. Urgh . Just what we don’t want on a ghost hunt. We did a group tour of the prison first. We were told prisoners had scratched their names into the wall of the debtors’ prison, including Fred West. We doubted this. Fred West couldn’t write his name and signed his legal documents with an X. Trust us. Serial killers would be our Mastermind speciality. It’s also said he was held on remand here, but he was held on remand in Birmingham, where he killed himself.

Gloucester prisonThe debtors’ prison was unexciting with empty rooms downstairs. Upstairs there were sort of beds. We were called back but we’d only just got upstairs so ignored the call and kept exploring. As we were prowling the top floor, Cat suddenly found it difficult to breathe. It felt like she was having a panic attack. We started suffering panic attacks twenty years ago so know how they feel and how to control them. But we haven’t had one for a while. We’ve since been told that there is a suicide watch cell upstairs. This feeling continued as we headed into the main wing and worsened when she entered the first cell in B Wing. In this cell, Neen could taste mould. There was mould all over the walls and the smell was quite strong. Lynx gave her a chocolate coin to take the taste away.

We went into the chapel to do a séance and had to imagine the white light going through us. Neen kept changing her light to red. Cat’s kept going out. Lynx couldn’t concentrate because the right side of her face was hurting. Not from anything paranormal, just sinusitis. Then we had to picture ourselves wearing a cloak. We gave ourselves fancy cloaks. When we were told to picture tree roots from our feet grounding us, the temptation to call out “I am Groot” was overwhelming. But we are professionals. Neen thought she saw a small man in the doorway watching us.Gloucester prison

We were split into five groups of ten and our group went to C wing. This was built in the 1970s so visually, was the least interesting part of the prison. We did some calling out in the corridor. Elaine stood in the doorway of cell 13 with us three opposite her. At one point, we all saw a light hovering by her knee. As though someone switched a torch on and directed a ball of light toward her. But no-one had a torch on. Neen switched hers on to try and recreate it but it didn’t. Lynx, Neen and one of the organisers then heard whispering.

The organiser set up a Ouija board so us four and another woman used it. The planchette moved slightly. Were we finally about to have a board actually work for us and let us communicate with a spirit without someone faking it?

Were we bollocks.

Gloucester prisonIt became clear that the woman was moving it. Each time it moved, ours, Neen’s and Elaine’s fingers would come off it or hover just above the planchette. The woman’s fingers remained on it. When they did lift off, it stopped. Cat and Neen tested their suspicions by holding down the planchette. When Cat did it, the woman’s finger strained as she tried to pull it towards herself. When Neen did it, the plachette stopped but the woman’s finger kept moving. Busted. We have no time or tolerance for fakers and refused to participate in a Ouija board after that.

We moved on to an engineering workshop. The team leader put the SB11 spirit box on. Yes. That device that scans through radio stations and only seems to speak when it can get a signal. When Cat had it, it only played music. Cat “are you trying to rap your answer? It’s communicating through the top 40!” The woman who faked the Ouija board was convinced there was a spirit called David around. Next we tried a human pendulum. Cat volunteered Lynx to be the pendulum so we would know it wasn’t faked. Nothing happened. So then Fake It volunteered. Guess what? She was being pushed and pulled like a swinging door. We rolled our eyes so hard they were like the spinning pictures in a fruit machine.Gloucester prison

We had a break then so ranted to the camera about this woman’s fakery. See? We said there would be one person who irritated us. We were right. And we were stuck with her until free time at 2 a.m. The night suddenly seemed like a ten year stretch.

We went into the laundry rooms next and the leader switched on the Banshee Box. We’d not heard of one of these but man this was fun. Apparently, it has words in its database that are broken, so spirits have to put the words back together to speak. Not sure how spirits would know how to do this. We hope that if we become ghosts, we don’t have to do this. We can just about master our MP3 Players. It spat our broken words in a voice that Lynx said sounded suspiciously like the Mysterons. Luckily Lynx was in a burgundy skirt and Cat was wearing a red tartan coat so Captains Scarlet were on hand to fight them. It rambled gibberish in its creepy voice while Fake Away mentioned she sensed someone called David. Cat “half the prison population were probably called Dave.” The leader laughed and said that’s probably true as everyone knows a Dave. Cat “It’s like there was always one called William. I know about five Daves.” We’re related to two. David wasn’t mentioned again. The woman thought it said “zozo”. This thing wasn’t speaking English. It certainly wasn’t spitting out fictional demon names.

Gloucester prisonThere was an interesting response on the rem pod though. It started buzzing and at one point lit up and when the leader asked it to switch out the blue light, switched out. But it wasn’t responsive to other commands and just kept buzzing to itself like an angry mechanical bee.

We were then taken to the kitchens. The two guys in there kept saying how active it had been, how four people got affected, fleeing the kitchen retching and the fifth one had to be removed. Uh huh. Their activity was about to die because the ghost busters (aka Calamityville Horror) showed up. Sure enough, not much happened. There were some light responses on the K2 to people’s questions but the guys kept saying there were people there but they were too scared to come into the circle. Prisoners too scared to enter a circle of women? Three of whom are midget sized? The team kept talking about how active it was with all the other groups. No doubt they would be saying that about our group too. One guy said he could smell sulphur. Fake Off said “don’t say that. First we had Zozo, now sulphur.” Sulphur smells are associated with demonic entities. And landfill sites. The guy asked the significance of the sulphur, but Fake and Bake just said “don’t say that.” Lynx told him it meant demons. The guy asked who was Zozo. Lynx “he’s the latest paranormal craze.” Cat “Think Zak Bagans started it.” The woman said “actually it started with Zeppelin.” But when she tried to explain who Zozo was, she couldn’t and shut up. Yes. Pipe down with your fakery and your demonic bullshit.Gloucester prison

We could hear water dripping but the team said there were no working taps. When we returned to the kitchens alone at the end of the night, we could still hear the dripping. Lynx and Neen went to investigate and found…a leaking tap! Thought they said there were no working taps. This was an easy one to debunk but they didn’t seem interested in that.

We moved to A wing with the medium. Apparently the other teams had doors slamming. And guess what our team got? Bugger all. The other members of our group were now commenting on how our group were getting nothing. We kept quiet about this always happening to us. We’d made ourselves unpopular enough. The medium said there were about five spirits around us and kept going on about a dark negative energy in B wing. We asked if we could go there instead. In the end, she sent Cat there with one of the team. Nothing. Not a door slam, no footsteps, no voices, no evil energy. All we could hear was one of the other groups being incredibly noisy. Way to ruin our vigils!

At 2 a.m we headed back to the break room then at 2:25, set off alone. We went to B wing first. So did a lot of other people. We couldn’t do any vigils due to the noise. So we did a cool silhouette photo against a giant window and selfie on a bunk bed. Then we moved to the kitchens where Lynx and Neen debunked the dripping water. We headed back to C wing to see if the light would return but it didn’t. So we headed to A Wing, where Jenny is supposed to haunt A3 25. You can’t get up to A3 and none of the doors have numbers on. We did a vigil in the corridor and eventually, the other guests started to leave so the prison quietened down. Neen and Elaine retired to the break room at 3:35 so it was just us two left. By now, the other guests had left. We had the entire prison block to ourselves. Finally. But it didn’t feel creepy. Without everyone else there, it was quiet. It was incredibly windy and the building next door had plastic sheeting which made a lot of noise. We suspect the wind was responsible for a lot of noise activity heard through the night. And there were broken windows, which would explain banging noises that sounded like they were coming from upstairs. Or maybe it was Zozo the famous demon running amok and slamming doors because terrorising guests in Gloucester was the best use of his time that night. We may never know.Gloucester prison

 

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