MJ STEEL COLLINS reviews Paranormal Lockdown’s visit to Shepton Mallet Prison in Somerset, England
Paranormal Lockdown is an American paranormal investigation TV show, featuring Nick Groff (previously Ghost Adventures) and Katrina Weidman (previously Paranormal State), now in its third series, broadcast on Quest Red. Much of the new series was filmed at haunted locations in the UK. So, what do Nick and Katrina make of the centuries old spirits that reside in Blighty?
Shepton Mallet Prison Location Background
400 Years of Death
The first port of call is Shepton Mallet Prison, Somerset, which closed down in 2013 after 400 years in operation. This is a place with a very grim history indeed.
Thousands of prisoners died in what were fetid conditions, with 14 prisoners crammed into one tiny cell. These ranged from hardened adult murderers, to four-year-old children put inside for scrumping an apple.
From Apple Scrumping to Reggie and Ronnie
Prisoners enjoyed a life expectancy of three months upon entering the cells, and could expect to be buried in whatever available space was found within the prison grounds after death. Thousands of prisoners are buried on the site.
During World War Two, the prison was taken over by the US military, who constructed what is known as the Hanging Shed; hundreds of US personnel were executed here during the War for a variety of crimes. The prison reverted back to UK civilian use in the 1960s. In 1962, it was home to the infamous Kray Twins.
The Lady in White, an entity that has put the rise up prison guards more than the scariest inmate, is believed to be the spirit of a woman sentenced to hang for murdering her fiancé. Her last wish was to be executed in her white wedding dress, but on the day of her planned hanging, she was found dead in her cell. A cause of death couldn’t be found during the post-mortem and is was suggested that she died of a broken heart.
The Hooded Lady has been seen in the Victorian courtyard, dressed in a black cloak, looking somewhat perplexed and asking those who see her where the ferns are.
The spirits certainly give Nick and Katrina a warm welcome at the start of their 72 hours locked in the prison. Both were already feeling uneasy as soon as they entered, and were treated to the sight of shadow figures lurking around. There was lots of activity in the A Block, with a cell door slamming by itself and were guided about the Block via ITC using a Geoport.
Afterwards, they investigate the Victorian courtyard, where Katrina felt as if something gripped her arm. The room with the darkest history of all, the Execution room, was the quietest.
That night, Katrina choosse to sleep in Condemned Men’s cell, whilst Nick spent a restless night in A Block. Disembodied footsteps and the sounds of something banging in a cell keep him awake, from which, he also hears a voice. EVP captured on digital recorder sounds like something saying “Nick! Help!”, whilst the noises that kept Nick awake were also recorded. Katrina, meanwhile, barely slept, as it was so cold in the Condemned Men’s cell.
Nick and Katrina investigate where the Kray twins were held, picking up “British Army” and “Kray” on Echovox. A cell door slams itself shut on the second floor.
That night, the investigation returns to the courtyard, where both Nick and Katrina witness the shadow figure of a female in a dress moving around, before vanishing. A voice on the Geoport answers that the spirit is “Underneath”, leading to Nick investigating the recently uncovered 1600s era cell below, and Katrina covering the courtyard. In the cells, Nick feels uneasy. Both sleep in the locations they investigate.
Further investigations in the courtyard, trying to track down the mysterious female shadow figure seen the previous night. Voices coming through on the Geoport say “Underground” and “Hanged”.
This leads to Nick and Katrina investigating the Execution Room, where a couple of experiments are set up. The Angelus runs through a series of images and footage, which spirits can use to communicate, whilst Katrina continues to use the Geoport.
It leads to a colourful night. Loud noises are heard, culminating in Katrina asking the spirit to communicate via knocking, using one knock for no and two knocks for yes. They then turn to the Angelus, where the name Cassandra comes through. On the Geoport, it is said that she is a thief, with a very clear voice coming through saying, “I don’t want to die.” It appears that the spirit of Cassandra resides in the cells dating back to the 1600s. Nick and Katrina ponder if this is the shadow figure they saw in the courtyard the night before?
A very enjoyable episode. It was interesting to see what two investigators, more familiar with the locations of the USA that are usually not much older than a couple of hundred years made of a location as old as Shepton Mallett. However, by the standards of a UK haunted hotspot, the prison is still comparatively new!