The site of the current Old Gaol has been used as a place of imprisonment since at least 1654. Conditions in those days would have been extremely grim, with high numbers of prisoners crammed into dark and dirty cells. Little wonder that many would have suffered and even perished here, regardless of how petty their crime.
In fact, things became so bad at Ruthin that an entirely new building was constructed on the site in the late 18th century, and this served as the county jail for many years. A new four-storey wing was built in 1865 and in 1878 it became HM Prison Ruthin, covering the counties of Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Merionethshire.
When the jail was finally closed in 1916, it was then used as offices by the local council until being requisitioned by the army during the war for the storage of munitions. It is now a popular museum with a range of ghosts and hauntings to match its long, dark history.
Psychics visiting the gaol have often reported the presence of a malevolent spirit named William. This may well be William Hughes, the only person believed to have been executed at Ruthin. In 1902 Hughes was locked up in the gaol for deserting his wife and children, but after being released he promptly bought a gun and returned to murder them. He was sentenced to death and hung at Ruthin Gaol in 1903.
Another spirit reported to still walk the corridors of the gaol is a young girl called Josephine, thought to be the daughter of a former prison governor who lived on the site in the 19th century. Staff have blamed this young spectre for the strange disappearance of objects, but it remains a mystery as to why such a young girl would return to the gaol. Did she meet an untimely death here?
Paranormal activity is not limited to apparitions and spirits. Reports state that an unfortunate electrician working late one night was given the fright of his life when he emerged from a cell to see all the other doors along the corridor slam shut by themselves. Brave overnight visitors holding vigils in the condemned cell have also experienced the sound of doors being slammed nearby despite there being no-one else present.
Join Fright Nights on a ghost hunt to find what’s lurking in Ruthin’s old corridors and cells.
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