Shrewsbury Prison Investigation.

Hey Guys! Welcome to the next instalment of our investigation blogs. For this investigation we travelled to Shrewsbury to investigate what is reputed to be one of the most haunted prisons in the entirety of the UK! When you learn of the death that took place here, you’ll certainly understand why that is!

In this blog we have covered The History, The Ghost Stories, The Executions and we have even included a few investigation videos of us in action on the night! I won’t keep waffling on, as a lot of awesome information lies ahead…..

The History

Researched and edited by Vicky Grant


Shrewsbury Prison, also known as ‘The Dana‘ first opened it’s doors in 1793 and was constructed by Thomas Telford who followed architectural plans from John Hiram Haycock. Also involved in the plans quite interestingly was William Blackburn who had taken and followed idea’s from a Mr John Howard who was a prison reformer and it was Howard who had suggested many ways in which sanitary conditions could be improved and these measures later formed a part of the 1774 Gaol act.

Due to contracting Typhus whilst visiting a Russian Military Hospital, Howard sadly died three years before the prison’s completion.

The Prison was known for it’s public executions and crowds would flock from miles around to witness these, it almost became somewhat of a show and people would fight to be at the very front – Disturbingly, posters were often offered and sold as souvenirs!

Who was executed by public hanging, and why?

Photo from 1961 – Execution of  21-year-old George Riley


Below is a FULL list of the executions that took place at the prison, along with the reasons why! It shocks me to think that some poor soul could have been hanged for crimes as petty as stealing and the majority of items being stolen in this era were food related.

18th Century

  • 15/08/1795 – John Smith – Stole from a shop
  • 26/03/1796 – Edward Quilt – Stole in the dwelling house And John Hill was at large (returning from transportation)
  • 08/04/1797 – Thomas Micklewright – Cattle theft
  • 07/04/1798 – Adam Humphreys – Arson

19th Century

  • 23/08/1800 – Daniel Bedsmore -Sheep theft And William Griffiths – Housebreaking
  • 28/03/1801 – James Lafferty – Highway robbery
  • 08/08/1801 – Thomas Bennet – Horse theft And Thomas Nutts – Sheep theft
  • 03/04/1802 – Francis Jones – Horse theft And William Thomas, William Hooper, Samuel Young – Burglary
  • 11/08/1803 – Sarah Jones – Murder of her bastard child
  • 08/08/1807 – Thomas Smith – Burglary
  • 24/08/1811 – George Taylor. Isaac Hickman , James Baker, William Turner, Abrahm Whitehouse – Burglary
  • 23/03/1812 – John Griffiths – Murder William Bailey
  • 22/03/1813 – Rowland Preston – Murder Francis Bruce
  • 09/04/1814 – William Wheeler -Sodomy of Ann Vandrell (Age 6)
  • 27/03/1815 – Thomas Jesson – Murder Mary Birch (stepdaughter)
  • 08/04/1815 – Thomas Williams – Burglary
  • 16/08/1817 – William Barker, Edward Mitchell And Samuel Bowdler – Sheep theft
  • 04/04/1818 – Edward Potter – Sheep theft
  • 22/08/1818 – John Richards – Sheep theft
  • 03/04/1819 – John Denny – Stabbing
  • 21/08/1819 – Samuel Thomas – Killed a farmers cow
  • 01/04/1820 – John Rogers -Burglary
  • 12/08/1820 – Richard Lewis And Samuel Lewis – Sheep theft
  • 07/04/1821 – Thomas Palin – Plugging boilers (Luddite)
  • 15/09/1821 – Richard Davies – Burglary And John Turner – Sheep theft
  • 06/04/1822 William Griffiths – Burglary And Thomas Farmer – Stabbing
  • 24/03/1823 – John Newton – Murder of wife
  • 22/03/1824 – Richard Overfield – Murder of child
  • 03/04/1824 – Richard Smith – Burglary
  • 05/08/1826 – Henry Moss – Horse theft
  • 04/08/1828 – John Cox & James Pugh – Murder James Harrison
  • 04/08/1828 – William Stephenson – Murder John Horton
  • 16/08/1828 – Ann Harris – Accomplice to the murder James Harrison
  • 04/04/1829 – John Evans Shooting
  • 31/03/1832 – James Lea And Joseph Grindley – Arson
  • 06/04/1833  – William Handley – Shooting
  • 05/08/1833 – George Hayward – Murder of John Cause
  • 13/08/1836 – Lawrence Curtis, Patrick Donelly And Edward Donelly  – Robbery (last execution for robbery in the UK)
  • 03/04/1841 – Josiah Misters – Attempted murder of William Makreth
  • 02/04/1842 – John Williams – Murder of Emma Evans
  • 07/04/1854 – John Lloyd – Murder of John Gittins
  • 11/04/1863 – Edward Cooper – Murder of son
  • 09/04/1868 – John Mapp – Murder of Catherine Lewis
  • 27/07/1886 – William Samuels – Murder of William Mabbotts
  • 28/03/1888 – William Arrowsmith – Murder of uncle

20th Century

  • 18/03/1902 – Richard Wigley – Murder of Mary Ellen Bowen (girlfriend)
  • 15/12/1917 – Thomas Cox – Murder of Elizabeth Cox (wife)
  • 24/07/1923 – William Griffiths – Murder of Catherine Hughes (mother)
  • 04/01/1951 – Frank Griffin – Murder of Jane Edge
  • 08/07/1952 – Harry Huxley – Murder of Ada Royce (girlfriend)
  • 23/10/1952 – Donald Neil Simon – Murder of Eunice Simon (wife) and Victor Brades
  • 26/01/1954 – Desmond Hooper – Murder of Betty Smith
  • 09/02/1961 – George Riley – Murder of Adeline Smith

The Above list shows a staggering 72 deaths by hanging at The Dana in Shrewsbury during it’s 220 years open – Although it is said that there is a still a lot more that have not been accounted for.

During restorations in 1972, the skeletons of 10 unknown prisoners were discovered and dug up and later those bodies were cremated.

The Prison closed it’s doors in 2013 which is only a mere 5 years ago! and is now open to the public for tours and paranormal investigations. I would definitely recommend a visit here if you’re ever in the area… The History of this place is so powerful and you can feel it as soon as you step foot inside it’s walls.

If you would like to know more about the prisoners, their crimes and the executions please visit this link Capital Punishment UK – It’s a little more in depth and definitely worth reading!

 Ghost Stories 

Researched and edited by James Bosley

Shrewsbury prison is reported to be one of the most haunted locations in the UK, a list that seems to be ever increasing. With so many venues fighting for the title, what makes this prison a cut above the rest when it comes to ghostly goings on?

The location is reported to play host to an impressive array of paranormal activity, more than just your average bump in the night. Poltergeist activity, physical attacks, unexplained shadows an spine tingling screeches are just a few of the things you might expect from somewhere that has housed as many disturbed minds as this place. There has been a prison on this site since 1793.

In more ‘recent’ years alone bodies of those executed at the prison were buried in unmarked graves within the grounds. The bodies of ten executed prisoners were exhumed in 1972, with nine cremated at a local cemetery and the other being handed back to relatives.

The traumatic nature of the deaths in this prison alongside the plethora of disturbed inmates make it the perfect platform for all kinds of hauntings. From the residual remains of a traumatic passing to the intelligent mischievous from the maniac minds once contained here. Upon entering the main wings you’re immediately overcome with an intimidating sense of darkness, the vast length and height of the building with only the dim glow of outside lighting creeping through the dust-thick windows is enough to reduce the confidence of even a seasoned investigator.

Reported activity includes slamming cell doors, footsteps echoing around the centre of the wings, ghostly figures looking out from the windows in the execution block and sitings of a woman in victorian dress. During the time the prison was in use, some of the inmates reported seeing a variety of ghostly apparitions, many pleading with guards not to be left alone in the cells.

The Investigation

Written by Vicky Grant

I have to admit, Shrewsbury Prison is a hell of a place! Even if you’re not going for a paranormal investigation, just being able to step foot inside this MASSIVE prison and walk around is an experience all on it’s own.

James and Vicky At Shrewsbury Prison

Looking back now on the actual investigation, we actually captured some pretty amazing stuff as you’ll see from the video’s below. Although the activity was kind of a hit and miss, we investigated for around 6 hours or so and didn’t get a lot for the majority of the time, I think the most active area for us on the night was definitely C Block – The women’s cells where we did the spirit box session. I was REALLY impressed with the results of that upon review.

Shrewsbury Prison – C Block

All in all, I definitely would love to go back here, I still feel like their is a lot more to be uncovered and it’s such an eerie place. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt energy like that and you can feel it as soon as you step foot in the building. As James mentioned above, the Prison is going to soon be covered into housing accommodation (or so we heard!) I hope it’s not the first and last time we ever get to investigate it, it’s so sad to loose something so historical.

Investigation Videos

Spirit Box Session – C BLOCK

Edited by Vicky Grant

I absolutely loved watching this footage back once I got it all uploaded onto my laptop. Sometimes it’s really hard to decipher what the voices are saying during a spirit box session, especially if they are spoken very quickly as it’s easy to miss something. This is why I always love reviewing footage and seeing things that were clearly missed or misinterpreted the first time around!

As you can see, some of the responses were pretty spot on during this session. I find this fascinating as we had the spirit box running on 150 (which is a very fast sweep) and it was also on reverse, so we shouldn’t have been getting anything audible as far as full words or sentences are concerned. On a reverse sweep, if this were picking up a radio station (which is highly unlikely due to the pace of the sweep) it should somewhat sound like a tape recorder that is being rewound, therefore, it shouldn’t have made much sense at all.

After watching this footage and seeing the incredible responses, I must admit, my favourite moment is when we were about to depart from the doorway and the voice came though in accordance to what I myself was warning the others about, the steps. It first said ‘Careful‘ and after I’d said watch the steps, it repeated the word ‘steps‘ – I don’t think interaction can get more powerful than that!

This was the best spirit box session I have taken part in … so far! 


Vicky’s Lone Visual – Main Building

(I would recommend watching this video with headphones to hear the voices that were captured clearer)

Do I look scared enough?

Go ahead and LAUGH …. I honestly laughed at myself when I watched it back, but HEY… It’s a WHOLE different ball game when you’re in their alone. I’m not gonna sit here and try to be the big man by telling everyone I am the most brave paranormal investigator ever and I laugh at fear… because honestly, that’s a pile of poop.

I was absolutely sh*tting myself! 

Prison’s in general make me uncomfortable anyway and the thought of going inside one that was filled with vicious men and women for committing notorious crimes and knowing that some of that had been carried on into the afterlife? … Not fun.

At first I found it hard to speak, as you’ll see. I could hear noises coming from every which way and it did make me a little distracted from the task at hand. I felt VERY uncomfortable, almost as if I was being surrounded, or even bullied in some way – the energy in there was really intense. I do apologise for not being able to get further than the door, I wish I had the guts to go in, as a part of me really wanted too but then another part of me was telling me it wasn’t safe.

When the cell door slammed (at the time it sounded to me as if it was from the second floor) – I couldn’t actually comprehend what had just happened so of course, my reaction was to shout ‘GET LOST’ at the top of my voice like an idiot. HA, I ask for activity and then tell it to get lost. I think it was the sheer disbelief that it had actually happened. BUT HEY at least I didn’t run off.

I can absolutely guarantee that whilst I was in that part of the building no one else was in there at all. I went straight back to base-room (when I found it as I also got lost outside for a good ten minutes lol) and everyone was accounted for, sitting down, drinking coffee as it was break time.

I’m so glad it also captured the man’s voice at the end as well, and it was pretty intimidating! I actually heard this with my own ears, so I casually turned on my heel and I thought I am getting the HELL out of here.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed watching it and it gave you a good laugh, but on an upside, I also captured some pretty cool stuff, so maybe it is true what they say, certain spirits can feed on your fear.

Who know’s – Maybe you will see me go alone again at some point! We’ll see!


Edited by James Bosley

(I would recommend watching this video with headphones to hear what was captured clearer)

A night in the icy grip of Shrewsbury Prison

I can’t stress enough how cold this night was, I can quite confidently say it was probably the coldest night of my life. Despite being prepped with snowboarding trousers, around 5 jumpers, extreme weather jacket and thermal everything else – I was near frozen…so forgive any shivering/chattering of teeth. You might also see pools of water dotted around the cell blocks – this was because a main water pipe exploded causing a pretty catastrophic flooding, it’s safe to say we can put this down to frozen pipes rather than phantoms.

We had a mixed bag of activity throughout the night, with a couple of good captures on the SLS camera (as well as weird fingerprints on the screen). There seemed to be quite a lot of audio response, usually in the form of a whistle, as well as a couple of taps and bangs within the cells.

The spirit box session (as Vicky mentions) was really successful, and great to watch back! There’s also a strange noise picked up by the camera microphone – I’ve replayed it in the clip above.

Weirdly, I found the execution areas to be the most peaceful – there wasn’t the same oppressive atmosphere as felt within the cells and corridors of the main wings. Our most active areas seemed to be some of the offices, which could be linked to the sites previous layout.

I’m really pleased we got to investigate this huge and impressive site before it is converted in to accommodation, it’s a rare opportunity to get access all areas to a venue like Shrewsbury Prison – especially one with such extensive history!


Thank you!

Myself and James here at Dead Central would like to thank you all for taking the time to read our blog update and watch the videos! We hope you enjoyed it.

As many of you know we recently had an article published in Haunted Magazine and we have been asked to write another! This will be our next big project whilst we will also be working on a few more investigation blogs in the meantime.

But until then..

Happy Hunting! 

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