Galleries of Justice

The Galleries of Justice: Poltergeist in the pits

Nottingham’s former courthouse and prison with a macabre past

The Galleries of Justice, located in Nottingham, is a historical site that has long been rumoured to be haunted by the spirits of its past. This former courthouse and prison has a macabre history, dating back to the medieval times and has served as a site of punishment, execution and somewhat ironically, injustice.

The Galleries of Justice

The Galleries of Justice is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in Nottingham, with a number of areas within the building believed to be particularly active with paranormal activity.

The most haunted location in the Galleries of Justice is reported to be the dungeons or pits, where prisoners were held in near complete darkness and subjected to harsh treatment before their trial or execution. Visitors often feel a sense of unease and dread while in the dungeons and shuffling or dragging sounds have been reported along with violent poltergeist activity. The feeling of being watched or touched by unseen hands is also very common in this area and it is certainly part of the building tour guides try to avoid!

There is also lots of reported activity in the courtroom, where many trials and sentencing took place. The large, oppressive room is said to be haunted by the spirits of those who were tried and often sentenced to death there, with visitors hearing footsteps, loud knocking and bangs on a regular basis.

Apparitions have also been seen in execution yard, where many prisoners met their grisly end.

GhostMag’s experience at the Galleries of Justice

We met in the entrance hall of the building and began our investigation with a walk around all of the known paranormal hot spots. A local psychic felt that there were two spirits in the entrance hall of the building who were aware of our presence and asked them to try and communicate. There were a few knocks and creaks as we stood quietly in anticipation, however these noises could easily be debunked as the building cooling down for the evening.

The Court Room

We moved into the court room and it was more of the same. There were little taps and sometimes loud bangs, but the majority of noises could also be explained by natural phenomena. The noises became a little more compelling when we heard what sounded like footsteps lightly pacing between the benches, particularly as the group were stood completely still and nobody else was in the building.

Activity began to ramp up. A few people saw a shadow figure darting across the balcony and so a Ouija board was set up in an attempt to open contact with any spirits that may have wanted to communicate. Before long, the glass did start to move around the board however I remain sceptical as to whether it was being pushed by ghostly hands given I had only met a couple of those participating a little more than an hour before!


We then headed for the washroom and whilst calling out to the spirits a few of us heard a female voice make a very quiet ‘aaah’ sound behind us. I was stood at the very back of the group, so could absolutely rule out the possibility of it being one of the other investigators.

Cells, Pits and Dungeon

We spent the rest of the night in the dungeon, where prisoners were kept in inhumane conditions and often chained to the walls. A table tipping experiment roused the activity. The air felt thicker and we all felt as though we were no longer alone. As we sat in a circle and called out to what we believed was an elderly man, a number of the group could suddenly smell body odour. The smell mysteriously lifted as quickly as it came, but it became clear that we were not alone.

Then all hell broke loose! A number of thuds were heard as objects were thrown or dropped onto the sandy surface and the atmosphere in the pits was now oppressive and genuinely quite frightening. We were sat in absolute pitch black so it was impossible to completely rule out foul play however I started to become concerned that one of the group may get hurt as the alleged poltergeist activity increased.

The most compelling piece of evidence came a few moments later, when a stone was thrown with force and hit my back. Given where I was sat, there was no possibility it dropped from the ceiling or that one of the group had thrown this item. It’s probably the best poltergeist activity I have ever witnessed and to this day, I have no rational explanation for the incident.


The full vigil was also recorded on an audio recorder, which was left in the middle of the room as we called out to the spirits in an attempt to record some EVPs.

Upon reviewing the audio, we uncovered some further evidence. A number of the items that were thrown can be heard landing in the clip and when the old man is asked to make himself known the stone that was directed at me is clearly thrown in response.

We also captured a male voice clearly whispering ‘No’ in answer to a similar question. None of the group heard this at the time and we believe it can be classified as a Grade A EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena).

Related: Electronic Voice Phenomena: Are EVP’s Really Voices from Beyond? 

The History

The Galleries of Justice were originally built in the medieval times as there are records of the building service as a courthouse as far back as the 14th century.

The building played a key role in the administration of justice throughout the centuries and served as the main courtroom for the county of Nottinghamshire. The prison also held prisoners awaiting trial or sentencing in the cells located in the basement, known as the “dungeons” and were in use up until the late 18th century.

The Galleries of Justice was also a site of execution for criminals who were sentenced to death. Many of the criminals who were executed at the Galleries of Justice were convicted of petty crime such as theft and were hanged on a scaffold on the steps at the front of the building.

The last execution to take place at the Galleries of Justice was in 1864, after which all executions in the county were transferred to a different location.

The Galleries of Justice museum displays the last working gallows in Britain, which were maintained until 1990. The gallows are not the original gallows of the Galleries of Justice, but were transferred to the museum from Wandsworth Prison and stand on the same spot where many lost their lives.

Can I visit the Galleries of Justice?

The Galleries of Justice is open to the public as a museum, allowing visitors to learn about its rich history and the stories of the people who were once held within its walls. A number of paranormal groups, including Haunted Houses, run regular paranormal investigations.

Address: National Justice Museum, The Lace Market, Nottingham NG1 1HN
Tel: +44 (0) 115 952 0555

Haunted Locations nearby

If you’re looking to make a day of it, there are several other locations in Nottingham that are said to be extremely haunted.

Nottingham Castle is said to be haunted by the spirit of a former resident, the notorious outlaw Robin Hood and the ghost of a porter who was murdered in the castle grounds.

Another must see location is Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, a Grade II listed pub built into the rock at the foot of the castle. It is considered to be one of the oldest pubs in England and is believed to date back to around 1189.

The Trip is haunted by a number of ghosts, including a woman in a long red dress and a man in medieval clothing. There is also a cursed model galleon on display that the staff refuse to clean.

Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Image copyright GhostMag
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