Ruthin Gaol

Haunted Ruthin Gaol

Ruthin Gaol has gained a reputation as one of the most haunted buildings in North Wales. The formidable gaol complex is said to be haunted by several former inmates, one of which dislikes female visitors.

History of Ruthin Gaol

Ruthin Gaol, also known as the Old County Gaol, is a former prison in Ruthin.
The Victorian prison was built a stone’s throw from Ruthin Castle, on the site of an earlier prison, in 1775.

It initially operated as a House of Correction, where prisoners were held for minor offences. They were expected to perform repetitive manual labour while they served their sentences.

Like many prisons of the time, Ruthin had a reputation for being overcrowded, and conditions were incredibly harsh for inmates.

Ruthin Gaol
Ruthin Gaol. Image Copyright GhostMag

A new four-storey wing was built during the 19th century following new legislation in 1865. It was used as a debtor’s prison and mirrored London’s Pentonville Prison in design. It also served briefly as a holding facility for prisoners awaiting transportation to Australia.

The Gaol remained in use until its closure in 1916. All serving prisoners were transferred to HMP Shrewsbury, leaving the prison in disrepair.

In the years following its closure, the Gaol was used for various purposes. It was a munitions factory during World War Two and latterly became a library and county archive.

In the 1980s, local volunteers began restoring the prison, and it was opened to the public as a museum in 1994.

Ruthin Gaol
Exploring the cells at Ruthin Gaol.

Ghosts sightings at Ruthin Gaol

An array of paranormal activity has been reported at the imposing Ruthin Gaol, which has gained notoriety for being one of the most haunted places in Wales.

Female visitors report being touched in the condemned man’s cell, whilst heavy prison cell doors have been slammed shut violently by an unseen force.

Many attribute these eerie occurrences to the presence of William Hughes, a former inmate who is the only known prisoner to be executed at the jail.

His spirit has been seen wandering the Gaol, perhaps reflecting on his actions on a fateful afternoon in November 1902 when he accused his wife of infidelity and shot her dead in a jealous rage.

Hughes, who was hanged at Ruthin, is also believed to be the cause of the physical activity experienced in the condemned man’s cell, where he spent his final night before execution.

Another ghost rumoured to haunt the jail is William Kerr, a former correctional officer at the Gaol.

Kerr disappeared during his rounds, and it is alleged he was killed by several inmates, who became angry and disillusioned with prison life.

Visitors have also reported seeing the ghost of a young girl. She has been heard singing, and mediums have picked up on her happy spirit numerous times.

Can I visit Ruthin Gaol?

Ruthin Gaol is open between April-October 2023

Address: Ruthin Gaol, Clwyd Street, Ruthin LL15 1HP

Are there any other haunted locations nearby?

Ruthin is a market town known for its rich history, and some other locations nearby are said to be haunted.

Just a stone’s throw away is the town’s medieval castle, Ruthin Castle, which dates back to the 13th century.

The castle is now a luxury hotel and is a favourite haunt for ghost hunters who hope to glimpse the resident spook Lady Grey.

Other haunted locations in Wales include the incredibly spooky Plas Teg and the abandoned Bron Y Garth Hospital.

Sources: Denbighshire Free Press, 21st February 1903
Cover Photo: Digital-Designs on Flickr

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