Shepton Mallet prison closed in 2013 and since then has been open as a heritage site whilst developers wrangle over its future. People can take guided tours, do the escape rooms, go on ghost tours or join the ultimate experience, a 12 hour stay in the prison - allocated a cell and allowed to wander the darkened building throughout the night. A friend and I decided to give it a go, and have just returned from a night in the country's most haunted prison.

The exercise yard at Shepton Mallet prison

A Brief History of Shepton Mallet Prison

Shepton Mallet prison in Somerset was first opened in 1625 as a House of Correction. Conditions were terrible for the inmates, with men, women and children all mixed together, corruption and poor sanitation creating appalling living conditions with drunkeness, promiscuity and disease rife.

By the 1800s the new penal reform system led to the introduction of hard labour in prisons, with inmates forced to do back breaking tasks such as oakum picking or to walk on the treadwheel - the one at Shepton Mallet was one of the largest. The Silent and Separate System meant that inmates were kept apart with no one to talk to, to break their spirits as well as their bodies.