Ghosts of Abingdon Old Gaol
Hanged Prisoners still making Noises
staff at a Thames Valley sports centre hear things that go bump in the night they know
it is more than the ladies' aerobics class in action. Because there are
ghostly goings-on at the leisure centre in the former Abingdon gaol -
enough to make sportsmen's hair stand on end. Spooky voices have been
heard doors bang mysteriously and ghoulish figures have been seen lurking
is not surprising that the phantoms haunt the sport centre as years ago
the building was the main gaol for the area and many a villain met a
grisly end on the prison gallows. Stories about hauntings abound in the
North Berkshire town. One of its ghoulish claims to fame is that the
youngest person to be hanged in Britain met his end at Abingdon.
the old gaol's deputy manager Steve Blosse has not had any chilling
experiences he says many of his staff have had ghostly encounters. He
said, "the building does have a reputation for unnatural goings-on.
Staff say they have heard doors banging and other strange noises. “We
used to have clothes baskets in changing rooms that started swinging for
no reason at all and the previous manager claims he saw a ghost."
health suite of the complex is built on the site of the prison chapel
where the ill-fated men were given their last rites - and many spooky
sightings reported there. The gaol was built by prisoners during the
Napoleonic Wars and closed in 1890 when it became a grain store.
to the child's hanging, Mr Blosse said, "he was only eight-years-old
and staff have heard the sound of a child laughing and talking just as
they are locking up." The Guinness Book of Records confirms that an
eight-year-old youngster was hanged in Abingdon as he had "malice,
cunning and revenge in firing two barns". But Mr Blosse insists that
there is nothing sinister about the centre’s spooks. "They are
quite harmless and they only seem to be around when there is building work
going on. Perhaps they don't like being disturbed."
haunted centre has chilling links with the oddly named Broad Face pub
opposite the old gaol. The pub, which overlooks the site of the old
gallows is said to have got its name from the hangings - as the victim's
face swelled up when the noose tightened.
Evening Post. 24th September 1998.
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