Beaumaris Gaol Event 16-06-2023

Beaumaris Gaol – 16/06/2023



Constructed in 1829 and expanded in 1867, Beaumaris Gaol is a well-preserved insight into jail life in that period. After its closure in 1867 it became a Police Station into the 50s before a brief period as a children’s clinic. It lay dormant for nearly twenty years before opening as a museum in 1974. Though some items are reconstructed or have been moved to the museum from other buildings, the vast majority of the prison is original and retains the majority of its original features.
Before the construction of the gaol, prisoners may have been held at the castle or at other suitable buildings. Executions took place, sometimes on the land of the condemned but latterly at Gallows Point.

The image above shows what is now the Anglesey bait center, believed to be gallows point, upon which at least five known executions took place.

With the construction of the gaol, executions were moved to the site just outside the gaol.

The following people are believed to have been executed here:
Joseph Jones April 1744 Sacrilege
Robert Elis April 1744 Housebreaking
John Hoult May 1747 Highway Robbery
John Williams Sep 1785 Sheep Stealing
John Ellis May 1786 Stealing and dwelling in a house

Numerous people were sentenced to execution at Beaumaris, but only two were carried out. The others were given long sentences of hard labor or (as was common of the time) were transported to Australia. Unfortunately, the exact number of transportations is unknown.
William Griffith, Executed in 1830 for attempted murder of his first wife
Richard Rowles, in 1862, for the murder of his father in law. He protested his innocence until his death and cursed the clock face so that it would never show the correct time. To this day it never has.
The gaol itself is constructed over two floors in a T pattern, segregated into different wings depending on the severity of the crime. The bottom floor houses the labor areas, kitchens, laundry rooms and the punishment cell. The upper floor consists of the majority of the cells (including the condemned cell), the governor’s office and living quarters.
There is one incident of an escape in which John Morris escaped on 7th January 1859 using a rope which he had stolen whilst working on it. He broke his leg falling from the wall but was able to make it to some nearby woodland but was found a few days later. Considering the relatively small size of the compound, it is quite impressive he even made it out.



Top floor

We began our investigation on the top floor, in the area surrounding the condemned cell. There was a definite sense of presence in the building. Several sets of footsteps were heard by different people, followed by “did you here me” on spirit talker. We attempted a board in the cell.

The name Louise came through, and we were prompted to move to the classroom. We continued the board here, the spirit implied they were present in the room with us. Jo attempted to move to where the spirt was standing and was guided by the movement of the glass on the board.






Due to the success we had at Wirksworth, we attempted the test again, Jo turned her back to those on the board and held up a number of fingers so that they could not be seen. We then asked “how many fingers are being held up” and this was answered correctly.






The spirit was drawn to the classroom as they had committed a crime in a classroom, the date 1879 was given, although whether this was the date of the crime or of the spirits passing is unclear. More footsteps were heard outside and I stepped out to see if anyone was there, the hallway was clear despite a shimmer at the top of the far stairs. As I stepped back into the room, the glass on the board was moving between “o-z” repeatedly before moving quickly to “goodbye”.




Hallway – Governor’s Office


We moved out into the hallway to a spot just in front of the Governor’s office. This area of the gaol was designed so that from this spot a Governor would be able to see all of the cells on the floor. Each cell is fitted with an alarm handle, pulling it triggers a mechanism, ringing a bell and extending a metal plate from the wall, allowing the Governor to see which cell had rang.

From this point several footsteps and the occasional moan was heard. We attempted a board in front of the office but got very little movement, however, as we waited to see if we would get anything, a loud bang was heard above us, not dissimilar to a door being slammed, followed by the noise that sounded like a rusty hinge. Everyone heard this and despite our efforts, nothing was seen to be out of place that could have caused the noise.

We got the sense that the governor was here with us, and was not happy. The prison had been a “silent prison” a system where prisoners were kept segregated except for during work hours, forbidden from talking or interacting with one another for fear of punishment.

The fact that we were out of cells, communicating in the corridor infuriated him, but he was unable to do anything about it. We had a Rempod and K2 both of which went off, the rempod with all lights lit. We attempted to debunk this, moving it, changing sensitivity and swapping out batteries with no affect. It was as if the Governor was standing outside his office watching us.
Despite pushing him, it became clear that he was unable to do anything significant beyond a few knocks.

We decided to head into the rear-most section of the prison. This area is the 1867 addition and is typical of late Victorian prisons characterised by high, light ceilings and elaborate cast iron handrails. There was one cell here which had a much darker feeling than the others.






The Cell

Jo and Scooby entered this one cell, close to the balcony but in direct view of the Governor’s office. Several people had made reference to the feeling of this cell when passing earlier in the evening. In this cell was felt a strong presence of a spirit who was losing his mind. He was suffering, hitting his head against wall intending to do himself damage.


As I did not want to interfere with the experience they were having I stood outside the cell as if I was on guard. From this point onwards I experienced something I have never experienced before on an investigation.

I had the feeling that I was being watched from the Governor’s office, as if all the Governor wanted was for the spirit in the cell to be silent. He wanted me to go into the cell and shut the prisoner up. He does not care about the prisoner, he just does not want to be disturbed.

The spirit’s name was David and was set up by his fiancé which lead to his imprisonment. He lost his mind and was driven to suicide. Scooby earlier, had the sense of a pain in his arm, possible projected by David who may have cut his wrists, a guest had also had a similar sensation. He was tormented by the betrayal, the fact that no one would listen to his pleas of innocence and the constant mistreatment on the orders of the Governor.

I began to sense what the guards felt. The wanted to enter the cell and help, they knew what was going on, knew that David was hurting himself and were forbidden from assisting by the Governor. The sense of being watched from the office grew. Eventually I had to step away as the atmosphere around the cell began to feel very dark and oppressive.

As I stepped away, now understanding what had happened, it was as if the room felt lighter, and all of the emotions were projected onto me, to the extent that I was driven to tears. This coincided with those inside the cell gaining an understanding of the events that had taken place.

As someone who tries to look at things in a factual way this was something that I have never experienced before, and cannot entirely explain. It was as if, in all the times people have visited the Gaol, this particular spirit has never had the opportunity to tell his story, and he was grateful we were listening to him. As we moved away Scooby informed me that he was thanking us.


The Courtyard/Chapel


Deciding to have a bit of a break from what we had just experienced, we stepped out into the courtyard. There appeared to be some energy over a single point and we had a few anomalies on photos. Using the SLS camera we picked up figure which appeared to be inside the chapel so we moved inside.

As we moved in, we got “let us be friends” three times in quick succession on spirit talker. Scooby did a scrying session in which we saw an older, tired looking man. Asking if he would communicate with us, we received “I will talk to you” on spirit talker. Speaking through Scooby we gained information.


The spirit was that of the Priest, Arthur. He had originally been at the Gaol in attempt to rehabilitate the prisoners. He had died of a Stroke but was unsure at what time. It seemed as if, over time, he had grown weary of his profession, having devoted his life to the cause he had become increasingly frustrated with the amount of re-offenders and eventually given up. He spoke slowly as if he had been damaged by the stroke. He was aware of our presence but no longer really cared who was in the prison or if he had been seen.
Though indifferent to us, the chapel did have a somewhat calmer feel and still felt as if the priest had dominion over the room.


Governor’s Officer

We again headed back up to the top floor to the area outside the office door, placing a rempod and K2 in the doorway. We retreated slightly down the corridor and attempted another session on the board, having had so much success earlier in the night we hoped we would get some decent activity on the board this time.

We got a decent amount of activity from the rempod. We swapped out the battery several times in attempt to disprove it but it had no effect.

We first had a spirit named Jay (who had been mentioned earlier in the night) although he is somewhat illiterate and it was therefore a bit difficult to determine exactly what he was saying. We found out that he was 42 years old and had passed somewhere between 1867 and 1878 on October 12th. He possibly had the prisoner number 128242. He was given 14 years for rape, possibly of his own mother who committed suicide. He asked us for help, believing his spirit being trapped here is part of his sentence, a sentence which in his eyes he has already served. He made us aware that the Governor was present, trying to stop him from communicating with us.

Scooby asked Jay what had happened on the stairs and we discovered that someone may have been thrown over the balcony, dangled by their feet and dropped.

Jay was then pushed off the board by the Governor. Communication was a bit one sided however. Mainly we were threatened as we were not welcome there. Some bangs and voices were heard down different corridors during this and the rempod continued to be very active. We were also told about an incident where someone choked on a bone which was forced down their throat.


Punishment Cell


For our final session of the night, we performed a pendulum in the punishment cell. This is an extremely dark, claustrophobic and quiet place designed to be isolated from the outside world. In here we encountered a spirit called Leo who may have suffered from some sort of mental impairment and was very easily influenced. It seems the guards got him to do their bidding, running errands and smuggling contraband around the prison. At one point, however he must have refused to do what the guards asked. In retaliation they got him to take some bread from a prisoner called Michael which resulted in an altercation and them both spending time in the punishment cell. When he was released and was heading back to his cell he was pounced on by Michael and thrown from the balcony. This may have been the incident that was mentioned earlier.





Interestingly, records for the gaol appear to be a bit limited. The two pieces of information that survive are a Misconduct Book (1847-1874), and a Visitors Book (1862-1878). These books give some insight into the final days of the prison but its early history is elusive.

However, one record appears to read (and I could be mistaken as the writing is somewhat illegible), Leo Guilliand, marked down for misconduct March 23 1850, although it is hard to read what he was marked down for. Could this be the name of the spirit we encountered in the punishment cell?

Though only two executions took place on the site, it is unclear how many prisoners may have been transported to Australia. It is believed that between 1787 and 1868 around 162,000 men, women and children were sent to Australia for sentences, claimed to be up to 14 years. In reality it was often much longer if not permanent as it was almost impossible to return. Conditions on ships varied and it was not uncommon for deaths to occur during the voyage. In some cases, 1 in 25 were expected not to make it.

The Transportation Act allowed ecclesiastical courts to sentence people to transportation in lieu of the death penalty (which they had been barred from giving). It was often seen as a deterrent as it was so difficult to return home, and also as a good way of supplying to colonies with labour. Is it possible that our vicar sentenced people to transportation under economic reasons and did not actually believe that it was a decent punishment? He was likely aware of conditions aboard the ships and possibly felt he had failed the prisoners if they were sentenced to transportation, something which may have been out of his hands.

There is two other know reverends that frequented the gaol. Revd H.D. Owend (the gaol’s main Chaplin) and Revd Hughes. Both men tried in vain to get William Griffith to repent for his sins before he died in the hope his soul was saved, but to their despair they were unsuccessful. An event like this could easily torment an individual who believes he could have done more. There is even some dispute over whether the death penalty was too harsh, to the extent where local men refused to build the gallows and they had to get contractors from Liverpool.

In fact, similar events occurred with the execution of Richard Rowles. The ministers had pushed him to confess (which he refused) and let slip that the jury was made up of prominent land owners, all of whom had an issue with Richard. Could our man of the cross be a ministers, guilt stricken about his role in condemning a now believed to be, innocent man.

Predictably there are no records for the “incidents” that may have occurred in the gaol, and issues would likely be dealt with and kept off the books. That being said, attitudes towards prisoners and prisoners’ rights have changed significantly over the last hundred years, activities and punishments once considered acceptable are now considered barbaric, its always possible that the governor and guards were simply doing what they thought necessary to keep the peace.


If you want to see all of the pictures taken on the night, head over to our gallery page, where they are all listed.