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Location: HM Prison Aswell

Address: HMP Ashwell,



LE15 7LF

Aprox. year Built: 1940’s

HM Prison Ashwell was a Category C men's prison located in the parish of Burley, in the county of Rutland, England. The site of the former prison is located about two miles south of the centre of the village of Ashwell, alongside the road to Oakham and opposite the former kennels of the Cottesmore Hunt. The prison closed in 2011 and Rutland County Council acquired it from the Ministry of Justice in early 2013. The site has been redeveloped as Oakham Enterprise Park, a business park for office and light industrial use.


Ashwell Prison was constructed on the site of a World War II US army base (home to part of the 82nd Airborne Division), and first opened in 1955 as an open prison for adult male prisoners. In October 1987 it was converted to an Adult Male Category C establishment. In 2003 Ashwell Prison hit the headlines after four prisoners went on a wrecking spree, damaging £10,000 worth of office equipment, computers and windows. The trouble started when an officer found an inmate had been drinking alcohol in his cell. Despite this incident Ashwell achieved Resettlement Stage 1 accreditation in the same year. A 2005 inspection report of Ashwell cited concerns about prisoners' vulnerability, race relations and the quality of work and training at the prison. In the same year an inmate at the prison escaped from guards while receiving treatment for tuberculosis at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. The prisoner was recaptured days late. In July 2008 a new £6m wing with an additional 64 cells was opened at Ashwell Prison. The new wing increased the overall capacity of the prison to 619 inmates.

A major riot at Ashwell Prison began on 11 April 2009. During the riot, a three-mile police perimeter was put in place, which extended to the edges of Oakham. Several prisoners were evacuated from the prison. Trouble started on Saturday 11 April at approximately 0100 BST and a fire broke out at the prison during the afternoon. The riot was successfully brought under control at 2245 BST that day. The operation launched by authorities in response to the riot was called Operation Tornado which saw the introduction of specialist riot trained prison staff. Three prisoners were injured and 75% of the prison was made uninhabitable. The riot started when a prisoner, serving a three-year sentence, confronted staff and refused to return to his room. He began to cause damage and was joined by others. The unrest spread quickly throughout the prison and approximately 400 prisoners are thought to have participated. No member of staff was injured or directly attacked. The damage done to three of the old wings was substantial. The rest of the prison was either undamaged or sustained superficial damage. The event provoked questioning of the UK's overcrowded prison system leading to Category B prisoners' downgrading so that they can be moved to Category C prisons. In January 2011, it was announced that Ashwell Prison was to close, as the cost of repairing and maintaining the building was too high. The prison formally closed at the end of March 2011, when all inmates were transferred to other prisons.

In January 2013, Rutland County Council announced that it had finalised a deal to buy the former prison from the Ministry of Justice in order to convert the site into a business park. The site was redeveloped throughout 2013, with some accommodation blocks damaged during the riots demolished and new units built in their place. Oakham Enterprise Park has now opened with units converted for business use.

Haunted History

This eerily derelict prison, which once housed a hell of a lot of energy, has had several reports of paranormal goings on. It’s early days into investigating what actually goes bump in the night here but early accounts suggest that paranormal activities have been particularly experienced in the oldest wing and training block. Skeptics who have visited the site have reported feeling pushed, unexplainable shadows have been sighted as well as accounts of the unnerving sounds of doors slamming, knocks and bangs…could this be from the trapped souls of inmates who died here, or from those who served time here that have returned after death?

HM Prison Ashwell

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©The Forgotten Paranormal Society - All rights received 2015 Investigation Report

When we arrived at the prison the first thing you see is the grey steel fence surrounding the site. Although just over half the site is now a business park you can’t get away from the fact it was a prison. After a wet day the grass around the building was soaked although the rain had stopped. The wind was gusty at times and while the temperature was around 10 degrees in some of the location it felt like 2 degrees. We started the evening like all others with the safety brief before having a walk around the location. While on the walk around we had are first vigil of the night.

Investigation Areas are shown on the plan highlighted in red. They include:

1. Salutary Confinement

2. E Wing

3. G Wing

4. F Wing

This one of the largest locations that we have investigated and due to the size and weather conditions we did not use the CCTV at this location.

Vigil One – This was conducted in the ground floor canteen in “F wing”. For this vigil we used K2’s and a Maglite. We stood around the area with a few people in the door to the servery, after calling out and asking for a sign that someone was with us. We had a dripping noise in the servery that did keep going and when checked there was no water in any of the sinks and the tapes were dry. This could have been a leek through the window due to the weather but we could not find it. (Don’t think this was paranormal personally). There was also the sound of quite chatting coming from the corridor which was heard by a few people at the time. The only K2 activity was next to this door and a lady and the person next to her felt very cold just down one side with a cold spot in the room.

Vigil Two – For this vigil we split into smaller groups and spread out over the location. We headed to the “Cell Prototype” building next to “G Wing”. This is a small building with no more than eight cells inside. The cells had heavy steel doors, concreated beds and toilet with observation points overlooking the cells. It looks like this was the solitary confinement cells. We started in the first cell which had what looked like and electric chair sat in it (This was just a mock up and no executions ever took place at Ashwell). We started with table tipping and while asking for signs from the spirit we did have tapping on the table. We could not get this to respond to questions and apart from a little shacking of the table we had nothing else. We did move in the corridor and a second cell but still had nothing else on this vigil.

Vigil Three – The next vigil was in “G Wing”. Hear we had two Ouija boards set up one at each end of the corridor. We started by calling out and asking for any sign that someone was there. We had knocks coming from one of the cells, at this point myself and two others went and stood in the cell. We had some more taps in the cell but were not able to pin point their location. We then moved onto the Ouija Boards but we had no activity on them. We continued to hear knocks but they were very random and while I feel they were paranormal in there nature we cannot prove or dis-prove this.

Vigil Four – After a short break, myself and Paula headed back to “G Wing”. This time we went to the other end on the first floor and sat in the last two cells on the right. We had the K2, Maglite and Video camera with us. We set the Maglite on the table in the end cell. This part of the prison the cells were more like dormitories with wooden doors and the walls of the cells were quite thin. We started to call out and asked the spirits to turn the Maglite on and off. After 10 minutes the Maglite was turned on. We asked them to turn the light out which they did. This happened three times in the vigil. Paula also had an uneasy feeling, this was the first time she has ever felt like this on an investigation. She felt that there was someone in the toilet door laughing at her from the way she was feeling. While the Maglite was turned on and off (Which we cannot explain in any way apart from it being paranormal) we had no other activity.  

Vigil Five – This vigil was in “E Wing”, we located ourselves on the ground floor in one of the corridors. The corridor had cells down both sides. For this vigil I sat in one of the cell with the door closed by myself while the others sat in the corridor. For this vigil I placed two balls on the desk along with the maglite. We called out asking for the spirits to make a sign that they were there. In the vigil the only thing to happen was a “BB Pellet” was thrown in the cell I was in and at the same time there was one thrown in the corridor. At first I wondered if the pellet had been on the bottom of my boot as I was laying on the bed at the time but after testing by standing on more pellets none would stick to the boot. Having the two thrown at the same time is also unlikely as no one moving in the corridor at the time and I was still on the bed.

Vigil Six – This vigil was back in “F Wing” where was started our first vigil. We started on the corridor with table tipping. We called out and at one point the spirit turned the light that was attached to the table and began to rock the table, as soon as we turned the light on the table stopped. We kept trying but could not get any more movement on the table. We then had some activity on the K2 which seemed to react to very bad jokes. We then moved back into the canteen area and again called out. This was very quiet apart from the sound of whispering coming from the corridor that was heard by at least half the group.

Summary – While we had minimal activity in most of the vigils our lone vigil did give us some great evidence and a great nights investigating.

Life Behind Bars