A lot of museums are now changing their names – the notorious Satanic Armley Mills in Leeds is now officially called The Leeds Industrial Museum, and the Galleries of Justice has recently become The National Justice Museum. This is probably done for educational purposes, but for reference, I will refer to the Galleries of Justice as the name most paranormal groups and shows have called it for years.
Previously the Shire Hall of Nottingham, a court has existed on this site since 1375, created by local sherrifs to collect taxes, with the first record of a prison being used here in 1449. The building has expanded and been built up over the years.
This court was quite efficient. A police station, trials, sentencing and punishment could all be carried out in one place. The court room has steps leading down to the cells below, so those in custody could be brought up for their trial, and then if need be, taken back down to the cells again.
As was common in the centurues gone past, executions could be handed down by the judge for various crimes, with a gallows being constructed by the steps at the front of the building. Crowds would gather hours before, in the hope to catch a glimpse of the entertainment.
Tragedy struck in 1844 when the narrow streets around became too crowded with people waiting to see William Saville hang for the murder of his own wife and children. 12 people died as people were squeezed in a crush.
Saville’s story had captured the nation. A known alcoholic who would often go missing for days, leaving his poor family to struggle in a nearby slum with no food, with caring neighbours offering to help feed them with the little they had.
William would even have his wife and their children put in a workhouse so that he could start an affair with a younger woman. Saville eventually killed his wife and children by slitting their thoats in nearby woodland. His ghost has been picked up countless times by mediums and he is said to be very aggresive, especially around females.
The main courtroom was still in use as recently as the 1980s. The large clock on display still shows the time when the last case ended.
In 1724, the floor in this room collapsed, dropping people through into the floor below. One man was badly injured in this incident.
Hundreds of people were sentenced to death in this room too. Its no wonder that people experience strange emotions when standing in this part of the museum when you consider the layers of raw emotions that have been felt over the centuries in this area. Dark shadows are regularly seen in the top level of this room, and a former judge, Justice Black is also thought to be picked up in here.
The entrance of the building is now a reception area, gift shop and cafe. However, this was the main route that people would be marched when being taken to the gallows to die. A Victorian era lady has been seen by staff working here on the stairs leading to a part of the building off limits to the public. Also, a WWI soldier has been seen too, standing in front of a war memorial at the side of the room.
The cells are plagued with poltergeist activity. Staff and visitors have experienced doors slamming shut, and even while this was being used as a museum, stories of hauntings were common. A ghost hunt for the Nottingham Civic Society saw a woman being trapped in the condemmed man’s cell. No matter how hard she tried, the door wouldn’t open and her friends outside tried to pull to get her out. It felt like an invisible force was keeping her inside. It was only when a security man working overnight came down, were they able to release her. She was shaking inside an icy cold cell. This was witnessed by around 14 people, and is probably the darkest paranormal encounter recorded in the building’s history.
Outside, is the courtyard, where prisoners could get exercise during short breaks in the daytime. This yard was originally split into various sections, with the most dangerous criminals in one, lesser criminals in the next, and so on. Shadow figures are often seen in this area, but it is not suprising considering those that were executed here are also buried here.
Nottingham is known as the City of Caves, and there is a seperate museum tour that you can do (ran by the same company as the Justice Museum) that takes you into a section of caves. There is believed to be over 800 caves below Nottingham, with some dating back to Anglo Saxon times. Because of the sandstone that the city is built on, it was easy to tunnel down.
These caves were used for living in, storage, sheltering in duing wars and even as a pub. The tour is really interesting and I’d highly recommend it. However, there is also a cave underneath the Galleries of Justice. It isn’t as deep as it probably once was, but it shows that these caves were even used as extra prison space, with an oubliette below ground level. This was a type of dungeon where prisoners were left to die. Many old castles have similar types of dungeons to put the enemy inside, and death would have been extremely slow and awful. Prisoners would have been starved to death, and you can only imagine yourself what could have taken place in these dungeons if multiple people were put inside.
The oubliette at the Galleries of Justice is said to be haunted by a man who gets close to people’s faces. A man holding a candle has also been seen in here, and people often report having stones thrown at them. This would become the area where I would capture the best evidence on my night here.
About Narrow Marsh
A part of the museum is built over a pice of land that was once a slum called Narrow Marsh. This area was notorious, and even had the title of being the worst slum in the entire British Empire.
It can be traced back to the 13th century and conditions here were said to be dreadful. Crime was a daily occurance, and police would refuse to even enter. Disease outbreaks were common, as raw sewage would fill the streets, leaving rats and pests to be attracted to the narrow streets. The place was home to murders and robbery due to it never being policed.
The Galleries of Justice have recreated a section of a street that once stood on this site before it was demolished in the 1920s. This is another area where hauntings have become a common occurance.
The museum is located very central in Nottingham itself. It is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday between 10am-5pm. Entry is £12.05 for adults, £8.75 for under 18s and free for under 5s.
A day ticket gives you access to the main courtroom where you can watch live performances enacted out throughout the day. You also get to see the cells and the Narrow Marsh display, as well as courtyard.
Note: The oubliette is usually closed during the day.
The City of Caves are located about 150 meters from the Galleries of Justice. Entry is £8.75 for adults, £765 for under 18s and free for under 5s, but you can get a discounted price is you buy a join ticket for both attractions.
The cave has no mobile signal inside, but you will be given an option to connect to their Wifi and scan a QR code to take you to an audio guide as you walk around.
It is just a small section of the hundreds of tunnels down there, but it is still really interesting to see.
Paranormal Investigations at The Galleries of Justice
The following are links to groups that run events here: