Did you know that our favourite fright night dates back to the ancient Celts? During this time of the year, they believed that the barrier between our world and the spirit realm grew thin enough for ghosts to walk the earth. The superstition was so strong that they dressed their children up in outfits to trick travelling spirits into thinking that they were ghouls.
Although superstition surrounding Halloween has been watered down over the years, ghosts have somehow stuck around!
We caught up with Dan Broadbent, founder of Haunted Histories, to learn a little more about the ghostly goings-on in Taunton.
Take a look:
The Sweet Shop
But those three locations aren’t the only haunted spots around town. Recent CCTV footage at The Sweet Shop on East Reach has caught some rather chilling paranormal activity.
The images above show a jar of sweets seemingly floating across the room before joining a group of jars in a circle on the floor!
We spoke to Martin Andrews, owner of The Sweet Shop, to learn more:
What was your initial reaction when you saw the footage?
I wasn’t surprised to be fair, as when we looked at renting the shop we did some research and heard about the history of the place in regards to the possibility of it being haunted. If you google ‘haunted naval and military pub in Taunton’ you’ll get some more information.
Did you believe in paranormal activity or ghosts before seeing the video? Are you now a believer?
I’ve always been a believer, ever since I heard the story of my father driving through a monk on the Butleigh moors. Having seen a ghostly figure at the top of the stairs in my grandparent’s house as a child, the supernatural/paranormal has been of interest.
Have any of your staff ever experienced anything strange in the shop? Are they afraid after seeing the footage?
We get strange stuff happening all the time. We get footsteps in the hallway and nobody is there, jars move on the shelves…we had cans of drink open (inwards) in the fridge, which wasn’t even switched on…if they had exploded open you’d expect the ring pull to be up as the pressure opens outward…well these cans opened in, as if you’d opened them yourself. Mostly it is stuff that moves around, which ties in with the old landlord’s family telling me that when they had the pub they’d come down and find the chairs and tables stacked in a pyramid.
I will admit I don’t like going out into the kitchen, it’s always cold. Once I was doing the washing up and I swear I could feel something/someone leaning on my shoulder.
Have many people enquired after seeing the footage?
We get lots of enquiries from people that have seen the images, and we happily show them the shots on our iPad. It’s becoming a bit of a thing to visit the haunted sweet shop. We’ve even had two teams of ghost hunters wanting to come.
Do you know much about the history of the building?
We researched it a lot and know it dates back to the 1500s and was originally owned by the monks from the priory. The archway to the rest of the priory still exists in the garden although it’s bricked up these days. It was the last building for a while before the leper house on Hamilton Road. It has a well and a cellar, although both are now bricked up for safety reasons.
Do you think the footage will deter people from coming to the shop, or attract them?
It seems to be attracting people who are curious. We get a fair few who call in regularly and the first thing they’ll ask about is whether there have
Hauntings Outside Taunton
If you’re thinking of exploring some sites outside of Taunton, there are plenty of other allegedly haunted locations not far away.
Some of our favourites are below:
Nunney Castle — Although Nunney’s Castle dates back to the late 1300s, the spirits surrounding the site are a little more modern than you’d expect. Tales of a phantom hitch-hiker began as late as the 1970s.
Gerald O’Connor was quite distressed one night when he informed two skeptical police officers of an incident that happened while driving in the country lanes near Nunney. He had pulled over to pick up a hitch-hiker, and when they had set off down the lane, he had vanished into thin air.
“I picked up this man in the lane because he looked as if he wanted a lift. He got in the back and I locked the door for him. He kept saying how cold it was. I asked him some questions and he did not reply. I looked round and he wasn’t there,” Gerald explained to Visit Nunney.
He was quickly dismissed by the officers until it happened again to another man. Just like the first time, this man had no witnesses to back up his story, but that didn’t stop the word from spreading to the nearby villagers. The paranoia got so bad, that the area was avoided all together; both by drivers and walkers alike!
Shepton Mallet Jail — This jail only closed in 2013, and was known for being the oldest jail in Britain. It’s seen a host of dangerous people including the Kray twins in the 1950s. The building itself has a cruel and painful past, and many ghost stories surround the site, including the man who was mysteriously burned by what looked like the butt of a cigarette while doing his night rounds of the jail.
The Priest’s House — The Priest’s House is located in the small village of Muchelney on the Somerset Levels. It is said that a ghost of a priest is seen regularly, and bangs on doors in the dead of the night. The legend that surrounds this ancient building is that the priest fell in love with a nun while he was the head of the parish, and they married in secret. They would only meet in a secret room to show their devotion to each other, but not long after their wedding, the nun was found dead in the room. Reports say that the house was already in a “ruinous” state at the beginning of the 17th century.
Go and explore some of these spooky sites, but we suggest you don’t go on your own!