In the confines of a prison emotions run high and it is not surprising that these leave a mark on the fabric of the building. Lincoln prison, within the walls of the castle, was in use for less than 100 years and followed the dreaded separate system, where men – and women – were allowed no contact with each other at all, being masked and kept strictly apart, even to the extent of having the chapel broken up into mini wooden cells, one per prisoner. Imagine the despair of these people, never speaking, never touching and in many cases with only the dreaded hangman’s noose to end their pain.
Even before the prison was closed and the inmates dispersed to other prisons in 1878 when the separate system was finally discredited, ghosts were seen in the confines of the blocks. A woman warms herself by the fire in the matron’s offices; perhaps the spirit of some poor soul taking one last chance of comfort before meeting hangman William Marwood for the first and last time. Other, more friendly ghosts are also to be seen in the prison grounds, including one believed to be a prison visitor.
The Old Prison in Lincoln is now a museum and although it is brightly lit by day and busy with visitors, there are corners where some can feel the cold breath of the cells waft over the back of their neck, where they can hear the soft tread of the lonely prisoners as they pace endlessly to and fro, silent and afraid. History lies heavy where so many people lived in close proximity and yet knowing nothing of their neighbours and as you walk around the prison these days it would take a hard heart not to feel something of the spirit of Lincoln Old Prison.