The waning blood moon was high in the sky as we set out on a ghost tour of Dorchester Prison. 

We decided to stick together, Tom, a sceptic and Alfie, a believer, as spent the night at the supposedly haunted Dorchester Prison.

Arriving a little before 9pm, we were ushered into the vast former jail by the Haunted Happenings team.

Looking first at the history in these old, cold, walls it is said that 33 people were hanged between 1800 and 1941.

Thomas Hardy was a 16-year-old boy witnessing the execution of Martha Brown for the murder of her husband, John - which is said to have inspired Hardy's dark novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

Filled with these tales of the macabre, we were both open to any other worldly experience.

Closed for the last 10 years as a prison, the site now hosts airsoft events, daytime and night tours as well as gym sessions and frequent ghost hunts for the paranormal.

The team ran through the items that we would be using on the tour; a trigger ball that lights up when touched, a motion sensor, a K2 device which picks up on changes in electromagnetic fields, a Rempod which is a more sensitive motion detector, tables for tipping, a Ouija Board, glass divination which involves using a candle and a glass for yes and no answers, and mirrors for scrying.

Armed with the knowledge and a flashlight, we were ready... 

Dorset Echo:

Alfie: As we entered the prison’s vast atrium, you couldn’t help but have the feeling that something was in the shadows.

Our first session in trying out the technology saw us tackle the Ouija board in one of the cells in the old sex offenders' unit.

Having never done one before I was apprehensive about it- but the results were chilling.

Packed inside a cold and dark cell, Tom and I called out with two other guests and got a reply from an 87-year-old German called Eti.  The table below seemed to move as the words ‘trust’ came up three times in a row. Was this just luck- or was someone moving the planchet?

Now, this all seemed very strange to me, and when we moved on the next session I asked if any foreign prisoners were put here, and they replied: “A lot of Germans mainly.” The whole of our group stopped to take it in as none of us knew of this prior.

The women’s part of the prison felt the eeriest, with the hairs on my neck standing on end as a draught seemingly managed to pass its way through, despite being far away from any open door.

Moving through to the kitchen we tried our hand at glass divination, the atmosphere changed - with the room seemingly looking to welcome us in. Through glass divination we may have got through to a spirit of a woman in her 30s who touched the trigger ball before we even entered the room.

While we were on the tour, ITV was filming a new drama in part of the prison. 

We did ask the spirits whether they appreciated TV studios using their place of rest for a production, but they seemed nonchalant and refused to comment.

Dorset Echo:

Tom: As a group we were taken on a tour of the prison, which is undoubtedly a spooky place.

Ed Wilson, formerly a prison guard at Dorchester and now a prison guard at HMP The Verne, was a fantastic host, providing first-hand stories and plenty of history along with tales of the supernatural.

After a tour around the now-empty Dorchester Prison and a chat to some ghosts, including a German and a Russian if you can believe it, we were given the chance to roam the prison alone.

Ouija boards and table toppling aren’t for me really. As much as it feels like you aren’t putting any pressure on the paddle to move, surely someone is, right? 

There were a few spooky moments, but it was hard to know if it was purely a coincidence.

Dorset Echo:

Alfie: We were then given the run of the prison for two hours to investigate on our own - and we were not disappointed.

Equipped with only a Rempod and a scrying mirror we locked ourselves in a cell and called out for spirits to approach us. As we did the Rempod went off briefly as though to answer us before Tom and I received the shock of our lives.

What I would describe as a tabby cat-like mask, not too distant from something from the 1970s production of the Wicker Man, seemed to appear in a window in the door before moving past.

Immediately we rushed to investigate, and although there was a woman a few cells down with a racoon-shaped head torch on, she swore that she hadn’t gone past our cell, looked in or seen us in there.

It must also be noted that the torch was far smaller than what we both saw - and no one from the team could explain what we saw.

Tom: Sat in a dark cell with a spirit-tracking Rempod by the door, Alfie and I sat waiting for some spectre to turn up.

After having a little laugh and a joke about it the gadget starts a loud beep, signalling the arrival of a ghost or spirit.

From the window of the cell we both see a masked figure peering through the tiny oblong window.

There was a piercing stare from the figure wearing an animal mask, much like a tabby cat mask.

It was terrifying, after a moment of sheer panic my first thought was: which joker brought the cat mask to scare people then?

But as the figure kept staring, I felt my blood run cold and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Then it was gone and we opened the door to see if other ghost hunters were around, and had they really succeeded in giving us a royal spook.

A lady exploring the cell next door was wearing a headlight in the shape of a raccoon.

Mystery solved, right? Well maybe.

She insisted she did not peer through our window, and even if so, her small light was about half the size of the cat-masked figure peering through the window some minutes before.

Did my mind play tricks on me? Is it a coincidence? Am I going mad? I don’t know.

Could go either way really, but if the goal was to be scared then boy it worked.

Dorset Echo:

Final thoughts from Tom:

I was a sceptic when I left my house on Friday evening. Am I a believer now?

I don’t know. But I’m certainly not as sceptical as I was.

Did I see a ghost? It’s a good question. I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. I sure had the fright of my life though.

Weymouth’s very own Iain and his team run a fantastic event full of fun and mystery and a bit of history too.

I’m not sure if I am a believer now, but I certainly have some questions about what I really saw.

Final thoughts from Alfie:

So, we found something despite it being on the furthest end of bizarre than I could have ever imagined. I have always been a big believer in the paranormal and take every account seriously but even I’ve had to laugh myself at what I have seen.  

We both went away with that unnerving experience that still now we are struggling to explain- but there were no full apparitions, no knocking or unexplainable footsteps as seen by the Most Haunted last year.

The team at Haunted Happenings were full of knowledge on the prison, the equipment and is a great starting point for amateur ghost hunters looking to be more involved in the world of the paranormal.