Totnes Guildhall

Investigated on July 22nd, 2008.

The life of the Guildhall goes back to 1088 when the building was founded by Judhael, Norman overload of Totnes and was used as a building for the Benedictine Priory. Some of the walls and foundations of the building we see today date back to this time in history making it nearly 1,000 years old.

In 1206 King John granted a charter to Totnes making it a free town. This meant that the town could create and implement their own laws. The merchants of the town also obtained permission to set up their own guild which, by the 1400's, had grown to over 120 members. Originally the locationed used as the towns Guildhall was situated in the High Street.

In 1553 a charter was granted by King Edward VI that authorised the former Benedictine Priory building to be used as the new Guildhall and School. This is the building that is still used to this day.

In 1624 part of the building was convered into a Magistrate's Court and during the Civil War soldiers were billited there. The Guildhall continued to be used as a Magistrate's Court for over 450 years until 1974 when it's purpose was downscaled for Town Council meetings and other local ceremonies such as the Mayor Choosing.

The Guildhall contains such history. In the lower chambers there is a list of all Totnes Mayors which dates back to 1359, the cells that are on ground level date back to when the building was used as a gaol and in the Council Chamber is a large, oak table where Lord Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell held a meeting to discuss their next plan of action.

This is the Council Chamber. The table in the foreground is the one where Lord Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell sat to discuss their next plan of action.

This is the Magistrate's Court, in use until 1974. On the walls behind it is a list of every Totnes Mayor since 1359.

The staircase that takes you from the Magistrate's Court to the Council Chambers.

The doorway taking you past the old cell.

One of the cell's inmates. Probably just as well he's locked up...

I don't think it's worth speculating too much on the fate of this poor fellow.

During the Victorian era the Guildhall was used as a gaol and seen here are three of the origial cell doorways. Today they're used for offices and storage.

This was the old shower / wash room for the Victorian gaol.

Beyond that is a small room that was used as a morgue for bodies that were to be buried at the neighbouring church. This was the tap that was used to clean the bodies.


To date a ghost has not been sighted in the building. However, many people have reported that the top of the staircase is haunted with many visitors seemingly freezing in that particular spot. The custodian has spoken of often seeing what he perceives as figures moving about out of the corner of his eye. He has also reported that when he's been in the lower chamber at the end of the day counting up the days takings he has sometimes been aware of the feeling of being watched.

Mediumship Results



Kim didn't pick up on much at the Guildhall but did sense that part of the upstairs used to be living quarters. She also picked up that in the Council Chambers there were 'a lot of people' and felt that they were having a meeting of some sort.

On the ground floor just inside from the entrance door Kim had the word 'Lodge' come to her but unfortunately couldn't pick up on any more.

Kim felt that the layout of the building was not as it is now and that there was a different entrance. She felt that the Magistrate's Court part of the building as it is now was added at a later date.

Kim sensed youngsters around the left side of the building outside as you faced it but coulf also sense a lot of people around that area who were shouting and jeering.



Chris felt that the main entrance area as you enter the building is active with residual energy. She felt it to be particularly active on the staircase and that the area just outside of the Council Chamber is also quite active but not with one particular energy. She felt that it is with many energies but not interactive spirit.

She could not find any activity in the old cell except for a man who she sense moved about the cells and who seemed to be the person who held the keys. She describes him as being very short in stature and unkempt but she could not get any communication from him. He was moving about the area as if checking to see that all was well.



Whilst up in the Council Chamber when he and Pete were doing EVP work Duncan reports picking up on the name Mary. He felt that she was lying on the floor crying and saying 'He didn't do it'.

Whilst downstairs one name that stuck with Duncan was 'Jeffrey'

Interesting Things Picked Up

Unfortunately not much was picked up overall but there were a couple of 'hits', the most prominent being Chris speaking of the top of the staircase being 'active'. This has been noted by a number of past visitors as mentioned in the Stories section of this report.

Physical Occurances

Unfortunately, physically, the building was extremely quiet. The only report of unusual activity was when Duncan was walking near the main entrance and his protection amulet fell off from around his neck - something that has never happened before or since.

The coin and cross experiments were set up in the old Cell but neither moved. A motion detector camcorder was also set up overlooking the Magistrate's Court but, again, nothing was captured.

However, one small thing was captured when Pete and Duncan were conducting EVP work in the Council Chamber. Immediately after Pete asked out to whoever may be in there to shout of their name as loud as they could a faint voice was captured. When enhanced this voice appears to be saying, "Came in over there". It almost sounds like it's being spoken in an Irish accent. Here is the EVP:

"Came in over there"

My only concern is that if you compare this voice to Duncan's voice that speaks a little while afterwards there are similarities, but Duncan insists that he said nothing after Pete asked the question and no group members think that it sounds like him. There is always a possibility that something was softly uttered on an almost subconscious level that was soon forgotten about, such is the nature of purposely searching for ghosts. However, saying that we all believe that nothing was spoken by either members after the question was asked. If it had then it would have been immediately referenced on the recording.

Unfortunately, despite the building having a history that spans nearly 1,000 years, it was a very quiet night for all members. The building remained content and friendly throughout and the only information that the sensitives picked up on was predominantly residual. Our big thanks go out to all associated with the Guildhall for giving us the opportunity to come in and spend the night there!