DATE – 13/03/2019


It may seem a strange hobby to many, but sometimes I just have the urge to drive out to a graveyard and walk its grounds. Many of us enter the paranormal field for an array of differing reasons, some are addicted to the buzz that investigating provides, some for the social side, but me, well I just love old and historic locations and items! The one place that I have visited more than any other, is Rock Cemetery in Nottingham. Not only does it provide convenience due to its 15-minute travel time, but it also delivers on every front that would interest me. The grounds are hauntingly beautiful, I mean, graves and burial plots are cut into sandstone walls, much like the majority of Nottingham’s original settlement sites. It contains both stunning and upsetting visuals, it can really take your breath away as you wander it’s disused and fading pathways.

The Cemetery itself dates to 1856 and covers around 13 acres in size. Home to many of Nottingham’s greats from former Sheriffs to Architects that shaped the City that stands today, it really is an iconic yet sometimes hidden treasure. Also hidden within its Sandstone banks and chilling cave system come tales of sadness and misery, no more so than the paupers and children’s graves. The first documented burial at the site was that of a 12-month-old child that passed due to contracting whooping cough. Poor sanitation in the 19th Century led to disease being rife and looking at many of the graves you can see that it impacted the young in a huge way. Although I have spent many an hour searching without success, there is known documentation of a 30ft grave that contains the remains of 25 children alone.

Mass and undignified burials were common place, many of the population were poor and they couldn’t afford the high costs and privileges that came with the elite of society. Although pain and suffering would have been the main cause of their death, this location wouldn’t have been the catalyst for their Haunting, I’d find it more believable that the spirits of their parents returning for their children would be more likely, than that of the Children wandering its grounds themselves.

For someone that mainly documents with a camera in my hand, the location can leave me searching and composing images for hours on end. After at least 10 visits, I still don’t think that I’ve covered it from corner to corner. I almost don’t want to either, I still want to go and be able to have that feeling of the unknown, I still want to discover and learn more with each trip. Will I ever tire of coming here, probably not, and there’s another reason to why.

How many graveyards/burial grounds were once home to a form of capital punishment? I won’t look into the facts and figures, but I can guess that the answer is not many. Up until 1827, Nottingham’s finest would have met their fate at the junction of Mansfield Rd and Forest Road. The gallows once stood here, criminals would be tried at the Old Shire Hall (National Justice Museum/Galleries of Justice) before embarking on their journey by horse and cart to where they would take their last breath. In the paranormal we become obsessed by what could be fuelling the hauntings, such as high energy areas and portals that may be feeding the activity. Well in this instance, we have a predominant crossroads that were filled with bursts of powerful emotions from the hangings of thief’s/murderers/rapists, and even some for what now would be seen as a petty crime.

A man by the name of William Wells is the final recorded death by hanging at this location, his crime of Highway Robbery was enough for him to be sentenced to death at the Old Shire Hall. His journey would have started at what is now the Justice Museum (Old Shire Hall) he would have been taken along Bridlesmith Gate, up onto High Street and directly through to Clumber Street. After leaving Clumber Street he would have been straight lined along Milton Street and onto Mansfield Road where he would have met his fate. Hangings used to be a social event where the public could see criminals face justice and watch on with jeers and excitement. These events were high energy occasions that would have been distressing for the person in question, yet a celebration for those harmed or impacted by their actions.

More often than not I see graveyards as a serene and peaceful place to visit, but Rock is different. To sculpt and lay out grounds that will be the final resting place for the common person, where the most evil of punishment once took place seems too much of a contradiction for me. Again, I am just speculating, but I do have an example of this contradiction from my most recent of trips. The image at the top of the page really had an impact on me, therefore I wanted to document it with my camera. To get to the best spot, I had to mount a wall whilst carefully navigating around graves. I took the image before jumping back down. I stood with the wall at shoulder height and in my mind, I said “Thank you” I like to do this as it’s their resting place and I don’t want to be disturbing or creating bad energy. Then, as I walked away, in my right ear there was a loud sarcastic huff! I don’t for one second believe that it came from the young man whose headstone I’d just photographed, but maybe from one of those that had been punished here before its current use?

Rock Cemetery will always be my go-to place for both my history or haunted fix. I’ve never investigated it in depth, but it’s something that I can’t put off much longer. Its beauty combined with it’s grim past make for a perfect mix of opposing energies that could render interesting results. I can never escape it’s tranquillity on a crisp winters morning, but it’s underbelly keeps me on edge whenever I have the privilege of a visit.

Unitl next time...

James - Haunted Insight

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