Black Friar’s Distillery
This building is the oldest working Gin Distillery in all of England, world famous Plymouth Gin has been produced here since 1793. The building dates as far back as the early 14th Century, the most intact part of the building is the refectory room which was once a medieval hall and has a hull shape timber roof built in 1431, therefore making this building one of the oldest in Plymouth. The distillery was once formerly a monastery inhabited by the Black Friars. Other uses for this building have included it being a debtor’s prison. It is also believed that a number of the Pilgrim Fathers spent there last night here in 1620 before making the short walk down to the harbour to set sail on there epic voyage to start a new life in America.
In regards to spirits there are indeed a number who reside within the old stone walls of Plymouth Gin and im am not talking about the ones in the bottle. In more recent times a number of all night paranormal investigations have taken place at the Distillery and a wide array of presences have indeed been seen and picked up by psychics.
I would like to offer my personal thanks to Byron Jackson who was the Founder of the Paranormal Group, Haunted Devon, for giving me permission to include part of the Haunted Devon investigation report. Haunted Devon investigated the Black Friars Distillery in 2006 and the quotes refer to their Psychic Mediums findings.
The Psychic Medium picked up in this area that a man had fallen from the still.
• A woman in her twenty’s believed to be a prostitute, enters the building from the rear of the location, which is known as Black Friars Lane, the female is accompanied with a young boy around the age of 7 to 8 years old. The boy is related to the young woman but he is not her son. • A past explosion was sensed which left a man with burns. • American soldiers were too picked up in this area, and the medium felt that they were carrying boxes this was related to the time of the WWII.
• The medium sensed that this was once a long tunnel leading from the street through to the lane behind the Distillery. In the 1700’s it was felt that paupers would have rested and slept in this area at night. • A strong smell of sack cloth was picked up and the over all sanitary conditions were poor leading to many deaths. The deceased ‘were simply put on the road only to disappear before dawn.’ • During the WWII the Psychic felt that this area was used as an air raid shelter. • Overall the medium picked up on a vast amount of residual energy.
• One of Haunted Devon’s Pychic’s sensed that a number of murders dating back over a long period of time had taken place in this area. • Also picked up in this particular spot was that it had once been used by paupers. Death seemed quite apparent in this area.
Ladies Rest Room:
I have included a couple of direct quotes from the Haunted Devon investigation report referring to what the Psychic Medium picked up in this part of the building.
“A lady with two children hides from someone here. They were destitute but afraid of something or someone following them, but could not say what.”
“A WWII lady was stabbed here. The gasp sensation reflects where the knife penetrated her. Her death was a result of an argument over personal belongings in the shelter (a small rectangular box). Her assailant was another woman who was in uniform and wearing long green socks. The victim was younger (18 or 19 years). The murderer was older. The whole issue was covered up and forgotten given the circumstances of the time (1941 during the Blitz. The victim had few / no relatives so she was easy to dispose of. There were threats to keep quiet about it or access would be denied to the shelter.”
Street Area: Located just inside the entrance to Black Friars Distillery.
“Someone was hung in this area and the corpse was left to rot. There were market stalls in this area – children run between these stealing things”
Also picked up by the medium, “There is a lower area underground – or lower than it is today. This was used to hold people but much of this was not legally binding. People were put in here if they owed money or rent. The conditions were terrible and the area was divided up, possibly into cells. (This was the site of the debtors Prison).” On a historical note during the Second World War, part of Black Friars Distillery was hit by a German fire bomb. The distillery offices and many of the records were destroyed which left the production crippled by ingredients rationing at this time.
I have had the pleasure in having a guided tour by Rose who is a member of staff at the Black Friars Distillery. Whilst on my brief visit I questioned Rose what previous paranormal activity has been witnessed over the years. Rose mentioned a few of the experiences and presences that have been encountered over the years and too confirmed what the Paranormal Group Haunted Devon had previously picked up during there time spent at this ancient location. To name a few the most commonly witnessed is that of a young girl named Lucy who is belived to roam around the whole of building. The ghost of a man named Charles is said to haunt the Still room, Charles has a dislike for Woman. A young prostitute named Elizabeth has also appeared in the past.
Mediums have also sensed a tragic past event that occurred in the area that is today the ladies rest rooms. It is believed that a lost female soul haunts this very area; she met her demise after being brutally stabbed to death upon this spot. Today a number of women who visit this area claim to be over come with pure dread, not many hang around to find out why there is such an oppressive feeling in this part of the building. Therefore could this be the lost soul of the murdered victim who passed in such a horrific way, is she responsible for making her self known to those who visit this place even up to the present day.
I have also been informed that a Monk like figure has been sighted in certain parts of the ancient site.
This location features on my Haunted Plymouth Ghost Walk and in the past a number of the female ghost walk participents have commented on the ladies rest room and stated that the atmosphere in this area indeed feels very oppressive. One woman actually stated that she would never return to this area as it felt so negative and that something did not feel right.