The South Coast’s iconic £3.1million refurbishment project – creating a new state-of-the-art arts and heritage venue in Southampton’s 700 year-old former gaol God’s House Tower (GHT) – is gearing up to present the perfect event for Hallowe’en and Museums at Night this Autumn.

Join GHT’s nineteenth century gaoler, or turnkey, James Gosney (played by actor Nathan Stafford-King from the Sarah Siddons Fan Club Theatre Company) for an atmospheric performance Tower Tour called ‘The Horrible Death of a Disinterested Man’.

For over a hundred years in its role as the town prison the slimy, damp and stench-ridden walls of God’s House Tower reverberated with the cries and wails of incarcerated prisoners.  James will take you on a ghostly exploration of the life of poisoners, murderers, thieves and forgers, who all met a gristly end.  Hear about how the grim criminals – both men and women – of Southampton town were sent to agonising deaths by hanging, transportation to Australia or had a merciful release by dying from gaol fever.  Discover the gloomy cells, and hear the human stories of the residents – but watch out for rats! The Ghost Tower Tours take place on 30 and 31 October at 6, 7 and 8pm.  Tickets cost just £7 or £5 for under 16s. 

Gaoler James Gosney died a horrible death – he was crushed to death in a burning building on Southampton’s High Street.  He had seen the fire from the gaol and went to help save the contents of the warehouse. Altogether 22 helpers died when the gunpowder and turpentine exploded. A plaque was put up at Holy Rood Church to mark the courage of the ‘brave and disinterested men’ killed in the accident. You can still see the plaque which includes Gosney’s name on the exterior of Holy Rood Church, Southampton. 

The Museums at Night festival is a UK-wide festival of late night openings in museums and galleries, produced by Culture 24, the Brighton-based arts charity dedicated to shining a light on Britain’s wonderful culture and heritage.   The festival takes place between 31 October and 2 November this year.

As well as the Tower Tours Southampton Tourist Guides Association will be presenting Horrible History Hallowe’en Walks – including ‘Gardez Loo’ on 20 October – a tale of people pooping in pots and dumping the contents out of window!  Hear about the ‘night soil’ collectors, the job of the scavengers, piss pot alleys and the first secular flushing loo.  There’s also a Horrible History ‘Dastardly Deeds and Direful Deaths’ Hallowe’en Walk exploring horrible diseases, death by drowning, victims crushed by carriages and the last man to be executed.  And still for Hallowe’en, Horrible History ‘Witches, Wizards and Ghosts’ explores the erstwhile ghosts of mobcap maids, disgruntled ladies of the night and spectral children!  For more themed walks including additional Tower Tours on offer visit https://www.wegottickets.com/TourGuides1976

God’s House Tower is nearing the end of its refurbishment and will open this Autumn as the city’s newest arts and heritage venue. The refurbishment and management is the responsibility of the arts organisation ‘a-space’ arts, headed up by director Daniel Crow.  

Daniel says: ‘We’re pleased to be offering these very special Tower Tours marking Hallowe’en and Museums at Night.  GHT is so atmospheric and visiting later in the evening and seeing it in all its spooky glory promises to be an experience never to be forgotten!  Not for the faint-hearted!’

We would like to thank our funders: National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, Southampton City Council, The Wolfson Foundation, Friends of Southampton Museums and Galleries, Barker-Mill Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and the Pilgrim Trust. 

The official opening date for GHT is yet to be announced but parts of the building will be open on September 28th for Music in the City, from 10am-6pm (music starts at 1pm). Join the mailing list for updates: http://eepurl.com/glWrvz