Kemp's Curse: Eerie Images of Ghostly "Spirits" Photographed in Historical Witch's Prison

Kemp’s Curse: Eerie Images of Ghostly “Spirits” Photographed in Historical Witch’s Prison


Does the ghost of a condemned witch still haunt the prison where she was held? The current owners of the building think so, and you might too once you get a look at the eerie photos that were snapped there this weekend.

The images appear to show the ectoplasmic outlines of humanoid figures slinking around a historical landmark known as The Cage, a property previously used to imprison those accused of witchcraft. According to Vanessa Mitchell, current owner of the building, the two images were snapped without manipulation by spirit photographer Ron Bowers in front of a room full of onlookers.

I reached out to Ron to find out what sort of camera, technique, or mechanism he used to capture the photos, only to find that he used an off-the-shelf, consumer level digital camera.


Hello Greg

Thank you for your interest, it makes a nice change from criticism I receive.

I was using a Fiju 9500 digital camera until I stupidly put the incorrect voltage batteries into it blowing the camera. Last night on the 7th June at The Cage, I used my old Fuji S500 camera. I am hoping to go for a Nikon or Cannon camera soon.

I use nothing special on the lens.


At one time The Cage served as the village prison for all criminals in St Osyth, Essex in the UK, but is best known as the place that held infamous witch Ursula Kemp and fourteen other local women who were accused of witchcraft and subsequently hung in the late 1500s. It was alleged that Ursula used “familiars” to heal and/or kill her neighbors, acts she supposedly admitted to during questioning. But hey, they didn’t leave you much wiggle room back then.

In 1921, two female skeletons were discovered on the property, one of which was thought to be Kemp’s. The bones were then put on display as a sort of local curiosity.


Many paranormal investigators, including Vanessa Mitchell, believe that Ursula haunts the prison to this day.

“I have seen three ghosts in there as clear as I could see someone living,” she wrote in a personal statement. “I also experienced activity that was unexplainable to me, i.e. [water] taps turning on and off, door latches rattling through the day and night, a coke can whizzing across the table, objects disappearing then turning up in unusual places or not turning up at all.. something walking up and down the stairs in the night, physical touch, aggressive touch, voices as if people talking to each other..”

The strange tales told by Vanessa and others only serve to make the ghostly images captured at The Cage even more intriguing.

Could Ron Bowers have captured the restless spirit of Ursula Kemp on his digital camera? Let us know what you think! Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page, tweet us @WhoForted, or leave a comment below.

To check some of Ron Bower’s other ghostly photos, you can head over to The Nightwatchman Chronicles.


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  1. jack

    06/09/2013 at 8:59 AM

    Everything is out of focus expect for the mysterious floating copyright watermark. Call it a hoax if you want, but I trust anyone who slaps a giant cursive copyright notice on top of all their ghost photos.

  2. XDisk

    06/09/2013 at 12:08 PM

    Looks to me like a long duration exposure, figure leaves frame before time is up.

    Just my opinion. YMMV.

  3. Brian Parsons

    06/09/2013 at 1:35 PM

    There are a few ways to manipulate the scene to create these types of photos even in front of onlookers (the blurry/out of focus imagery is the big clue). If this is the real deal I would say this is not the work of ghosts or spirits but the work of the photographer by means of psychokinesis.

  4. Jenn

    06/09/2013 at 2:15 PM

    Kemp is a family name on my mother’s side and I know we have European blood mixed with Native American. How would I find out if there is a relation there? Normally I would blow it off, seeing a story with the same last name as a large part of my family but the coincidence is my cousins and I had not only found out that natural “witching” abilities are in my family and my grandma could do things we never understood like being able to remove warts from people just by rubbing the affected area and saying something under her breath we never made out.

    • Greg Newkirk

      06/09/2013 at 2:25 PM

      Woah! Who knows, Jenn, maybe you have a witch or two in your family tree..

      I wouldn’t even know where to start when it comes to looking that stuff up. Is there anyone in your family that you can talk to about tracing your lineage? If you can find out where and when your family migrated from Europe, that seems like a decent place to start. Then it’s just a matter of tracking down records over there, which might be a bit more difficult.

      If you find anything cool, keep us posted!

    • Peggy

      06/12/2013 at 9:15 AM

      Try and start looking at census records and go backwards to that time frame.

  5. alanborky

    06/09/2013 at 4:28 PM

    I can’t make up me mind whether our entity’s scratching it’s ectoplasmic arse or try’n’o pull out what looks like the hint of a brolly or a baby broomstick which’s somehow gotten stick up there.

    Also is it me or is it a brick or does our witch look slightly pleased to see me?

  6. shawn

    06/11/2013 at 4:02 AM

    photo one is strange. Looks like there’s some sort of pane of glass in front of the camera? (judging from the mysterious, floating, backwards letters) so my first real, honest gut feeling was that there is some clear surface on which had been taped a paper cutout of a human figure. I’m still not convinced this isn’t the case. There’s something distinctly flat about it.

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  9. sarah

    08/09/2013 at 11:04 PM

    Looks like Ron Bowers photos have been completely debunked, simply by following the link you published here.

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