When we hear about places haunted by ghosts and poltergeists, one of the first to be remembered is surely the Borley Rectory, in England. This construction was investigated by the famous “ghost hunter” Harry Price. It was said that all sorts of paranormal phenomena occurred inside it. But what is the truth?
Borley Rectory stood in the small village of the same name, located between Essex and Suffolk, on the south-eastern coast of England. The building was built in 1863 over the remains of a Benedictine monastery supposedly built in this area in about 1362.
A legend tells of a girl and a young coachman caught during their flight of love, then taken to the monastery, where were killed. The man was beheaded, while the girl was walled alive.
Another version of the same legend speak about a monk from the monastery who conducted a relationship with a nun from a nearby convent. After their affair was discovered, the monk was executed and the nun bricked up alive.
However, It was confirmed in 1938 that this legend had no historical basis.
The canonical of Borley was destroyed by fire in 1939 and in 1944 was finally demolished. But until that date, it talked a lot about itself due to strange events within its walls.
From 1863, when it was built, the Borley Rectory was the home of the Reverend Bull and his family for over sixty years.
Borley Rectory was constructed on Hall Road near Borley Church by the Reverend Henry Dawson Ellis Bull in 1862. The house replaced an earlier rectory on the site that had been destroyed by fire in 1841. It was eventually enlarged by the addition of a wing to house Bull’s family of fourteen children.
The first paranormal events reportedly occurred in about 1863, since a few locals later remembered having heard unexplained footsteps within the house at about that time. On 28 July 1900, four daughters of the rector, Henry Dawson Ellis Bull, saw what they thought was the ghost of a nun at twilight, about 37 meters from the house. So, they tried to talk to it, but it disappeared as they got closer.
Later the local organist, Ernest Ambrose said that the family at the rectory were very convinced that they had seen an apparition on several occasions. Bull died in 1892 and his son, the Reverend Harry Foyster Bull, took his place.
On 9 June 1928, Harry Bull died and in the following year the Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his wife moved into the house. Soon after moving in, Smith’s wife, while cleaning out a cupboard, came across a brown paper package containing the skull of a young woman, and shortly after, the family reported a variety of incidents including the sounds of servant bells ringing despite their being disconnected, lights appearing in windows and unexplained footsteps.
In addition, Smith’s wife believed she saw a horse-drawn carriage at night. So the Smiths contacted the Daily Mirror asking to be put in touch with the Society for Psychical Research, and on 10 June 1929 the newspaper sent a reporter, who promptly wrote the first in a series of articles detailing the mysteries of Borley. The paper also arranged for Harry Price, a paranormal researcher, to make his first visit to the house. He arrived on 12 June and immediately phenomena of a new kind appeared, such as the throwing of stones, a vase and other objects.
The Smiths left Borley on 14 July 1929 and the parish had some difficulty in finding a replacement. The following year the Reverend Lionel Foyster, a first cousin of the Bulls, and his wife Marianne moved into the rectory with their adopted daughter Adelaide, on 16 October 1930.
Lionel Foyster wrote an account of various strange incidents that occurred between the time the Foysters moved in and October 1935, which was sent to Harry Price: Bell-ringing, windows shattering, throwing of stones and bottles, wall-writing and the locking of their daughter in a room with no key.
Foyster tried twice to conduct an exorcism, but his efforts were useless: in the middle of the first exorcism, he was struck in the shoulder by a fist-size stone.
The Foysters left Borley in October 1935 as a result of Lionel Foyster’s ill health.
In February 1939, the last tenant of Borley Rectory, Captain W.E. Gregson, he accidentally dropped an oil lamp. Immediately a terrible fire developed which destroyed the entire building.
After investigating the cause of the blaze the insurance company concluded that the fire had been started deliberately.
But above all, the investigation confirmed that the most striking phenomena had been specifically created by Price himself. He himself also wrote three successful books ablut the history of Borley. The fire seems to have been foreseen by the spirit of Marie Lairre 11 months earlier, during a seance. The villagers of Borley were petrified when they saw a trapped young woman in the upper window. In fact, in the house nobody was present and, after the fire, no corpse was found.
About ten years after the fire, some excavations brought to light the bones of a human. These studies revealed that they were the bones of a girl, about 30 years old. Perhaps they were the remains of the woman, who could not find peace because she had not been buried in a consecrated place.
The remains were given a Christian burial in Liston churchyard, after the parish of Borley refused to allow the ceremony to take place on account of the local opinion that the bones found were those of a pig.
Finally, in 1958, Marianne, the wife of Reverend Foyster, revealed that many of the phenomena that were described as real during their stay at Borley Rectory had been all invented by her husband. In fact, he intended to write a sensationalistic book on the case, and she also explained that to cover some of her extramarital affairs, she and her lovers had simulated some spiritual manifestations!