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Borley Rectory | The Most Haunted House In England?

| On
March 09, 2019
Image credit: Wikipedia

The History of Borley Rectory

Borley Rectory was located in a small village called Borley in Essex. The rectory stood for less than 80 years and was built in 1862 opposite Borley Church. It was built for Reverend Henry Bull, his wife, and their 14 children when he became rector of the parish. It had 23 rooms and was said to have been built on the site of a 13th-century monastery.

The new rectory was built as the previous rectory was destroyed by a fire in 1841, and locals warned them that the site was haunted.

There is a story told about a nun and a monk that fell in love with each other and planned to elope. Unfortunately, their plan was unsuccessful and they were apprehended. They were both punished, the nun was walled up in the convent and the monk was beheaded. Locals say that this is the reason why their spirits haunt the area.

Reverend Henry Bull

When Reverend Henry Bull moved into the house 4 of his daughters said they witnessed a nun walking through the grounds. They said that when they tried to talk to her she disappeared into thin air. Reverend Bull and his son enjoyed the apparitions, so much so they decided to build a summer house overlooking the area where the nun would be seen frequently, which is now known as Nuns Walk. 

They both enjoyed to smoke cigars and watch the manifestations. In addition to this, the family would experience unexplained footsteps and the servant bells ringing constantly. They rang so much that they had the wires cut in an attempt to stop it happening, but the bells continued. The nun would also look through the windows of the rectory and scare both their guests and staff.

After Reverend Bull's death inside the blue room in 1892, his son Harry moved in with his wife. The manifestations continued throughout his occupancy and they also reported seeing a phantom coach with two headless coachmen being drawn by 2 bay horses. Harry would also die in the rectory in 1927.

Reverend Guy Smith

Reverend Guy Smith moved into the rectory with his wife after Harry Bulls death in 1928. It all started when his wife Mabel was cleaning the house and discovered a box containing a human skull. They also experienced servant bells ringing, heard voices when they approached the blue room, heard footsteps in areas that were empty, and objects were being smashed.

The couple decided to involve the media and wrote to The Daily Mirror. A reporter visited them, explored the rectory, and wrote a series of articles about the home. This was also the first time Harry Price visited the rectory. He investigated the paranormal activity at the rectory and reported witnessing stones and vases being thrown at him. He also claimed that spirit messages were tapped onto a mirror. However, when Price left the rectory all of the activity would stop.

As a result of the articles, the rectory was visited by groups of sightseers from London, and the Smiths would leave the rectory within 2 years.

Reverend Foyster

Reverend Foyster moved into the rectory with his wife Marianne and their adopted daughter Adelaide in 1930. They would experience the same as every occupant before them. However, on the first day, Marianne claimed she saw the ghost of Henry Bull and heard her name being called out. 

Marianne also said she was attacked and that she was thrown out of her bed. Then the mysterious wall scrawling appeared and it was believed this was the nun trying to contact her directly. Most of the messages did not make sense, but one message on the wall said:

"Marianne please help get"

Foyster kept a diary of the activity he experienced in the rectory, such as books moving, stones and bricks appearing and hitting him and his wife, along with pictures being taken off the walls and being found on the floor. His journal showed that in the years they lived there they experienced approximately 2000 incidents.

The family had the rectory exorcised but it didn't last long and the paranormal activity continued. Eventually, the family moved out and the rectory stood empty for 2 years before Harry Price moved in. 

Harry Price

In 1937 Harry Price rented the rectory for 12 months and took a team of 48 researchers with him. They gathered eyewitness accounts of paranormal activity. In their research they found that some areas were inexplicably hotter or colder in the house, coats with no bodies were seen moving through the house, and they had objects thrown at them.

They also conducted a seance in the summer house and made contact with 2 entities. The first was a French nun called Marie Lairne and she claimed she had been murdered and placed in the cellar. She also took responsibility for the messages written on the walls. 

The second entity was Sunex Amures and it threatened it would burn the house down and told them that a body would be found. 

Captain Gregson

When Harry Price left the rectory Captain William Hart Gregson moved in with plans to make it a tourist attraction. He experienced paranormal activity like all the others did, but he reported that his 2 dogs went missing after moving in. 

On February 27th 1939 the rectory was destroyed by a fire. The event took place 11 months after the threat by Amures. Gregson was accused of arson but he was adamant that an oil lamp fell over by itself and started the fire.

The rectory was damaged beyond repair and only charred walls remained. Some people reported seeing a ghostly figure walking through the flames, and others say they saw a nuns face watching the fire from an upstairs window.

Price would return to the remains of the house in 1943 to investigate again. However, during this visit he went into the cellar and started digging. In his search he found what appeared to be the jawbone of a woman. 

Real or Fake?

Image credit: diamond geezer
People have questioned the validity of the haunting and accused Price of faking it to further his career. There was a report created called "The Borley Report" that claimed that the happenings could have been caused by rats or the natural acoustics of the house. 

Later in life Marianne would admit to making up the stories of apparitions, and that she would play jokes on her husband. It was also suggested that the writing on the walls was the work of Adelaide, as the scrawl was hard to understand and resembled that of a child. They also believed that the bones found in the cellar were not human and were actually from a pig.

However, another psychical investigator Geoffrey Croom-Hollingsworth spent time at the house with his assistant Roy Potter. They reported hearing strange noises and seeing the nun with their own eyes. They reported seeing her glide across the garden, and that they watched her walk through a garage and come out of the other side. They described her as wearing "a grey habit and cowl" and that they saw her face. They believe that after what they witnessed that the rectory is certainly haunted. 

Even now paranormal activity is being reported at the rectory and the church nearby. Most of the locals still believe that there is a paranormal energy residing there.

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you think any of the stories are true? Or do you agree that it was all faked to further Price's career? Please share your opinions below! 😊

If you have any suggestions for other hauntings I can look at share them with me too.
13 comments on "Borley Rectory | The Most Haunted House In England?"
  1. What a fascinating read! I love all things paranormal myself. It's a shame when places are considered/proven to be a hoax haunting. Perhaps some paranormal activity has been experienced but then the hoax element casts huge doubt on the overall validity of the haunting. I'm looking forward to reading more posts like these from you - this is awesome!xxx


  2. I totally believe in ghosts!! This post was great and well researched! 😊

  3. This was a really interesting read! I totally believe in ghosts and it's always fascinated me and creeped me out! Great post! Xx

    1. Haha thank you so much! I am the same way, and I think I'd be scared stiff if I ever experienced anything myself!

  4. This is so intriguing! It's interesting that there's quite strong evidence to disprove it - it makes it harder to know who to believe! Thank you for sharing 😊

    1. Yeah! I have no idea who I believe, but I find it so fascinating and would love it to be true! Thanks so much for commenting! :)

  5. Wow this is so interesting! Though some admitted to lying I feel like it’s strange that every person who was there experienced paranormal activity, so there must be some truth to it.

    1. Exactly! I love that there is a possibility it could be true. It would scare me to see the nun myself, but I find it so fascinating! Thank you so much for your comment! :)

  6. I love stories like this although I don’t really belive in supernatural. I think everything is perfectly normal and natural, we just don’t understand it just yet :)

    CZECHHONEY: V.’s World  

  7. I am torn whether I believe in the supernatural but I must have some beliefs because the thought of going anywhere scares me silly!! Great post x

    Melanie || melaniewithanie

  8. i do love reading about different places in history. Well written blog.


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