Kaz - Borley Rectory - a gothic-style mansion
The Reverend Henry Dawson Ellis Bull constructed the mansion in 1862 and it was investigated for haunting's by Harry Price
Borley Rectory was built in 1862, and is situated in Essex, England. It has been regarded as the most haunted house in England, for many many years. It has a fascinating history of paranormal activity.
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Kaz Psychic - Borley Rectory
Borley Rectory was a Victorian Gothic-style mansion near Borley Church constructed by Reverend Henry Dawson Ellis Bull in 1862 and investigated for its haunting's by Harry Price a paranormal investigator.
Borley Rectory before the mysterious fire which destroyed it
Borley Rectory was a Victorian Gothic-style mansion constructed near to Borley church by the Reverend Henry Dawson Ellis Bull in 1862.
The most haunted house in England
The house gained fame as "the most haunted house in England", built to house the rector and his family, until it was destroyed by fire in 1939 and demolished in 1944, just before the end of World War 2.
Reverend Henry Dawson Ellis Bull
Rector Reverend Henry Dawson Ellis Bull moved in a year after Borley Rectory was built, after being named as rector of the parish of Borley, situated in Essex, England.
Borley Rectory was eventually enlarged by way of an additional wing, in order to house Bull's fourteen children!
12th Century Borley church
The nearby church, with its nave thought to date back to the 12th century, serves a scattered very rural community of some three hamlets which make up its parish. There are several substantial farmhouses and what is now the fragmentary remains of Borley Hall, which was once the seat of the Waldegrave family.
Ghost Hunters quote the legend of a Benedictine Monastery, supposedly built in this area in about 1352, according to which a monk from the monastery, carried on a relationship with a nun from a nearby convent.
Executed Monk and bricked up Nun
Following their affair being discovered, the monk was supposedly executed and the nun bricked up alive in the walls of the convent. It was confirmed in 1938, however, that this legend had no historical basis and seemed to have been something fabricated by the rectors children in order to romanticise about their Gothic-style red brick built rectory.
The story of the walling-up of the nun may well have come from a novel by Rider Haggard called "Montezuma's Daughter" (1893) or perhaps an epic poem "Marmion" (1808) penned by Walter Scott.
Daily Mirror and Harry Price
Borley Rectory is alleged to have been haunted ever since it was built in 1862, but in 1929 after the Daily Mirror newspaper published an account of a visit to it by a paranormal researcher by the name of Harry Price.
Harry Price the paranormal investigator
who studied strange happenings at Borley Rectory
The Society for Psychical Research (SPR).
The uncritical acceptance of Harry Price's reports, prompted a more formal study of Borley Rectory but the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), which rejected most of the sightings as either imagined or fabricated casting doubt upon the credibility of Harry Price.
Discredit of Harry Price
The result of which has now seen the views of ghost historians, generally discrediting the claims of Harry Price.
Neither the Society for Psychical Research's report nor a more recent biography of Harry Price has, however, succeeded in quelling public interest in Borley Rectory, with new books and television documentaries continuing to satisfy the fascination of the public in Borley Rectory.
BBC television documentary
In fact, a short BBC Television documentary on Borley Rectory about its alleged manifestations, which was scheduled to be broadcast in September 1956, was cancelled owing to concerns about possible legal action by Marianne Foyster, widow of the last rector to live in the house.
Old Sepia Photograph of Borley Rectory
The Reports of haunting's at Borley Rectory
The first paranormal events at Borley Rectory, occurred in about 1863, since a few locals later recalled hearing unexplained footsteps within the house around this time.
Ghost of a Nun at twighlight
On July 28th 1900, four daughters of the rector Henry Dawson Ellis Bull, reported seeing what they thought to be the ghost of a nun at twilight, some 40 yards (37m) from the house. Apparently they tried talking to it, but it disappeared as they drew closer to it.
An Alleged Borley Rectory Ghost in the grounds of Borley Rectory & Church
The local organist, recalled that the family at the rectory were 'very convinced that they had seen an apparition on several occasions".
Phantom Coach - headless horseman
Various people also claim to have witnessed an apparent variety of rather puzzling incidents, such as a phantom coach driven by two headless horsemen, during the next four decades. Henry Dawson Ellis Bull died in 1892 and his son, the Reverend Harry Bull took over the rectory.
Mrs Henry Bull and her remaining unmarried daughters at Borley Rectory
Harry Foyster Bull
On June 9th 1928, Harry Foyster Bull, the rector, died and the rectory again became vacant.
Reverend Guy Eric Smith
In the year following the death of Harry Foyster Bull, on second October, the Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his wife moved into the house.
Skull of a young woman in cupboard
Soon after moving in, Mrs Smith while cleaning out a cupboard, came across a brown paper bag containing the skull of a young woman.
Lights in window and unexplained footsteps
Soon after this gruesome find, the family reported a variety of incidents including the sounds of servant bells ringing despite their having been disconnected, lights appearing in windows, and unexplained footsteps. In addition to this, Mrs Smith thought she saw a horse-
drawn carriage at night.
The Smiths contacted the Daily Mirror asking to be put in touch with the Society for Psychical Research (SPR).
On June 10th 1929, the Daily Mirror newspaper sent a reporter who promptly wrote the first of a series of articles detailing the mysteries of Borley Rectory.
Making Harry Price famous
The paper also arranged for Harry Price, a paranormal researcher, to make his first visit to the house, as a result, Harry Price became famous.
Harry Price arrived at the house on 12th June upon which a new paranormal phenomena appeared, such as the throwing of stones, a vase and other objects.
Spirit messages were tapped out from the frame of a mirror. Curiously enough, these things ceased as soon as Harry Price left.
Mrs Smith later maintained that she suspected Harry Price, an expert conjurer, of causing the phenomena.
On the 14th July 1929, the Smiths left Borley Rectory, and the parish had some difficulty in finding a replacement for them.
Marianne Foyster occupant of Borley Rectory
Reverend Lionel Algemon Foyster
The following year, the Reverend Lionel Algemon Foyster (1878-1945), a first cousin of the Bulls, and his wife Marianne (nee Marianne Emily Rebecca Shaw) (1899-1902) moved into the rectory with their adopted daughter Adelaide, on the 16th October 1930.
Borley Rectory - ghostly wall-writing
Lionel Foyster wrote an account of strange incidents that occurred between when he and his family moved in and October 1935, which he sent to Harry Price.
Ghostly wall writings
This account included the bell-ringing, windows shattering, stones and bottle throwing, wall writing, and their daughter being locked in a room with no key!
Marianne Foyster, reported to her husband, a whole range of poltergeist phenomena which included her being thrown from her bed.
On one occasion, Adelaide was apparently attacked by 'something horrible'.
Reverend Foyster twice tried to conduct an exorcism, but his efforts were fruitless. In the middle of the first exorcism, he was struck on his shoulder by a fist-sized stone.
Because of the publicity of the Daily Mirror, these incidents attracted the attention of several psychic researchers, who concluded unanimously, after their investigation, that these incidents were caused, either consciously or subconsciously, by Marianne Foyster. However, Marianne Foyster later stated that some of the incidents were caused by her husband in concert with one of the psychic researchers, but the other events, appeared to be genuine paranormal phenomena.
Marianne Foyster cover up
Marianne later admitted that she was engaged in an intimate relationship with their lodger, Frank Pearless and that she had used paranormal explanations to cover up her liaisons.
The Foysters subsequently left Borley Rectory in October 1935 as a result of Lionel's ill health.
The Harry Price investigation
Borley Rectory remained vacant for some time after the Foyster's departure. And until May 1937, Harry Price had taken out a year-long rental agreement with Queen Anne's Bounty, the owners of the property.
Harry Price the paranormal investigator
who studied strange happenings at Borley Rectory
Through an advertisement in "The Times" newspaper on 25th May 1937, and subsequent personal interviews, Harry Price recruited a corps of 48 "official observers", mostly students, who spent periods, mainly at weekends, at the rectory, with his instructions to report any phenomena which occurred there.
Helen Glanville conducting a séance to get information about
Helen Grenville séance
In march 1938 a lady called Helen Glanville who was the daughter of S J Glanville, one of Harry Prince's helpers, conducted a planchette séance in Streatham, South London. Harry Price reported that Helen has made contact with two spirits, the first of which was that of a young nun who identified herself as Marie Lairee.
The famous 'Tunnel' under the road at Borley Rectory in 1957,
showing graphically how it could never have been designed for human use
According to the planchette story, Marie was a French nun, who left her religious order and traveled to England to marry a member of the Waldegrave family, the owners of Borley's 17th-century manor house, Borley Hall.
Marie - French Nun murder
Marie was said to have been murdered in an earlier building on the site of Borley Rectory, and her body buried either in the cellar or thrown into a disused well.
The wall writings were alleged to be her pleas for help, one read " Marianne, please help me get out".
The second spirit to be contacted, identified himself as Sunex Amures and claimed that he would set fire to the rectory at none o'clock that night, the night of 27th March 1938. He also said that, at the time, the bones of a murdered person would be revealed.
Borley Rectory after the fire which destroyed it
The fire at Borley Rectory
On February 27th 1939, the then new owner of Borley Rectory, Captain William H Gregson, was unpacking boxes and accidentally knocked over an oil lamp in the hallway. The fire quickly spread and Borley Rectory was severely damaged.
Captain William H Gregson Owner of Borley Rectory
and the person who caused the fire at Borley Rectory in February 1939
The insurance company, after investigating the blaze at Borley Rectory, concluded that the fire had been started deliberately!
Mrs Williams from nearby Borley Lodge, said that she saw a figure of a ghostly nun run in the upstairs window and, according to Harry Price, she demanded a fee of one guinea for her story.
In August 1943 Harry Price conducted a brief dig in the cellars of the ruined Borley Rectory and discovered two bones, thought to be those of a young woman.
The bones were given a Christian burial in Liston Churchyard, after the parish of Borley refused to allow the ceremony to take place on account of local opinion that the bones found were those of a pig.
The Society of Psychical Research (SRP) Investigation
The First President of the Society for Psychical Research
was Hendry Sidgwick Professor of Moral Philosophy at Cambridge University
After Harry Price had died in 1948, Eric Dingwall, Kathleen M Goldney and Trevor H Hall, all three being members of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), two of whom who had been Harry Price's most loyal associates, investigated his claims about Borley Rectory.
"The Haunting of Borley Rectory" by Harry Price
They published their findings in a 1956 book called "The Haunting of Borley Rectory", which concluded that Harry Price had fraudulently produced some of the paranormal phenomena at Borley Rectory.
The most haunted house in England a book by Harry Price
The so-called "Borley Report", as the Society for Psychical Research study, has become known, stated that many of the phenomena were either faked or due to natural causes such as rats, and strange acoustics attributed to the odd shape of the house.
Fraudulently creating 'haunted' phenomena
In their conclusion, Eric Dingwall, Kathleen M Goldney and Trevor H Hall, wrote "Mrs Marianne Foyster, wife of the Reverend Lionel Foyster who lived at the rectory from 1930 to 1935, was actively engaged in fraudulently creating 'haunted' phenomena. Harry Price himself "slated the mine" and faked several phenomena while he was at the rectory.
Marianne later in her life admitted that she has seen no apparitions and that the alleged ghostly noises were caused by the wind, friends she invited to the house and in other cases, by herself in the act of playing practical jokes on her husband.
Many of the legends about Borley Rectory has been invented.
The children of Reverend Harry bull, who lived in the house before Lionel Foyster claimed to have seen nothing and were surprised that they had been living in what was described as England's most haunted house!
Society for Psychical Research logo
Robert Hastings defence of Harry Price
Robert Hastings was one of the few Society for Psychical Research researchers to defend Harry Price. Harry Price's literary executor Paul Tabori and Peter Underwood, have also defended Harry Price against accusations of fraud.
A similar approach was made by Ivan banks in 1996.
Michael Coleman in a Society for Psychical Research report in 1997, wrote Harry Price's defenders are unable to rebut the criticisms convincingly.
Haunted or hoax?
So the question is, was Borley Rectory really the most haunted house in England, or was it nothing more then a socially engineered set of hoaxes and practical jokes?!
I will leave you to draw your own conclusions! I just hope you are not reading this in a dark room in an old Gothic-style house, and home alone!.....
The creepy Drawing Room at Borley Rectory 1890
Look behind you!
Meanwhile, who is that standing behind you in the drawing room of Borley Rectory?!
If you are scared of ghosts, then just don't look behind you right now!
Thanks for reading!
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