Borley Rectory

Located on the edge of the Essex boarder is the quiet peaceful hamlet of Borley. A name synonymous with the study of the paranormal since Harry Price investigated the strange haunting events at Borley Rectory in 1937. The most haunted house in England.

Since the rectory was built by the Reverend Henry Bull in 1863, the location produced just about every type of known ghostly paranormal phenomena from full floating apparitions to poltergeist disturbances, and because the incidents were so regular reverend Henry Bull built a summer house on the grounds for Harry Price to observe the frequent appearance of a young veiled woman gliding across the rectory garden.

The phenomena began when Rev. Henry Bull, his wife and fourteen children moved into the house shortly after it had been constructed. The children witnessed a strange tall dark figure wearing a top hat by their beds, and one of the daughters felt a cold slap across the face during the night. Footsteps and disembodied whispers echoed around the house and the sound of taps, bangs and haunting bells mysteriously manifested through the late hours. The activity escalated when the vicar’s son Harry Bull took over the rectory in 1892 and stayed until 1927. In his residence, classic visions of spectres were seen, including a headless ghost; a phantom coach appeared, and every morning doors would be wide open when securely locked the previous evening. A young nun was also regularly seen who would vanish into thin air.In 1929, poltergeist disturbances were recorded at Borley for the first time. Objects appeared inexplicably including keys, medals and pebbles would fall from nowhere inside the building a classic poltergeist characteristic.(Apportation and Deportation)

Messages to Marianne from the otherside

Messages to Marianne from the otherside

The most interesting activity of all appeared between 1930 and 1935 when the rectory was in the hands of Rev. Lionel Foyster, his wife Marianne and their daughter Adelaide. Messages were found scribbled on the wall and on scraps of paper asking for prayer from Marianne to help ‘find the light’ and ‘get help’ but many of the scribbling’s were illegible. Falling stones and spontaneous fires started around the rectory firmly categorizing this period of the haunting as a psychic poltergeist disturbance.

The news of the haunting had spread to the newspapers and a study by Harry Price, founder of Britain’s National Laboratory of Psychical Research was conducted. The legacy of Borley came to an end when one of the mysterious fires burned the whole site down to the ground in 1939. On the night of the fire a mysterious figure was seen leaving the rectory in the flames and the figure of a young girl was witnessed in the upstairs window. It was the end of Borley Rectory, but the phenomena continued. An excavation of the grounds conducted in 1943 revealed fragments of a woman’s skull and pendants bearing religious symbols. More recently, seances conducted at the site revealed a young French nun, Marie Lairre, had been strangled by her fiancé on May 17th, 1667 in a building standing on the rectory site. Her body was buried in the cellar.

Ghost photograph thought to be the Nun floating to the right of the picture.

Photograph thought to be the Ghost Nun floating across the Rectory yard to the right of the image.

So what is left to say in present day on the site of Borely Rectory? The remains of the burned out building have since been demolished but the phenomena continues. In this classic case, Borley remains one of the only studies of the paranormal in the UK where almost every type of ghost haunting category  took place in one location over a sustained period of time. During my research on the case, one of the most interesting and startling reports

Peter Underwood, pioneer ghost hunter.

Peter Underwood, pioneer ghost hunter.

by the president of the Ghost Society and leading ghost hunter  Peter Underwood, is the activity transcended from the rectory and moved across to the nearby church. Activity reported within the church includes footsteps, floating figures and strange noises, very similar to the original phenomena recorded and presented by Harry Price at the Rectory. Peter Underwood recorded and documented these sounds during an investigation of the church. A witness of the ghostly nun thought to be Marrie Larrie in recent years saw her gliding towards him up the church pathway and observed the apparition for almost ten minutes, he stated:

‘’She came towards me..when she’s looking at you she’s not seeing you at all, she’s in her own time, her own world’’

After meeting with my investigation partner Damien O’Dell, long friends with Peter Underwood, we discussed in depth the recent phenomena now resident at the church and how the case challenges the theory on residual hauntings,

Borley Church.

Borley Church.

and if it is indeed possible for residual energy to move from one location to the next? We can only speculate how this transition took place, and this is why the Borley Rectory case remains one of the most exceptional and interesting hauntings in the history of paranormal investigation. Activity is still reported on the grounds, and if patient you may even get to see a glimpse of the ghostly nun yourself as she roams and continues the legacy of Borley Rectory as England’s most haunted.


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