Borley Rectory

Borley Rectory has claimed one of the most famous and controversial hauntings in Britain during the 1920s and 1930s. Most believe it was never really haunted. Many believe it was merely fraud, misinterpreted natural phenomena and the will of Harry Price in order to create an interesting case. Most experiences can rationally be explained but a percentage can still be seen as inexplicable.
The rectory was built in 1863, on the site of an old Benedictine Monastery for the Reverend H.D.E Bull, pastor of Borley Church, and his family. It is said that a monk and a young novice were killed while trying to elope from the place. The monk was hanged and his would-be bride bricked up alive within the wall of her convent. Despite local warnings, Bull built the house on a haunted site.

In 1892, the Reverend Bull died in the Blue Room and his son, Harry Bull, took over from his father until 1927, when he also passed away in the Blue Room (now with a reputation as the haunted room of the house).

Harry Price got involved in the case after a newspaper carried a story about a phantom nun at the house in June 1929. Price was asked by the paper to investigate and he was told about various types of phenomena that had been reported there, like phantom footsteps; strange lights; ghostly whispers; a headless man; a girl in white; the sounds of a phantom coach outside; the apparition of the home’s builder, Henry Bull; and of course, the spirit of the nun. This spectral figure was said to drift through the garden with her head bent in sorrow.

Local legend had it that a monastery had once been located on the site and that a 13th century monk and a beautiful young novice were killed while trying to elope from the place. The monk was hanged and his would-be bride was bricked up alive within the walls of her convent. Price scoffed at the idea of such a romantic tale but was intrigued by the phenomena associated with the house.

It would be during his investigations of Borley Rectory that he would become the best-known and most accomplished of the early ghost hunters, setting the standard for those who would follow. Price coined the idea of the “ghost hunter’s kit”; used tape measurers to check the thickness of walls and to search for hidden chambers; perfected the use of still cameras for indoor and outdoor photography; brought in a remote-control motion picture camera; put to use a finger-printing kit; and even used portable telephones for contact between investigators.

Until that point, the ghosts at the rectory had been relatively peaceful, but all that would change in October 1930 when Smith was replaced by the Reverend Lionel Foyster and his wife, Marianne. Their time in the house would see a marked increase in the paranormal activity. People were locked out of rooms, household items vanished, windows were broken, furniture was moved, odd sounds were heard and much more.

However, the worst of the incidents seemed to involve Mrs. Foyster, as she was thrown from her bed at night, slapped by invisible hands, forced to dodge heavy objects which flew at her day and night, and was once almost suffocated with a mattress.

Soon after, there began to appear a series of scrawled messages on the walls of the house, written by an unknown hand. They seemed to be pleading with Mrs. Foyster, using phrases like “Marianne, please help get” and “Marianne light mass prayers”.

Many other phenomena occurred here. In 1939, the house burned down and the remains of a "young woman" who was thought to be the nun buried there were found. The building itself was finally demolished in 1944. However, its legacy still continues today and it retains its reputation as one of the world's most famous haunted houses!

Source: Prairie Ghosts


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