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Feature: Paranormal - Borley Rectory
Posted by EyeCandyRayce on Friday, November 19, 2004 - 06:09 AM PST

Oogie Boogies
I have had an interest in the paranormal since I was a child and I have devoted hours and years just researching various haunted locations. I have my favorites, of course, and thought it might be interesting to share some of them with all of you. This is the first of a string of articles. Each one devoted to a specific location. Our first location was considered the “Most Haunted Place in England” until it burned down in 1939.
The Borley Rectory


The Borley Rectory is located in Essex, England near the Stour River. But we can’t start the story there. First we have to start with the reason that the Rectory came into existence.

The Borley Church was built sometime in the 14th Century though a previous wooden church existed there prior to 1066 and was listed in the Doomsday Book. The area is associated with the Borley Manor which was, at one time, owned by Sir Edward Waldegrave who died in the tower of London in 1561 and his body was buried at the Borley Church. I’ve seen many short references to a local tale involving the coffins in the Waldegrave family crypt mysteriously moving on their own between the times the tomb was opened. I am still researching this new piece of information but I’m finding details hard to track.

Another local tale, however, has not been so hard to track. In 1362, Benedictine Monks built a monastery on the site of the Borley Rectory. Legend tells of a monk from that monastery eloped with a novice nun from the Bures nunnery located seven miles away. The legend said they used secret tunnels that were built between the two. When they were discovered they fleed on a carriage driven by two men. They were caught and the monk was hanged and the two carriage drivers were beheaded. It is said the nun was bricked alive in the nunnery walls to “repent” and die. This story has been supported by brick tunnels found after the Rectory burned down. Those tunnels started at the basement of the Rectory and continued on until the men exploring it had to stop due to it going beneath private property.

The Borley grounds are said to be haunted by a carriage driven by two headless men as well as a nun who has been seen walking through the grounds towards the gate. The nun is the most famous as she has been seen by many people. She is said to be dressed entirely in black, in the garb of a nun. Her hands clasped in front of her and gliding rather than walking. She is seen so solid that many have tried to approach her thinking she is real just to have her vanish before their eyes. Those who have gotten a good look at her face all say she appears pale, tired and ill which would fit with someone who was walled up to starve to death.

Another legend is that a mass grave of plague victims existed in the location were the Borley Rectory was later built. This legend has not been proven though human bones have been found around the property that are not from the cemetery on the Borley Church grounds.

The Rectory itself was built in 1863 by Reverend Henry Dawson Ellis Bull who added an additional wing in 1875 to the existing structure. Henry Bull was the Rector for the Borley Church at the time. A Rector, in this case, is a priest who is appointed as a spiritual head of a church. Henry Bull built the Rectory on a previously existing foundation that is said to be the old stone foundation of the Benedictine Monastery. At one point Henry Bull had the dinning room window bricked up because the ghostly nun was seen hundreds of time watching the family eat and they found it “unnerving”.

Henry Bull died in what was called the blue room on May 7, 1892. His son, also named Henry but called Harry (and Carlos to his close friends) to prevent confusion, also died in the blue room in June 28, 1900.

There is a story that Harry “Carlos” Bull had a mistress named Katie Boreham who he strangled in the Rectory in 1888 around Easter. Many visitors and resident of the Rectory have heard a woman screaming “Don’t Carlos, Don’t”. This has been reported many times. There is even a vague reference I once found of one of the Rector’s wives finding a woman’s skull wrapped in an old bag in one of the cabinets that had not been there before.

When Harry Bull died he told his wife that he would “throw mothballs” to show he was still there. Harry has been seen by many people on the stairs near the blue room wearing the gray jacket he died in. The main noises heard in the house are the sounds of someone walking in the blue room and sounds similar to a body being dragged down the hallway.

The things that happen in the Rectory are items being thrown or moved. The doorbell would ring on its own, small pebbles would be thrown at the windows when no one was present and lights would be seen in the windows even when the building was empty. Things would disappear and other items that had never been seen before would appear out in the open such as keys, pots and pans. Doors would lock on their own and one Rectors wife was locked in a room and even thrown from her bed. People reported being touched and even attacked by unseen forces. All of this is labeled as Poltergeist activity.

In 1900 the Borley Rectory became Borley School and remained so until sometime after 1912. I have not been able to find the exact date that the school closed.

On October 2, 1928, Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his wife moved to Borley. The activity got so extreme for them that they contacted the Daily Mirror in June if 1929 asking for help. The newspaper, in turn, contacted psychic investigator Harry Price. They also sent a reporter named C.V. Wall to the Rectory to investigate. He listened to the Smith’s story and made the first published report of activity at the house after seeing mysterious lights in a window during his visits. This publication caused a quick swarm of tourist and ghost hunters to overrun the area.

At this point I must skip ahead since telling you about all the things that happened to all of the residents that lived at the Rectory would take up pages. The most important residents to mention here are Reverend Lionel Foyster, his wife Marianne, and their adopted daughter Adelaide who moved into the Rectory in October 16, 1930. During the time of their stay the activity seemed to escalate, especially around Marianne. After five years they moved from the Rectory due to Lionell’s ill health and not due to the activity in the home.

The reason that the Foyster’s stay is so important is that the spirits of the home seem to have taken a liking to Marianne. In June of 1937, Harry Price leased the house and gathered a large group of individuals to help investigate the haunting. One of the things they documented during that investigation was writings on the wall that appeared, often mentioning Marianne. This investigation has been the center of a lot of controversy as many believe that Harry Price himself created or fabricated the events that happened during the investigation.

There are two reasons that I do not believe that Price fabricated it, or at least not all of it. First there is the ”Locked Books” which is a large collection of dry reading made of correspondence between the investigators and even Lionell Foyster. I have looked over every page and every word and there are many accounts of things that happened to investigators when Price was not even present at the Rectory. The other piece of evidence that has convinced me is a photograph that was taken at the Rectory after it burnt down. But we will get to that in a moment.

After Price’s study group left, the Rectory was purchased by Captain William Gregson and his family. William Gregson was stocking some bookcases on February 27, 1939 when a lamp overturned on it’s own (not the first time this had happened in the Rectory) and caught the books on fire. Witnesses who watched the blaze reported seeing peoples and faces in the windows as the building burned. The site was razed in 1944 and a woman’s skull was found in the old basement and given a proper burial. Most say the skull was of the Nun who walked the grounds but this contradicts with information that the Nun was walled up at the nunnery, not the monastery. I feel the skull probably belonged to Katie Boreham.

After the building had burned down, the location was visited by Mr. David E. Scherman (A photographer for Life Magazine), Mr. Price and Miss Cynthia Ledsham (a researcher for Time and Life LTD. Demolition of the building had already begun and only the back part of the house, leading to the kitchen quarters, was still standing. As the Life Magazine photographer went to take a picture, a brick shot up into the air about four feet and hovered there. The photographer was able to keep his hands still long enough to snap the pictures before he began to shake. After the photo was snapped, the brick dropped to the ground. The photograph is now world famous.

Since the Rectory was fully removed, homes have been built all through the area. I have not been able to find any information about strange happens in these homes but it is said that the activity has moved over to the Rectory Church which still stands to this day. The best collection of information about the Rectory I have found is The Official Borley Rectory web site which is run by one of Marianne Foyster’s adopted children.



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Paranormal - Borley Rectory | Login/Create an account | 14 Comments
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Re: Paranormal - Borley Rectory
by MystryssRavynDarque (MystryssRavynHI@wmconnect.com)
on Nov 19, 2004 - 08:20 AM
(User info | Send a Message) http://kauai.vibechild.com/~amanda/
Very interesting Rayce. I like how much research you put into this. I also liked having the pictures incorporated into the text. It really helps to visualize better.


Re: Paranormal - Borley Rectory
by Merry_Widow on Nov 19, 2004 - 09:10 AM
(User info | Send a Message) http://http://
This is awesome, Rayce. I've been hooked on this stuff for as long as I can remember. My personal obsession is with the Greyfriars Kirk cemetery and the Covenanters Prison cememtary in Edinburgh.


Re: Paranormal - Borley Rectory
by Domkitten (saradevil@saradevil.com)
on Nov 20, 2004 - 02:24 PM
(User info | Send a Message) http://www.saradevil.com
Cruel and unusal punishment. This is the kind of post that only wets your lips and makes you want more. You spend the next six hours one google researching all this, and wondering why you never stumbled across it during your fascination with all things paranormal years. Which then makes you think of all the other things you may have missed during your paranormal years, so you spend the better part of your weekend and all your freetime trying to find out...How could you be so mean?


Re: Paranormal - Borley Rectory
by Monolycus on Dec 06, 2004 - 03:07 AM
(User info | Send a Message)
Not a bad article, Rayce. I'd heard of the Borley Rectory case at http://mysteriousbritain.co.uk/index.html (check under the hauntings section), and it seemed to be an Anglicised version of the Amityville case to me. Your article did answer some questions I had had about some of the specific incidents that get referred to in an offhand way, though. Thanks!

~M.


Re: Paranormal - Borley Rectory
by ALIG (-)
on Jan 22, 2005 - 05:06 AM
(User info | Send a Message)
I am going to borley church on the 29th wich is next saterday. It shoud be fun but i think we need permition to go in to the church.Does anyone now who i have to ask for this.


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