Borley Rectory

aaaahhhh Borley, I have spent many many hours at Borley, mostly at night, never saw a thing myself, although the atmosphere was tight most of the time (not always) but that's not to say that there is nothing there at Borley, just because I did not have a ghost come up to  me and play to my curious tune, they may be bored of all the visitors after all. Not one night I was there, were we alone, always many other ghost hunters, mainly teenagers, hoping to witness something odd and spooky, mostly while hugging each others arms talking in excited whispers. I often thought they would not see a spirit walk past them in their excited states, paying more attention to each other and the ground in front rather than sitting quietly, listening, hoping for that 'sign'.

As I have mentioned on Shadezofblack, I am from Essex in the UK. I now live in Lincolnshire, only moving here 10 years ago, I spent 30 years in Essex. That is many years of investigative work.  Essex UK is VERY rich in spiritual history, actually very rich in a lot of history genre, for example, Colchester was the Romans hope to be the capital of England!  and Humpty Dumpty? yes who had a great fall, was in fact a GUN! which sat on the top of the castle in Colchester, it indeed had a great fall, and indeed no amount of men could put it back together.

Mmmm... sorry.. back to Borley,  Its a stunning little village near another small town called Sudbury which in turn is near (ish) Colchester.

Said to be haunted by a ghost of a nun, two headless horsemen, a phantom horse carriage, servants bells ringing even though the lines had been cut and other ghostly goings on.

Below the image (umm below) is a collection of information from all over the place, collected here for a flowing read.  (source credits below the script)

The rectory was built by the Reverend Henry D. E. Bull in 1863 near the river Stour, Essex. However the rectory burnt down in a fire started in  1939

It's thought that the rectory was destined to be a haunted house from the start due to the events that had occurred on the site many centuries before.The foundation was an age old Priory on land that contained a 12th century Church, Caretaker's House and other buildings. A.C. Henning, the rector in 1936, discovered that the Doomsday Book told of a Borley Manor prior to 1066, so he concluded a wooden church was probably also built around that time. The foundations contained underground tunnels and a complex of vault rooms. The Rectory had 20 rooms and was 3 stories high.

For a house labeled as the most haunted house in England it’s little wonder there’s no shortage in ghostly experiences. One of the earliest sightings and perhaps most famous is that of a nun. Which may seem strange given that there used to be a monastery on the site, one would expect a monk rather than a nun.

However, it is THE most popular story to the background of Borley, in 1362 Benedictine Monks built a monastery on the site which would later hold the rectory. Legend told of a nun from the Bures convent, (pronounced Byou-ers) 7 miles southeast of Borley falling in love with a monk from the monastery. They had decided to elope to be together, but the elders discovered their plans.

A friend of the monk was to drive a carriage to help them escape. On the fateful night they were captured by the elders.
The coachman was beheaded, The monk was reported to have been sent to the gallows in the monastery whilst the nun was sealed into the walls of .... well here's the rub, some stories say she was buried within the walls of the nunnery alive, and other stories tell of the nun being buried inside the walls of the vaults directly beneath the rectory... in any case, all sories state their ghosts have haunted the site ever since.

The nun has been seen and heard several times throughout the years. She seemed to be most active during the time in which Rev. Harry Bull lived there.
Reverend Henry D. E. Bull became rector of Borley in 1862. He built a large, brick building the next year. Bull added a new wing to the already rambling building in 1875. The first reported paranormal sightings at Borley were reported by P. Shaw Jeffrey who witnessed stone throwing and similar poltergeist activity whilst visiting the rectory during 1885.

Unexplained events scattered throughout the early years of the rectory. A former headmaster of the Colchester Royal Grammar School reported seeing a ghostly nun several times during 1885. A series of pastors and their families who have lived at the rectory have all reported sightings of the nun. It was reported that during dinner parties guests saw the nun's pale face in the window looking in. It got so bad that they eventually bricked up the window.

Henry Bull died in the Blue Room of the rectory May 7, 1892. He was succeeded by his son, also named Henry. The younger Bull was called "Harry" to avoid confusion with his father. On July 28th, 1900, three Bull daughters reportedly saw a figure on a path, which later became known as the "Nuns Walk", to the rear of the rectory. They were joined by a fourth sister to help greet the stranger, but the apparition disappeared. Harry also told of seeing the nun, together with the phantom coach in which she had eloped.
She was also seen wandering the grounds around the Rectory, in and out of the bushes, dressed in grey. There are reports of the Monk and Nun passing across the grounds. Several people said they observed "A lady in grey cloak" and "A gentleman with a sort of bald head, dressed in a long black gown."

Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his wife moved to Borley on 2nd October, 1928. Soon after, he heard whispers and moans, including the words "Don't Carlos, don't." Henry D. E. Bull had been given the nick name of "Carlos". While living in the rectory, the Smiths apparently heard the loud ringing of the doorbell; experienced small pebbles being thrown, heard footsteps , noticed keys disappear and lights being turned on. A horse-drawn coach was also claimed to have been seen coming through the gates of the rectory.

Eric Smith and his wife were responsible for the next set of most significantreports. They reported mysterious footsteps, doorbells ringing of their own accord, and poltergeist activity which occurred on numerous occasions. It was Eric Smith and his wife who reported their experiences to the Daily Mirror newspaper, who then arranged for the paranormal investigator Harry Price to stay and investigate.

Whilst staying there (for little over a year) Price witnessed the reported poltergeist phenomena first hand. He was said to have got in touch with the spirit of past tenant Rev. Harry Bull who died there years before. After numerous attempts at exorcising the property and continued media intrusions, in 1930 Mr and Mrs Smith left the house for good.








During October 1930, Reverend Lionel Foyster, his wife Marianne, and their adopted daughter Adelaide moved in to Borley Rectory. This was the beginning of the most famous period in poltergeist history. It was referred to as "the most extraordinary and best documented case of haunting in the annals of psychical research" by Henry Price.

They both were to continue to experience all the same phenomena that Price and the Smith’s had witnessed before them. However, the poltergeist activity seemed to become more aggressive with reports of smashed glasses, broken windows, and Marianne being thrown from her bed by an unseen force.

The couple were to also experience otherworldly messages on the walls, which defied any logical reason like other reports.

After 5 years of what must have been very frightening indeed, the Foysters left the house,contrary to popular belief they were not frightened away from the rectory. They left only because Lionel's ill health made it impossible for him to continue his work.

After the Foyster's left, the house stood empty for a couple of years, but the phenomena continued. Although the presence of Marianne seemed to precipitate the most paranormal activity, unexplained events occurred at Borley both before and after the Foyster residency. 

Price was given the opportunity to study the haunting further when no one could be found to live in the rectory. He leased the rectory for a year, and advertised in The Times for "responsible persons of leisure and intelligence, intrepid, critical and unbiased", to form a team of investigators who would spend several nights in the abandoned building.

The lease began in June of 1937 and little, if any, poltergeist activity was witnessed during this year-long study. The most common occurrence was the movement of objects out of their documented locations, and the sounds of footsteps.

A mysterious coat appeared, but no sightings of the nun were observed. Some witnesses felt a sudden chill outside the Blue Room, and certain parts of the house were consistently colder than others.
However during his stay he and his team of researchers were left relatively disappointed as they witnessed very little compared to what had been witnessed before.

A full account of what Price experienced was published in the book ‘The Most Haunted House in England’.

After Price's study group left the rectory, the house was eventually purchased by Captain William Gregson and his family who were the last people to live in the rectory.

The rectory burnt down on the 27th February 1939 when Gregson overturned an oil lamp whilst stocking some bookcases. Witnesses who watched the blaze spotted ghosts in the windows. The site was demolished in 1944.

Even after the house was burned to the ground reports continued to emerge. The most recent of reports occurred in the Parish Church.

During 1944 LIFE magazine researched an article on Borley Rectory. Whilst photographing the final demolition of the rectory, the photographer took pictures showing a brick rise from the rubble in the doorway. Sceptics say that it was merely a brick that had been thrown by a nearby workman and accidentally captured by the photographer.

The following photograph was taken by David Bamber in 1996 near the graveyard at Borley Rectory. What appears to be the ghost of a monk is seen walking at the back right of the photo.

At least two thousand Poltergeist phenomena were experienced at the Rectory between October 1930 and October 1935 during the tenancy of Lionel and Marianne Foyster. In later years, Mrs. Foyster came up with explanations for how many of these paranormal events could have happened naturally. However there were some phenomena that she was never sure about, including various writings that appeared on the walls and on slips of paper that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere.

Mr Price died in 1948 and since then many skeptics and have dissected his work, explaining all sound phenomena and other phenomena as misinterpreted natural occurrences. Believe what you will, but all reports stretching over a 100 years seem to cement its place as one of the most haunted houses in Britain, and maybe even the world.

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