Borley Rectory is often called “The most haunted house in England.” The site of the rectory originally held a monastery, which was inhabited by Benedictine monks. Subsequent to this, the monastery came under the ownership of the Waldergrave family, who occupied it for three centuries. In the late 1800’s a descendant of the Walde- graves, the reverend H.D.E. Bull, built a new rectory on the site of the old monastery. It was not until after the new rectory was built that strange things started to happen.
One of the spectres that was said to roam the grounds was a nun who in the 13th century fell in love with and tried to elope with a monk. According to legend, the nun and monk were caught in their get-away horse and carriage. As punishment, the monk was hung and the nun was walled up alive in the rectory. Some people reported seeing the ghostly form of the horse and carriage in addition to the nun.
The reverend Harry Bull, who died at Borley, also was reputed to have haunted the rectory. He would appear dressed in the grey jacket in which he passed away.
In the late 1920s, the house was owned by a reverend (Lionel A. Foyster) and his wife who reported poltergeist-like phenomena. Supposedly the prankish spirit locked the wife in the bedroom, and other times threw her out of the bed. There were also pebbles thrown at the windows, and mysterious writing which would appear on walls.
Harry Price, a famous ghost hunter, investigated Borley Rectory in 1929, and again in 1937. He supposedly witnessed some of the activity, including the ghostly nun. Although Price spent a great deal of time in the Rectory, his research is generally considered to be biased and therefore flawed.
Borley Rectory after the fire.
Unfortunately, Borley Rectory burned down in 1939, taking its secrets with it. It had recently been purchased by Captain William Hart Gregson, who planned to turn the rectory into a tourist attraction. Some suspected Gregson of arson. In 1945, human remains rumored to be those of the nun were found on the site, and were given a proper burial. But the legend of Borley has not died yet; people still visit the site today to see if they can spot the ghostly nun.
In this picture you can see a brick apparently suspended in mid-air in front of Borley Rectory. The picture was taken by a magazine photographer after the rectory had burned down. He claimed the picture to be genuine, although it is easy to imagine how it could have been faked.
An experience from a reader:
I was interested in your articles about Borley Rectory & living in the UK I am of course familiar with the stories of Harry Price & his research on what was to become known as the “Most Haunted House in England”. I am Welsh and live in Wales, but my job takes me all over the UK.
Last year I was working in Suffolk, close to the Essex border & I knew that Borley was located close by. However, Borley really is a tiny place, no more than 20 houses and a church. Furthermore, the local authorities have tried to wipe it from the map, no sign posts or direction indicators exist, as both Suffolk & Essex County Councils have removed them to try and prevent visitors. A friend of mine who lives locally told me how to find Borley, and having finished work early one afternoon, I thought I would go and see if I could find it.
As most people are aware, the rectory no longer exists, it having been demolished following a fire at the start of the Second World War. But the church which the rectory served still exists & I knew that the rectory was located directly opposite the church. I eventually found Borley at around 3pm. The road through the village is extremely narrow, and all places where it may be possible to park a car have been banked up by the local authorities to try and prevent people from parking. I drove slowly through the village and past the church, a heavy atmosphere seemed to be present, whether this was my own imagination, knowing the history of the place, or whether it was for real is difficult to say.
I had passed through Borley before I found a place to stop the car. This was on the Bulmer Tye road about 200 yards outside the village. I stopped and got out of the car and looked across at the church and the site of the rectory. The air was very still & it was a beautiful day. I decided to take a photograph of the scene. To steady my hand I leant on the roof of the car & took a couple of pictures. After a short period I decided to carry on back to my destination for the night in Bury St Edmunds.
A week or two later, after arriving home in Wrecsam I had the film developed. On the frame I had taken of the site of the rectory, there was an eerie red patch. The photos either side of this were not affected at all, so light entering the camera can be discounted. I am at a loss to explain what this glow is…. if you would like a copy of the picture I think this could be done.