The Borley Rectory : “The Most Haunted House In England”

523447_347031255380467_499100489_nThe Borley Rectory is widely known as “the most haunted house in England”.
Built in 1862 by the Reverend Henry Dawson Ellis Bull  to replace an earlier rectory on the site that had been destroyed by fire in 1841. It was meant to house the Reverend and his family, but unfortunately came with extra room-mates.
Local legend had it that a monastery had once been located on the site and that a 13th century monk and a beautiful young nun 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.

confessions-borleyThe first recorded paranormal events apparently occurred in around 1863, since a few locals later remembered hearing unexplained footsteps within the house at about this time. On July 28th 1900, four of the daughters of the rector reported seeing what they thought was the ghost of a nun from 40 yards’ distance near the house during a sunset.
They tried to talk to it, but it disappeared as they got closer.
Various people were to claim to have witnessed a variety of puzzling incidents, such as a phantom coach driven by two headless horsemen, through the next four decades.
Henry Dawson Ellis Bull died in 1892 and his son, the Reverend Harry Bull, took over until his death in June 1928 and the rectory again became vacant.

The following year the Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his wife moved into the home. Soon after moving in, Mrs Smith, while cleaning out a cupboard, came across a brown paper package inside which was the skull of a young woman.
Shortly after, the family reported a variety of incidents including the sounds of servant bells ringing (though the strings had been cut), lights appearing in windows and unexplained footsteps. Mrs Smith also believed she saw a horse-drawn carriage at night.

Harry Price

Harry Price

In October of 1929, early ghost hunting pioneer Harry Price was asked to investigate the paranormal activities occurring in the Rectory. He found (or fabricated?) many new phenomena, and wrote a hugely influential book about the case.
The Smiths quickly grew weary of being plagued by ghosts, and moved from the Rectory after just a year. There was some difficulty finding a replacement until Reverend Lionel Foyster, a first cousin of the Bulls, and his wife Marianne moved into the rectory with their adopted daughter Adelaide, on October 16th,1930.
Until that point, the ghosts at the rectory had been relatively peaceful, but all that would change in October 1930.

Marianne Foyster

Marianne Foyster

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.


Because nearly all of the poltergeist-like activity occurred when Mrs. Foyster was present, Price was inclined to attribute it to her unknowing manipulations. However, he did believe in the possibility of the ghostly nun and some of the other reported phenomena.

He believed the writings had come from another young woman, one who seemed to be from her references, a Catholic. These clues would later fit well into Price’s theory that the Borley mystery was a terrible tale of murder and betrayal in which the central character was a young nun, although not the one of legend.


The Foysters moved out of the house in 1935 and with the place now empty, Price leased the house for an extended, round-the-clock, one year investigation. He ran an advertisement in the personal column of the Times on May 25, 1937 looking for open-minded researchers to literally “camp out” at the rectory and record any phenomena which took place in their presence.
The advertisement read:

“HAUNTED HOUSE: Responsible persons of leisure and intelligence, intrepid, critical, and unbiased, are invited to join rota of observers in a years night and day investigation of alleged haunted house in Home counties. Printed Instructions supplied. Scientific training or ability to operate simple instruments an advantage. House situated in lonely hamlet, so own car is essential. Write Box H.989, The Times, E.C.4”

During the year that Price leased the rectory, breakthroughs were made in the communications with the spirits. One séance would later give Price the material that he needed to solve (he believed) the mystery of the haunting.

During a sitting with a planchette, an alleged spirit named Marie Lairre related that she had been a nun in France but had left her convent to marry Henry Waldegrave, a member of a wealthy family whose manor home once stood on the site of Borley Rectory. There, her husband had strangled her and had buried her remains in the cellar.

The story went well with the most interesting of the Borley phenomena, namely the reported phantom nun and the written messages. Price theorized that the former nun had been buried in unconsecrated ground and was now doomed to haunt the property seeking rest.

Borley3In March of 1938, five months after Marie’s first appearance, another spirit promised that the rectory would burn down that night and that the proof of the nun’s murder would be found in the ruins. Borley Rectory did not burn that night, but exactly 11 months later, a new owner, Captain WH Gregson was unpacking books in the library when an oil lamp overturned and started a fire. The blaze quickly spread and the rectory was gutted.


Price took this opportunity to excavate in the cellar of the house and discovered a few fragile bones which turned out to be that of a young woman…. evidence, Price concluded, there was something to the story of the murdered nun. A Christian burial for the bones appeared to provide the ghost with the rest she had long sought and a service was later conducted by the Rev. AC Henning in the small village of Liston, less than two miles from the rectory.

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!

Price wrote about Borley Rectory in two books entitled Most Haunted House in England: Ten Years’ Investigation of Borley Rectory (1940) and The End Of Borley Rectory (1946).


Now, in 2013, awesome artist Ashley Thorpe and Carrion Films are producing an animated documentary about the Borley Rectory, and they need your help!
Mr. Thorpe and his team have recruited Julian Sands (Warlock himself!) for the narration, and original Banshee Steve Severin for the score!

Check out their indiegogo campaign for tons of incentives for your participation, including a guided tour of Borley (!) and even a special thank you call from Julian Sands!

This film should prove to be stylish and interesting, and the subject is a great creepy story!
Ashley Thorpe’s artwork is impressive, some of it can be seen here along with his award-winning short animated films that will make you want to see what he does with this story!
Learn more about their fundraiser here.
And check out Carrion Films on Facebook and Twitter, and the official site here, and let’s help them get this thing made!


Great Halloween Costumes for the whole family.

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