It has been suspected that Borley Rectory ghostly apparition troubles began centuries ago. The local legend began when a group of Benedictine monks established a monastery in the tiny town of Essex, England in 1362. It states that a local monk attempted to flee with a nun from a close by nunnery. Even after arranging escape plans and routes to flee safely, the two lovers were inevitably caught. Upon being found they both suffered severe punishment, the monk was hanged, while the nun was condemned to an unfortunate fate of being bricked up alive within the walls of the convent.
The latter-day legend sprang up in 1863, where Reverend Henry Bull became headmaster of Borley and established the rectory not too long after. Local residents were quite aware of the mournful ghostly figure who had been strolling dismally throughout the old monastery land. Twelves years later, in 1875, Reverend Bull constructed a new rectory wing looking out over a part of the land known as ‘Nun’s Walk’ so he could view the spirit simply. Although, this wasn’t the best idea, as the ghostly figure had become a nuisance by peering through the windows of the rectory, causing fright among many of the visitors.
In 1892, Reverend Henry Bull passed away in a part of the rectory known as the Blue Room. Upon his death, his descendant, Harry Bull, acquired ownership of the building and noted that the ghostly sightings happened to increase. In addition to the sightings of the ghostly nun figure, new sightings began to appear such as ghostly coach and horses appearing on the land. Harry Bull ended up dying in Summer of 1927, coincidentally in the same Blue Room, just like his father. He claimed to have had communications with the spirit world before his demise, but his passing would mark the end of the Bulls’ families ownership of the rectory.
Several months later, after the passing of Harry Bull, Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his wife took over the tenancy of the rectory in October 1928 regardless of the previous history. Soon after they began to experience poltergeist activity such as objects being thrown around the house, lights automatically flipping on and off, stones being thrown, and ghostly whispers mentioning the name Carlos, which was ironically Harry Bull’s sobriquet. The Smith family decided to write to the national newspaper, The Daily Mirror for assistance, which they immediately dispatched a paranormal investigator, Harry Price.
Price initially scoffed at the idea of this romantic tale but was intrigued by the events associated with the house. He recorded many unusual activities taking place at the residence such as bell ringing, and an odd appearance of a Catholic medallion. About a year and a half later, in mid-1930, The Smith family left Borley rectory. Although, October of that year, Harry Price would describe that period of time as ‘the most extraordinary and best-documented case of haunting in the annals of psychical research’. Shortly after, Reverend Lionel Foyster, his wife Marianne, and their daughter, Adelaide moved in where they recalled the spooky phenomena began to get worse.
Marianne experienced the worst of the poltergeist assaults where items were thrown at her, and scrawled messages addressed to her materialized on her walls written by an unknown hand. The messages seemed to have a pleading tone to it, one read “Marianne, please help get” and “Marianne light mass prayers”. This spooked the family quite a bit, so the Reverend called in a priest to have the rectory exorcised, which it indeed worked for a brief period of time. However, they noticed the hauntings returned when Marianne was repeatedly thrown from her bed in the middle of the night by unknown forces. Completely baffled and spooked, the Reverend moved the family away from the area in 1935.
In mid-1937, Harry Price was so intrigued and puzzled by these attacks, he decided to move in. A séance was conducted on March 27th, 1938 within the rectory. An unknown spirit voice declared the rectory hallway would catch fire that night and burn to the ground. It did not. Following Price’s rent lease expiration, the rectory was taken over by Captain William Gregson and his family. On February 27, 1939, exactly 11 months later, Captain Gregson unpacking books in the library when an oil lamp fell over and started a fire. The flame quickly spread and the rectory burned to a crisp. Witnesses detailed seeing strange ghosts dance in the flames, and the nun’s face was seen from an upper floor window.
Prior to the rectory being demolished, Harry Price returned to the site and started sifting through the ashes. In one of the cellars, he found a jawbone thought to belong to a young woman, possibly the nun who was locked away many centuries ago. Even with the rectory gone, the paranormal activities have not stopped. Local residents believe the spirits have occupied the Borley church. The legacy continues today, and it still retains its reputation as one of the worlds most haunted houses.