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- Borley Rectory - The Most Haunted House in Britain -
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.
What is certain, is that there are a lot of reports of sightings during the time that H.D.E Bull and his son Harry were in residence. In 1886 a nurse is said to have left because of strange phenomena, possibly phantom footsteps. Around 1900, the two sisters of Harry Bull saw the ghostly nun in the garden during the daytime. Many local people were also witness to the spectre.
He was at a friend’s house in South Kensington. Having finished lunch they were drinking coffee and were discussing poltergeists, when a maid entered the room and informed Price that he was wanted on the telephone. Price answered the telephone and found himself speaking to the somewhat excited editor of the Daily Mirror newspaper. He was told that one of the newspapers staff, a Mr. V. C. Wall was at that very moment investigating extraordinary occurrences at a rectory some sixty miles from London. The editor invited Price to visit the rectory and take charge of the case.
Price spent that afternoon and the following morning preparing for the investigation. On Wednesday, June 12th 1929, accompanied by his secretary Miss Lucie Kaye, he arrived at Borley Rectory, just in time for lunch with the Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his wife.
Price’s investigations at Borley Rectory ended up continuing until his death in 1948.
- Please do continue reading through to the next post. -
The photos above appeared in LIFE magazine in 1944, during the final demolition of Borley Rectory. The photo on the right is an enlargement from the larger photograph and shows what some claim is a "floating brick", suspended in the air by the spectral occupants of the rectory. Sceptics say that it was merely a brick thrown by a workman that was accidentally captured by the LIFE photographer.
The nun was never seen at the house again but the weird events continued to occur. They were frequent enough that Price made plans for a third book about the site, although it was never completed. As his research progressed, Price lined up 50 new witnesses to more recent phenomena, including Rev. Henning, officials from the B.B.C., local residents and strangers. It seemed that after the ruins of Borley were demolished, the ghosts moved to Borley Church, where a great many manifestations began to occur in the vestry and throughout the building. Many reliable people heard the organ being played when the church doors were locked and no one could possibly enter. Rev. Henning, then rector of the church, was one of the witnesses and he contributed his accounts to Price for the third book.
- 1863 Borley Rectory constructed by Rev HDE Bull, Rector of Borley.
- 1875-6 Borley Rectory is extended as the Bull family increases in size.
- 1881 Harry Price born 17th January.
- 1892 Henry Bull dies, succeeded by Harry F Bull.
- 1900 The four Bull sisters see the Borley Nun (28th July) and witness other phenomena.
- 1911 Rev. Bull marries and moves to Borley Place, Bull sisters remain in Borley Rectory.
- 1920 Rev. Bull moves back to Borley Rectory.
- 1920 Harry Price joins the Society for Psychical Research.
- 1926 Price forms the University of London Council for Psychical Investigation.
- 1927 Harry Bull dies 9th June, Borley Rectory empty.
- 1928 Rev. GE Smith moves to Borley Rectory and takes up residence in October.
- 1929 Rev. Smith contacts Daily Mirror in June and is visited by reported Mr. VC Wall.
- 1929 First press report, 10th June.
- 1929 Price, accompanied by Miss Kaye, visits Borley Rectory for first time 12th June. Various phenominina experienced.
- 1929 Price and others visit Borley Rectory, again unusual phenomena experienced, 27 June.
- 1929 Price, Miss Kaye and Lord Charles Hope visit Borley Rectory with yet more phenomena reported, 5th July.
- 1929 the Smiths leave Borley Rectory, 14th July.
- 1929 Price, Miss Kaye and reporter Charles Sutton visit around 25th July.
- 1929 Lord Hope, Miss Kaye and others visit, Price absent due to illness, 28/29th July.
- 1930 Smiths leave Borley Rectory and move to Norfolk.
- 1930 Price interviews witnesses in area, June.
- 1930 Rev LA Foyster with wife Marianne and 2 year old child Adelaide move into Borley Rectory, 16th October.
- 1930-1 Rev. Foyster keeps a record of all experienced phenomena in Borley Rectory.
- 1931 Sir George Whitehouse visit Boreley Rectory and form the view that Marianne is responsible for the phenomena.
- 1931 Bull sisters ask Price to visit Borley Rectory again, 29th September.
- 1931 Rev Foyster invites Price to visit Borley Rectory, 1st October.
- 1931 Price, Mrs. Goldney and others visit. Price suspects Marianne of deception and leaves on bad terms with Foysters.
- 1932 Price mentions in a letter to Rev. Smith that he would like to visit Borley Rectory but the Foysters will not agree.
- 1932 Price visits Borley Rectory, reason unknown, April - November.
- 1935 Price states his views in a letter to Everard Fielding, saying "Five years ago the place was literally alive with something."
- 1935 Price makes a B.B.C. broadcast about Borley Rectory.
- 1935 Foyster leave Borley, the Rectory is unoccupied, October.
- 1936 Confessions of a Ghost Hunter published, February.
- 1936 Rev. A. C. Henning new rector of Borley resides at Liston.
- 1936 Mr. Guy L'Estrange makes a BBC broadcast about Borley Rectory, December.
- 1937 Price rents Borley Rectory for one year, he enrols 48 others to help investigate Borley phenomena.
- 1937 H Glanville assists Price in supervision of investigation.
- 1937 Price makes a BBC broadcast about Borley Rectory.
- 1937-8 Glanville's daughter uses a seance to investigate Borley Rectory further
- 1938 In a seance Borley Rectory is threatened with destruction by fire, 27 March.
- 1938 Price and investigators move out on 19th May.
- 1938 Captain Gregson purchases Borley Rectory intending to capitalize on its reputation, December.
- 1938 Price makes a BBC broadcast about Borley Rectory.
- 1939 Borley Rectory burns down on 27th February.
- 1939 Captain Gregson makes a BBC broadcast about Borley Rectory, April.
- 1939 Price meets the Whitehouses and changes his view of Mrs. Foyster's involvement.
- 1939-44 Dr. AJB Robertson and others make numerous visits to the ruins of Borley Rectory
- 1939-44 Dr. AJB Robertson submits a report to Price, later published in The End of Borley Rectory.
- 1940 Rev. GE Smith dies the same day as The Most Haunted House in England is published on 3rd August.
- 1940 Many people contact Price describing unexplained phenomena at Rectory site.
- 1941 Price makes a BBC broadcast about Borley Rectory.
- 1943 Price conducts excavation of Borley Rectory's wells and cellars. Finds include human bones, 17th August.
- 1944 Ruins of Borley Rectory demolished.
- 1944 Price and Miss Ledsham of Time-Life magazine visit Borley Rectory during demolition work, "flying brick" photographed.
- 1945 In a letter to the Church Times, Mrs. Smith denies the she or Rev. Smith ever believed Borley Rectory to be haunted./li>
- 1946 The End of Borley Rectory published.
- 1946 & 47 Price with others makes a BBC broadcast about Borley Rectory.
- 1948 Harry Price dies whilst writing a third Borley Rectory book, 29th March.
- 1948 Mrs. Smith repeats her disbelief of Borley Rectory haunting in a letter to the Daily Mail, 26th May.
- 1948 Charles Sutton, writing in the Inky Way Annual, accuses Price of manufacturing phenomena on their visit in 1929.
- 1954 Mr. S. H. Glanville dies.
- 1956 The Haunting of Borley Rectory - A Critical Survey of the Evidence by EJ Dingwall, KM Goldney and TH Hall published.
- 1965 An Examination of the "Borley Report" by Robert J. Hastings published, March.
- Please do continue reading through to the next post. -
The Borley Nun A sighting on the Rectory lawn, 28th July 1900 was reported by the four Bull sisters. Again seen in November by Miss E. Bull, in garden. Also seen many times by Mr. and Mrs. Cooper of the cottage next to the Rectory. Seen by Fred Cartwright four times in 1927, ‘standing’ at the Rectory gate. During his visit with Price the nun was seen by V. C. Wall.
Harry Bull seen by Marianne. He manifested in the Blue Room during a séance. Coach and horses seen by Mr. and Mrs. Cooper between 1916 and 1919. Mrs Cooper describes the horses as having glittering harnesses as they swept across the Rectory grounds. Also seen by Miss Mary Pearson, sometime prior to relating the incident to Price on 12th June 1929.
Black shape seen by the Coopers in their bedroom, 1919. A mysterious light seen by reporter V. C. Wall on June 10th 1929.
Was this the one with the foot prints walking beside one of the residents
1) The rectory was not (if ever) haunted,
2) In order to sesationalise and promote his book Harry Price faked the haunting (even the flying brick has three explenations).
3)The Church is the main focus for genuine paranormal activity, more so than the Rectory ever was.
And as the rectory itself was built in 1863(?) and the story began not that long after, why would the building be haunted? Ok, on the assumption that ghosts/spirits do not obey normal physical restraints walls/doors etc - but to haunt a ( relatively) new building ?
Originally posted by destination now
Sorry to appear as the "numbskull dumb blonde" on the thread, but wasn't there a confession from one of the residents (at the time of Harry Price) or their relatives who truly debunked the whole thing - she was in her old age by that time, many years after the event? Sorry don't know where I saw that now (and didn't read the thread thoroughly enough to see if you mentioned it (sorry)
After Price died in 1948, some people critiqued the whole Borley Rectory phenomenon, calling it a fraud. They claimed that Harry Price had essentially invented the haunting on his own, because he desperately wanted to investigate a haunted house and to write books about it. One reporter, who attended a vigil with Price during which he found himself being struck by stones, suspected that Price was the culprit, confronted him and claimed to have found a number of stones in Price’s coat pocket! There were many independent witnesses to paranormal phenomena at Borley Rectory, however, so, even if he is accused of sensationalising the haunting, it is hard to credit that Price invented it out of whole cloth.
Following its destruction by fire, the building was demolished in 1944 and a number of private residences now stand in the same spot. Though the residents are said to be averse to publicity, quite a few have reported ghostly and unexplained phenomena over the years.
It appears that one of history's most famous haunted houses has had an interesting "twist" to its reputation. The most haunted house in history has been unmasked as Britain's biggest hoax.
A new book written by one of the hoaxers will outrage believers and delight those who seek to disprove the existence of psychic phenomena. In "We Faked the Ghosts of Borley Rectory" by Louis Mayerling – for whom the house was a second home until its destruction by fire in 1938 – reveals for the first time how the 'hauntings' were created by the rectory's various inhabitants. He describes how they watched in amazement as the world fell for the elaborate hoax. 'I would love to say that there was a grain of truth in it all, but I felt that the book had to be written to reveal the farcical truth about the house – as personally experienced.'
And now, decades later, we turn a skeptical eye upon Borley Rectory and see how much of it we can verify, and how much of it is complete bunk. One of the keys to understanding the events at Borley Rectory is to understand who Harry Price was. By no means was he a scientist or an unbiased researcher. He was an expert magician, a member of the British organization The Magic Circle, and proven hoaxer. He was a close friend of Charles Dawson, the man behind the infamous Piltdown Man hoax.
He and photographer William Hope staged an elaborate photograph depicting a ghost looking over the shoulder of Price as he sat for a portrait. Harry Price went on the road with a fake statue of Hercules. He exhibited a fake silver ingot from the reign of Roman emperor Honorious. He showed gold coins from the kings of Sussex and a bone carved with hieroglyphics, all proven to be fakes. By every account, Harry Price was a practiced hoaxster and very much of the P. T. Barnum mold. Harry Price did not investigate Borley rectory for his own health. He achieved a great deal of notoriety from it, including the publication of three books, The Most Haunted House in England, Poltergeist Over England, and The End of Borley Rectory.
The Smiths left Borley on 14 July 1929 and, after some difficulty in finding a replacement, the Reverend Lionel Foyster, a first cousin of the Bulls, and his wife Marianne moved into the rectory with their adopted daughter Adelaide, on 16 October 1930. Lionel Foyster wrote an account of the various strange incidents that happened, which he sent to Harry Price. Price estimated that, between when the Foysters moved in and October 1935, many incidents took place there, including bell-ringing, windows shattering, stones, bottle-throwing and wall-writing, and their daughter was locked in a room with no key. Marianne Foyster reported to her husband a whole range of poltergeist phenomena which included her being thrown from her bed. On one occasion, Adelaide was attacked by "something horrible". Twice, Foyster tried to conduct an exorcism, but his efforts were fruitless. In the middle of the first, Foyster was struck in the shoulder by a fist-size stone. Because of the publicity in The Daily Mirror, these incidents attracted much attention at the time from several psychic researchers who investigated, and were unanimous in suspecting that they were caused, consciously or unconsciously, by Marianne Foyster. Mrs Foyster later stated that she felt that some of the incidents were caused by her husband in collaboration with one of the psychic researchers, but other events appeared to her to be genuine paranormal phenomena. Marianne later admitted that she was having a sexual relationship with the lodger, Frank Peerless,  and that she used 'paranormal' explanations to cover up her liaisons.  The Foysters left Borley as a result of Lionel's ill health.
The Haunted Rectory …
the lost BBC Script
So much has been published about Borley Rectory that it seems inconceivable that anything new could possibly turn up. Surprisingly, this is not the case. The original researchers of the Borley Rectory left a huge mass of documentation, letters, photographs and other material, which seems to have been ignored by the writers of the more recent books. Harry Price was an instinctive archivist. Eric Dingwall and Mollie Goldney left a treasure-trove of primary material. Recently, the writings and interviews of Marianne Foyster have come to light, along with Caroline Bull's diary. The full extent of Harry Price's chicanery and duplicity, documented at the time in 'confidential files' is only now being exposed.
One of the more agreeable surprises was the copy of an abandoned BBC program scheduled for broadcast on 10th September 1956, and produced by Joe Burroughs. It was abandoned due to fears in the legal department that Marianne Foyster, who was almost certainly responsible for the more spectacular haunting, could easily sue the BBC for what was said about her in this broadcast. We thought that the script was lost but a copy of the proofs of the script, once owned by Mollie Goldney, turned up in the SPR Archive. It remains a good general guide to the Borley Rectory affair
In 1931 Marianne began what appears to have been a mildly sado-masochistic relationship with another fantasy-prone individual, one Francois d'Arles – real name Frank Pearless – who supposedly joined the household so his young son Francois Jr could be a playmate for Adelaide, an orphan adopted by the Foysters during their stay in Canada. D'Arles officially lived in the Rectory cottage but he often spent the night in the Rectory itself. In fact d'Arles was Marianne's live-in lover, and in later years she would claim that Foyster knew of and condoned their relationship. Even if we acquit Foyster of paedophilia for lack of evidence, there is good reason to suspect that he had voyeuristic tendencies and future developments only strengthen this inference.
The Borley poltergeists were at their peak between 1931 and 1932. Objects inexplicably disappeared and were later found in other parts of the house, furniture was overturned, Marianne was thrown out of bed by a mysterious force and at one point she acquired a black eye that she claimed had been inflicted by a ghost but was probably caused by the violent and overbearing d'Arles. Scraps of paper bearing Marianne's name were found in the house and messages addressed to her were found on various interior walls. Marianne claimed to have seen the ghosts of both the Nun and Harry Bull. Foyster reported objects whizzing through the air (always in Marianne's presence and always when his back was turned). His atrocious memory was probably responsible for most of the "missing" items, and it's hard not to agree with the conclusion reached by Robert Wood in his fascinating book "The Widow of Borley", on which this article is based:
"Once the story of the domestic arrangements at the Rectory has been told, the ghosts seem to be of little importance; yet the alleged poltergeist effects, which were no more than cruel tricks played upon one another by the members of a household which lived in an atmosphere of obsessive love, sexual jealousy and suspicion, reveal even more about the relationships between these extraordinary people."
A typical example of the pranks played upon Foyster is described in his unpublished manuscript "Fifteen Months in a Haunted House", a thinly fictionalized account of his experiences at Borley in which one of the characters is named 'Mr Teed', surely another link with the Amherst affair: "During the afternoon a whole lot of books were deposited on the rack for warming plates over the kitchen range; these included a number of Durham Mission Hymn Books...of which we were rather short, so they were a welcome addition...
"In October 1931, as we have seen, Harry Price returned to Borley. Members of the Society for Psychical Research warned Foyster that Price had been suspected of faking paranormal phenomena in the past but their advice fell on deaf ears. But this time Price was not impressed by the ghostly goings-on, perhaps because in Marianne he recognised a kindred spirit. His fellow investigator Mrs K M Goldney, who was present at the time, described Marianne's extraordinary behaviour when she realized that she had met her match:
she fell to her knees and begged St Anthony to prove her innocence by causing a poltergeist manifestation to take place in the presence of her accusers, at which a bell promptly rang (one wonders where d'Arles was when this little drama took place). Price bluntly told Foyster that in his opinion Marianne was responsible for faking the phenomena, but characteristically Foyster refused to hear a word against his wife and he and Price parted on bad terms.