Borley Rectory

borley rectory bLocated in a lonely and sparsely populated
part of Essex, England, the village of Borley was at one time home to a Rectory reputed
to be the country’s most haunted building. Though reports of hauntings date back to its
very birth in 1863, the Rectory first gained national fame in 1929 when paranormal
researcher Harry Price took an interest in its ghostly denizens. Price was at the time one
of the country’s foremost ghost hunters and his views on the rectory were published in the
newspaper The Daily Mirror. This made the rectory one of the country’s most famous
haunted houses.
Since the very start of its existence, the rectory’s inhabitants have complained of strange
phenomena. These include the sound of carriage wheels outside the house even though no
carriage was to be seen at the time, a ghostly girl in white, the sound of dragging
footsteps, and even the archetypal headless ghost. Less typical was the spectral nun
roaming restlessly around the house and its adjoining garden. A nun haunting a house
made to house a churchman and his family seems puzzling, but there is a possible
explanation. A centuries old story claims that the site had once housed a monastery and
that a monk from the monastery had an affair with a beautiful young nun from a nearby
convent. For their trouble, both were executed, he by hanging and she by being walled up
alive. So perhaps the nun is just looking for her long lost love.
In 1929, Reverend Guy Smith and his wife took up residence and it wasn’t long before
peculiar things started to happen. Not only did Mrs. Smith find a woman’s skull lurking
inside a cupboard, but footsteps were heard, mysterious lights were seen, and a ghostly
carriage driven by a headless coachman was observed to be lurking in the grounds. All
this led the Smiths to contact the Daily Mirror, who later sent Harry Price to investigate,
and fame ensued. Though the Smiths suspected Price of having fabricated a lot of the
phenomena that took place during his visit, they nonetheless departed from the house one
year after moving in.
In 1930, not about to be put off by lovesick nuns and headless coachmen, a Reverend
Lionel Foyster and his family moved in and they too had unusual events to recount.
According to Foyster, strange messages began to appear on the walls as well as on bits of
note paper scattered throughout the rectory. More prosaically, there were ringings of
bells, stones and bottles were thrown about, windows mysteriously exploded, people were
hurled from their beds in the middle of the night, and one person was even attacked by an
unseen presence. This went on intermittently untill 1935 when the family finally decided
to move out.
After almost two years of abandonment, the property was rented out in early 1937 by
Harry Price, who proceeded to bring in “official observers” whose task was to stay at the
house for a certain period of time and to report any unusual activity.
Not much fruit seems to have been borne of such observations, but in 1938 a séance took
place in London that supposedly made contact with not only a nun who claimed that she
had been murdered at the site, but also with a mysterious male spirit named Sunex
Amures. Sunex threatened to set fire to the rectory that very night and also claimed that
one day the bones of a murder victim would be discovered. Apparently Sunex was not the
world’s most punctual firebug, as it took a whole year for the rectory to burst into flames,
on 27 February 1939. The new owner claimed to have accidentally overturned an oil
lamp, but the insurance company claimed it was all part of an attempt at fraud.
In August 1943, Sunex’s second prediction seemed to have come true when Harry Price
dug up the cellar of the burnt-out house and found two bones belonging to a young
female. Whether they were those of a young female human or those of a young female
pig is a matter of great debate.
After Price’s death several of his allies set out to find the truth about the haunting of
Borley rectory and came to the conclusion that their late associate had manufactured so
much “evidence” that it was impossible to make any valid judgment as to whether or not
the place had ever been truly haunted. It is interesting to note, though, that strange events
were reported well before Price’s involvement, as well as at times when he was miles
away in London. Unfortunately, we will never know the truth about Borley rectory,
however fantastic or prosaic it may be, as the building has long since been razed to the

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