Ghost stories

Borley Rectory

Borley Rectory, a Victorian mansion in Borley, Essex that gained fame as "the most haunted house in England" in the beginning of 20th century. It was built for the rector of Borley Church and his family.

 - Borley Rectory

The first paranormal events apparently occurred in about 1863, soon after the mansion was built - locals remembered hearing unexplained footsteps within the house. On 28 July 1900 four daughters of the rector reported seeing what they thought was the ghost of a nun at twilight, about 40 yards from the house. They tried to talk to it, but it disappeared as they got closer. The local organist recalled that the family at the rectory were "very convinced that they had seen an apparition on several occasions". Various people were to claim to have witnessed a variety of puzzling incidents, such as a phantom coach driven by two headless horsemen, during the next four decades.

In 1928, when new rector moved into the mansion, his family reported a variety of incidents including the sounds of servant bells ringing despite their being disconnected, lights appearing in windows and unexplained footsteps. In addition, wife of rector believed she saw a horse-drawn carriage at night. They contacted the Daily Mirror asking to be put in touch with the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). On 10 June 1929 the newspaper sent a reporter, who promptly wrote the first in a series of articles detailing the mysteries of Borley.

The paper also arranged for Harry Price, a paranormal researcher, to make his first visit to the house that would ultimately make him famous. He arrived on 12 June and immediately objective "phenomena" of a new kind appeared, such as the throwing of stones, a vase and other objects. "Spirit messages" were tapped out from the frame of a mirror. As soon as Harry Price left, these ceased, which would suggest that they where caused by Harry Price himself.

The rector and his family left Borley in 1929, and the parish had some difficulty in finding a replacement. New rector, Lionel Foyster, wrote an account of various strange incidents that occurred between when he and his family moved in and October 1935, which he sent to Harry Price. They included bell-ringing, windows shattering, stones and bottle throwing, wall-writing, and their daughter being locked in a room with no key.

Marianne Foyster reported to her husband a whole range of poltergeist phenomena that included her being thrown from her bed. On one occasion, Adelaide was attacked by "something horrible". Foyster tried twice to conduct an exorcism, but his efforts were fruitless. In the middle of the first exorcism, he was struck in the shoulder by a fist-size stone. Because of the publicity in the Daily Mirror, these incidents attracted the attention of several psychic researchers, who after investigation 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 concert 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 Pearless, and that she used paranormal explanations to cover up her liaisons. The Foysters left Borley in October 1935 as a result of Lionel’s ill health. After their departure Harry Price returned to the mansion to continue his "investigation" with group of helpers. The psychic in his group reported to get in contact with two spirits, one of a nun, who was killed in the spot where the mansion was built and second of Sunex Amures, who claimed that in 1938 he would set fire to the building, which would reveal the remains of a killed woman.

In 1939 new owner of the rectory accidentally knocked over an oil lamp in the hallway while unpacking. The fire quickly spread and the house was severely damaged. In August 1943 Harry Price conducted a brief dig in the cellars of the ruined house and discovered two bones thought to be of a young woman, but the locals are convinced that they are animal bones (probably from pig).

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