Borley Rectory…the name alone sounds foreboding, as if it was destined to become a place of grim fates for the people who entered its walls. Much like the name suggests, Borley Rectory is a place that was known as one of the most haunted places in Britain. Though it was the site of many spine-chilling incidents, Borley Rectory is now a site that is often forgotten by paranormal researchers.
Constructed in the 19th century Victorian Era, the outside of Borely Rectory looked inviting, and even cozy. The Victorian building was erected on top of the site of a previous rectory which burned to the ground earlier that century. The first man to inhabit Boreley Rectory was a man by the name of Reverend Henry Bull, who worked at the nearby church.
It seems as if the rectory site and the church had a link between them, since Bull almost immediately saw a ghostly nun walk through the gardens of Borely when he moved in. Considering that the church that the rectory belonged to was built in the 12th century, and that there is a 13th century Benedictine monastery rumored to have been at the site, it seems very plausible that the haunting that was witnessed was a legitimate one. Rumors state that the nun was a woman who fell in love with a local monk, attempted to elope, but was caught and killed by her fellow nuns.
Had the nun been the only ghostly denizen of Borely Rectory, the mansion would not have been as terrifying. Many guests who visited the rectory state that they have seen a coach driven by two headless horsemen roll up to the gates, complete with ghostly noises. Disembodied voices echoed from the gardens at all hours of the night.
Meanwhile, Bull’s family continued to live in the mansion, and the mansion was expanded to fit all 14 of his children. Henry Bull died in 1892, and was succeeded by his son, Harry. Though there were plenty of spooks about, the Bulls took it in stride and lived there until Harry’s death in 1927. Eric Smith and his wife Marianne were the next to move in, and they were the ones who seemed to attract attention from ghosts.
Along with the activity that the Bull family had experienced, the Smiths had to deal with a lot of poltergeist problems. Doorbells would ring in the middle of the night, books would fly off shelves, and there were even occasions where stones would be thrown by phantasmal hands. During a séance, the Smiths actually had Reverend Bull’s apparition appear in an attempt to communicate with them. Sick of the paranormal activity they had to deal with, they left by 1930.
The Foysters were the next to experience the terror of Borley Rectory, and it seems as if they were the ones who ghosts were attracted to the most. Phantom stone throwing, smashed glass, echoes of sobbing in the middle of the night, and disembodied voices were a frequent occurrence while they lived there. In many cases, personal items would vanish without reason, never to be seen again.
Marianne Foyster was the center of the majority of the attention, and it was not good attention, either. At one point, she was assaulted by invisible hands very frequently. She would get slapped in the middle of the night, thrown off her bed, and at one point, she even woke up to having a mattress smothering her by invisible hands. Writing would appear on walls, saying “Marianne help get” and “Marianne invisible light mass prayers.” (The ghostly writer seemed to like Marianne, unlike the spirit that assaulted her.) The Foysters moved out in 1935, leaving the rectory to one of its most well-known inhabitants, psychic researcher Harry Price. Price was known for writing a book on this uniquely haunted mansion that is still read today.
A fire broke out in 1944, demolishing most of the mansion. Despite the house being a part of history, the ghosts that inhabit this Essex area are still seen to this very day.