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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Borley Rectory (England's Amityville Horror Story)

The Borley Rectory (1892)
The Borley Rectory is said to have been the most haunted house in England. The home a Victorian era mansion constructed in 1863 was located in Borley, Essex, England and originally owned by Reverend Dawson Ellis Bull, the rectory was eventually converted into a house for a large family of 14 children. It replaced a rectory already on site then built by Reverend Herringham which was demolished and the Borley Directory took its place. There is evidence suggesting there was a home  built on it prior to Reverend Herringham's Rectory and the land has a lot of history.
The Rear View Of Borley Rectory
According to a monk legend a Monastery carried out a relationship with a nun from a nearby convent. After their affair was discovered the monk was executed and the nun was bricked up alive in the convent walls.  The first actual accounts of hauntings began in 1863 when locals claimed to have heard strange noises and footsteps in the home. In July 1900 four daughters of the current Rector claimed to have seen the ghost of a nun from a few yards away but as they approached her, she disappeared.
What Remains Of Borley Rectory
Through the next four decades, several locals had tales of hearing noises, seeing apparitions, and even claimed to see a phantom coach driven by two headless horsemen. Ellis Bull Died in 1892 leaving his son who has just married a young divorcee named Ivy to tend to the Borley Rectory. No Strange incidents recorded, No Apparitions, no headless horsemen driving a phantom coach, and then in June 1928, Harry Bull died and the home became vacant once more.
The Tunnel Under Borley Rectory

In 1929 the home was purchased by Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his wife. After just a few short days in there new home, Mrs. Smith was cleaning out the kitchen cupboard when she found the remains of a human skull. Almost immediately after her discovery very odd occurrences plagued the family. Strange voices, Music, servant bells would go off in the middle of the night (even though the strings had been cut several years prior.) After Mrs. Smith claimed to have seen the phantom horse drawn carriage in the middle of the night, she and her family contacted the local press, specifically the daily mirror. Once the press got this information it created a whirlwind effect and the stories became more detailed and distorted. (As the press often does, even to this day.)
The Forlorn interior of The Borley Rectory
The Daily Mirror soon got in touch with The Society for Psychical Research and sent Harry Price a Paranormal researcher on June 12, 1929 to further study the home. Within days the paranormal activity heightened and things turned physical. Stones, tools, a vase and other objects were thrown at the family and at Price. Messages were found taped or written on the back of wire mirrors from spirits. After Mr. Price finished his investigation and left, the physical side of the haunted ceased. Mrs. Smith believed and reported to The Daily Mirror that Mr. Price being a talented conjurer probably was the cause for the heightened phenomena.
One Of The "Messages" From The Spirits
The Smith's left in 1929 and had a difficult time finding a Reverend to replace for Borely Rectory. They did eventually get Reverend Lionel Foyster (a relative of the then deceased Reverend Bull) with his wife and adopted daughter, they finished moving in October 16, 1930. Reverend Foyster wrote an account of the various phenomena that took place Between October 1930 - October 1935. This included Bell ringing, shattering windows, stones and bottle throwing, wall writing, and their daughter being locked into a room that had no key. Mrs. Foyster claimed to have been thrown from her bed in the middle of the night by an unseen force. The Reverend also wrote that his daughter had been "attacked by something horrible" but did not go into any detail.
Interior Of Borley Rectory as it Would Have looked when the Prices lived there
Whatever the account, it caused the Reverend to twice attempt to perform an exorcism of the home. The first attempt the Reverend was hit in the shoulder by a fist sized stone (The Daily Mirror was constantly harassing the occupants of the home and were still covering this story as if it were all major news) In May 1937 whatever the case may be, the family decided they had enough. The house sat vacant and The Daily Mirror as well as paranormal groups wanted a piece of the publicity the home seemed to be providing.
Side View
This lead into another investigation later to be known as "The Price Investigation" and a seance was conducted by college students interviewed by The Times A British newspaper, as well as spiritual enthusiast in March 1938. They supposedly made contact with two spirits; The first claimed to be a young nun murdered on the property in 1667 and identified herself as Marie Lairre. (In A previous seance held at the home, same story and details were told but the nun identified herself then to be Evangeline Westcott. It was later found that a young nun by the name of Marie Lairre who belonged to a nearby rectory who "left the church in 1667" and moved to another area in England to be married. However, no record of the young nun exist after 1667. Did the church put on record that she left the by choice to cover up her death? Or does no such record exist because she took her husbands name after they were wed? Either way, the young nuns story ends in 1667 as this is the last record kept of her.
Rev. Henry Lawson Ellis Bull
The Second Spirit to make contact identified himself as Sunex Amures he claimed that he would set fire to the Rectory, so they would be able to find the bones of a body on the property. One month later, a new owner Captain W.H. Gregson came to the Rectory, while unpacking a small oil lamp overturned and the rectory was severely damaged. While the insurance company investigated they DID find female human remains in the cellar of the home. The bones were given to a nearby church for burial, whether or not the bones belonged to the young nun, the head stone reads the name "Marie Lairre" where the bones were buried. The remains of the home were destroyed in 1939. According to Wikipedia the homes haunting history can be compared to that of "The Amityville Horror" story.
The Ruins Of Borley Rectory

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