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Published 21st December 2007 by

Borley Rectory began life as a Benedictine monastery in the 13th century. Legend has it a monk fell in love with a young nun from the Bures convent, 7 miles south-east of Borley, and as they tried to elope and start a new life together, they were captured together with a friend of the monk who was to drive a carriage helping them escape. The coachman was beheaded, the monk was hung, and the unfortunate nun was bricked up alive in the walls of the vaults beneath the rectory.
Borley Rectory in 1892

Borley Rectory in 1892


In the early nineteenth century, the monastery was sold off as a residence, despite local warnings, by Reverend Henry Dawson Ellis Bull in 1862 when he built a rectory on the site believed by locals to be haunted. Over the years, Bull's servants and his daughters were constantly witnessing phantom knockings, unexplained footsteps and the manifestation of ghosts. Bull thought the haunting was most amusing, and with his son, erected a summer house where they could pass away the time waiting for the phantom nun. On many occasions, a young nuns face has been seen looking in through a window during dinner parties. It eventually became so bad that the windows were walled up. Bull's daughters often saw the nun walking along a path at the rear of the rectory, the path became known as "Nuns Walk". After Bull passed away in one of the famous rooms, the Blue Room, his son Harry inherited the property until he also passed on in 1927.

The property was then purchased by Rev Guy Smith, who was so unnerved by the paranormal events, that he sold the rectory just one year after moving in.

After Smith's hasty departure it was the turn of Reverend Lionel Foyster and his wife, Marianne. The events in the house were now getting more and more frequent, and stronger. Without any explanation, the Foysters found themselves locked out of rooms and windows would suddenly smash. There was all manner of unnerving noises all over the house. As time went on, however, these innocent events took a more aggressive tone and Marianne was actually assaulted one night. She was thrown off her bed and slapped by invisible hands. In the final event, she was nearly rendered unconscious by a mattress that was held over her face.

Not long after, Harry Price came to the scene when a local newspaper featured an article on the activity in the house. Harry Price was a paranormal investigator of the time and he conducted an investigation in the house. It was during this investigation the writing on the wall started to appear, usually when Marianne was present. "Marianne, please help get" and "Marianne light mass prayers" were two common writings.

When the Foysters moved out in 1935, Harry leased the house himself in order to deepen his investigation. He ran ads in the papers for others to help, and at the peak, he had 40 investigators trying to uncover the mysteries of the house.

During a seance, a spirit came through and identified herself as Marie Lairre. She informed the group that she is a nun from France and left her convent to marry Henry Waldegrave, the son of a wealthy family whose home had previously stood on the site of Borley Rectory. The tale turned grim when she told the group that her husband had killed her and buried the remains in the cellar. In the eyes of Henry Price, she fitted the profile of the ghost that haunted Borley Rectory. 11 months later the new owner, Captain WH Gregson, accidentally knocked over an oil lamp whilst unpacking and started a fire. The fire spread fast through the manor and the rectory was burned to the ground. Price decided to excavate the now accessible cellar where he found a few small bones, which seemed to be those of a young woman. Was this the proof needed to validate the story of the betrayed nun? Regardless who the woman was, she was given a proper religious burial and finally laid to rest.

Every person who has resided in the rectory since it was built in 1863, and virtually every person who has investigated the alleged miracles, has sworn to incidents that can only be described as paranormal.Henry Price
One thought on “Borley Rectory Hauntings
  • 19th July 2009 at 12:00 am

    hi there , i was wondering what summerhouse is the most haunted as ive seen theres 2 the large and small one. ive only just been to borley as ive been intrested in this place for yrs. i was told about the summerhouse and would like to visit it im going back there in sept. it would be good if you can let me know thanks


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