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The Borley Rectory: A Wandering Nun And A Violent Poltergeist In Englands Most Haunted House

Updated: Apr 4

Once an impressive Victorian mansion, Borley Rectory became famous for being named "the most haunted house in England". It has been home to many terrifying paranormal accounts over the years until it was badly damaged in a fire before being demolished.


Most haunted house in England
The Borley Rectory became famous for being named the most haunted house in England

Back in 1362 Benedictine monks built a monastery in the small village of Borley in Essex, south-east England, many people believe this is where the paranormal problems that would come to fruition in the future stemmed from. Local legend tells the tale of a monk that was attempting to run away with a nun from the nearby Bures nunnery, the two lovers had devised an escape plan with a carriage waiting to whisk them away, however, in the dead of night, the two runaway lovers were caught.



After being caught, the monk was hanged, whilst the nun was said to have been bricked up in the walls of the monastery cellars. It wasn't until 1862 that the modern-day legend was born when Reverend Henry Bull became the new rector of Borley and built the rectory the following year in 1863.


The locals had reported seeing a nun who appeared to be in mourning wandering around the grounds of the old monastery for many years before, it would appear that Reverend Bull also became accustomed to seeing her restless spirit as well.


In 1875, Reverend Bull extended the rectory, adding a new wing that overlooked what was known in the village as the "Nun's Walk" so that he could sit and watch the spirit of the

wandering nun.


Borley Rectory Fire
Borley Rectory following the fire of 1939 that destroyed most of the building

His fascination with this supposed spirit would soon become a problem for him, it is said that the nun would frequently stare into the windows of the rectory, often terrifying visitors. In May 1892, Reverend Henry Bull died in the Blue Room of the rectory.


Following the death of his father, his son Harry took over the property, this would only appear to cause an increase in the paranormal activity taking place at Borley Rectory.


Four of Henry's sisters claimed that they saw the ghostly spirit of the nun walking along her path, not only this though, new sightings of an apparition of a coach and horses pulling into the rectory drive started to circulate.



In 1927, Harry Bull died, strangely enough, he passed away in the Blue Room of the rectory just as his father did before him.


Prior to his death, Harry had claimed he had experienced "communications with spirits", but his death marked the end of the Bull's time at the rectory.

Borley Rectory Ghost Sightings
A photography that claims to have caught spirits in the windows of the Borley Rectory

Reverend Guy Eric Smith and his wife were the next owners of the Borley Rectory when they took residence there in October 1928.


The Smiths were well aware of the paranormal history surrounding the house and soon began reporting experiencing their own unexplainable phenomena within the property.


They both claimed that objects were moved around the house, stones were thrown at them, lights would violently switch on and off randomly and they even reported hearing strange whispers saying "Carlos", it turned out that "Carlos" was Henry Bull's nickname.


The Smiths eventually said that they couldn't take the paranormal activity anymore and wrote to the Daily Mirror asking for their help, the newspaper sent out a paranormal investigator by the name of Harry Price. Price recorded many incidents of unusual activity at the property, unexplainable bell ringing, the strange appearance of a Catholic medallion, and undeniable feelings of cold and the sensation of being watched.



In April of 1930, the Smiths made the decision to leave the rectory and moved away from Borley altogether.


It was in October of the same year that paranormal investigator Harry Price would describe as "the most extraordinary and best-documented case of haunting in the annals of psychical research".


Reverend Lionel Foyster, his wife Marianne, and their adopted daughter Adelaide moved into Borley Rectory, and almost immediately after their arrival, the poltergeist activity turned much more violent.


Marianne, the young wife would be facing the brunt of most of the reported poltergeist attacks, objects were said to be aggressively thrown at her, and messages addressed to her would appear scribbled across the walls. One distorted message read, "Marianne, please help get, pleas for help and prayers".



Reverend Foyster made the decision to have an exorcism performed at the rectory, which was said to have made things go calm for a while, but the hauntings returned and Marianne was repeatedly thrown out of her bed by what she could only describe as supernatural forces.


Shortly after the paranormal happenings appeared to return, Reverend Foyster decided that he and his family would leave the property and moved them all away from the area, all rectors since have refused to live in the house.


In June 1937, Harry Price decided he was going to rent the property himself and brought in a team to help him observe the house.


On 27th March 1938, a seance was held in the rectory, it was reported that a voice of a spirit told them that a fire would start in the hallway and that very night the whole building would burn down. It didn't happen.


After the tenancy that Price had on the property expired, the house was then taken over by Captain William Gregson and his wife.


11 months after the fire warning that was apparently given by the spirits during the seance, Captain Gregson was sitting in his library room when a lamp in the hallway fell over, causing a huge fire and burning Borley Rectory to the ground.


Witnesses who saw the building burning claimed to see strange apparitions appear to dance in the flames as the property was engulfed in fire, whilst other witnesses swore they could see the nun staring out from an upstairs window.


Before the demolition of what was left of Borley Rectory in 1944, Harry Price returned and was looking in the cellars when he found a jawbone that was said to be that of a young woman.


Price was convinced that this jawbone was that of the infamous nun, being a religious man he decided to give the bone a Christian burial.


Even with the Borley Rectory gone, the sightings still remain and the locals of the village will tell you that the spirits now inhabit the Borley Church and the churchyard just across the road.


This is a fascinating ghost story coming from the UK and one that has had many witnesses to its paranormal activity over the years. Let us know your thoughts on the ghosts of Borley Rectory in the comments section below. Now you have read this story, make sure you check out the story of the ghosts of St Augustine Lighthouse.