The Screaming Walls of England: Inside the World's Most Haunted House
Have you ever felt a cold chill while walking through an empty room? Or perhaps you've heard a whisper with no discernible source? Many places claim to have eerie experiences, but one mansion in England takes the haunted cake: Borley Rectory.
Borley Rectory, often dubbed the "Most Haunted House in England" or even the world, has a history so rich with supernatural tales that it has intrigued and terrified researchers and paranormal enthusiasts for over a century 1.
Situated in the small village of Borley, Essex, this Victorian mansion was built in 1862 on the grounds of a 12th-century monastery. Legend has it that a monk and a nun had fallen in love on these grounds, but their tragic love story led to their deaths, and their spirits have been seen wandering the grounds ever since 2.
Reverend Henry Bull is closely associated with the history of Borley Rectory. He was the rector who built the Victorian mansion in 1862-63 in the village of Borley, Essex.
The Rectory was built on the site where a previous rectory had stood and was adjacent to Borley Church.
The haunting tales associated with Borley Rectory began during Reverend Bull's time. One of the most famous apparitions is the ghost of a nun, which was reportedly seen by various members of the Bull family, including the Reverend himself. Legend suggests that this ghostly nun was part of a tragic love story involving a monk and a nun who were executed because of their forbidden love affair. Their spirits, particularly the "Borley Nun," are said to be some of the entities haunting the grounds.
Reverend Bull and his family were the first in a series of residents who reported paranormal activities at the Rectory. The tales of hauntings and strange occurrences continued with subsequent rectors and their families, intensifying the house's reputation as a hotspot for supernatural phenomena.
Harry Price was a world-renowned British psychic researcher and author who gained national fame due to his investigations in the 1920s and '30s into the alleged hauntings at Borley Rectory. He was both lauded for his work and criticized, with some accusing him of sensationalism or even fraud. But I live by the old saying, 'Where there's smoke, there's fire.' So even if he embellished, there must be something going on here for there to be so many instances and witnesses over so many decades. Here are some of his findings and activities related to Borley Rectory: 3.
The Planchette Séances: In the 1920s, before Price's first visit, the then-residents of Borley Rectory, the Smiths, reportedly experienced various paranormal phenomena. Price conducted planchette séances (a form of spirit communication similar to a Ouija board) with the Smiths. Messages allegedly came through from a spirit claiming to be a nun who had been wrongfully buried in unconsecrated ground.
Bricks Flying & Rapping Noises: Price personally witnessed phenomena such as a brick seemingly flying through the air on its own and unexplained rapping noises.
The Borley Reports: In 1937, Price rented the Rectory for a year to conduct a more extensive investigation. He advertised for volunteers in the newspaper to come and help him document the paranormal occurrences. They produced vast observational data, later compiled and published as the "Borley Report."
Ghostly Apparitions: Multiple reports of ghostly figures, including the famous Borley Nun, were documented. Some of these sightings occurred during Price's investigations.
Written Messages: Price reported that, during his investigations, wall writings appeared. These writings seemed to be pleas from a spirit, asking for help or prayers.
The Discovery of a Jawbone: After conducting a séance, Price claimed that the spirit directed him to a particular spot where they dug and found a jawbone, supposedly validating the legend of the nun.
Phenomena Post-Destruction: Even after Borley Rectory was destroyed by a fire in 1939, Price reported that paranormal activities continued on the grounds.
It's essential to note that while Price's findings at Borley Rectory fascinated many, they were also a subject of controversy. Some critics believed Price exaggerated or even fabricated some of his findings. Subsequent investigations into the Borley hauntings have produced both confirmatory and contradictory results, making it one of the most debated subjects in paranormal research.
Tragically, in 1939, a fire destroyed much of Borley Rectory. Yet, even after its destruction, locals and visitors have reported ghostly sightings and strange occurrences on the property, cementing its place in paranormal history.
If you're brave enough, the ruins of Borley Rectory and its surrounding lands are a chilling testament to the unknown and a journey into the heart of England's spectral past. But remember, in Borley, the past is never truly gone.
Price, H. (1940). The Most Haunted House in England: Ten Years' Investigation of Borley Rectory. Longmans, Green & Co. ↩