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The Haunting of Borley Rectory

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Jennifer Janusiak
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« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2009, 12:24:02 am »

III.  THE  BULL INCUMBENCIES

Price tells us on p. 46 of EBR that one of the most convincing features of the alleged haunting of Borley Rectory is the long period covered by the manifestations, i.e. virtually from the building of the house by the Rev. Henry Dawson Ellis Bull in 1863 to the clearing away of the last of the ruins in 1944.  If the life of the rectory is considered to have ended in 1939 when it was largely gutted, then of its effective existence of 76 years no less than 64 comprise the two Bull incumbencies, which ended with the death in 1927 of the Rev. Harry Foyster Bull, son of Henry Bull.  It will be clear that the Bull period is of considerable importance from this point of view alone.  What is of probably greater interest and significance is the fact that the local story of ghosts seen at Borley Rectory began during the Bull incumbencies.

There can be no doubt that this story of the rectory apparitions was firmly established in Borley by 1928 when the living passed to a stranger, the Rev. G. Eric Smith.  The purpose of this chapter is to discover whether the stories pertaining to the Bull period had any foundation in fact.

In considering the accounts contained in Price's books of the apparitions which are alleged to have been seen by Henry and Harry Bull, it is important to bear in mind that we are offered no first-hand testimony recorded at the time by either of the percipients.  All we have is a description by Price of what Miss Bull could remember of what her father and her brother had presumably told her, without dates or corroboration, and obviously in some instances after considerable periods of time.  This is unsatisfactory enough in itself; what is more disturbing is the discovery of indications that Price apparently over-stated Miss Bull's narrative in his books.  Miss Bull told two of us, EJD and THH, on 4 April 1953 at her home in Great Cornard, Sudbury, that to her annoyance Price never gave her the opportunity of approving the section of MHH dealing with her testimony and that in consequence he made a number of mistakes.  On p. 46 of MHH it is stated, for example:

On one occasion, when in one of the upper passages, Miss Ethel [Bull] saw a tall, dark man standing beside her. Before she could recover from her surprise, he vanished.

p.18

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