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The Haunting of Borley Rectory

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Author Topic: The Haunting of Borley Rectory  (Read 276 times)
Jennifer Janusiak
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« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2009, 12:24:31 am »

that the incident took place 'one night'.  In the Borley file at London University are the original notes made by Price and his secretary, Miss Lucie Kaye, on their first visit to Borley in June 1929.  The appropriate extract from which the above account was presumably taken reads as follows:

[Miss Bull's story].  Rev. Harry Bull, saw coach.  Juvenal, retriever, terrified & growled.  Saw man's legs rest hid by fruit trees, thought poacher, followed with Juvenal, gate shut, but saw legs disapp[ear] thro gate.

It will be observed that in these notes there is no mention of a 'headless man' (although Miss Bull may have mentioned one), and that there is the significant comment that Harry Bull took the 'apparition' to be a poacher (which it may well have been, or a tramp coveting the products of the rectory fruit trees).  It is unfortunate that the respective addition and omission of these items 'coloured' the story towards a paranormal explanation when it was written for publication ten years later.

In MHH, p. 37, Price states that Mary Pearson, maid to the later rector, the Rev. G. Eric Smith, 'saw a man, headless, behind a tree.  She chased it into the garden, where it disappeared.'  Mary, however, whom EJD and THH interviewed on 21 August 1952, told us - if we can rely on her memory so long after - that this story, apparently confirming the previous narrative, was quite untrue.  There is no later mention of this particular apparition in the Borley literature.

We have dealt with the story of the 'headless man' in order to demonstrate at this early stage of our report the way in which events at 'the most haunted house in England' which were readily capable of a normal explanation, or which may not have occurred at all, nevertheless found their place in what is probably the best and most successful ghost story ever written, but which was offered as a serious piece of research.  Price himself apparently did not privately attach over-much importance to the evidence adduced during the incumbencies, and in a letter to one of us (EJD) dated 17 October 1946 he wrote slightingly of Mrs Foyster and added: 'If you cut out the Foysters, the Bulls, the Smiths, etc., something still remains.'  The 'something' was the testimony of his own corps of observers.


In any critical examination of the alleged events before 1928 when the Smiths came to Borley, we must note that the atmosphere at the rectory was evidently strongly spiritualistic due to the unusual beliefs held by the Rev. Harry Bull (see Introduction,


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