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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, 12:24:59 am »

Foyster, cousin to the Bulls, writing to Mr S. H. Glanville on 2 September 1937 said:

I do not know exactly when manifestations started, but I imagine It would be before Harry Bull's incumbency.  As he succeeded his father there was no break when he came - his mother and sisters lived on as before.  I remember staying there less than three years after he came as Rector [i.e. in 1892] & hearing ghost stories from the younger members of the family.

In cases of alleged recurring manifestations it would normally be necessary to make careful enquiry into each percipient's awareness of the experiences of his predecessors; but in the case of Borley the legend was common knowledge in the immediate neighbourhood from the start, although, significantly perhaps, it was apparently not reported outside the immediate neighbourhood of Borley until 1929.

Mrs Byford's experience in 1886, described by her forty-three years after the event, scarcely establishes the actuality of the haunting of the rectory, for all she heard was 'someone walking down the passage ... and the sound they made suggested that they were wearing slippers'.  She did not open her bedroom door to see who it was. (1) In MHH, p. 245, Price lists this among the first 'principal events'; and in EBR, p. 94, he describes the slippered walking as 'persistent "ghostly footsteps"', neither adjective having been used by his witness.  What is of additional mild significance in Mrs Byford's letter is that as early as 1886 the other servants warned her, a young and new under-nursemaid who was presumably fair game, that her bedroom was haunted.  It is difficult to avoid the impression that the beliefs of the heads of the household produced an atmosphere at Borley highly favourable for hallucinations due to suggestion on the one hand and to hoaxes and practical jokes on the other.

The letter from Mr Shaw Jeffrey referred to above described his experiences at the rectory in 1885, and Price comments (EBR, p. 101) that Mr Jeffrey's 'important contribution to the evidence for the early haunting of Borley Rectory is of exceptional value'.  It is difficult to avoid some scepticism as to the sincerity of this opinion.  Mr Jeffrey was born in 1862 (he died in 1952) and was therefore 80 years old when, after reading MHH, he wrote to Price

1 It is curious to notice that when Mrs Byford was interviewed by the Saffron Walden Independent Press and Chronicle in 1951 she told an entirely different story.  In the issue of that paper of 9 November 1951, Mrs Byford's account of her experience at Borley is reported as follows: 'She was accustomed to being called each morning by one of the servants.  On this occasion, someone entered her room, drew back the curtains and then withdrew without speaking.  A little later the servant called - but flatly denied having been in the room earlierl'

p.22 

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