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The Haunting of Borley Rectory

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Author Topic: The Haunting of Borley Rectory  (Read 635 times)
Jennifer Janusiak
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Posts: 1542

« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2009, 12:24:47 am »

.4).  The beliefs and experiences of his father, the Rev. Henry Bull, are none too clear.  According to the 'Analysis of Phenomena' (MHH, p. 238), he saw the phantasm of the nun; but this is at variance with a statement made by his daughter, Miss Ethel Bull, to KMG and Mr W.H. Salter, on 11 August 1950, and to EJD and THH on 4 April 1953.  Miss Bull said that she knew nothing of any appearance of this apparition of a nun before 28 July 1900 when she first saw it herself: i.e. eight years after the Rev. Henry Bull's death.  Whatever the truth of the matter may be, there does not appear to be any doubt that the Rev. Harry Bull stated to several people that he repeatedly saw various phantasms in the rectory garden, i.e. the nun; a spectral coach; an old family retainer, 'Old Amos'; and (possibly) a headless man.

There is, we think, reason to suppose that some of the 'apparitions' seen by Harry Bull may have been illusions or hallucinations, for which no explanation other than a morbid imagination and an evident interest in the supernatural is necessary.  It is possible also that the circumstances in which they were seen may have been propitious.  In EBR, p. 99, Price prints a letter received from Mr P. Shaw Jeffrey, who was at Oxford with Harry Bull and a visitor at Borley during the long vacations.  'He was', he wrote, 'an extraordinary man; he was always asleep.  Nine times out of ten he never turned up to meals at the Rectory.  Some one had to go and find him.  He was always asleep in one or other of the arbours.'

Whatever the cause of this symptom (and narcolepsy is probably the least sensational), it would seem to be arguable that if he were in the habit of dropping off to sleep in the garden at all hours, he would experience a similar number of periods of drowsiness, producing a condition peculiarly susceptible to hallucinations arising from suggestion.

Both the Bulls were educated men, enjoying the dual authority of local land-owners and rectors in a fairly remote hamlet, and it seems self-evident that they would have considerable influence over the beliefs of their servants, parishioners, and some (but apparently not all) of their family.  In these circumstances it is interesting to note that the tradition of the haunting of the rectory may have been well established in the neighbourhood as early as 1886.  In the letter from a Mrs Byford reproduced (and considerably edited) in MHH, p. 47, describing her experiences in that year, she states that in her youth 'it was common talk that the Rectory was haunted'; just as Mr C. A. Boyden in his nostalgic letter in 1929 (EBR, p. 97), describes how 'the ghost story' was told to him 'over fifty years ago' before he left the Rev. Henry Bull's Bible Class and Borley at the age of nine. The Rev. L.A.


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