This story was taken from the book called "Ghost Sightings" written by Brian Innes. This house has been documented and studied by many paranormal investigators and programs.
Place: Borley Rectory, Essex England
Time: 1863 onward
Investigator: Harry Price
The rectory at Borley, standing across the Sudbury road from the 12th-century village church, was built by the Rev. Henry D. E. Bull in 1863 to house himself, his wife, and his 14 children. It was a gloomy redbrick edifice, with 23 rooms, said to be built on the site of a 13th-century monastery – a claim discredited in 1938 by the Essex Archaeological Society. Local legend told that of a monk from the monastery had eloped with a nun from the convent at Bures, some eight miles away; they had been apprehended, the monk beheaded and the nun walled up in the convent, and their ghosts still haunted the area. Rev. Henry, and his son Harry, who succeeded as a rector after his father's death, enjoyed telling the tale of the monk and the nun. They may well have embroidered it, and many of the village schoolchildren grew up convinced of the truth of the story. Two of Harry's sisters related how they had seen a shadowy figure in the rectory garden, moving along what subsequently became known as the "nun walk". In his later years, Harry also told of seeing the nun, together with the phantom coach in which she had eloped, and of having spoken with the apparition of an old family retainer named Amos.
Many years later, former servants and several of the Bull children told a variety of incidents: strange footsteps in the night, tapping on doors, slaps on the face as they slept. A college friend of Harry ball stayed at the rectory in 1885 and 1886, and reported (nearly 60 years later): "stones falling about, my boots found on top of the wardrobe, etc, and I saw the "nun" several times, and often heard the coach go clattering by."
On October 2, 1928, a year after the Rev. Harry's death, the Rev. G. Eric Smith arrived at the Borley with his wife. In a letter to the Church Times in 1945, Mrs. Smith wrote that neither had thought the house was haunted by anything but rats and local superstition, but the Rev. Smith was so concerned by the reluctance of his parishioners to visit hi he wrote to the editor of the Daily Mirror asking for the address of a psychical expert. The editor telephoned Harry Price, the well-known psychical investigator, but he also sent a reporter, V. C. Wall. On June 10, 1929, Wall published the first sensational newspaper story about the rectory. He wrote of "ghostly figures of headless coachmen and a nun, an old-time coach, drawn by two bay horses, which appears then vanishes mysteriously and dragging footsteps in empty rooms…"
Price arrived two days later. Not long after, stones, coins a glass candlestick and other objects showered down the stairs; all the servants' bells rang in the kitchen and keys flew out of their locks; rapping's were heard on a mirror. He returned to the house several times during the next few weeks, and on each occasion there were similar phenomena, which were duly featured in the Daily Mirror. Within days of the first newspaper report, the Smiths were besieged in the rectory by sightseers arriving from London in coach parties. After enduring the invasion for five weeks, they moved out to a house in Long Melford, and the Rev. Smith ran Borley parish from there until he took another living in Norfolk the following year. The new incumbent was Lionel A Foyster, Harry Bull's cousin. With him from Sackville, Nova Scotia, where he had been rector for two years, he brought his 31-year old wife Marianne, and their adopted daughter Adelaide, aged two and a half.
The rectory was in a dilapidated state, and Mrs. Foyster took an instant dislike to it. Soon after her arrival the phenomena began again, and now penciled messages, in a childish scribble, began to appear on the walls. Some were legible – "Marianne light mass prayers" – others impossible to read. Photographs show how Mrs. Foyster wrote I CANNOT UNDERSTAND TELL ME MORE beneath a scrawl that appears to contain the word "help", only to be answered by a meaningless scribble – beneath which, without success, she wrote I STILL CANNOT UNDERSTAND PLEASE TELL ME MORE. Rev. Foyster began to keep a detailed diary of events in the house. He recorded crockery disappearing and then reappearing, books being moved from one place to another, pictures taken from the wall and laid on the floor, stones and bricks and other objects materializing and striking his wife or himself, doors mysteriously locked. During the five years that the Foysters spent at Borley, some 2000 separate incidents were recorded, most of them within the first year or two. Harry Price visited the rectory just once during this period, on October 15, 1931, and subsequently wrote to a colleague: "although psychologically speaking the case is of great value, psychically speaking there is nothing in it". Nevertheless in 1937, two years after the Foysters had left the old house empty, he rented it, and then advertised in The Times for "responsible persons of leisure and intelligence, intrepid, critical and unbiased", to form a team of observers willing to spend part of their time there. In Poltergeist over England Price wrote: "I could fill pages with accounts of the thuds, bumpings, "draggings", strange odors, lights…and especially the strange wall markings that were recorded by my observers. Then there were the phantasms, etc…All were seen".
And all were sedulously reported in his book The Most Haunted House in England (1940). After Price's tenancy expired, the house was bought by a certain Captain William Hart Gregson. He had plans to make it a tourist attraction, with weekly coach parties brought down from London, but on February 27, 1939 it was destroyed by fire (Gregson himself had been accused of arson), leaving only a few smoke-scarred walls standing.
After his death in 1951, the reputation of Harry Price suffered a sharp decline. The council of the Society of Psychical Research asked three of its members to review all of the evidence concerning Borley Rectory, and their book The Haunting of Borley Rectory (1956) was hailed as having shown the case was "a house of cards built by the late Harry Price out of a little more than a pack of lies". Much was made of the fact that the Foysters had previously lived in Amherst, Nova Scotia, the scene of a famous Poltergeist manifestation in 1878, and would have been familiar with that story. (Indeed, Rev. Foyster used the pseudonym "Teed" – the name of the owner of the house in Amherst – when writing of the happenings at Borley.) Was Mrs. Foyster, who disliked the house and also appears to have been unfaithful in her marriage, solely responsible for the poltergeist-like happenings? It was even suggested that the events – and particularly the childish scribbling on the walls – were the work of the three-year-old girl, Adelaide. The pleasure taken by Rev. Harry Bull in retailing his ghost stories, and the later sensationalism of the Daily Mirror reports, only added substance to the claim that the haunting was spurious. But this was not the end of the story. During the 1960's a local psychical investigator, Geoffrey Croom-Hollingsworth, became interested in Borley. He and his assistant Roy Potter spent many hours there, over several years, and heard many strange sounds. And then, one clear night: "Suddenly I saw her quite clearly, in a gray habit and cowl as she moved across the garden and through a hedge. I thought, "is somebody pulling my leg?" Roy was out in the roadway… and I shouted to him. The figure had disappeared into a modern garage, and I thought that was that, but as Roy joined me we both saw her come out of the other side. She approached to about 12 feet from us, as we both saw her face, that of an elderly woman in her sixties, perhaps. We followed her, as she seemed to glide over a dry ditch as if it wasn't there, before she disappeared into a pile of building bricks… Roy and I saw the nun quite clearly for a period of about 12 minutes."
In 1974, Croom-Hollingsworth obtained permission to install tape recorders inside Borley Church at night. There is no doubt that the tapes have recorded a variety of strange sounds, although we have only the testimony of a number of observers that these were not naturally produced. Others have reported similar noises, as well as unexplained photographic images. As Croom-Hollingsworth has said: "I don't give a damn if Price invented things or not. The basic question is – is the place haunted? And you can take it from me it is. I have invented nothing.