Wednesday 24 March 2010

The Most Haunted House In England

Constructed near Borley Church by Reverend Henry Bull in 1862, Borley Rectory still manages to hold its reputation – in pop culture, at least - as the most haunted house in England.

The beginning of the haunting of Borley Rectory occurred at around 1863 - a few locals remembered hearing unexplained footsteps within the house around then. Funny how people never mention anything until years later, right?

The church organist stated that, at around that time, the family at the rectory were “very convinced that they had seen an apparition on several occasions”. Various people were witness to a variety of puzzling incidents (such as a phantom coach driven by two headless horsemen) through the next forty years or so. Henry Dawson Ellis Bull died in 1892 and his son, the Reverend Harry Bull, took over the rectory.

The first concrete date recorded, however, was on 28 July 1900. Whilst taking a walk in the late evening, four of the daughters of the rector reported seeing a nun walking near the house. They called out to the woman, and tried to engage her in conversation, but she disappeared as they got closer.

According to reports the nun was also seen frequently peering through the dining room window of Borley Rectory, and watching the family at dinner. So disturbing was this sight, that Harry Bull had the window bricked up.

In 1927, Harry passed away, and the rectory was once again vacant. In the following year, on 2 October, Rev. Guy Smith and his wife moved into the home. Soon after moving in, Mrs Smith was cleaning out the house, when within a cupboard, she came across a brown paper package. Inside, she was somewhat shocked to discover a human skull. Later analysis determined it to belong to an unidentified young woman.

Shortly after, the family experienced a variety of incidents including the sounds of servant bells ringing (long after the strings had been cut), lights appearing in windows and eerie, unexplained footsteps. Rev. Smith’s wife claimed to have seen a horse-drawn carriage at night. The Smiths contacted The Daily Mirror (Bastion of All Reliable Opinion) to ask them to put them in touch with the Society for Psychical Research.

On 10 June 1929, the newspaper sent a reporter who wrote the first of a series of articles detailing the mysteries of Borley Rectory. Harry Price, a respected paranormal researcher, made his first visit to the house which would ultimately make him famous. Following his arrival on 12th June, phenomena of a new kind appeared. Stones, a vase and a myriad of other objects were thrown around the house. So called "Spirit messages" were audibly heard tapping out from the frame of a mirror. Mrs Smith was suspicious about these new phenomena, as they ceased when Price left the premises.

The Smiths departed from Borley Rectory in July 1929 and, after some difficulty in finding a replacement rector, the Reverend Lionel Foyster, a first cousin of the Bulls, and his wife Marianne moved into the rectory with their adopted daughter Adelaide, on 16 October 1930.

Rev. Foyster wrote an account of the various strange incidents that happened, which he sent to Harry Price. Price estimated that, between the Foysters moving in and October 1935, many incidents took place there. The servant bells continued to sound. Windows shattered without explanation. Stones and bottled were hurled with great force. Messages were written on the wall, including "Marianne, please help get" and "Marianne light mass prayers". Poor Adelaide was locked in a room for which there was no key. Marianne Foyster reported a whole range of poltergeist phenomena, including an attack in which she was picked up and hurled from her bed. Furthermore Adelaide claimed to have been attacked by what she described as "something horrible".

Twice, Foyster tried to conduct an exorcism, but without success. During the first attempt, whatever it was that had taken up residence at Borley Rectory reacted violently, striking Foyster in the shoulder with a large stone.

Because of the publicity in The Daily Mirror (Bastion of All Reliable Opinion), the haunting of Borley Rectory attracted much attention at the time from several psychic researchers who believed that the phenomena was caused, (whether consciously or unconsciously) by Marianne Foyster. Mrs Foyster herself believed that some of the incidents were caused by her husband (possibly in collaboration with one of the many psychic researchers), but other events appeared to her to be genuine paranormal phenomena.

The Foysters left Borley rectory in May 1937, and Harry Price took out a year-long rental agreement with the owners of the property.

Taking out an advertisement in The Times on 25 May 1937, and subsequent personal interviews, he recruited forty-eight "official observers". These were mostly students, hired to spend long periods at Borley Rectory, with instructions to report any phenomena which occurred. The following March, Helen Glanville (the daughter of S J Glanville, one of Price's helpers) conducted a séance with a Ouija board.

Helen Glanville successfully made contact with two spirits. The first was that of a young nun, who identified herself as “Marie Lairre”. Marie informed Helen Glanville that she had been murdered on the site of Borley Rectory. Her answers were consistent with the story told by the Bull sisters – although a previous seance had identified the nun as “Evangeline Westcott”.

Marie Lairre was, according to the Ouija board, a French nun who had left her order, married, and travelled to live in England. Her husband was was Henry Waldegrave, then owner of the the manor house that had stood on the location before Borley Rectory was built. Marie claimed that she had been murdered in 1667.

Harry Price put forward the theory that the ghostly nun who had been seen for generations was none other than Marie Lairre, condemned to wander restlessly as her spirit searched for a holy burial ground. Could this mean that wall writings were her pleas for help? Despite an enormous amount of research, no trace of any historical evidence for the story of Marie Lairre was ever found.

The second spirit to be contacted identified himself by the name of "Sunex Amures". Speaking through the Ouija board, he threatened that he would set fire to the rectory at nine o'clock that night and that the bones of a murdered person would be revealed.

The predictions of Sunex Amures came to pass, in a way, but not that night (27 March 1938). On the 27 March 1939, a year to the day since the proclamation was made, the new owner of the rectory, Captain W.H. Gregson, was unpacking boxes when an oil lamp in the hallway overturned. The fire spread unnaturally quickly, and Borley Rectory was severely damaged. The burning of the rectory was investigated by the insurance company and determined to be "fraudulent". This seems an odd phrase to use, as it know...burned down.

Harry Price conducted a brief dig in the cellars of the ruined house and, almost immediately, bones belonging to a young woman were discovered, along with a medal of Saint Ignatius. A subsequent and meticulous excavation of the cellars over three years revealed nothing further. The bones were given a Christian burial in Liston churchyard, after the parish of Borley refused to allow the ceremony to take place on account of the local opinion that the bones found were those of a pig. The Rector believed that the ceremony would enable the spirit of "Marie Lairre" to go to rest.
Square Enix London Studios, a part of Square Enix Europe, recently announced that the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham Asylum won two awards at the British Academy Video Game Awards (BAFTA), including Best Game and Gameplay. Held annually in London, the BAFTA Awards recognise the best in innovation and talent within the videogame industry.

"It's fantastic for Batman: Arkham Asylum to win such prestigious awards," said Lee Singleton, General Manager of Square Enix London Studios. "To receive recognition from the British Academy is a huge honour and reflects the passion and dedication of everyone involved in the game."

In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman finds himself trapped inside the confines of Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane, Arkham Asylum. The Joker has set a trap for the Dark Knight and has conspired with the deranged inmates to eliminate Batman once and for all. Adding to the authenticity of the game are veteran animated Batman voice talents Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, who reprise their roles as The Joker and Batman respectively.

Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story by Paul Dini, Batman writer and five-time Emmy Award winner whose credits include Lost and Batman: The Animated Series. Gamers will move in the shadows, instil fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains, including Harley Quinn, Bane, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow, who have taken over the asylum.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is available for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Games For Windows® LIVE. A Game of the Year Edition will be released in PAL territories THIS FRIDAY, re-mastered in 3-D!

Thanks to our friends at Square Enix, we've got four copies of Batman - Arkham Asylum: Game of the Year Edition to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to with your name and postal address before midday on Wednesday 31st March (UK time). The first four names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!

IMPORTANT!!! Please specify on your entry whether you would prefer your copy in PS3 or Xbox 360 format!!! IMPORTANT!


  1. In the 19th century everybody and their dog was seeing phantom coaches driven by headless horsemen. In the 20th century it was U.F.O.s.

    My prediction for the 21st century? Everyone will start seeing Michael Jackson driving a Sinclair C5.

  2. :( Tried to enter the comp but it says that the email address you supplied does not exist on rocketmail. Any help please?

  3. Hi sjohnson23,

    We've had problems like this before, with Rocket Mail. Send it through to

    We need a better e-mail provider than Rocketmail...