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> Most Haunted House <

Monastic chants, strange scribling and a slap on the face...

Borley rectory was a damp, rambling Victorian building on the north bank of the river Essex. It was the most haunted house in England. For more than a century there where sightings of phantom coaches, a nun and a headless man. There were poltergeists throwing things about, mysterious footsteps, objects appearing and dissapearing, bells ringing, writing on walls and from Borley church near by, weird monastic chantings and organ music.

The rectory was built in 1863 for the Rev. Henry Dawson Ellis Bull, on the reputed site of a medieval monastery. As soon as he, his wife and their 14 children moved in, the happenings started. Footsteps and taps were heard in the night. Bells rang, and voices whispered. One daughter was awakened by a slap in the face; another saw the dark figure of an old man in a tall hat by her bed. One frequent visitor was a nun several times. No one was harmed but the experiences were unnerving.

The vicar's son, Harry Bull, took over the rectory in 1892 and stayed until 1927. In that period a headless man was seen in the bushes; a phantom curse appeared; a cook reported that a locked door was open every morning; and four of Mr Bull's sisters saw a young nun who dissapeared without trace.

In 1929 poltergeist were reported at Borley for the first time. Among the objects which appeared inexplicably were pebbles, keys and medals, one with the head of St Ignatius engraved on it and the word 'Roma' beneath a design of two human figures.

Between 1930 and 1935, the rectory was in the hands of the Rev. Lionel Algernon Foyster, his wife Marianne and their daughter Adelaide. Messages were scribbled on walls and scraps of paper; footsteps were heard. A voice called out Marianne's name and an invisible assailant attacked her. There were also strange smells, especially of lavendar. Many of the scriblings on the wall were illegible, but one appeared to say 'Marianne get help'.

In 1943 the site was excavated. At a depth of 3 or 4 ft, workers found fragments of a woman's scull and pendants bearing religious symbols. As late as 1961 torches, car headlights and camera flashes all failed during an investigtion.

Recearchers into Borley rectory have learnt at séances that, in the 17th century, a young French nun, Marie Lairre, was induced to leave her convent at Le Havre to marry one of the Waldegraves of Borley, a landed family. They were told that she was strangled by her fiancé on May 17, 1667, in a building standing on the rectory site. Her body, according to the spirit messages, was buried in the cellar.

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