A creepy Essex home that was named the most haunted in England has been featured in an Amazon Prime film. For almost 200 years, spooky ghost sightings and strange occurrences have plagued Essex’s Borely Rectory.
Borley Rectory was built in the Essex village of Borley in 1863, but became particularly infamous for its unsettling horror stories. The location is where tales of ghostly nuns, mysterious voices and visions of an eerie coach and horses have been spotted over the decades.
Widely proclaimed the “Most Haunted House in England”, this Victorian mansion is said to be plagued by the ghosts of a monk and nun who fell in love. They attempted to elope and, when caught by elders, the monk was beheaded and the nun imprisoned in the vaults beneath the rectory.
The ghost of the nun was so frequent that Reverend Bull, who built the house, had another house built overlooking the area where the nun’s apparition walked. The large Gothic-style rectory in the village of Borley had been alleged to be haunted ever since it was built.
These reports multiplied suddenly in 1929, after the Daily Mirror journalist V.C Wall published an account of a visit by paranormal researcher Harry Price, who wrote two books supporting claims of paranormal activity. His investigation at Borley Rectory would be hotly debated for years to come.
On his visit alongside Price that same evening, Wall believed he spotted the nun moving towards a stream in the garden – a historic sighting at the haunted grounds. Legend has it that the monk from the monastery had a relationship with the nun from a nearby convent but when their affair was discovered, the nun was allegedly bricked up alive in the convent walls.
That same day, Wall and Price claimed to witness a red glass candlestick fly past their heads and shatter against an iron stove, the Mirror reported. They recorded pebbles and slate bouncing down the stairs unknowingly, servants’ bells ringing on their own and keys flying out of keyholes.
Rushing water, bells ringing and sounds of heavy footsteps
From 1863, a Reverend Henry Dawson Bull lived there with his family and were frequently disturbed by spooky incidents – from rushing water in the house where there was no mains or interior pipes, bells ringing with no explanations and the sound of heavy footsteps around the empty building. Terrifyingly, many of the cases centred around the daughter Ethel, who one night reportedly received a slap across the face as she lay in bed.
After the first Henry Bull passed away in 1892, Henry Foyster Bull took over the residence until he died in 1927. There is one instance when he was out in the garden and his dog started to howl and cower at something behind the trees.
Bull spotted among the trees a pair of legs, but as they moved away he saw the body appeared completely headless. He said it crossed the garden and walked through the locked gate.
Reverend Bull also saw the iconic ghostly coach of Borley with the two horses and a headless coachmen leading its way. In 1928, Reverend Guy Smith and his wife Mabel moved into Borley. On arrival, Mabel quickly found a small human skull while cleaning out the house.
They buried the skull in the churchyard but not long after, where Guy heard whispering, pleading words coming from the ‘Blue Room’ inside the house – saying “Don’t Carlos, don’t!” Much like the other occupants, they too heard the eerie footsteps echo around the house and randomly ringing doorbells.
Their servant also saw the phantom coach pass by twice. The rectory was destroyed by a fire in 1938 after the new owner, Captain W.H Gregson, was unpacking boxes and accidentally knocked over an oil lamp in the hallway.
Although the Rectory was completely damaged after the fire, its reputation lives on with apparitions reportedly still seen where the house once stood. The land of what was the Rectory has been divided up partly with a farm and four bungalows.
Amazon Prime film based on the Rectory
A feature film, released in 2021, based on the story of Harry Price is available to watch on Amazon Prime. It was written and directed by Steven M. Smith and starred Julian Sands, Toyah Willcox, Colin Baker and Christopher Ellison. It follows Price after he was given the keys to the Rectory for six months, hoping to discover the truth behind the hauntings, strange sounds and apparitions that have plagued the abandoned property and surrounding area for over 500 years.
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