This page is a companion to the Borley Rectory in Modern Photographs essay that shows the site of the former Rectory building and its grounds as it is today. Richard Lee-Van den Daele, who contributed to the late Ivan Banks' book The Enigma of Borley Rectory in connection with Captain Gregson and his sons, has very kindly allowed photographs which he took on the site of Borley Rectory in 1984 to be included on the website, and this short article locates Richard's pictures on a contemporary site plan along with some additional historic photographs to put them into context.
Richard Lee visited Borley in July 1984 and took a series of photographs on the former Rectory site with the permission of the landowners who were far more amenable then towards visitors than they are now. It must be stated that the old Rectory grounds are private property and anyone going to Borley today should respect this.
The six photographs are located on the plan of the site below which is based on the current 1/1250 Ordnance Survey map. The outline of Borley Rectory is indicated, although nothing remains today, the only building on the site from the time that the Rectory was standing is the Rectory Cottage which has been heavily altered and extended.
Looking North across the former Rectory lawn from a vantage point which appears to have been part of a copse of trees on the site plan prepared by Sidney Glanville for Price's The Most Haunted House in England. The Rectory Cottage can be seen on the left and the Rectory building itself would have occupied a large portion of the grassed area adjacent to the trees bordering the road. The first of the bungalows built on the Rectory garden can be seen on the right hand side. The glazed veranda which gave access to the garden from the library (the Base Room of Harry Price's tenancy) would have been on a line with the photographer and the gap in the trees to the right of the centre of the picture.
This photograph is looking North-West from the start of the Nun's Walk across to the Rectory Cottage. The roof of Borley Church can be seen in the background to the right of the Cottage and in this respect the view is similar to the photograph from the Moger Inventory which is reproduced at the top of this page, although the position of the photographer and the angle vary. The Rectory's famous double-gabled elevation, which was not the front of the building but actually one side of it, would have occupied the right hand side of the photograph.
The photograph of Borley Rectory below was taken shortly after the fire of 27th/28th February 1939 and was included in Sidney Glanville's 'Locked Book' report which was utilised by Harry Price for his first Borley book. The position of the 1939 photographer in Photograph 2 would have been forward from Richard Lee's position on a line with the small tree on the far right of the picture. The Rectory building obscures the Cottage and the Church behind it which makes it slightly difficult to compare the angles of the two pictures.
Photograph 3 (Below)
The rear of the former Rectory Cottage - a comparison with the photograph taken from Peter Underwood and Paul Tabori's The Ghosts of Borley about the time that James Turner was living there during the post-war 1940s gives an indication of how it has been altered in recent times. The small porch, which was a new addition in May 1947, has been replaced with a huge extension and the distinctive gathered chimney stack on the East wall (seen better in Eddie Brazil's 1972 photograph) has sadly been capped off at eaves level. The Rectory Cottage itself is a much older building than the 1863 Bull rectory, and like the Herringham rectory, which stood on the site of Henry Bull's house, is shown on the 1841 tithe map of the village.
The West wing of the Rectory, which comprised on the ground floor the scullery, servants' stairs and dairy, (see Glanville's plan) occupied the grassed space in front of the new extension on the right hand side of the photograph, the North-West end wall cutting through the corner with the rainwater pipe.
Looking South across the Rectory site towards the former copse and the beginning of the Nun's Walk. The concrete driveway cuts diagonally across the footprint of the Rectory. The section in front of Richard when he took this picture was where the front door of the building would have been in the tower-like structure which also contained the chapel at first floor level. The photograph below is from Sidney Glanville's 'Locked Book' and shows the driveway and the front door of the Rectory as it was in 1937.
Photograph 5 & 6 (Below)
Looking South-East across the former Rectory lawn to the start of the Nun's Walk. The line of the Nun's Walk went from approximately near the larger of the two trees in the centre of the photograph across to the greenhouse on the left and then continued parallel with the boundary wall of the Rectory grounds bordering the large upper lawn. The second photograph is taken looking towards the copse of trees from which it appears Mr. V.C. Wall of the Daily Mirror saw the mysterious light appear in one of the rooms of the first floor rooms in June 1929. The Nun's Walk is impossible to photograph in its entirety today as it crosses the rear of the gardens of the bungalows built on the Rectory grounds.
The photograph below is taken from The Ghosts of Borley by Peter Underwood and Dr Paul Tabori and shows the Rectory site from the air during the mid 1950s. The area photographed by Richard Lee-Van den Daele in 1984 can be clearly seen in the context of how the site looked in the years immediately after the Rectory was demolished.
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