Harry Price at Borley
This report is the result of an enquiry conducted by Dr E. J. Dingwall, Mrs K. M. Goldney and Mr Trevor H. Hall at the invitation of the Council of the Society for Psychical Research. In making it available for study, the Council wish it to be clearly understood that the Society does not hold or express corporate views, and that the responsibility both for the facts and the reasoning in the report, as in all papers published or sponsored by the Society, rests entirely with the authors. The Council also feel it desirable to point out that the late Mr Harry Price, who at no time held any office in the Society, should not be confused with Professor H. H. Price of Oxford University, a former President of the Society, who has been a member of its Council for many years.
The Council wish to take this opportunity of expressing their thanks to the Midland Bank Executor and Trustee Company Ltd and to Mr Paul Tabori for making available Mr Price's files on Borley Rectory. The reader will appreciate the important part which these files played in this appraisal of Mr Price's investigation.
On behalf of the Council:
G. W. LAMBERT
President, Society for Psychical Research
17 June 1955
The purpose of this report is to contribute a critical survey of the evidence for a case of alleged haunting which may be considered, if not one of the best authenticated, certainly the most widely publicised story which has hitherto appeared.
The printed literature of the history of Borley Rectory is very extensive and the imprinted material proved to be far more voluminous than we had expected when we began our examination. Although much of the critical discussion of the evidence demands a fairly close acquaintance with the relevant documents, we have tried to make the story as clear as possible by quotations from the printed sources and extensive reference to the unpublished papers. In dealing with this mass of material we have done our best to omit nothing relevant, and in many cases our summaries of the reports and correspondence by the persons quoted have been approved by the authors themselves before being printed in the following pages.
The forthright but unavoidable criticism of the methods of the late Mr Harry Price contained in this report has been prepared with reluctance in view of his death and his consequent inability to defend himself. Our survey has been based on a close study of Price's own files which would not, during his lifetime, have been available for scrutiny. Our criticisms have given us no satisfaction for we realise that distress will be caused to his widow and his friends and harm occasioned to psychical research as a whole. Whilst expressing our regret, we consider that the following pages will make it clear beyond doubt that the results of our investigation have afforded us no choice in the matter.
It now remains our more pleasant duty to thank those of our correspondents and others who have so willingly assisted us and without whose help and advice we could not have completed our task. Among those closely connected with Borley to whom we are especially indebted for their help in recalling incidents of the past we must mention Mr Alfred Bull and Miss Ethel Bull, whose recollections of the Bull incumbencies were of especial interest, and also Mrs G. Eric Smith, without whose kind assistance and constant criticism any adequate survey of the Smith incumbency would have been impossible.
Of the help given by observers who were associated with Mr Price during his tenancy, that of the late Mr Sidney H. Glanville
was outstanding. Mr Glanville not only made available to us all of his original documents but was always willing to discuss the many controversial points which arose when dealing with the period of his own activity.
Among many others to whom we are much indebted for information and advice we must mention Canon H. Lawton, whose account of his own residence at Borley is of exceptional interest; Mr Herbert E. Pratt, who undertook an immense amount of patient research into certain aspects of the Foyster case and who has prepared the index ; Lord Charles Hope and Major the Hon. Henry Douglas-Home, who made available to us some of their original notes and observations ; Mr Charles Sutton, Mrs Cynthia Thompson, Mr Roger Glanville and his sister Mrs Helen Carter, the late Lady Whitehouse, Dr H. Park Shackleton and Dr John Park Shackleton, Mr Roland Winder, Mr Douglas Craggs, Miss E. R. Gordon, and Mrs F. Tatum and Mrs E. M. Wildgoose, both of whom were at one time resident in Borley Rectory.
We must also record our especial thanks to Dr Paul Tabori who, as literary executor for Mr Price, was able to allow us to quote both from printed sources and from the mass of papers bequeathed to the University of London, and to the Goldsmiths' Librarian, Mr J. H. P. Pafford, for giving us facilities to remove temporarily some of these documents for extended examination.
Cambridge - London – Leeds
Contents . Note & Preface . Diary of Events . I. Introduction . II. Topography & Legends . III. The Bull Incumbencies . IV. The Smith Incumbency & Harry Price . V. The Foyster Incumbency . VI. The Price Tenancy . VII. Later Borley . VII. Conclusions
The Base Room .
Séance Room .
Famous Cases .
Borley Rectory .
Books By Price .
Writings By Price .
Books About Price .
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