Harry Price at Borley


















An Examination of the 'Borley Report' by Robert J. Hastings (Reproduced from the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. 55, Pt. 201, March 1969)
Chapter 9    Minor Allegations

Considerations of space will not allow all of the allegations made in HBR to be dealt with in detail.  Some of them are very trivial, but even trivial allegations may require a great deal of space to refute them.  The allegations dealt with in this chapter have been chosen because they are comparatively clear-cut and can be answered briefly.  It is not claimed that they are a typical cross-section.


Almost at the beginning of HBR where the effect of unanswered allegations on the attitude of readers is likely to be greatest, the authors write as follows (HBR, p.19):

Perhaps the most striking example of exaggeration, however, is demonstrated by an incident where we have been able to compare Price's published account with his own contemporary notes.  On p. 48 of MHH Price says:

'One day Harry [Bull] was in the garden with his retriever "Juvenal", when the dog suddenly started howling and cowering with fright.  Looking in the direction at which the dog was "pointing", the Rector saw the legs of a figure, the upper part of which was apparently hidden by some fruit trees.  The legs moved, and when they had cleared the bushes, Harry Bull saw that they belonged to a man who was headless.  The figure went towards the postern gate - which plays a big part in the Borley drama - through which it passed.  This gate was always kept locked.  The figure disappeared in the vegetable garden, where it was lost to sight.'

The authors go on to say:

In the Borley file at London University are the original notes made by Price and his secretary, Miss Lucie Kaye, on their first visit to Borley in June 1929.  The appropriate extract from which the above account was presumably taken reads as follows:

'[Miss Bull's story].  Rev. Harry Bull, saw coach.  Juvenal, retriever, terrified and growled.  Saw man's legs rest hid by fruit trees, thought poacher, followed with Juvenal, gate shut, but saw legs disapp[ear] thro gate.'

Unfortunately, the authors have not noticed that there were two sets of notes by Miss Kaye in Price's files. Miss Kaye did not


write shorthand.  Her value to Price seems to have been that she was a woman of considerable ability, and a linguist.  One set of Miss Kaye's notes consists of the rough and much abbreviated pencil jottings evidently made on the spot whilst the witnesses were talking; and the other consists of the typewritten notes presumably prepared when she got back to the office.  The latter were approved by Price who added a note in his own handwriting which reads 'The Owner's Account - Notes made by Miss Kaye'.  This, rather than the rough pencil memorandum, is no doubt the source of Price's account in MHH.  The relevant passage in this account reads:

Harry Bull in garden one day with the retriever, Juvenal, who howled and cowered when Bull saw the legs of a man, otherwise hidden by fruit trees, pass towards a small postern gate, which was kept locked and pass through it.  Someone chased the headless man through the garden who eventually disappeared in the veg. garden.

Little exaggeration will be found when this passage is compared with the account published by Price on pp. 48-9 of MHH.

The authors have other complaints to make about Price's reporting.  On the same page of HBR (p. 19) they write:

A further example of apparent exaggeration in Price's reporting of Miss Bull's testimony is contained on p. 45 of MHH in which the description of the alleged apparition of the 'nun' on the rectory lawn includes the following sentence: 'She had an expression of intense grief on her face'.  On 11 August 1950 Mr W. H. Salter, Hon. Secretary of the Society for Psychical Research, accompanied by KMG and the Rev. S. Austin, had tea with Miss Ethel Bull at Sudbury, and recorded in his notes Miss Bull's description of the apparition:

'She could only see a woman bent over in a flowing black robe such as nuns wear.  She could not see the face, nor whether she wore anything white, nor whether she carried a rosary or wore a crucifix or medal.  In November 1900, when she saw the nun again, the figure was bowed right over and no face visible.'

If we turn to MHH p.45 we shall see that it was Miss Elsie Bull - not Miss Ethel Bull - who is there reported as having seen the nun's face.  This agrees with the contemporary notes.  According to these the nun was first seen on the lawn from a distance by the Misses Ethel, Freda, and Mabel Bull, who were frightened.  An elder sister, Miss Elsie Bull was called.  It was she who had walked towards the apparition, which stopped, and turned its face towards her.  The authors do not appear to have interviewed this sister.  The authors also complain that Price over-stated Miss Ethel Bull's narrative by manufacturing several alleged occurrences from one single experience. They write (HBR, pp. 18-19).


On p. 46 of MHH it is stated, for example:

'One one occasion, when in one of the upper passages Miss Ethel [Bull] saw a tall, dark man standing beside her.  Before she could recover from her surprise, he vanished.'

Again, on pp. 46 and 47 it is said:

'One night Miss Ethel awoke suddenly and found an old man in dark, old-fashioned clothes, wearing a tall hat, standing by her bed.  On another occasion, the same figure was seen sitting on the edge of the bed.  This figure was seen many times.'

These several alleged occurrences appear to have been manufactured from a single experience of Miss Bull's, some 60 odd years ago, which she described in a letter to THH dated 2 April 1953 in these words:

'The man I saw once standing beside my bed was tall and dressed in dark clothes, it was twilight, and once or twice I felt someone sitting on the side of my bed.'

The authors have not quoted Miss Bull's letter at sufficient length to enable us to know precisely what her complaints are.  It may, however, be remarked that in 1953, when Miss Bull wrote to Mr Hall, she was approaching ninety years of age, (1) so that it would not be remarkable if, by this time, her memory had begun to fade.  Fortunately, it is not necessary to cite Miss Bull's memory in 1953 for the purpose of checking the accuracy of Price's reporting.  Fifteen years earlier in 1938, Miss Bull and one of her sisters were interviewed by S. H. Glanville who made a record of the statements they made then in his 'Locked Book' which is now in the possession of one of the authors. The appropriate extract is as follows:

Notes of a conversation with Miss Ethel Bull and her sister at Pinner on June 25th 1938

They both stoutly maintain that the Rectory has always been haunted by the Nun and by the other manifestations.  They both say that, with their sister, they all clearly saw the Nun walking slowly across the garden on a sunny July afternoon.  Her head was bowed and her hands clasped together in front of her, hanging at full length.... Miss Ethel Bull says that, for years she frequently heard a knock on her bedroom door.  Investigation never disclosed any cause for this.  Further, she says that, on a great many occasions, she was awakened by the presence of a figure of a man in a tall hat standing by her bed.

There would thus seem to be little doubt that, in earlier years, Miss Ethel Bull and her sister had been wont to claim a number of paranormal experiences at Borley, and not just the one experience which is all, say the authors, that Miss Ethel Bull was able to remember in 1953.  Price last interviewed the Misses Bull on

1 Journal S.P.R. June, 1956, p. 260


29th March, 1939.  This was either during or at about the time he was writing MHH.  His reporting of the Misses Bull's experiences in MHH is thus a contemporary, or nearly contemporary, account of what the Misses Bull told him in 1939, supplemented by notes made at previous interviews.  Price specifies his various sources of information on p. 44 of MHH.

We may think that the agreement between Glanville's account of the Misses Bull's experiences as recorded in the Locked Book, and Price's account of their experiences as published in MHH, is too close to leave room for serious charges of exaggeration against either of these writers.  Both are reporting what was told to them for what it is worth or what it might prove to be worth.  Of their respective reports, it is Glanville's which, if anything, is slightly more sensational.

It is also worth mentioning that the stories of a coach, a headless coachman, and a 'nun' or woman in black do not rely on Price's or Miss Kaye's reporting, or on the Daily Mirror, or even on the people Price had interviewed.  There is a note in the S.P.R. files of an interview with a Mrs C. - the wife of a Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford who had been introduced to the S.P.R. by a former President.  Mrs C. stated that she had formerly lived in the neighbourhood, and had frequently stayed at Borley for long periods.  She stated that the Rev. Harry Bull, who died in 1927, 'used often to see his mother walking about the garden, and also a headless coachman'.  (S.P.R. files. Notes of an interview with Mrs C. - 8th Dec. 1931.)


On p. 84 of HBR, the authors complain that Price confused and misrepresented Mr Foyster's writings in his books.  In particular, they complain that the title of Chapter XIII of MHH 'LEAVES FROM THE FOYSTER DIARY' is 'deliberately misleading' because, they say, the writing quoted in that chapter is not a diary in the true sense of the term, but a tabulated summary of experiences between 1930 and 1933 which had been compiled by Mr Foyster at Price's request in 1938.

Let us take stock of Mr Foyster's writings. They are as follows:

Writing A  The original records covering the whole period of the Foyster incumbency.  Claimed by Mr Foyster to have been written as a diary between February and July 1931.  These writings are not in HPL, but there are references from which their sometime existence can be inferred.

Writing B  Enlargement of Writing A for the period up to July


1931.  Written in narrative form intended for circulation among members of Mr Foyster's family.  In three parts, viz : (1) 'Memorandum of our experiences in connection with the Borley "Ghost"; (2) '"Borley Ghost"-2nd instalment'; and (3) '"Borley Ghost" -3rd instalment.'  Mr Foyster has referred to these writings comprehensively as 'Diary of Occurrences'.  Original typescript in HPL, copy in S.P.R. files.

Writing C  An account using pseudonyms, entitled 'Fifteen Months in a Haunted House' written with a view to publication.  In a letter to Price dated 10/10/40 (HPL) Mr Foyster says that in this account he has very thoroughly camouflaged the place and the people mentioned even to the extent of changing the sex of some of the latter, and he has invented imaginary conversations, but he insists that the psychic phenomena reported in this writing are 'all exactly as they happened to the best of my knowledge and belief, and that most of them were recorded very soon after their occurrence - not seen through a distant haze of memory'.  Original typescript acquired by Price for HPL at some date subsequent to the publication of EBR.

Writing D  Tabulated summary of experiences compiled by Mr Foyster at Price's request in 1938 for inclusion in MHH.  Appears to have been abstracted from Writing A (Ms. in HPL).

Price presented Writing D in a chapter of MHH entitled 'LEAVES FROM THE FOYSTER DIARY'.  He introduced it in the following words (MHH, p. 74-5) :

Mr Foyster very assiduously kept a record of all these strange events, and his diary finally assumed gigantic proportions.  I believe that he has more than 180 typed quarto sheets of notes recording the day-to-day activities of the Poltergeister!  When I informed Mr Foyster that I was compiling a monograph on the haunting of Borley Rectory, he very generously permitted me to reprint verbatim selected portions of his diary.  These extracts he kindly selected himself, and wrote them out in his own hand....

Here, then, are the extracts from


These introductory remarks are not misleading unless it can be shewn that the extracts referred to were not quoted from the record here described as Writing A as Price claims.  In making their allegations, the authors have not addressed themselves to this question.  Indeed, they appear to have ignored the existence of Writing A entirely.

An additional reason for thinking that Price's words are not misleading, and certainly not 'deliberately misleading', may be


inferred from the absence of correction by Mr Foyster when a copy of MHH was sent to him shortly after publication.  In a letter to Price (26/9/40, HPL) thanking him for the book, Mr Foyster remarked that he had found it interesting, and that it contained several pieces of information of which he had not been aware, but otherwise made no comment.

Yet another reason (if one is needed) for rejecting the authors' allegations, comes from the fact that we cannot be certain that all the correspondence between Price and Foyster prior to the publication of MHH has been preserved.


As the authors have now retracted some of the remarks they made on pp. 106-7 of HBR it is doubtful whether anything of their original allegation against Price remains to be answered.  See Journal S.P.R. Dec. 1959, p.194.

The original charge against Price was that he edited Mr L'Estrange's testimony, cutting out many errors but leaving in an account of Foyster seeing a pencil propelled as if by an unseen hand, which Foyster nowhere confirms.  The authors now admit that the corrections made by Price were limited to one or two matters relating to the history and construction of the Rectory.  The more important items in Mr L'Estrange's testimony were presented as he wrote them.  Moreover, the authors now concede that there appears to be no reason to doubt that Mr L'Estrange wrote a straightforward, if (in their opinion) somewhat uncritical, account of his experiences, and they do not necessarily accept his interpretation of what he witnessed.


On p. 126 of HBR the authors discuss the report of Mr C. Gordon Glover, who, together with his wife and a Mr and Mrs Lloyd Williams, visited the Rectory during February 1938.  They quote Mr Glover as saying:

'While in the scullery Mrs Lloyd Williams said she heard in the passage outside "six quick young footsteps".  No one of the rest of the party heard these.  It is our opinion that these steps were imagined.'  Mr Glover's report said that at 6.10 p.m. Mrs Lloyd Williams said that she saw, during the prescribed vigil at dusk in the summer-house, 'a round dark object' which might, she said, have been 'a short, stooping figure'.  None of the other members of the party saw anything and 'the light was bad, it being deep twilight' (MHH, p. 219).  In his letter of 26 February 1938 enclosing the report to Price, Mr Glover made it clear that he attached no importance to these incidents.

The last sentence is not quite accurate.  Whilst it is true that


Mr Glover, rightly or wrongly, did not attach much importance to Mrs Williams's claim to have heard the footsteps, he expressly declined to make any comment on her claim to have seen the 'nun'.  After describing some tests which they made with a view to discovering what could normally be seen from the summer house in the state of the light as it was at the time, he concluded:

So much for the 'Nun'.  One witness only whose faith that she saw 'something' is not to be shaken.  We have since, as you know, ascertained that this 'Nun' when seen has always been observed at this particular spot.  I give this whole story wholly without comment.

Mr Glover's use of the word 'since' makes nonsense of the authors' contention (HBR, p. 127) that if it hadn't been for suggestions contained in the Blue Book, 'Mrs Lloyd Williams would have seen nothing'.


The graffiti were of two kinds.  During the Foyster incumbency they took the form of words and messages.  At other times, they took the form of meaningless pencil marks, or 'squiggles' as they came to be called.  There are reasons for thinking that the squiggles may be phenomena of a different kind from the actual writings.  They will therefore be considered separately.

Cumulatively, the evidence for the paranormal appearance of these squiggles is too strong to be set entirely on one side, though there are respects in which the evidence may be criticised.  Although new markings were ringed round and dated as soon as they were noticed, it was not easy to get perfect evidence of new markings owing to the possibility of an old marking not having been ringed round.  The evidence has been further complicated by a red herring in the form of a piece of faulty reporting by Price on p.121 of MHH which the authors have pounced upon for the purpose of attacking Price without noticing, apparently, that even when Price's slip is corrected, the incident in question is still one of the strongest pieces of evidence in favour of paranormality in the whole of the Borley investigation.

Let us ignore Price's slip for the moment, and start afresh from the original sources.

The following are the relevant extracts from the signed report of a day's observation in the Rectory by S. H. Glanville and his brother-in-law, H. G. Harrison, on August 14th 1937. (H.P.L.)

Arrived about 9.00 a.m. Saturday 14th inst., inspected house and


grounds inspecting all rooms and cellars. Door to attics was fastened so these were not visited and the door was left fast....

Photographs were taken of four of the more elaborate 'writings' on the walls of the passage to the kitchen and also on the first floor.  These have been developed and the results are moderate....

Our only absence was between 6.15 and 7.15 on Saturday evening for a meal....

Routine visits were made to all rooms at approximately 9.40 p.m., 11 p.m., 12 midnight, 1.00 a.m. between these hours several new 'markings' were found, ringed in red chalk and dated 14th or 15th accordingly.  One of these was close to the message 'Marianne get help' which we had photographed a few hours before and which does not shew the mark, thus proving photographically that the addition was made later....

Cleaned up, locked up and left at 7.00 a.m. Sunday.

(Signed) H. G. Harrison,

S. H. Glanville


Glanville was greatly impressed with the photographic evidence.  In the letter to Price which accompanied the report he remarked that 'the "markings" done during our visit ... were well worth the whole trip'.  In his Ms. intended for the Borley Symposium he described the precautions that were always taken, and added:

It was therefore quite impossible for any person to enter the house without our being aware of it; and I am quite certain that during the time when our party, consisting of Dr H. F. Bellamy, Mr Mark Kerr-Pearse, Sq.-Leader Alan Cuthbert, my son and myself were there, no one ever did.  My companions will, I know, confirm this statement.  This applies to all our visits and the whole period we were there.  Upon numerous occasions I have been asked whether there was any possibility of persons outside, villagers, and so on trying to trick or mislead observers.  This, I am sure, did not happen.  We never had any evidence to suggest such activities.  The Rectory is remote from other habitations and, strange as it may seem, we soon learned that people were more ready to avoid the place, especially after dark, than to approach it.

Price's first mention of the photographic evidence was made in a broadcast, subsequently reported in the Listener, 10/1/1937, from which the following is extracted.

Many of the pencil marks are quite small.  A few weeks ago two observers photographed a group of markings and put a chalk ring round them.  An hour or so later, on their next patrol, further markings had appeared by the side of those previously photographed, though every window and door in the house had been sealed.

Allowing for some simplification, this account is substantially accurate.  Unfortunately, when Price came to write MHH, which


would be about two years later, he stated, incorrectly, on p. 121 of MHH, that a second photograph had been taken, and the two photographs compared.  Glanville was asked about this by the authors of HBR.  In his reply, he says (13/ 6/52, S.P.R. files):

In referring to my note book under August 15, I find that, on the second visit to the writings on that night we found several new markings, not words.  Some of these marks can be clearly seen on the photographic print in my note book.  In Plate VI in 'The Most Haunted House in England' however the print has been trimmed too close to include them - I am therefore including a tracing from the tracing in my book which shews the two end marks and also the new mark at the top which had, to the best of our belief, appeared since our previous inspection, in case it should be of any help to you.  The writing was not, as Price said on p. 198, photographed a second time - of course it should have been, it was just one of those sins of omission of which we were guilty.

Whilst Price's error in reporting must not be glossed over, it is fair to point out that the taking of a second photograph could not have strengthened the case for paranormality.  The three factors on which paranormality in this case depends are (1) the first photograph; (2) the joint testimony of two very reliable witnesses who assert that they compared the first photograph, not with another photograph, but with the wall itself, thus reducing the possibility of mal-observation virtually to nil; and (3) the fact that the photograph was taken and developed by the witnesses themselves.  In spite of the error in Price's reporting, the conclusion he reaches on p. 121 of MHH would seem to be valid.  He says, 'If this is not proof of paranormal activity, I do not know the meaning of the word'.

Without seeming to be guilty of a tu quoque type of rejoinder, it is unfortunately necessary to say that the authors' reporting of Glanville's visit on August 14th is no more reliable than that of Price himself.  They say, HBR, p. 131, that 'It was during this same visit' that Glanville, and his brother-in-law investigated a disturbance of the cats' cemetery.  As it might be thought that such an outside investigation on August 14th would have resulted in the Rectory being left unattended for a longer period than had been disclosed, it is necessary to say that the investigation of the cats' cemetery was not made until a fortnight later. (MHH, p. 199)

In addition to the matters mentioned above the authors have not told readers that amongst those who testified in favour of the paranormality of these squiggles was C. E. M. Joad who presented a carefully written report on a mark that had appeared during a period of his own observation (MHH, pp. 230-1).  The only reference to Joad in HBR is the quotation of his words that it is


'incredible' that poltergeists should materialise lead pencils and fingers to use them.  By omitting the context in which Joad's words were written the authors have made it seem that Joad had denied the paranormality of the squiggles whereas in fact the reverse was the case.  Nor have the authors mentioned, or attempted to answer an argument in favour of the paranormality of the markings to which Price himself attached importance.  Price concluded the chapter in MHH in which the wall markings had been described with the words: (MHH, p. 152):

My task has been to collect and present the evidence - of which there is more than ample - for the paranormal pencillings.  And I do not think that this evidence can be shaken.  If the whole thing had been a hoax from beginning to end, and if a number of silly people had set out to fool us - and themselves - I think these practical jokers would not have been content to make these lines, dots, and half-formed letters on the walls.  I think they could not have resisted the temptation of writing more messages, amusing or facetious.  The fact that only scrawly marks or lines appeared goes far, I think, to prove their genuineness.

This is an argument which the authors of HBR should have answered (if an answer is possible) before concluding that the evidence probably points to normal agency.


On p. 147 of HBR, the authors allege, first, that Price paid for the evidence; and second, that he improperly edited it. They write:

In MHH (pp. 176-8) and EBR (pp. 43-4), Price describes how Miss Rosemary M. Williams of Borley Lodge saw the apparition of a woman at the window of the Blue Room on the night of 26 March 1939, shortly after the fire.  Frankly, we do not know whether this incident merits serious treatment or not.  Price first heard of the episode from Mr A. C. Henning and wrote to Miss Williams on 3 April 1939.  In a brief, undated but otherwise business-like reply Miss Williams said that she would tell her story for the sum of one guinea.  Presumably this modest payment was made, for her account is on the Borley file and differs in some details from that given in MHH, p. 177.  The comments made by Miss Williams which Price omitted in his book would in each case tend to diminish the possibility of the paranormality of the experience.

I. The Alleged Payment for Evidence

Although the copy of Price's reply to Miss Williams is now


missing from the files, (1) there is no justification for the authors' presumption that the sum asked for was paid.  The authors have overlooked the letter Price wrote about the matter to the Rev. A. C. Henning on 21/4/39 (HPL):

You will remember that Captain Williams kindly gave me the address of his daughter at Hampstead, in order that she could confirm what the young fellow at Long Melford told us when we interviewed him.  Well, I wrote a very nice letter to her, stating that her father had very kindly given me her address.  After waiting about a fortnight, I received a letter this week to the effect that she would be willing to sell me her story for a guinea!!!!  That young lady will go far in the world.  She does not seem to realise that any purchased evidence re the manifestations at Borley would be quite useless for my book.

2. In the matter of editing.

It is a matter of opinion whether Miss Williams's report should have been edited or printed exactly as received; (2) but that is not apparently the authors' complaint.  The complaint is that the words omitted from the report as it appeared in MHH have the effect of diminishing the possible paranormality of the experience.

Concerning this, the reader must judge for himself.  The following is the original text of Miss Williams's report, the words printed in italics being those that were omitted in MHH.

On the evening of Sunday, March 26th, 1939, Capt. Gregson gave permission to a party of us to visit Borley Rectory for the purpose of, so we termed it, Ghost Hunting.

At about 10.30 p.m. we all met at the rectory gates.  It was a cold night.  The moon was only in its first quarter, but shone sufficiently brightly to illuminate the ruined building.

We were [MHH interpolates 'most'] anxious to investigate inside the house, but Capt. Gregson asked us not to walk among the wreckage, as he would feel responsible, should some of the charred rafters fall upon one of us, and cause an injury.  One member of the party was particularly anxious to venture inside, but we eventually persuaded her not to.

For about half an hour we wandered round the house in small groups.  Someone had a camera and hoped to get a photo of the alleged 'nun'!

It was while I was standing on the path [MHH interpolates 'the Nun's walk'] that runs parallel with the large lawn, looking up at the house, that

1 Mr Peter Underwood, who was one of the first to handle Price's files after his death, informs me that a copy of Price's reply to Miss Williams was in the files when he handed them over to the S.P.R., where they remained for a time prior to being returned to HPL. - R.J.H.

2 In the general statement of policy which appears on pp. 117-18 of MHH Price claimed the right to shorten reports where considerations of space made this necessary. - R.J.H.


I saw a figure of a small woman in the upstairs room (which you term the blue room).  My first thought was 'M- has gone into the building after all'.  I had the impression of someone in a light buff coloured coat, but as she [the figure in MHH] approached the window, I could see that it was not my friend, but a woman clothed in blue.  She remained at the window for several seconds, and then turned towards the wall, and as it seemed walked through it.

I will draw a diagram of her movements. (1)

None of the others would believe me when I called out that I had seen her.  Those near me admitted they were not looking up at the window at the time, except Mr Browne, who said he saw, for a flash, something resembling a figure of a woman disappearing from the window.

I was convinced I had seen her, while the others tried to prove that it was a trick of the moon on a piece of glass, or that someone actually was in the building.  The former suggestion was disproved as all the window panes had been smashed, and in the latter case we found that the floor boards were burned so that no human person could have been at the window.

The most extraordinary part to me, was that the apparition should seem so natural and unfrightening.  I had often visited Borley Rectory before, spending many hours watching and listening; but always I must admit, terrified and in the company of several others in case anything should happen!

The reader is now in a position to judge for himself whether the authors' complaint that the words omitted from the original report 'would in each case tend to diminish the possibility of the paranormality of the experience', is justified.


Two incidents, each involving the smashing of a glass ornament, are mentioned by Price in MHH.  The first, which it will be convenient to call Incident No. I was recounted to Price by the Rev. G. E. Smith and Mrs Smith as having happened at the Rectory either some time prior to Price's investigation or at a time Price was not present.  Price reports this in MHH p. 9 as follows:

On another occasion, a vase that normally stood on the mantelpiece of their [Mr and Mrs Smith's] bedroom was found smashed to pieces at the foot of the main stairs.  No one was in the house at the time, the Smiths being in the garden.

Incident No. 2 is alleged to have occurred on the occasion of Price's first visit to the Rectory on 12th June, 1929.  Also present were Miss Kaye, and Mr V. C. Wall of the Daily Mirror, who have both

1 The diagram was duly reproduced in MHH - R.J.H.


made written reports.  Price's report, which appeared in MHH, p. 39, was as follows:

We descended by the main staircase and had just reached the hall when another crash was heard and we found that a red glass candlestick, one of a pair we had just seen on the mantelpiece of the Blue Room, had been hurled down the main stairs, had struck the iron stove, and had finally disintegrated into a thousand fragments on the hall floor. Both Mr Wall and I saw the candlestick hurtle past our heads.  We at once again dashed upstairs, made another search, and found nothing.  We returned to the hall.  We turned out all the lights, and the entire party sat on the stairs incomplete darkness, just waiting.  A few minutes later we heard something come rattling down the stairs and Mr Wall said he had been hit on the hand.  We then relighted the lamps and found it was a mothball which, apparently, had followed the same path as the candlestick.

In quick succession, and in full light, the following articles came tumbling down the stairs: first of all same common seashore pebbles; then a piece of slate, then some more pebbles.

Price's report of Incident No. 2 is substantially corroborated by Mr Wall who wrote as follows in the Daily Mirror (14/6/29):

A few seconds later we were descending the stairs, Miss Kaye leading and Mr Price behind me, when something flew past my head, hit an iron stove in the hall, and shattered.

With our flashlamps we inspected the broken pieces and found them to be sections of a red vase which, with its companion, had been standing on the mantelpiece of what is known as the blue room and which we had just searched.

Mr Price was the only person behind me and he could not have thrown the vase at such an angle to pass my head and hit the stove below.

The authors of HBR try to discredit Incident No. 2 which does not fit in with their claim that nothing paranormal happened at Borley until Price arrived on the scene.  They suggest that Price has manufactured two incidents out of one - the incident they are prepared to recognize being Incident No. 2 which they propose to accuse Price of having been responsible for himself.  On p. 70 of HBR they write:

(4) The smashed vase (see p. 37).  Price records this incident as having been reported to him on his first interview with the Smiths; Mr Glanville in his notes on his 1937 interview with them similarly reports the event as taking place before Price's arrival. As recorded, it appears inexplicable.  But it will be noticed that precisely this episode is described by Price (see p. 39) as taking place a second time during his first day's investigation of the rectory.  He erroneously alludes to a 'red glass candlestick' this second time, though Mr Wall who was with him


correctly names it a vase.  Mrs Smith possessed no glass candlesticks.  In reply to a request for further information, Mrs Smith states (November 1952) that this event happened only when Price was there, and that if Mr Glanville reported otherwise 'the tale has somehow got twisted or misunderstood'.

It will be noticed that although the authors refer to Glanville's notes on his 1937 interview with the Smiths, which are in the Locked Book, they do not actually quote Glanville's words.  Let us rectify this omission.  Under the heading, 'Smiths' testimony as to their own experiences' Incident No. 2 is described in these notes as follows (Microfilm of Locked Book in HPL):

In reply to questions regarding the movement of furniture or other articles in the house, Mr Smith and his wife both say that a vase standing on the mantelpiece of their bedroom (no. 7), was found broken to pieces, at the foot of the main stairs.  No one was in the house at the time.  [Italics mine--R.J.H.].  Periodically keys from the doors were found 2-3 feet away, as though they had been 'shot' from the locks.  Otherwise nothing was noticeably moved.

In the same notes, but under a different heading, Glanville also mentions Incident No. 2. (1) He reports the Smiths as saying:

In 1929 when Mr Price was called in.... A glass candlestick also came hurtling down wall of house, smashing itself to pieces at feet of observers.  Bells rang and keys fell from locks.

It will be seen that Price's reporting in MHH agrees with Glanville's notes.  In both accounts two separate incidents are mentioned.  One incident involves a vase, and is alleged to have occurred when nobody was in the house: the other incident involves a candlestick, and is alleged to have occurred in the presence of observers.

Whilst Price's account and Glanville's account agree with each other, it will be seen that there is a discrepancy between these accounts and Mr Wall's account of Incident No. 2 which appeared in the Daily Mirror.  Whereas Price and Glanville, and later Miss Kaye (see below), have alluded to the smashed object as a candlestick, Mr Wall calls it a vase.  The authors regard this discrepancy as crucial, and seize upon it for the purpose of arguing that there had in fact been only one incident.  Without quoting Glanville's words, they say that in reporting Incident No. 2 Price 'erroneously' described the smashed ornament as a candlestick, and Mr Wall 'correctly' alluded to it as a vase.  There would have been no plausibility for such a claim if the authors had quoted the

1 Quoted from extracts from 'Locked Book' in S.P.R. files.  The relevant page is missing from microfilm of Locked Book in HPL - R.J.H.


relevant passages in Glanville's notes, which agree with Price and not with Mr Wall. (1)

Nor would the authors have found any more support for their claim if they had consulted Miss Kaye.  The following is quoted from an undated typescript by Miss Kaye which she gave to Mrs Henning who afterwards passed it on to Mr Peter Underwood, in whose possession it now is.  Miss Kaye wrote:

Earlier in the day when we had first examined the Haunted Room we had been surprised, not to say thoroughly shaken, by our first poltergeist experience in the house.  Emerging from The Room we crossed the landing (over the cold spot) and were beginning to descend the staircase, Price being a step behind me, when something hurtled by us and crashed at the foot of the stairs.  It had passed within inches of us and at considerable speed, and of course we turned - but there was nothing at all suspicious to be seen.  The Rector and his wife emerged from a ground floor room, and upon our going downstairs we found that the object was a red glass candlestick - a pair of which we had noticed on the mantelpiece of the Haunted Room a bare minute earlier.  We had in fact agreed on their ugliness.  They had been placed one at either end of the mantelpiece which, with the door open, was in direct line with our descent down the staircase.  As we cleared the pieces we instinctively apologised to the Smiths!  I believe the thought uppermost in both our minds was that had we not made derogatory remarks about it, it might not have hurled itself at us.  Anyway, it gave us our first feeling of wholesome respect for the haunt and decided us to concentrate on this particular room.


The swinging blind was observed jointly by S. H. Glanville, his son, Captain H. G. Harrison (brother in law) and Dr H. F. Bellamy. (MHH, p.201)  All were reliable observers.  They reported that the edges of a blind which had been lowered earlier in the evening were waving regularly with 'a sort of palpitating action as though being blown' which they found hard to describe.  The movement continued for about five minutes, and they unanimously concluded that there was no draught to account for it.  The authors of HBR dismiss this incident remarking that blinds often move like that and adding that 'the little real attempt made to investigate the "phenomenon" on this occasion indicates the small scientific interest that those present took in the occurrence' (HBR, p. 136).  Quite the contrary was the case.  The authors have omitted to mention that before reaching their conclusions, the observers had in fact carried out an experiment by blowing tobacco smoke which

1 See also p. 98 n. above.


was not dispersed immediately as it would have been if there had been a draught.

*        *        *

Of the minor allegations it has not been possible to discuss at length, I do not think there is anything that touches upon Price's integrity either as a man or as an investigator; though in some cases it would be necessary to know what he was aiming to achieve before a similar verdict could be reached concerning his integrity as a writer.

Price's aims as a writer will be discussed in the next chapter.



Below is the retraction by the authors of The Haunting of Borley Rectory cited by Hastings in this chapter which was published in the Journal  of the S.P.R. (Vol. 40, No. 702) for December 1959.

SIR, - On pp. 106-7 of The Haunting of Borley Rectory (Proceedings, Part 186) we commented upon an account of a night spent in the house in January, 1932, by Mr G. P. J. L'Estrange, which was published by the late Harry Price as a chapter of The End of Borley Rectory.  Our remarks could be taken to infer that Mr L'Estrange's original article contained a large number of obvious errors and that the account had to be very extensively edited by Price before publication.

We have now had an opportunity of meeting Mr L'Estrange and of seeing both the original account and the relevant correspondence with Price. From these documents it is quite clear that the mistakes corrected by Price were in fact limited to one or two misstatements relating to the construction and history of the Rectory.  Mr L'Estrange's letter to Price of 6 December, 1944, in which Mr L'Estrange wrote that he was 'simply staggered' to learn that he had made so many mistakes in his article was unduly contrite and we were in consequence misled by it.

We are glad to be able to publish this correction in fairness to Mr L'Estrange.  There appears to be no reason to doubt that he wrote a straightforward, if (in our opinion) somewhat uncritical account of his experiences, but we do not necessarily accept his interpretation of what he witnessed.





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