Harry Price at Borley
In his biography of Harry Price, which was published by the Athenæum Press in 1950, Dr. Paul Tabori included an obligatory chapter on Harry Price's involvement with the Borley Rectory case. As Price's literary executor he had a wealth of material on which to base his account, but in reality Tabori appears to have drawn heavily on Price's published works on the Borley story for his account, rather than consulting in depth the contents of Price's files, no doubt because he was restricted in presenting an overview of the case, as well as the fact that Harry Price's Borley dossier was particular to examine in detail. Tabori presents a general history of the hauntings, a list of reported phenomena and accounts of Price's activities at Borley. However, there are errors in the narrative, particularly the statement that the 'Borley medals' were found during the cellar excavations in 1943, when in fact they apparently turned up during a visit that Price paid to the Rectory during the time of the Smiths. At the time Tabori was writing his book there was a move to complete Harry Price's own projected third book on the Rectory hauntings, but this eventually came to nothing, apparently after the death of Sidney Glanville in December 1953. The following is the complete contents of Chapter XII of Harry Price - The Biography of a Ghost Hunter by Dr. Paul Tabori.
The last ten years of Harry Price's life were undoubtedly dominated by the long, complex and rewarding investigation of the Borley Rectory hauntings. None of his cases involved so many people, raised so many problems or aroused so much interest. The two books he wrote about it - The Most Haunted House in England and The End of Borley Rectory - were the best sellers among his works and the second is still in print. He used part of the same material in earlier books and in many articles, lectures and broadcasts.
Borley caught the imagination of the public, and though Price believed that he had finished with it when he passed the proofs of his second book in 1946, the spectre-ridden rectory refused to be dismissed. At the time of his death he was engaged in the final preparations for a third book on Borley, and to-day the Society for Psychical Research has reopened the case. Letters still arrive from all over the world written by people who had missed the news of Harry Price's death and who offer some information or theory about the famous nun and the former tenants or the Rectory.
Some critics have maintained that the whole thing was a hoax, a publicity stunt Harry Price invented. One journalist accused him of deliberately cheating and producing some "phenomena" with a pocketful of pebbles
and bricks." At least a dozen people are actively engaged in following up various clues which have remained unexplained and exploring possibilities which could not be covered, mainly because the war cut off the Continent of Europe and even in England itself hampered psychical research. There is talk of a Borley film - Mr. Upton Sinclair has produced a long and detailed scenario - and many experts are still to be consulted. It is hoped that the material Harry Price collected for a third volume of the Borley Saga will be edited and published before long. (1)
It is quite impossible to retell in detail the complex and often contradictory story of Borley Rectory. Price needed two books of several hundred pages to do it, and even so he had to leave out a good deal of material. I can only indicate the main outline of events and theories and add a brief account of the facts and surmises Harry Price was unable to publish before he died. Most people who read this biography will be familiar, I assume, with the Borley Story. Those who are not and wish more detailed information should consult Harry Price's two books and the third Borley volume when it becomes available.
Borley is a hamlet in Suffolk, not far from Sudbury and Long Melford, a lonely place of few houses, not easy to approach and giving an impression of somewhat mournful isolation.
Harry Price begins the Borley chronicle in 1362, when Edward III bestowed the Manor of Borley upon the Benedictine monks. We need not go back so far, especially as much of Borley's history is still shrouded in uncertainty and mystery. It is certain that for three hundred years Borley Manor was in the possession of the
(1) This Borley symposium is now being written by Mrs. C. C. Baines, Mr. Sidney H. Glanville and Mr. Peter Underwood; it is hoped to publish it in 1951 together with a critical examination of the whole long investigation.
powerful and highly-connected Waldegrave family, and that between 1862 and 1892 the Rev. H. D. E. Bull, a kinsman of the Waldegraves, was Rector of Borley. A year after his appointment he built Borley Rectory and twelve years later added a new wing.
He was succeeded as Rector by his son, the Rev. H. F. Bull, who held the living until his death in 1927. After his death the Rectory was vacant for over a year until, in October, 1928, the Rev. G. Eric Smith was appointed to the living.
Though there had been queer happenings in and around the Rectory for many years they were kept quiet by all those concerned. In 1886, a Mrs. E. Byford left the Rectory, where she was employed for a short time as a nursemaid, because of "ghostly footsteps." Fourteen years later the Misses Bull, daughters of the first Rector and sisters of the second, saw the famous "nun" in daylight on the Rectory lawn. A few months later, Miss Ethel Bull and the cook saw the ghostly visitant in the garden. Apparently nothing much happened for sixteen years, when Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cooper moved into the cottage in the Rectory grounds. The Coopers had a rather hectic four years in their home. They were repeatedly disturbed by noises resembling the padding of a heavy dog. Mr. Cooper saw a coach and horses "with glittering harness" sweep across the Rectory grounds and both he and his wife saw the ghostly nun several times. In 1919 a "black shape" invaded their bedroom. In March, 1920, they began to feel somewhat uncomfortable and left the cottage.
The Rev. Harry Bull was probably psychic himself. He discussed "spirits" with his friend Mr. J. Harley, who later supplied information on this point to Harry Price. In 1922, he told Mr. Harley that in his opinion "the only way for a spirit, if ignored, to get into touch with a living person, was by means of a manifestation causing some violent physical reaction, such as the breaking of glass or the shattering of other and similar material elements. The Rector also declared that on his death, if he were discontented, he would adopt this method of communicating with the inhabitants of the Rectory."
There were others who saw the "nun" in the grounds or outside the gate of Borley Rectory. Mr. Fred Cartwright, a journeyman carpenter, saw her four times in two weeks, according to the story he told to Harry Price. This was in the autumn of the Rev. Harry Bull's death year. Altogether, up to 1939, fourteen people were reported to have seen her and three saw the ghostly coach and two a headless man or men.
In June, 1929, just two years after the Rev. Harry Bull's death, and nine months after Mr. Smith came to the Rectory, a story of the queer happenings in Borley was mentioned in a local newspaper. Next day, Harry Price received a telephone call from a London editor and was asked to investigate. Almost eighteen years of intensive and varied psychical work began for him on that June day.
He was accompanied on his first visit by Mr. V. C. Wall, a well-known journalist, and Miss Kaye. Together they listened to the experiences of Mr. Smith and observed various Poltergeist phenomena themselves. Harry Price had a long interview with Miss Mary Pearson, the Rectory maid, who had seen the ghostly coach twice and was firmly convinced that what she had seen was "real." Later that night they held a séance in the Blue Room, where so many manifestations were alleged to have occurred. At this séance Harry Bull “manifested" himself; a piece of soap jumped to the floor without any human agency. Next day Harry Price had long interviews with the Misses Bull and the Coopers, who related their experiences over many years.
A fortnight later Harry Price visited Borley again. This time a Roman Catholic medallion and various other articles" appeared," confirming again that there was a strong Catholic element to the "haunting." There was much bell ringing, though most of the bell wires had been cut long ago as these phenomena were persistent and had given the different tenants much trouble. On July 14,1929, the Rev. G. E. Smith and his wife left the Rectory. For all practical purposes the" ghosts" had driven them out. Harry Price was greatly impressed with Borley,
which he thought represented one of the most exciting and fascinating psychic puzzles. For the next fourteen months the Rectory remained empty, but the phenomena continued. A window was opened from within, though the house was empty and the doors locked. Half of one of the fireplaces was deposited on the staircase. The main staircase was found covered with lumps of stone and the villagers saw “lights” inside. Stones and glass were scattered and "horrible sounds” were heard at the time of the full moon.
But the manifestations became really violent and practically constant after the Rev. L. A. Foyster and his wife went to live at the Rectory. Mr. Smith preached his farewell sermon in April, 1930 and the Foysters moved in about the middle of October.
Almost at once the disturbances started. They were far more varied and violent than ever before. Mr. Foyster kept a diary and later compiled a manuscript which he called Fifteen Months in a Haunted House. This was never published, but it forms part of Harry Price's collection of Borleyana. Copious extracts were included in the two Borley books and there is no doubt that Mr. Foyster, his wife, his little adopted daughter and, later, a small boy who stayed with them as a guest, went through some amusing, terrifying and inexplicable experiences - the loss of a bracelet and the appearance of a lavender bag, crockery disappearing and reappearing equally mysteriously; Mrs. Foyster receiving a black eye; a cotton reel and hammer thrown at the Foysters as they lay in bed; Mr. Foyster being pelted with stones; both doors of the Blue Room becoming spontaneously locked; a cabin trunk, a china box and a wedding ring appearing inexplicably (the ring, of unknown origin, disappeared next morning); bells ringing; pepper being dropped on the Foysters in bed; and pieces of paper with "Marianne” (Mrs. Foyster's Christian name) written on them appearing about the house.
By May, 1931, these and various other manifestations became so bad that the Foysters left the Rectory to gain a few days' peace. In June, Dom Richard Whitehouse,
O.S.B., nephew of Lady Whitehouse, the Foysters' friend, began an investigation. He found things scattered all over the house. Objects were precipitated, Lady Whitehouse's parasol moved across the room and Mrs. Foyster was three times hurled from her bed, to which she had taken, exhausted and hurt. Nevertheless, the Foysters remained in Borley Rectory for five years. (Mr. Foyster, by the way, was a cousin of the Bulls; he had given up nineteen years of missionary work in Canada to come to Borley. He died in April, 1945.)
In September, 1931, the Misses Bull visited Harry Price and told him about the new and much more violent manifestations. A fortnight later Price and some of his friends paid a new visit to the Rectory and had some queer experiences. Wine was turned into ink, doors were locked and bottles were thrown. At this time Harry Price thought that at least some of the manifestation might be "faked" or due to some human agency, but he had no proof of this surmise and there still remained a large residuum of totally unexplained phenomena. A month after his visit Mrs. Foyster, Dom Richard Whitehouse and Katie, the Foysters' maid, were seated in the kitchen, with doors and windows closed, when bottle after bottle "materialized" and crashed to the floor. At the same time bells rang of their own volition.
The next year brought some more door-locking and a series of "great manifestations" before the holding of a séance at the Rectory. Bells rang, bottles flew about and a "different atmosphere" was noticed after the sitting. The rest of the year and all of 1934 appeared to be quiet and eventless. But in 1935 manifestations started afresh and more things disappeared. In October of that year the Foysters at last quitted Borley Rectory, and Queen Anne's Bounty decided to sell the place, as they thought it was unfit for any parson to live in. They offered it to Harry Price - for about a sixth of its value. Though the Rev. A. C. Henning had been inducted to the combined livings of Liston and Borley, which he still holds, he never lived in the Rectory.
Harry Price, after some hesitation, decided not to buy
the place, but to rent it for a year. His tenancy began on May 17, 1937 and ended on May 19, 1938. In November, 1938, the Rectory was bought by Captain Gregson, who took possession of it a month later. But on February 27, 1939, the famous house was destroyed by fire, and wind and rain completed the work. Later the ruins were sold to some builders, who removed every brick. To-day not a trace is left of the place of so many strange disturbances and mysterious events.
During his year of tenancy Harry Price decided that he would recruit a corps of observers. These he enrolled through an advertisement in The Times. Already he had been aided for some time by Mr. S. H. Glanville and his family, who took a special interest in Borley. It was Mr. Glanville who compiled with great zeal and brilliant exactitude the famous Locked Book which contains a detailed record of the Borley story from the beginning to the date of the fire. Some of this material Harry Price reproduced in his two books. Some of it is of a confidential nature and is unlikely to be published. Mr. Glanville remained in charge of the investigation, for Harry Price preferred to guide it from a distance and paid only infrequent visits to the place both during his tenancy and afterwards.
The observers were of different professions, outlooks and interests, but they all contributed to the mass of data which began to accumulate. Some of them spent several nights in the empty Rectory, where one room had been fixed up as a "base" and various instruments had been installed. Some came alone and some made a party of it. There were men and women, English, French, Polish, diplomats, doctors, architects, scientists, airmen and soldiers - a cross-section of sceptics and believers. A good many saw and heard nothing, but quite a few had strange experiences. Harry Price tabulated their report and the observations of the earlier tenants of the Rectory. Here are the headings of his summary:
Materilisations of Various Types
The “Nun” figure in its different forms
“Harry Bull” phantom
Headless man or men
Tall dark man
An old man
Figure in grey and man wearing bowler hat
Girl in white (or blue)
A black hand
Vision of "horses"
A strange insect
Appearance of coach
A woman's voice
Sound of horses galloping
Dog padding round room
Sound of Rolling Coach
Footsteps, and similar sounds
Raps, taps or knockings
Displaced or projected objects: phenomena of true poltergeist character.
“Clicks" or "Cracks"
Sound of door closing
Knocks, bumps, thuds, jumping or stamping
“Rustling" or "scrabbling" noises
Sound of "rushing water"
“Crashing" as of falling crockery
Breaking of windows
Sounds of "person entering door"
Footsteps heard in road
Various noises in the rectory
Sound of moving furniture
Wall and paper-writings
The light in the window
Keys falling from locks
The swinging blind
Wine into ink, etc.
Appearances, disappearances and reappearances
Odours-pleasant and unpleasant
Sensation of "coldness"
Tactual phenomena ("touchings")
Sensation of a "presence"
Unidentified footprints in the snow
Face-slapping in bed
Reactions by animals
A camera phenomenon
Phenomenon in church vaults
A fulfilled prediction.
These are certainly varied enough. Very few of them were witnessed by one person alone. The nun was seen by most people. Footsteps and similar sounds together with the displaced or projected objects (the true Poltergeist phenomena) were experienced by the greatest number. The large corps of observers established beyond doubt that Borley Rectory was the centre of strong psychical disturbances. Their number, variety and the length of their observations also supply an answer to any accusations that Harry Price "staged" the phenomena for publicity or other purposes. Very few of the observations in this period were made by him.
There were two important developments during this year of Price's tenancy. One was the observation of "wall writings." Frantic messages for help, cryptic scrawl which were hard to decipher, had appeared during the time the Rectory was occupied by the Foysters. Most of these were addressed to "Marianne " - Mrs. Foyster. Sceptics said that these might have been written by Mrs. Foyster herself -though no one could put any motive to such an aimless deception. Whatever the truth of the matter - and I do not believe the sceptics in this case – the
pencil scrawls continued to appear on the walls long after Mrs. Foyster had left the Rectory; and one of the most important clues to the old mystery was provided in this way. All markings were ringed and dated, so that there could be no mistake about those that had been there before and those which appeared later.
The other important development during 1937/38 was the series of séances held by Mr. Glanville, his family and his friends. Using a planchette, they obtained highly interesting and more or less definite data about the ghostly Nun and other matters. They discovered the Nun's name - it was supposed to be "Marie Lairre " - and the fact that she was "strangled in 1667." On March 27, 1938, during such a sitting, an entity calling himself "Sunex Amures" threatened to burn down the Rectory that very night. Though this mysterious being was eleven months too early in his prediction, the Rectory - as we have seen before - was burned down on February 27, 1939. The fire started at exactly the point" Sunex Amures" had foretold and at the time he prophesied. "Strange figures were seen walking in the flames."
A month later Harry Price examined the ruins of the Rectory, interviewed a number of witnesses and collected some useful data. In June, 1939, there was a "psychic fete" among the ruins. By that time the first Borley book was well under way; it was published in 1940. Harry Price thought that the case was more or less closed, but he was wrong. It seems that Borley refuses to be buried; that ghosts, however intangible, do not allow themselves to be dismissed.
The publication of The Most Haunted House in England brought Harry Price a flood of letters. The wall-writings, the planchette messages and the various statements by numerous people led to arguments, new theories, new facts. He was able to point out parallels and similarities
in a dozen other hauntings. Though the Rectory was in ruins, this did not keep those interested away. Throughout the war years there was a flock of visitors who sometimes spent even a night or two in the eerie ruins. In 1941, for instance, Mr. H. F. Russell, a businessman, paid a visit with two of his R.A.F. officer sons to Borley and had the peculiar experience of being seized and dashed to the ground by an invisible presence. Two years later some Polish officers spent two nights in the ruined Rectory and observed various visual and audible phenomena. In particular, they saw a shadow on the Nun's Walk and a man's shadow in one of the rooms. The Polish officers “rebuilt" the floor of the famous Blue Room, erecting seats and a table.
Other visitors included a whole commission from Cambridge University, formed by Mr. A. J. B. Robertson, M.A., of St. John's College, who contributed a long essay to Harry Price's second Borley book. Mr. Robertson and his colleagues were mainly interested in the famous "cold patch," and their enquiry lasted from February, 1939, to the demolition of the Rectory in 1944. The report summarising almost five years of hard work was cautious and restrained, but its summary said: "There appears, in fact, to be something at the Rectory which cannot be at all easily explained away. It must be remembered that the investigations described here form only part of a much wider survey which has brought to light very many mysterious phenomena."
Perhaps the most brilliant performance in connection with Borley Rectory is that of the Rev. W. J. Phythian-Adams, Canon of Carlisle. Having studied Price's first book, plans of the Rectory and photographs of the wall-writings, Canon Phythian-Adams prepared a most convincing and detailed analysis of the Borley drama. W have seen the connection of the Waldegraves with the place; there were references to one particular Waldegrave of the seventeenth century in the planchette writing. Canon Phythian-Adams used this and other data, together with some psychometric statements provided by Marion, whom Harry Price asked to try his clairvoyant powers on
a "touchwood" apport, found by one of the Borley observers on the hearth of the sewing-room.
Canon Phythian-Adams surmised that a French nun was brought by Henry Waldegrave to Borley after he had married her in France. There he left her in the lonely Manor of Borley (on the site of which the Rectory was later built) and when he wanted to contract a more "suitable" or profitable marriage, he strangled her.
Canon Phythian-Adams combined all the pieces of the hopelessly scattered jigsaw puzzle into a harmonious whole. Practically everything fitted and it was certainly a most impressive performance. He collated the wall writings with the planchette messages and extracted the symbolic and material meaning of the various visual and auditive phenomena. There were innumerable other attempts at interpreting, especially the wall-writings. More or less ingeniously they concentrated on the Nun's name and the desperate attempts she seemed to be making to get the living to do something for her or on the place of her origin. But nobody else tried to do what Canon Phythian-Adams had achieved: to create a consecutive narrative which sounded most convincing.
It might be said that this was a pretty piece of guesswork which had no practical value. Mrs. Georgina Dawson, who had delved deeply into the history of the Waldegraves, stated that the "Nun" was not 'Marie Lairre' but Arabella Waldegrave, a Stuart spy. True, she was also a nun, but the theory said that she finally found her way on her own to Borley, where she was murdered. Hence the "nun ghost." This story is not quite straightforward and certainly less simple than the Canon's case history. It is possible that the dimly-seen Arabella was spying for both sides - the Commonwealth and the Stuarts. Her mother, Henriette Waldegrave, was expelled from Paris because she was an agent of Cromwell.
Canon Phythian-Adams told Harry Price to dig - and where to dig. In August, 1943, in the company of the Rev. A. C. Henning, Dr, Eric H. Bailey, Senior Assistant Pathologist of the Ashford County Hospital; Mr. Roland F.
Bailey, his brother, a barrister; Flying-Officer A. A. Creamer, Captain W. H. Gregson and his two nieces, Mrs. Georgina Dawson and Mrs. Alex English, Harry Price began his excavations in the cellars of the ruined Rectory. On the exact spot Canon Phythian-Adams indicated (he had never visited the place) they found a fine large antique brass preserving pan, a silver cream jug and a jaw-bone which Dr. Eric Bailey declared to be a left mandible, with five teeth in good condition, probably a woman's. Part of a skull was also found - the parietal and temporal bone. Next day they found a "miraculous medal" of Zoé Labouré (afterwards the Blessed Catherine Labouré), a French nun who lived between 1806 and 1876 and was beatified in May, 1933. This medal was made of copper. A St. Ignatius Medal was also discovered which must have been struck much earlier and was of poor quality gold.
These discoveries were interesting but, with the exception of the human remains, not very startling. But those bits of skull and jawbone were strange and significant relics of something dark and evil that had happened in the confines of Borley, no one knew how long ago. The various finds led to an amended theoretical reconstruction by Canon Phythian-Adams. Harry Price took the bone fragments from Borley to Messrs. A. C. Cooper, Ltd., the well-known fine art photographers, in whose studio another strange act of the Borley hauntings was played out.
The portion of skull slipped from four hands and broke into four pieces. A thousand guinea oil painting fell off its easel on to the floor for no apparent reason. Then another painting slipped from its place. A clock which had refused to go for ten years started up suddenly again, functioned for twenty minutes and stopped once more for ever. No wonder that Mr. Cooper was grateful when Harry Price removed the remains of the unhappy nun - if they were her remains. Five months later the Cooper studios were destroyed by an air raid.
In May, 1945, the small remains of the nun were buried by Mr. Henning. Perhaps, everybody hoped, she would
find now a final, Christian rest and the Borley story would come to an end. True, strange things were still going on while the Rectory ruins were demolished; but these were minor Poltergeists pranks and no one had seen the nun since the night of the fire. Harry Price finished his second Borley book late in 1945 and it was published in the second half of 1946. He must have felt in a "Nunc dimittis" mood, for a tremendous amount of labour had gone into this second volume. He did not lack appreciation, it is true. Sir Ernest Jelf, the former Senior Master of the Supreme Court, had said in the Law Times of the first Borley book: "A very strong case has undoubtedly been put forward, and we are at a loss to understand what cross-examination of the witnesses could possibly shake it." Sir Albion Richardson, K.C., C.B.E., Recorder of Nottingham, declared after reading the second volume: "Borley Rectory stands by itself in the literature of psychical manifestation. The large number of the public who are interested in these things are under a debt of gratitude to Mr. Harry Price, for without his untiring energy and skilled experience as an investigator, the story of Borley Rectory would have remained unrevealed….The manifestations….are proved by the evidence, to the point of moral certainty."
No, the Borley story had not ended. Every month, almost every week brings a new theory and a new problem. What happened since 1946, and the publication of The End of Borley Rectory will be told, in due course, in a third Borley book. Here I only wish to outline what this third volume might contain.
Harry Price had lined up fifty new witnesses of various recent phenomena including Mr. Henning, some B.B.C. officials, local residents and strangers. Some of these phenomena had occurred some time ago but did not reach him or were not reported to him in time to be included in the first or second Borley volumes. It seems
that when the Rectory ruins were completely demolished the "ghost" moved to Borley Church, where a great many manifestations took place in the vestry, the porch and the main body of the building. Many reliable witnesses heard the organ being played when the church doors were locked and no one could possibly enter. Mr. Henning, as Rector of Borley Church, had prepared a record of this phenomena and had agreed to contribute to Harry Price's third Borley book.
Some further excavations have also taken place in Borley Church - on an earlier occasion Harry Price took part in a search which hoped to establish certain data about the Waldegraves - and many bones were found. A complete vault was discovered with a marble coffin in which a well-preserved skeleton rested.
In 1947, Borley appeared on the radio. With Harry Price’s collaboration and at his initiative a broadcast was prepared. Much new evidence emerged, and while the broadcast was in process something uncanny happened in a suburban home. A Hendon family was listening to the Borley broadcast when suddenly a long, plastic knitting needle burst into five pieces. There was no normal explanation. No heat, no vibration could have caused such a phenomenon which was observed by several reliable witnesses. Harry Price carefully preserved the notable knitting needle and hoped to put forward theories and establish certain facts about it. Other peculiar things happened during this broadcast about which he received reports from both England and abroad.
But perhaps the most fantastic story that reached him was another "vision." It came in an anonymous letter evidently written by an elderly woman. She and her brother had visited Borley without knowing anything at all about the reputation of the Rectory. What happened was that these two normal, matter-of-fact people witnessed the arrival of the famous "coach-and-pair" which had figured in so many Borley stories. They saw the occupants - in period dress - descend at the Rectory (still standing at the time) and later return to the coach.
They imagined that there was some pageant in the
neighbourhood and had no idea of connecting the strange scene with anything supernatural. They watched the scene, in daylight, for several minutes. The coach then drove off. Suddenly, in front of their eyes, the equipage rose into the air and disintegrated, the various limbs, wheels etc. falling in all directions. Price spoke of “another Versailles vision," referring to the strange adventure of the two English women who maintained that one afternoon in Versailles they strayed suddenly into the eighteenth century. Whether he believed in this letter - which came to him via the Suffolk Free Press - it would be difficult to decide. The anonymous writer might have read a dozen descriptions of this particular "vision" and made up her own version. On the other hand, the letter was so matter-of-fact, so full of circumstantial detail (down to the piece of chocolate she was eating) that it did not read as a planned hoax or some enthusiastic self-deceiver's piece. It certainly supported the other, similar descriptions and Harry Price intended to analyse it in great detail.
Whether the site of the demolished Rectory remained a Poltergeist centre or not is still a debatable point. The manifestations had certainly become weaker after the Rectory was burnt out and Price hoped that at least the nun's "ghost" had been laid with the burial of her bone fragments. But in 1947, it seemed that the Poltergeists had moved. Foxearth Rectory, about a mile from Borley, was suddenly infested by these mischievous spirits. The Rector appealed to Harry Price, who went down to investigate. Doors opened without any explicable reason, bells rang - the whole gamut of the usual Poltergeist phenomena. No manifestations had ever been recorded at Foxearth. Not long afterwards, on June 27, 1947, the church steeple was struck by lightning and demolished.
The planchette sessions continued and new instructions were received to search for the church plate of Borley, which had been lost for many years but was supposed to have been buried in the Rectory grounds. The B.B.C. undertook this search and employed Mrs. Parker, a well-known local dowser. Harry Price attended the experi-
ment. Mrs. Parker's hazel twig showed a violent reaction at a certain spot. Some German prisoners-of-war were used to help with the digging. A pit was opened and at the depth of eight feet some interesting Roman remains were found - but no church plate!
The greatest interest in the whole Borley case centered upon the wall writings which were a unique feature of the haunting. (Harry Price, with all his wealth of material, could produce nothing similar, though of course "automatic writing" is a well-known mediumistic phenomenon.) He invited the help of Mr. Lewis T. Ackermann the well-known professional graphologist, who produced a clever and illuminating analysis of these mysterious scribblings. His long and detailed report suggested new theories to account for the hauntings. These, in turn, provoked a new essay by Canon Phythian-Adams, dealing with the graphological findings and comparing them with his own readings.
The Canon was to contribute a fourth long paper to the third Borley book in which he summed up all the evidence that had come to light since he wrote his previous articles. Harry Price had over six hundred letters, received after the publication of The End of Borley Rectory, from which he could draw new comments and new facts. Mr. C. B. Scholey, for instance, contributed a whole new theory which was also a fundamental "new view of ghosts." The researches into the life and family of Marie Lairre also promised an interesting chapter.
Harry Price had not started on the actual writing of this third book, but most of his material was at hand and it should not be too great a labour to classify and put it into a final form. I have merely given a foretaste of what such a book would contain. Borley interested and thrilled Harry Price perhaps more than any other investigation in his life. The story is far from ended and perhaps will never be told in its entirety. But it is a riddle well worth tackling.
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