Borley Rectory
Borley Rectory , Essex
Borley Rectory (Rolldi, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

About

Borley Rectory is a now-demolished famous for being described as ‘the most haunted house in England’ by psychic scholar Harry Price. Located in the village of Borley in Essex, the Gothic-style rectory had been associated with ghostly occurrences since it was built in 1862, replacing an earlier rectory on the site that had been destroyed by fire in 1841. Reports of hauntings increased after 1929, when Price’s exploration of the Rectory was published in the national press.

 

Gothic heritage

Local legends have often discussed the possibility that there was a Benedictine monastery on the site, and one particularly popular tale includes the character of a nun trapped within the old walls of the convent. It was confirmed in 1938 that this legend had no historical basis, and is likely to have been fabricated to romanticise the Rectory’s story, or heighten its haunting reputation.

The story of the walling up of the nun may have come from some earlier Gothic fiction, particularly bearing resemblance to H. Rider Haggard's novel Montezuma's Daughter (1893) or Walter Scott's epic poem ‘Marmion’ (1808).

 

In popular culture

Borley Rectory continues to be a popular setting for contemporary horror and ghost stories, most recently in the 2017 part-animated film Borley Rectory: The Most Haunted House in England starring Reece Shear smith and Jonathan Rigby, and in the 2021 feature film The Ghosts Of Borley Rectory.

 

Further information

Borley Rectory burned down in 1939 and the land has now been divided up partly between a farm and a development of bungalows.