1947


24
YEARS

FRAGMENTS OF BORLEY

“In 1947 I wrote to the then Rector of Borley,

the Rev. Alfred Henning…”

“...and asked about…

the possibility of spending a night…”

“...on the ‘haunted’ site of the

by then vanished rectory…”

Underwood and Reverend Alfred Henning

“He sent me a charming letter

and said he had passed on my request…”

“…accompanied by Tom Brown

I went to Borley for the first time…”

“...travelling in a wonderful

Victorian train

from Marks Tey...”

“Borley Rectory…served a parish [in Essex]…”

“...that in 1931 contained a mere 121 people…”

“There is nothing left of Borley Rectory.”

“A fire destroyed it on 27 February 1939;

the burnt-out shell was demolished in 1944.”

“In 1947 the area of the rectory was still visible…”

Former site of Borley Rectory, with Borley Church in the background.

“We visited Borley Church and churchyard

where we saw the graves of…[those]

who lived and died at Borley Rectory and…”

“…[are] alleged

to have haunted the Rectory and grounds

- and perhaps still [do]…”

Reverand Henry Foyster “Harry” Bull

was Rector at Borley for 35 years....

Reverand Henry Foyster “Harry” Bull

...when he died in his sleep on Thursday morning

on June 9th, 1927, at his home - Borley Rectory.

The grave of Reverand Henry Foyster “Harry” Bull

“Inside the church…”

“...we saw the imposing tomb of the Waldegraves…”

“…seance messages assert that it was a member of this family who murdered 'Marie Lairre', the ghost nun…”

“…others assert that Arabella Waldegrave, the unnamed daughter on the tomb…”

“…may have been the ghost nun…”

Underwood and Tom Brown begin their investigation...

GHOST HUNTING EQUIPMENT AND ITS USES

A traditional ‘ghost hunting kit’ is mostly comprised of ‘controls’ - measures put in place in and around a purportedly haunted site during an overnight investigation, helping to ensure that it is carried out under ‘controlled conditions’.

Part of Underwood’s ghost-hunting kit.

“The first necessity is a bag, case or box in which to store the ghost hunting kit…”

“The ghost hunter and each of his companions must carry a watch, preferably with luminous or illuminated dials…”

“...and they should of course synchronise watches at the comencement of any ghost hunt…”

“Steel and tape measures should be included…”

“…a pair of plimsols or overshoes…”

“…several magnifying glasses…”

“A hurricane lamp has its uses in some instances…”

“Thermometers are always necessary … which need to be checked at regular intervals...”

“The camera … that the ghost hunter takes ... must be dictated by personal preference or financial considerations…”

“...black-and-white … and colour films should be included…”

“…infra-red films, filters…”

“…flash-bulbs where applicable…”

“Rough plans and sketches are often of great value … and here ... paper and pencils come into use...”

Hannah Taggart
Plan I: Key Plan of Borley Rectory and Grounds (3.732 Acres) (2007)

“...every ghost hunter

worthy of the name will, however,

invent simple gadgets…”

Tom Fuller shows Underwood haunted Spinney Bank - associated with curious happenings at Spinney Abbey.

“…the bowl of mercury that detects tremors…”

“…spread sugar that quickly reveals

the presence of someone and possibly

some ‘thing’ by the unmistakable crunch…”

“It is always wise for the ghost hunter to have among his apparatus...”

“...a few evocative articles...”

“…a small bell, perhaps, a paper-knife or dagger, a bible, a crucifix...”

“…they provide interest for everyone present, help to keep sleep at bay and also help to retain the all-important sense of relaxation...”

The Ghost Hunter's Guide
pp.24-27

“Tom Brown and I

…placed a number of controls

in and around the rectory site…”

Tom Brown photgraphed in 1947 by Underwood at the site where Borley Rectory once stood.

“None of these controls were moved,

and our thermometer readings

showed no abnormality…”

Underwood photographed in 1947 by Tom Brown at the site where Borley Rectory once stood.

“…we both thought we heard faint footsteps

from the direction of the Nun’s Walk at both 3.15 a.m.

and again at 3.40 a.m…”

“On the second occasion we suddenly flashed a torch 

…but the torchlight revealed nothing

and the sounds continued…”

“The area where the sounds

appeared to originate

was plainly visible in the bright moonlight…”

“…nothing was discernible

to account

for the footsteps…”

No Common Task
p.71

Borley Postscript
pp.92-93

The Ghosts of Borley
p.11

Using the Price’s

Blue Book of Instructions

Underwood writes up a report

of his investigation

and sends it to Price himself...

‘What drama has left its mark for ever

And drenched the very atmosphere,

Of this so quiet, tranquil spot

That night is never peaceful here?’

Fragment from Underwood's Night at Borley (1947), a poem he fashioned out of his experience that night.

Ghost Watch #10 - Borley Rectory
This video illustrates an episode of 'Ghost Watch', a short series which was originally broadcast on the radio in the 1980s.

Christopher Josiffe
Moss-clad remains at the former site of the Borley Rectory in Essex (2017)