About four years ago my daughter and I decided to have a look at some of the more “haunted” areas in and around Suffolk. We had a look at a cemetery that has been well documented as being haunted by apparitions and mists and floating lights. It is in between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds and bit of a chore to find.
We finally did find it and while we did not see any apparitions or mists or lights, damned if it didn’t look haunted. Overgrown and forlorn with an equal share of stinging nettle and blackberry bushes; if you weren’t avoiding the nettles you were having blood drawn by the thorns in the bushes. Not a lot of fun.
As we were stumbling around the almost hidden gravestones, my daughter Meg was saying what a shame it was that Borley Rectory had burned down and wouldn’t it be neat to have a look at the village of Borley? She was overjoyed when I revealed that I just happened to know where the village was. I had driven past it quite a lot when I worked at the East Anglian Daily Times as a newspaper delivery van driver.
We decided that our next port of call would be Borley Village where Borley Rectory had stood and been declared the most haunted place in England.
Now of course, with the Rectory having been burnt to the ground in 1939 there is nothing to actually look at apart from the Borley Church which is said to be haunted as well. You can, if you’re determined enough and lucky enough to have read the “right” books about the Borley haunting, you will have an original map of the area that can be used to find landmarks of where the original rectory stood.
Paranormal investigator Harry Price (b. January 17, 1881 d. March 29, 1948) was a rather well-known investigator who, although he would later be accused of trickery and a lot of his “recorded” events debunked, investigated the haunted rectory for the Mirror newspaper. Price would go on to write two books about Borley Rectory, The Most Haunted House in England: Ten Years’ Investigation of Borley Rectory 1940 and The End of Borley Rectory 1946.
I had just finished reading Borley Rectory: The Final Analysis by authors Ted Babbs and Claudine Mathias and was keen to go there with Meg and find the site of the Rectory and have a walk around the village. Not to mention the church and grounds which are still reportedly haunted.
I will not go into the events at Borley Rectory or of the church itself. There are plenty of articles on the net and an overabundance of books on the subject. I will mention something though that not a lot of books will tell you. Borley Village does not like visitors.
When you arrive at the village (which is not clearly signposted I might add) you will find no place to park your car. The church has a car park but it is chained up and locked, presumably they do unlock it on Sunday mornings as it is still a “functioning” church. The shoulders of the roads through the village have large stones (or small boulders) placed in such a way that you cannot park your car on the side of the road. If the rocks aren’t blocking you, logs and other items serve the same purpose.
Despite this slight set-back we managed to park over a quarter of a mile away near a public footpath. The weather was typically English in that it was drizzling rain. Not enough to drench you quickly but just enough to make you feel damp all over. The ground was saturated and muddy. The weather did provide one bonus. As it was so nasty out, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. We wandered as close as we could to the site of the Rectory and had a wander around the church grounds.
Apart from the odd curtain twitching, no one bothered us. But the atmosphere of the place was horrid. Meg and I both remarked that we felt un-welcome. The feeling was so palpable that it almost felt like you could hear the occupants of the houses, with their twitching curtains, muttering savagely, “Get out.”
Finally we decided to call it a day. Cold, wet and not a little spooked by the feeling of the village, we left. It was decided that we would come back when the weather was not so miserable and we would make sure we brought a camera.
We did go back. It was a warm sunny day without a cloud in sight. This time the postage stamp sized car park at the village church was not chained up or locked. I quickly pulled the car in and Meg and I got out to look at the church’s cemetery first. Incredibly despite the inviting weather the village and the church still had that “get out” feeling.
It was worse this time. The last time we had been there the horrid weather had kept most folks inside their houses. This time they were out (although not in great numbers) and even though they were not approaching us, they stared. Not the stares of the curious or friendly, but, hostile stares. Borley does not welcome visitors.
Even though the events of Borley Rectory happened a long time ago it seems that the village resents anyone visiting the place in search of spooks or just to look at where all the kerfuffle took place.
With an atmosphere that stops just this side of hostile, you don’t feel comfortable being there. Despite the great warm weather, we left very quickly. In fact we left so quickly we did not take any pictures, even though we had remembered our camera.
If you have very thick skin and don’t mind feeling like someone is going to run you out of the village on a rail, after they’ve tarred and feathered you, go and have a look at the village that was once the home of the most haunted place in England. You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled though, it is not clearly sign posted. But as you are driving to Long Melford on the A134 (from Sudbury) there is a tiny road just before a car sales place.
If you wind up in Long Melford, you’ve gone too far. The signpost at the top of this article is missing one thing though. I am sure that the residents of the village would have put up just after ‘Reduce your speed’ another line stating ‘Leave.’
- Revealing the Presence of Ghosts (blogs.loc.gov)
- The Haunted House. Photo: David Secombe, text: Andrew Martin. (thelondoncolumn.com)
- The World’s Most Haunted Places Interactive Map (gateway-homes.co.uk)
- The most haunted places in the world (trollishdelver.com)
- BOOK REVIEW: A Natural History Of Ghosts (thequietus.com)
- channelled languages and similar phenomena 3 (non-historical ‘fringe’ linguistics 12) (skepticalhumanities.com)