The Un-Friendly Village of Borley

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.

Borley Village Church.

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.’

Borley Rectory before it burned to the ground.

Ghost Hunting for Beginners by Rich Newman: Things to Help You Find Boo…

If you look at the list of books I am reading on Goodreads right now, you will no doubt notice that they are all a bit “ghost heavy.” I guess there is something about this time of year (near Christmas) that brings out the urge for ghosts. Call it the Scrooge complex if you will, Dickens certainly grabbed my imagination with his three ghoulish messengers to the old tight-wad on Christmas Eve.

I say later in this post that I picked the book up on a “whim” but that doesn’t explain why I picked up a further three books about ghosts.So I will definitely lay the blame on Dickens and Scrooge and just maybe the Muppets. Still this isn’t about me, it’s about the book. So friends and neighbours read on if you want to or stop now and make some eggnog.

Published in 2011 and written by Rich Newman (who is the founder of the group Paranormal Inc) this little book – 218 pages – really does contain “everything you need to know to get started.” If you ever felt the urge to investigate the supernatural like Scy Fy’s TAPs or the Ghost Busters, here is your chance.

Newman, who obviously loves his work, has set out an almost “See Spot Run” guide to unveiling the things that go bump in the night. The eight chapters of the book deal with different aspects of investigating the paranormal.

From defining a ghost to setting up your own paranormal group, Newman tries to cover it all. He also throws in the odd case note or two; some are his own cases and others are more of a historical nature (Borley Rectory for instance).

This is not just a collection of anecdotal stories of how Newman and Paranormal Inc have solved cases dealing with haunting and the supernatural, he really does keep the ghost stories to a minimum. He does list the types of equipment that you need, what each piece of equipment does and how you use them.

He also gives tips on how to act with the owners of the property you want to investigate and how not to insult the recipients of a haunting.

This really is a practical handbook for the ghost enthusiast. The equipment that Newman references ranges from the affordable (for the beginner who has a small budget) to the massively expensive (one particular piece goes for $10,000.00).

The book also tells the reader how to run an investigation and how to recruit for your group.

I picked up the book on a whim from my local library. I’ve had an interest in the supernatural all my life. But after reading the book, I realised that I was not really suited to the actual “nuts and bolts” of ghostly investigation. Sure I like watching TAPS and Ghost Hunters International, but the listing of the equipment and all the necessary add-ons left me a bit cold.

That’s not to say the book is not helpful or thorough in its usefulness. From just common sense supplies (like extra batteries) to suggestions for which editing software to use, Newman is pretty all-encompassing. In fact if you are turned on by the thought of starting your own paranormal group of “Ghost Busters” then this book will definitely get you started in the right direction.

Newman finishes the book with a gear list, a step-by-step investigative check list, some other books that might tickle your fancy, a few websites and last but not least a glossary of terms. All in all this is a great little book for the amateur ghost hunter.

I’d say this one is 5 out of 5 stars for information and equipment check lists. Just don’t be too disappointed that Rich Newman is not Jason Hawes or Grant Wilson or perhaps more accurately the two TAPS “pin-up girls” Amy Bruni and Kris Williams (although Kris is now a regular on International).

I have to admit that after reading the book and seeing all the things that go into paranormal investigations, I’ll probably limit my “activity” to watching  TAPS or Ghost Hunters International. They at least have the bonus of pretty assistant “ghost hunters” and it’s a lot less expensive.

Author and founder of Paranormal Inc Rich Newman.
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