The Thump Ghosts

by Andrew Clarke
copyright 2001, 2005

"In the Hands of a trained conjuror, the man of science can become as impressionable as wax"

Harry Price, Trained Conjuror, in his lecture "The Wiles of the Wizards", 1931

In June 1929, the News Editor of a major tabloid newspaper, the Daily Mirror, received an exciting phone-call from his office. One of his staff had received a letter from the rector's wife of a remote parish in East Anglia, asking if his paper knew of the address of the Society for Psychical Research, as they were experiencing 'unusual happenings' in the rectory, and wanted them to be investigated. He hardly hesitated before scenting a major news story just at the start of the 'silly-season', and dispatched a seasoned reporter, Mr V. C. Wall, to investigate.

When Mr Wall arrived on the 10th June, he was delighted. He found a large rectory in a state of some disrepair. The Rector and his wife had experienced little unusual themselves as they were new to the living, but they were nervous, puzzled, and willing to relate all the odd stories they had heard of ghosts and murder. Not only that, but the sisters of the previous rector were on hand, and eager to add lurid detail. Mr Wall, who stayed at the rectory for just over a week, phoned a preliminary story at the end of the first day. Although he'd witnessed nothing odd himself, he managed to concoct a hot story, involving headless coachmen, nuns, and dragging footsteps. The Smiths were puzzled as to why a reporter had arrived rather than the representative of the Society for Psychical Research and started asking awkward questions. V.C. Wall reported this difficulty back to base but, instead of the Society for Psychical Research, The News Editor of the Mirror contacted a committed spiritualist who was eminent at the time in the investigation of séances, Mr Harry Price. The result was a week of headline stories in the Daily Mirror.

Harry Price had proved to be a gift to Mr Wall, who had maintained a bemused, light-hearted, style to his reports. Within a few hours of Harry Price's arrival, odd things started happening. Whereas the Borley stories had previously involved shadowy figures seen in twilight, the rectory now rang to the crash of half-bricks, mothballs, slate, vases, glass and stones, but only in the presence of Harry Price, who was an accomplished conjuror. The Smiths were astonished by the onset of 'phenomena' when Harry Price arrived. Before this visit, nobody had experienced any 'objective' poltergeist phenomena at all. The Smiths initially thought that these were the ghosts they'd heard about from the two sisters of the previous incumbent, but they subsequently began to suspect that that Price, himself, was causing these thing to happen.' When Mr Price arrived down to investigate, immediately we were astonished at an onset of 'phenomena'--bangs, clattering, keys thrown etc. We could not help being led to suppose that he himself was producing some of the effects'.

When they challenged Harry Price as to why he had 'taken charge of the case' when they had requested the Society for Psychical Research, he explained that he attended as foreign representative of 'The American Society for Psychical Research'. 

A dinner guest at the rectory sitting near Harry Price, happened to remark, 'you know, all this could be done by a clever man', and almost immediately, she saw the water in her glass turning to ink, an old conjuring trick. She later related that she was convinced that Harry Price had done it but kept quiet because 'he wasn't a man they would like to offend'. Mary Pearson, the maid, told Mrs Smith that she saw Price throw a coin.' I think that tricks were being played all around us' commented Mrs Smith about the visit.

She was not the only one to feel this way. Although Mary Pearson, the Smiths' maid, retained a belief that strange inexplicable things had happened at the rectory, was sure that Price had indulged in trickery in a light-hearted way

The impression [Harry Price] left overall on [Mary Pearson and Fred Tatum] as recounted to me by Fred Tatum was not a favourable one...There was an incident at his first Luncheon with them when either pepper or salt shot across the table, and Price made some reference, no doubt in jocular vein, to ghosts.. Later, Mary told Mrs Smith she had distinctly seen Price throw one or other of condiment...On another occasion, when they were in the scullery a storm lantern went out, and Fred was strongly of the opinion Price had manipulated the wick.'

Mrs C Baines, interview with Fred Tatum, widower of Mary Pearson

Harry Price stayed only a couple of days in this first week and did not return whilst the Smiths remained in residence. After he left, there were no further objective occurrences. Nevertheless, Mr Wall had a happy and fulfilling week, phoning back his daily story. At one time, on 11th June, he mistook Mary Pearson, the maid, for the ghost of the nun. (she later admitted that she put her apron over her head as a prank). At another time, the gardener's bonfire, seen at twilight was reported back to the Mirror as a sceptre. For the night of June 16th, he had two professional mediums sent down from London, Mr C Glover Botham, and Mr Harry Collard, but with Harry Price gone, absolutely nothing happened. They sat anxiously in darkness in the rectory for many hours to no effect. Mr Wall seemed unsurprised and phoned through a light hearted piece saying that the ghost had 'flatly declined to exhibit itself'.

The local paper sent their own reporter on the Tuesday, and interviewed the rector, the gardener, and also called into the village post office then run by Mrs Finch. He filed an extraordinarily ponderous story which failed to ignite much local interest, but which was accompanied by an editorial which called for a scientific investigation

By the end of the week, and the publication of a story every day, the rectory was receiving ''the unwelcome attentions of hundreds of curious people, and at night the headlights of their cars may be seen for miles around. One 'enterprising' firm even ran a motor-coach to the rectory, inviting the public to 'come and see the 'Borley Ghost' while cases of Rowdyism were frequent'. The Smiths then realised the full consequences of their action. Intruders were trampling all over the flower beds at night in order to peer through the windows and the police were having to be called. As all the spectacular phenomena had ceased with the departure of Harry Price, Mr Wall contented himself with writing stories about the havoc that he himself had caused, and then departed back to Town. The story became the news phenomenon of the summer of 1929. Almost every household in the country was still mourning the loss of young relatives or friends killed in the Great War. The nation fell on the story in the hope that the events would provide some proof of the afterlife and the possibility of communicating with the dead. Grief predisposed the British public to believe in the supernatural, and there were many who were prepared to exploit this.

On June 16th, Eric Smith had told the Daily Mirror reporter 'I have no intention of forsaking the rectory because of what has happened'. However, within a month, they had moved to nearby Long Melford, abandoning the rectory on 14th July due, they declared, 'to the poor plumbing and sanitation'. Eric Smith continued as rector for another year. Harry Price returned for two brief overnight visits, bringing visitors to the uninhabited rectory. One of these, in July, was another reporter, the hard-boiled Charles Sutton, from the Daily Mail, who began to be puzzled about the coincidence of Harry Price and the 'phenomena', and was particularly suspicious about Price's insistence of always 'bringing up the rear' in the tour. When a pebble hit him on the back of the head, he kept Price in view and subsequently felt sure that Harry Price had thrown a stone from the top of the stairs. (Mrs Kaye, who was also present, said that Harry Price gave a 'shudder' as it happened).

'Many things happened the night I spent in the famous Borley Rectory with Harry Price and one of his colleagues, including one uncomfortable moment when a large pebble hit me on the head.'

Charles Sutton in Inky Way Annual 2, 126. London: World's Press News. Heigh way, A. J. (ed.) (1948)

'The act of a half-brick flying down the staircase impelled me to drop the hurricane lamp I was carrying, seize Harry Price and accuse him of having thrown it. I found two of his coat-pockets full of stones, but I did not see him throw the half-brick that went down the staircase.'

letter from Charles Sutton to M.H. Colman July 5th 1956

Lord Charles Hope, another famous psychic investigator, was present and recalled the event. He too eventually decided that the 'phenomena' were 'produced by normal means'... 

'Although I did not feel certain, I left Borley with the definite suspicion that Mr Price might be responsible for some at least of the phenomena which had occurred whilst I was present'

This proved to be Price's final visit for over two years. It was on this last occasion that the proceedings in the uninhabited rectory descended to high comedy..., 

'On this occasion, the Rectory was empty and devoid of any furniture ; there were several people present, one, an Army man, had a loaded revolver under his coat and I warned Mary and Fred to keep out of the way. We sat on the stairs until midnight when somebody must have entered the study from the garden, as the large shutters were pulled together with a loud noise; these were on runnels. I was convinced someone had been waiting outside to play this trick. We heard scratchings, and a ridiculous element entered when we heard the voice of a chauffeur who had just heard someone say 'Are you there, Mr Bull?' reply in a guttural voice 'He's dead and you are daft'.

Harry Price wrote with great excitement of his discoveries soon after the events.

We have not yet had an opportunity of "laying" the ghosts of Borley rectory. On the other hand, the disturbing entities have succeeded in driving out the rector and his wife and the dilapidated mansion is empty once more. Since I wrote my last Notes I have visited the place three times - and on each occasion have witnessed manifestations. But on July 28th the day of the year when the pious nun, headless coachmen and black coach - complete with a fine pair of bays always appear (according to legend) nothing happened. On the contrary, the mansion (unlike the feeling experienced on other occasions) seemed particularly peaceful - much to the disappointment of Lord Charles Hope, the Hon. Richard Bethell and others of the National Laboratory who visited the house on July 28 and 29. Perhaps now the place is again empty, the haunting spirits are at rest. It is a very extraordinary case.'

JASPR Vol. XXIII, No. 9; September, 1929. P. 507

Unsurprisingly after his dramatic exposure by Charles Sutton, Price lost all enthusiasm for Borley Rectory and did not revisit the rectory again until Oct 13th 1931

The bishop became aware of what was going on. It is not certain whether it was pressure from the Bishop that led to Eric trying to get the matter investigated in the first place, or whether the bishop merely read the Daily Mirror. Whichever way it was, Eric Smith eagerly asked for a report from Harry Price after his initial visit, eventually sending four fruitless letters asking for the report. He still seemed to think that Harry Price was a genuine Psychic researcher, and was anxious to send his report on to the Bishop, who was 'getting sulphurously sarcastic'. It only dawned on him gradually that the report he wanted would never be forthcoming. If the phenomena that had been witnessed on the momentous two days had been genuine, Harry Price's subsequent lack of interest in Borley. was completely inexplicable. Harry Price, somewhat lamely, tried to make out, later on, that his book 'The Most Haunted House in England', published eleven years later, in 1940, comprised the requested report.

The original newspaper reports emphasised that neither the Rector nor his wife believed in ghosts. Harry Price's books reaffirmed this fact. His notes of his first visit state...

'Smiths took the rectory living in September 1928, finding the place in terribly bad repair. There are rats in the house, and toads, frogs, newts etc. in the cellars. They themselves refuse to believe in ghosts and know nothing about them.'

Mrs Smith subsequently wrote that they both believed that the rectory was haunted only by 'rats and local superstition', though she related that Eric sensed evil afoot. She maintained that all the phenomena she witnessed were 'normally produced'.

'One or two items occurred which were not explained, and I thought 'that's funny' -but surely such things occur in all peoples' lives, and only means they were unable to trace the cause.'

They never witnessed anything themselves except for 'dragging footsteps', an odd vehicle in the drive, an unexplained light in the 'Schoolroom', keys shot from locks, and the words "Don't Carlos, don't", whispered, in a woman's voice, on one occasion in the corridor. Few, if any, of these phenomena require much of an explanation, as the rectory was never locked, and the churchgoers, indeed passers-by, were in the habit of wandering into the house to use the toilet. Some rooms were used as meeting rooms for the village and, since Harry Bull's death, courting couples were used to making assignations in some of the more remote rooms.

The gardener at the rectory was inclined to smile at the idea of the ghosts, telling our representative that he had never seen anything, and that although there was a great deal of talk about ghosts there many years ago, he believed that it was 'only couples sweethearting'.

Suffolk and Essex Free Press, Thursday June 13th 1929

More than one Borley resident has claimed to me that he was conceived at the rectory.

The Smiths were intelligent, sensible, articulate people. This comes over forcefully from the correspondence, and from Mrs Smith's subsequent accounts. They have been much criticised for their naivety in contacting the Daily Mirror, but it seems that they had merely enquired from them the address of the Society for Psychical Research. We do not know for certain, but it may be that the paper had recently run an article on the SPR's work. As expatriates, they were unfamiliar with the ruthless methods of tabloid journalism.

They decided that the best way to debunk its ghostly reputation was to invite investigation by competent authorities and so disprove the whole story'

The Haunted Rectory, BBC broadcast by Eton and Burgess 1947

The Smiths continued to take a great interest in the Borley Rectory story over the subsequent months. However, they were more interested in the stories that the Bull sisters told them about their brothers' murder at the hands of his wife. These absurd stories inspired Mrs Smith to start to write a novel based on what she had heard, called 'Murder at the Parsonage', which she completed a few years later and then, in 1940, asked Harry Price to help her get published. At one time Harry Price attempted to get them to agree to publish the book as part of 'The Most Haunted House' as though it were a true account rather than fiction, but the Smiths refused. For ten years, Eric had maintained a cordial contact with Harry Price and Sidney Glanville,  Price's chief collaborator. Eric's motive seems to have been two-fold. One was that he was trying to get Price to offer work to his sister Phyllis, who was a spiritualist medium, and also he was under the misapprehension that Price could help get him promotion in the church. After Eric's death, relations continued reasonably, but things deteriorated into hostility. 'I feel very strongly on the point that Mr Price had promised us that our names would never appear in anything he wrote, and now I am told we appear in the book'. When she finally got round to reading the book she was moved to say.....

 'My impression on reading the volume was utter astonishment as the clever mix of legend, truth, fantasy and disregard of the intellects of intelligent people; the facts are so twisted...; I cannot think how so many country people were bewitched into giving such testimonies. but you know what the country is? Throw one stone in the water, and the ripples widen!'.

In fact, Harry Price's account of the Smiths stay at the rectory, in his first book, was courteous and reasonable. He even inserted a 'plug' for her book. Whilst he certainly made the most of the various odd occurrences and stories, and one must admit that he let them down badly over the promised report, one cannot help but wonder at what it was that turned  Mrs Smith toward such a negative view of Harry Price. A clue to this is a report from Sidney Glanville that Harry Price flew into a rage when Mabel Smith sent him the manuscript of her book and perhaps sent her an intemperate latter. Whatever the cause, it was a permanent rift. Eventually, she wrote to the Church Times, and later on the Daily Mail to emphasise her side of the story. Her first letter had been inspired by correspondence about an uncannily similar haunting at Chale Rectory in 1940, which included a ghostly carriage and pair, stealthy footsteps, wall writings, and things falling off shelves. This proved beyond any doubt to be caused by rats, and the child of a sub-tenant. This obviously struck a chord with Mabel...

'Sir-I have read with interest your articles and letters on 'Thump ghosts', and as I was in residence for some time at Borley Rectory ('the most haunted house in England') I would like to state definitely that neither my husband or myself believed the house haunted by anything else but rats and local superstition'


She then wrote a second letter, this time to the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail story, on 26th May 1949, was in reply to a particularly silly story in the Daily Mail about a supernatural 'Wall of Perfume'

A spook in the wheel of superstition.

On May 23rd. The Daily Mail published a story "whiff of Evil at Borley Rectory" describing Borley Rectory as 'the most Haunted House in England'.
As the wife of a previous rector of Borley, I would like to state that we lived in the rectory for over three years and did not think it was haunted (except by rats). It was an old house, and very creaky and broken-down. The 'wall of perfume' can well be explained as pigsties were adjacent.

It is because of local superstition that we called the Psychical Research Society in, hoping to show the people that there was nothing supernatural and to our lasting regret the place was made a centre for sightseers
Surely now that fire has demolished the place, all this absurdity should be dropped and could it not be stressed that the supposed haunted house was not the rectory but an exchanged residence?

Please help to clear the reputation of Borley, Essex, for it is a sweet little country place.


She actually lived at Borley Rectory for nine months only, from October 1928 to July 1929 and they left the parish in April 1930.  The puzzling sentence 'could it not be stressed that the supposed haunted house was not the rectory but an exchanged residence?' seems to refer to sightseers who were then pestering the current incumbent, Rev Henning, at Liston Rectory.

Eric Smith had come to the ministry rather late in life, after a career in the Indian Civil Service in Calcutta. He was Eurasian. He had met his future wife Mabel in his home city of Calcutta. They had married there, but her poor health meant that they decided to leave immediately for England. Once settled in England, Eric chose to enter the church and trained at Cirencester. Borley was to be Eric's first post as a rector, and the couple were eager to make a good impression. Unfortunately, at Borley, they walked straight into an explosive situation. The parish had enjoyed a sixty year Bull incumbency. It was a small, tight-knit community that had always enjoyed a good relationship with their rector-cum-squire. For the people of North Essex, visitors from London were considered 'Furrainers', and treated to contemptuous ridicule. Even though this charming and gracious couple from Calcutta were low church like their predecessors, the parish found the change to the new style difficult and were prone to tease the newcomers where they should have been helpful and supportive. Also, the Bulls, who were patrons of the living, would not leave the newcomers alone. Mabel was, at that time, still suffering from illness and at a rather low ebb. She was in no state to withstand the pressures on her and, inevitably, The Smiths were drawn into the family fantasies, and the family feud.

'..Put yourself in my place--our first living-devoid of household necessities--our wish to do good in the parish--the difficulties of superstition'
'Everywhere, I was greeted by the words 'you are brave- I would not stay there another day'. Then to have the Patrons confirm the tale; eventually to find uncanny things really happening when Mr Price arrived... I thought everyone had gone crazy!'

The Bull feud had been brewing for nearly twenty years. Harry Bull married a younger woman, late in life (in 1911). The Bull sisters disliked Harry's wife from the start. His father had entrusted to the four brothers, Harry, Alfred, Gerald and Walter, the responsibility of looking after the Bull girls financially, and he had left them his money between them. When the will was read out, the Bull sisters realised that Harry had not kept to the promises made to his sisters that he would provide for them, but had, instead, left his money to his wife, in trust, for her lifetime. Any other course of action would have been most incorrect for Harry, who was obliged to make full provision for his widow. However, the sisters panicked, and started telling anyone who would listen that Harry had been murdered by his wife for his money after she had induced him to alter the will. They started telling tall tales of Harry Bull haunting the site trying, from beyond the grave, to tell of his untimely end (he actually died of cancer, poor chap). The Smiths immediately were bombarded by the Bulls, still the patrons of the living, with a number of these lurid stories. Mabel was even goaded into thinking that a perfectly innocent bottle of 'Sugar of Lead', found in the rectory, and used in the stables as a treatment for horses heels, was the fatal poison.

Despite some pressure, Mrs Smith never budged from her view that Borley Rectory was not haunted.

 'I have no reason at all to think Borley was haunted. Of course, our minds were turned towards the subject, owing to so much gossip; but in spite of this, nothing occurred which I consider could not be explained.'  

This difficult fact has always irritated Harry Price and his successors and they have contemptuously dismissed Mrs Smiths testimony as being confused and unreliable. On the contrary, her testimony checked out well with the primary documentation in the Harry Price library, and has never been faulted. (She was also interviewed by Tony Cornell, later the Council member of the SPR, and gave a consistent account). Even when they maintained an amicable correspondence with the elusive Harry Price, Eric was at pains to point out that Mabel was entirely sceptical. Mr Smith wrote to Harry Price's researcher Sidney Glanville on 6 January 1938, and emphasised that Mrs Smith 'doesn't believe in ghosts, and nothing would scare her away'. Neither did Guy himself, though he felt there was something evil about the place. Mr Smith pointed out in a letter to Harry Price on 16 May 1939 ' ... we really did not believe there were any such things as ghosts!'.

It seems that the Smiths had walked into a drama that was psychological, rather than supernatural, and they were ill-equipped to shrug it off at a time in their lives when so much depended on them making a success of things. However, the Smiths were not altogether naive. It was they who put a stop to the ridiculous séance that the Bull sisters insisted in running during that fateful first week of Newspaper stories. They knew then that things had got completely out of hand.


From this distance in time, it is impossible to work out what had really been going on. It remains a baffling fact that most of the residents of Borley Rectory (the majority of the Bulls too) insisted that the house was not haunted at all, and local people were, and still are, united in their belief that it was a'put-up job by Lunnuners' (Londoners, the local hate-figures).

The rector believes that some of the folk in the village are frightened to pass the spot at night. Other residents, however, told our representative that they had ridiculed the whole affair.

Suffolk and Essex Free Press, Thursday June 13th 1929

"Don't mention the Rectory to me! I've never heard of such nonsense. My sister's girl worked there for four years, but she never heard or saw a thing. I've lived here all my life, and I've never heard or seen anything either. All these people traipsing round at night with torches, shouting and screaming keeping me awake -the whole thing's a lot of nonsense anyway. Ghosts indeed! "

Mrs Pearson 1949, quoted in "The Haunted Rectory" 1947 broadcast by Peter Eton and Alan Burgess

Some of the Bulls talked of haunting, and others dismissed them contemptuously as 'products of the feminine imagination'.. Harry Bull's wife and step-daughter witnessed absolutely nothing in nearly ten years living there. Mrs Finch, who lived and worked there as a maid for two years in the 1920s never even heard about the haunting while she was there. The Smiths were clear in saying there were no ghost, but merely odd things that needed an explanation. The Smiths were concerned with what they had been told by the Bull family. Under the pressure of events, they were temporarily swayed toward seeking a supernatural explanation for the odd things that they'd seen first-hand. ('She used to shriek with fright', wrote Ethel Bull in 1954). I suspect that they asked permission of the bishop for a service of some kind to be held at the rectory, possibly a blessing. The bishop had demanded some justification or proof from a recognised authority that something untoward was really happening at the rectory, and it was this that led to the Smiths asking the Daily Mirror for the Address of the SPR. The arrival of Harry Price was probably engineered by the Daily Mirror to ginger up  the story. It seems fantastic that Harry Price, who made a livelihood out of investigating spiritualists and phenomena, should have faked the phenomena that occurred only in his presence, but it is hard to escape this conclusion. Certainly, he did not take the Rectory affair at all seriously until much later in the Foyster residence, and may have responded to the absurdity of the stories told by the the Bull sisters with some absurd conjuring tricks. Even his loyal secretary and mistress, Lucie Kaye, was moved to observe that somehow Harry Price 'seemed to attract phenomena'; a generous conclusion.

Harry Price's first account of the supposed haunting of Borley Rectory was published in August 1929. It is mainly culled from the newspaper reports of the Daily Mirror.  Suffice it to say here that Harry Price confessed on 29th April 1939 "A) I do not believe in spirits and B) I do not believe in the [Borley Rectory] legend". It is hard to detect this in this ridiculous account. (the 'black mass gliding down the Nun's Walk', was, as they both knew. Mary Pearson, the maid who had come to tell them that supper was ready.)

I am engaged in investigating one of the most extraordinary cases of poltergeist disturbance and alleged haunting that has come under my notice for years. The case was reported to the Daily Mirror by the Rev. G. E. Smith, rector of Borley, near Sudbury, Suffolk, who asked for assistance and advice. The editor of the Mirror asked me if I would investigate the case and I consented.

Borley Rectory is a mansion erected in 1865 on the vaults and cellars of a thirteenth century monastery. The ruins of a nunnery are close by. It has 38 rooms, mostly unused, and stands in wooded grounds nine acres in extent. The legend (current for at least 45 years) is that a groom attached to the monastery attempted to elope with one of the young nuns. The lovers being detected, the groom was hanged and the girl walled up alive in one of the chambers of the nunnery. The apparition of the nun has been witnessed by many people, and on one occasion was seen by four persons at the same time. A phantom coach and pair of bays has also been seen-and heard-by reliable witnesses, including the Rev. Harry Bull, the last incumbent, who died about two years ago.

At an all-night séance, without a medium, and by the light of two good paraffin lamps we held a 3-hours' conversation with the alleged spirit of the late Rev. Harry Bull who tapped out his answers on the back of a large mirror in the bedroom in which he' died. There have been several tragedies, both ancient and modern, connected with the house. We have experienced all the usual typi cal poltergeist manifestations such as the throwing of pebbles and other objects, and on the occasion of my last visit-I was then accompanied by Lord Charles Hope-we received a shower of ten keys which had been extracted from as many doors in various parts of the building. Amongst the keys was a brass Romish medallion, which the rector could not identify. The flight of the keys was accompanied by the ringing of the house bells-apparently of their own volition. On the occasion of our last visit, the few members of the Rev. Smith's household having retired to rest, we assembled in the haunted "blue room" to await events. Lord Charles Hope remarked casually: "If they want to impress us, let them give us a phenomenon now." A few minutes later one of the bells on the ground floor clanged out, the noise reverberating through the house. We rushed downstairs but could not even find the bell that was rung. Experiment proved to us that when any of the house bells were rung (they are the old-fashioned bells on springs, actuated by wires) the spring and clapper did not come to rest for some minutes. But we could not discover the least movement in either spring or clapper, though we think it was the drawing-room bell which had been disturbed.

The most convincing part of the story of the ghosts of Borley Rectory (which I am writing for PSYCHIC RESEARCH) is the mass of first-hand evidence, extending over a period of 45 years, which I have collected from various persons who have either seen or heard the manifestations. During the present investigation the only person who saw anything was Mr. V. C. Wall, of the Daily Mirror, who distinctly saw a black mass gliding down the "Nun's Walk," the path along which the famous nun perambulates during the summer months-and always on July 28th. I was standing by Mr. Wall's side, watching the front of the house, when he tapped me on the shoulder saying he could see something gliding along the path. He dashed across the lawn which separated us from the path but the mass stopped and "melted" (as he expressed it) just as he approached. On cur return to the house we were greeted by the fall of a slab of glass from the roof of a porch. The Rev. G. E. Smith and his wife have now taken a house at Long Melford, 1 ½ miles away, as they simply cannot live in the place any longer.


(Journal of the American Society for Psyvhical Research Aug 1929 pp435 436)

And a few weeks later...

We have not yet had an opportunity of "laying" the ghosts of Borley rectory; on the other hand, the disturbing entities have succeeded in driving out the rector and his wife and the dilapidated mansion is empty once more. Since I wrote my last Notes I have visited the place three times--and on each occasion have witnessed manifestations. But on July 28th the day of the year when the pious nun, headless coachmen and black coach-complete with a fine pair of bays- always appear (according to legend) nothing happened. On the contrary, the mansion (unlike the feeling experienced on other occasions) seemed particularly peaceful-much to the disappointment of Lord Charles Hope, the Hon. Richard Bethell and others of the National Laboratory who visited the house on July 28 and 29. Perhaps now the place is again empty, the haunting spirits are at rest. It is a very extraordinary case.


(Journal of the American Society for Psyvhical Research Sept 1929 pp507)

When the Smiths finally moved out in 1930, everybody expected that the story would die by itself. The great public had become bored by the Borley stories, though there were still the occasional tourists wandering around the rectory at night; Price lost interest in the whole thing after the incident with the pocket full of pebbles, and he became preoccupied by his increasing health, and financial, problems. He restricted himself to an occasional correspondence with the Smiths in their new parish. However all was to change when the Bull sisters contacted Harry Price once again in September 1931. Their cousin, Lionel Foyster had taken over the parish and lived in the rectory with his young wife and were experiencing bizarre happenings. What happened then was quite another story.