10 Real-life Haunted Houses


Borley Rectory

January 1955: A group of young men digging at Borley rectory in search of the skeleton of a nun thought to have died mysteriously there.
January 1955: A group of young men digging at Borley rectory in search of the skeleton of a nun thought to have died mysteriously there.
Thurston Hopkins/Picture Post/Getty Images

Unlike many of the other houses on our list, you won't be able to take a tour of the Borley Rectory; the building caught fire and was ultimately demolished in 1944. Built in 1863 at the request of the Rev. Henry Bull, the rectory had always provided its residents with plenty of ghost sightings [source: Taylor]. The source of the sightings was quickly traced back to a story of a nun and a monk who, centuries ago, fell in love and attempted to elope. They were caught, however, and the monk was hanged. His would-be bride suffered an even worse fate, being walled up within her convent and left to die. The Borley Rectory was built on this haunted ground, and its residents suffered accordingly.

Eventually, a newspaper sent an investigator to dig into the stories surrounding the rectory. The investigator, Harry Price, is credited today as being one of the first "ghost hunters" for his use of cameras, fingerprinting kits and other measuring equipment. Price reported many of the same things past residents had -- strange sounds, ghost sightings, objects moving from one place to another -- and his reports only added to the Borley legend.

By the time Price's investigation was in full swing, the Rev. Lionel Foyster was living in the rectory with his wife Marianne, a particularly frequent target of haunting. Unlike previous encounters, Marianne's were allegedly quite violent. Cryptic messages even began to appear on the walls of the rectory, though only when Marianne was at home.

The Foysters moved out, but Price remained committed to finding out all he could about the building. At one particular séance, Price said he learned the names of the nun and the monk who tragically attempted escape those many years ago. At another one, Price said that a spirit warned that the rectory would burn to the ground and, in the rubble, the remains of the nun would be found.

The prediction ultimately happened; within the year, a new owner accidentally set the rectory on fire, and the remains of a young woman were found in the cellar. Whether they were the remains of the love-struck nun remains unknown, but they were given a Christian burial all the same. With that burial and the destruction of the Borley Rectory, the haunting finally ended.

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