Well as I promised everyone here is Gareth’s account of our Borley trip on August 1st (hopefully with a couple of pics. – although I haven’t tried those yet!).
Finding Borley was perhaps another story, and I’ll let Gareth tell that as it was partly his fault!!
When we finally got there we found the Church locked, but that was no surprise! There was a friendly gardener cutting the grass between the graves and he said they had to add the outer bars (or ‘grill’) in front of the Church door to deter people trying to get in at night. But he did oblige with taking a couple of pictures of us outside the main entrance so that sort of made up for it!
Anyway, over to Gareth . . .
We set off almost according to schedule, David, Patsy Langley, her significant other Ricky, and myself, at about 11 am, going up the A1 to the M1 and then onto the M25. This route is about twenty miles longer than going by the North Circular, and whilst a longer route might be quicker under some circumstances, this was a Saturday in the school holidays, when every other family decides to take a day out, so we got stuck in a massive jam, taking an hour to go the last ten miles to the M11. After that things were quicker, but at Junction 8 we all agreed that we needed to stop at the services. This also proved nightmarish, as this place is badly designed, with a very long circuitous singe file entrance route, which owing to the popularity of the place was moving at two miles an hour. When we did finally get in and park, David asked Patsy to buy him a sandwich, “anything except cheese”. She said, “I’ll be back in a minute”, but in fact it took her quarter of an hour of queuing to be able to make the purchase. There was a further crawl to escape from the place.
We stopped briefly in Sudbury to enable Rick to buy a bottle of fruit juice (or something), but then had difficulty finding the way. Though Patsy had not asked me for directions, and back seat drivers are generally irritating, I tried to navigate. Though I pride myself on my ability at map reading, this day I got it seriously wrong. As we left Sudbury, the road did not agree with the map, because, as I realized later, we were a mile away from where I thought we were. A further problem that would recur throughout the day was that, even when I gave her the correct direction she often turned another way; and, modern road layouts are designed on the assumption that no-one ever takes a wrong turning, so that an error, even if spotted instantly, can add miles to one’s journey.
After one or two more hiccups we arrived at Borley, and parked outside the church. As soon as we got out of the car it started raining. Since the local residents are fed up with ghost hunters, we carefully examined the outside of the church, as if we were interested in mediaeval architecture. As a matter of interest, according to Pevsner’s Architectural Guide the nave is probably eleventh century, whilst the tower is Late Perpendicular. The porch door is locked, being opened only for the occasional service, though David says when he visited thirty years ago it was always open.
In a slightly peculiar article that he wrote for ‘The Unexplained’, Frank Smyth suggested that the haunting of Borley Rectory was all a hoax by Harry Price, but there was a genuine ghost in the church. Be that as it may, the spectral nun was often reported as being seen outside the rectory gate, and the phantom coach and horses of course drove along the road, although apparently they went through the hedge where there may have once been a track but was not by the twentieth century. So it might have been possible to see one of these things, but we did not, in fact I did not even get the impression, which I often have done at reputedly haunted places, of anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps, like so many other people, the ghosts had decided to go away that weekend.
Apparently, in 1993, someone saw a figure like a Victorian clergyman coming out of the church and walking to the wall of the graveyard. At that spot there is in fact a gate, now disused and with a hedge growing behind it, which leads to the garden of the adjoining house, which was where the rector lived before the rectory was built in 1863.
We then drove to Liston church, the parish of which was combined with that of Borley in the 1930s, so that no-one would have to live in Borley Rectory again. We managed, by comparison with the photograph published in ‘The End of Borley Rectory’, to locate the burial spot of the ‘nun’, that is, a jawbone and part of a skull that were excavated in the cellar of the rectory in 1943, and presumed to be the remains of the ghostly nun.
We then drove to Long Melford, as we entered the town I assumed from her confident manner that Patsy knew where she was going, but when she drove us onto a cricket pitch, where a cricket match was in progress, I realized that she did not. One of the fielders crossed his arms and glared at us. After we had found the main street we parked outside The Bull, an inn that dates from about 1450, where Harry Price used to stay during his Borley investigations, and whose own ghost has been reported there. We went in and asked about food, but they could not serve us until 7 pm, so we just had a drink. Oddly enough, a group of people at a neighbouring table were talking about a poltergeist in someone’s home.
Our next destination was Sible Hedingham, where there is an another haunted pub, The Bell. We drove up and down the main street, but could not see it. Call me an idiot here – after returning home I noticed on the map, a hundred yards off the main street, the very clear letters ‘PH’.
Our next stop was Braintree, where we followed the signs to ‘Town Centre’, but were unable to discover any such centre – we eventually speculated that it doesn’t have one. On the road out again we stopped at The Kings Head, which has a large car park, but they said they did not serve food. Another, The Eagle, had a sign ‘Good Food’ – someone pointed out that no pub advertises that it sells ‘Bad Food’, though if they were to be honest several of them ought to – but it proved impossible to park anywhere near it, so we set off south again.
I recalled that, a couple of days before, a disabled Spiritualist friend of mine named Rosemary had told me how, having to go on a journey across London when it was raining and she was not feeling well, she had ‘had a little word with the angels’, and, at the bottom of her road, she had encountered a ‘Computacab’ (which you can hire at a discount if you are disabled), as it were waiting for her. So I said, mentally, ‘Rosemary, have a word with the angels for me.’ I did manage to persuade Patsy to turn off the dual carriageway onto the B1008 before Chelmsford, as there was more likely to be a pub there, and we soon came across a fine old inn with a large car park, which served food which proved to be good. It was called The Angel. It was built in 1707 and we wondered whether to ask the bar staff if it was haunted, but since it was eight o’clock on a Saturday evening, they were obviously too busy. Patsy insisted upon paying for everyone’s food and drink. Later, when writing about this event, David said that I only ate garlic bread because I am a vegan, in fact I am a vegetarian but not a vegan, he failed to notice that I also had a cheese platter.
We came back to London, and at David’s flat I showed everyone a DVD made by Carrie Kirkpatrick, which will be shown on ‘Edge Media’ (Satellite Channel 200) in a month or so, about the ‘City of Secrets’, Gerona in north-eastern Spain, the town where the Kabbalah originated in the Middle Ages, and which includes a ‘historical reconstruction’ of a Kabbalistic ritual conducted by myself.
Patsy drove me home, even then we had problems, I directed her down Great Portland Street, forgetting that you cannot turn right into Oxford Street from it, thus adding yet another mile to our day’s journeyings. She remarked that I am normally calm and collected but not when we have traffic problems, to which I responded that no-one is immune from road rage. Despite everything, it was a great day out, and I am very grateful to David, Patsy and Rick.
Gareth J. Medway
N.B. Thanks Gareth, you have explained the Borley trip better than I could have done!
I should add, that with your reference to Frank Smyth, he was an author an researcher for ‘Man, Myth and Magic’ when I first met him in 1976. He was introduced to me by Graham Chapman, and I learned at the time he was trying to uncover vital public mystery as to the identity of the Yorkshire Ripper. As well as this, he was also interested in my own involvement in the Highgate Cemetery case, and we had many hours of serious discussion together. I liked him as a person (and he liked myself too, come to that), but I was unable to take some of his conclusions into the paranormal strictly seriously, as for example when he wrote that Gerald Gardner’s father used to take all his clothes off and sit on them when it rained to keep them dry! This was due to his misreading of Gardner’s biography, where this anecdote was told about a man in Madeira, and had nothing to do with Gardner’s own family!
Yes, we had a good day at Borley, as Gareth has pointed out. It made a pleasant and relaxing end to the day to watch Carrie’s video on the Kabbalah, in remote parts of Spain, and everybody remarked how professionally made this was. I, for one, look forward to seeing it when it is transmitted on Satellite TV in the near future.