Ghosts of Haunted England – Borley Rectory
By Tony Spera
Where does one go to fish for trout? A trout brook, of course. Want to photograph Lions, Wildebeests, and Giraffes? Perhaps the African plains would be a good choice. So where would one go to find and photograph ghosts? Why- the mystical haunted British Isles, of course!
My first sojourn to England and Scotland occurred back in May of 1981. My wife and I had accompanied Ed & Lorraine on what promised to be a ghost filled excursion. Neither Judy (my wife) or I had any idea on what to expect from the trip, except that Ed had mentioned to me that the food wasn’t very good. He said it was a lot of fish & chips, mushy peas, cucumber sandwiches and warm beer! I hadn’t held out much hope of getting a home cooked spaghetti and meatball dinner! But what the heck, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, I thought.
On arrival at Heathrow airport, we received an immediate pleasant surprise. We were walking down one of the terminal ramps when all of a sudden Lorraine yelled out Jane! It’s me, Lorraine! I quickly turned to look, and low and behold it was Jane Seymour! (Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman). I remember standing there in awe for a moment, and putting my hand out to shake her hand. I’ll never forget Lorraine saying, And this is my daughter Judy and her fiancée Tony. Here I was, sloppy and stupid from the long flight, hair unkempt, clothes wrinkled, about to shake hands with this famous beautiful movie star! And although Miss Seymour had just flown in from the States herself, she looked as fresh as a daisy. She shook my hand and said, Pleasure to meet you. I mumbled something unintelligible, something resembling me too and stood there like a big dumb jerk. It was a moment frozen in time for me, a moment I’ll never forget, – a moment Miss Seymour probably doesn’t even remember! I was extremely impressed by her down to earth manner. (While I was floating on cloud 9). This is a good start, I thought to myself. Not 5 minutes into London and I’ve already met an international movie star. After renting a car from Swan National we headed to our first destination, a little town called Sudbury, about 2 hours out of London. Basically about all I remember about the drive was that Ed was driving on the M1 motorway at speeds Mario Andretti would’ve found scary, and I think I mumbled Jane Seymour’s name several times while drifting in and out of a jet -lag induced sleep.
Sudbury is a typical small English town, very quaint, very old. We stayed at a nice little B & B (Bed & Breakfast) readying & rejuvenating ourselves for the first (and one of the most) Haunted locations, the infamous Borley. One thing about the English Breakfasts; they are good! A typical breakfast consists of cereal, eggs; sausage (also known as bangers) fried tomato, a rasher of bacon, toast, juice, and coffee. Some places even serve-baked beans on the side. (Ed Warren had previously told me that the breakfasts were indeed GOOD) Borley Church is perhaps one of the most haunted locations in all of England. Actually the most haunted location was the Borley Rectory, which was constructed in 1863 by the Reverend Bull. It is said that 2 entities regularly haunted this location, the Borley Nun and the Borley Monk. In 1939 the Rectory burned down, but the haunting phenomena just seemed to transfer to the Borley Church, which was constructed in the 14th century. Needless to say, we were all quite anxious to get there and set up for the night.
We arrived at the church at around 10:30 P.M. (Lorraine had earlier received permission and an entrance key prior to our arrival.) The first thing that struck me was the crypt just inside the front entrance. (Known as the Wallgrave Crypt). My wife (then my fiancée) Judy immediately began to feel nauseous and light headed. This is a rather common occurrence for someone who is psychic, which Judy is to a degree. (Remember her mom, Lorraine Warren, is a renowned psychic whose abilities have been tested and documented by researchers at UCLA). It was curious to me that Lorraine did not sense anything out of the ordinary, nor did she feel nauseous. (At this time.) I took several photographs of the crypt, then moved toward the altar section of the church. Ed Warren was setting up a cassette tape recorder. Lorraine and my wife were seated quietly in one of the small wooden pews. There is something here. I can hear someone breathing. Lorraine’s exclamation startled me. Where is it Lorraine? Ed said as calmly as if he were ordering Chinese take out. Over there, behind Tony. I still remember how I felt at that moment, kind of like the feeling you might get when you think you’re going to crash into something with your car. (Panic, shock, and adrenaline rush all come to mind). I stood motionless, not knowing what I should do. Don’t move! Ed yelled at me. (He was preaching to the choir at that point, for I was frozen solid in space and time). It’s a woman. She’s wearing a black robe, like a nun’s habit…yes, I think she is a nun! Lorraine had offered this information slowly, methodically, in a low even voice. It was the first time I had witnessed her speaking in trance. She’s asking what we are doing here. Lorraine continued slowly. Ask her who she is Lorraine, Ed quipped, this time sounding like he was ordering a pizza. I remained frozen in place; the only sound was that of MY breathing! It’s the Borley Nun! Lorraine said, her eyes closed tightly. She’s fading now, but I definitely get the sensation that she’s curious about our being here.
Tony, you can move now. Ed was smiling over at me. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. Well kid, you just experienced a ghost! How do you feel? Ed patted me on the back. I think I’m still in shock. I definitely felt something, but I don’t know what, exactly. A feeling of dread or doom or something. My knees are shaky! Just then Lorraine and Judy came up to me. They both looked reasonably calm. I felt like a jerk, being the only one who appeared frightened. I looked at my watch; it was 11:15 P.M. How long are we staying? I said rather sheepishly. Only until the Devil’s hour. Ed answered, laughing. The Devil’s hour? When’s that? I asked. 3:00 O’clock in the morning. Anything that comes in 3’s is an insult to the trinity . . . 3 knockings, rapping’s, pounding sounds. That’s why it’s called the Devil’s hour. Ed said matter of factly. Does stuff like this always happen so quickly? I mean, we were only here for about 45 minutes. I looked at both Ed and Lorraine. Judy was walking near the back of the church at this point. Sometimes nothing happens for days and days. Other times they happen very quickly, like tonight. Lorraine explained. Yeah. Ghosts come when they want to come, not when you want them to. Ed added, At that point, I wasn’t sure I ever WANTED them to come again.
The remainder of the night was very quiet, with no further incidents, sounds, or impressions from Lorraine. At 3:00 O’clock we prepared to leave. I had experienced my first (of many to come) ghostly phenomena . . . The Borley Nun. So how did you like your experience with the Borley Nun, kid? Ed asked. Oh it was alright I guess Ed. But I gotta tell you . . . I’ll take Jane Seymour any day! Wait till tomorrow kid, just wait till tomorrow! Ed said grinning. I walked out of the church, passing several ancient tombstones on the way to the rental car. Judy was already in the car, beckoning to me. I glanced up at the sky and watched the full moon’s glow caress the stone church. I thought of what tomorrow might bring . . . and that a warm beer sounded pretty darn good right about then.