The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians. (Andrew Clarke and GH) These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

If you'd like to publish any interesting material about the history of East Anglia on the site, then please send an email to the Resident Historians at Andrew.Clarke@Foxearth.org.uk and we'll add it.

Family Historians have their own area on the site, so look there if your main interest is in tracing your family history.

Friday, December 17, 2004

The House of Secrets

I was most interested in the following article that I spotted in an old copy of the Essex Countryside magazine, March 1967, called The House of Secrets. It told the curious story of Great Yeldham Old Rectory. I have to admit I'd never heard the story of it being haunted in Edwardian times


It is a real old genuine place, and must have looked glorious in its victorian heyday, with its air of graceful decay


Although Borley Rectory, our own local legend, is more famous, it is curious how many tales are similar. The Haunting was described as being Edwardian; presumably occuring well before the First War


the parallels with Borley Rectory are uncanny. Human bones of a female human around three hundred years old, were found under the floor, there was a private prayer room, just like Borley. There was a well under the house, and a belfry above the kitchen in both houses. Victorian Gothic decoration abounded in both houses, and a wealth of inscription on the walls, antique in the case of Yeldham.There was a legend of a secret passage in the cellars going to the church in both houses



The Old Rectory at Great Yeldham,
photographed in 1899

The Edwardian haunting of Yeldham Rectory occurred at the same time as the supposed haunting at Borley. Lights went on and off without human aid just like Borley. The rector's dog refused to enter a particular room, just as later happened at Borley, and a bachelor clergyman declined to live in the rectory because of the noises he heard at night, (yes, Borley too). The front door bell, which was of the old-fashioned pull-down variety, occasionally rang without visible cause.


The Local Historian learns to smell a rat very quickly. The Borley legends all came from two sources, Harry and Ethel Bull. They visited Great Yeldham regularly and were friendly with the rector in Edwardian times. They would have certainly been told these wonderful romantic tales about this most glorious of rectories. Returning to their own dreary modern brick rectory must have been rather demoralising and it would be hardly surprising if they felt the urge to inject a bit of historical fantasy and romance into their home.

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