Chapter Ten

Return to England

September 22, 1994 was a day that changed my life forever. That was when I first heard about Borley Rectory and my mother's fantastic history.

Around that time, I had been attempting to do some genealogy by using the Internet. Nick Rowland in England agreed to help via electronic mail. I casually mentioned I had found a letter in my mother's dresser from a certain Peter Underwood asking about "the Reverend Lionel Foyster and Borley Rectory." Nick wrote back, "Now that name rings a bell. I'll find out where it is. I think it's famous for some reason." It didn't take him long to find out.

Nick's message of September 22nd started out, "Please, before you read further, would you sit down with a cup of coffee and take a deep breath."

He went on to say, "No, I haven't found [the genealogical information], but a lot more information that you may or may not be surprised at.

"All the following data results from your mention of Borley Rectory. It meant something tome so I have researched it. It was known as the most haunted house in England."

Then Nick started reeling off dates and facts about me and my parents I couldn't believe."You were born 9 October 1945 in Ipswich to an American father and English mother....Prior to your trip to the USA, you were in a transit camp at Tidworth, Hampshire, England."

Nick went on and on. He included an obscure reference from my past I wouldn't have thought anyone else knew. "You lived for a while in Hokah, Minnesota and your father was in a road accident on Highway 44."

"How did I find all this out?" Nick asked. "It's in a BOOK!

"Your mother was one of the most amazing women of her time and also became one of the most notorious. This part may not be pleasant for you, but I suspect you know or suspect more than you have revealed?

"I strongly urge you to buy the book."

I bought a copy of the book as soon as it was humanly possible. It was called, The Widow of Borley by Robert Wood. It was only the first such book on the subject to be added to my library. There are now scores of titles in my collection.

From that day in September forward, I devoted my life to researching everything available about Borley Rectory, about the lady I called "mother," and about my real family.

An aborted return home

By 1996, I had gathered reams of material. Several people who had been sworn to secrecy while my mother lived, now gladly opened up their files and their hearts to me. After all these years, it was a relief for them to tell me the truth.

The files contained several key references to my past, but not enough personal information to satisfy my longing for roots. I determined a trip back "home" was essential.

I had written several chapters about myself, about my mother, and about Borley. A friend in England believed he had found a publisher for my works. Not only that, he had drummed up enough interest at a branch of the British Broadcasting Corporation for a television show. We talked about getting an advance. One of my sons agreed to loan me the money to make the trip, and I bought a ticket.

As the day neared for my departure, the interest in my writings dissolved. So did the promised television show. There was to be no advance - no contracts. We speculated that I was persona non gratis among the Borley writers, and perhaps one or more of them may have had a hand in killing my contracts. They didn't appreciate competition from an upstart Yank.

Realizing every dollar spent on a trip to England would put me deeply in debt, I was forced to cancel the trip. I was heartbroken. The months dragged on.

Just when it looked like I would never be able to return home, my mother reached to me from her grave to help me one last time.

Insurance pays off

Within five years of our moving to America, my mother ended up teaching in a one room schoolhouse in Bangor, Wisconsin. She didn't last a full year, but while employed was required to invest in a retirement fund. During her short stay with the school district in 1950, she was able to invest just over $50. We moved shortly thereafter, and the retirement fund was forgotten.

During the same months I was uncovering my remarkable history in 1994, some ladies in Wisconsin were trying desperately to track me down. They made a living finding heirs, and were going through all kinds of hoops trying to find me. Time was running out, and my mother's pension would soon be dissolved if they didn't find me.

My mother was a fanciful person, and on a whim had registered at the school district as "Ena Howlett O'Neil." Her disguise was difficult to unmask, but the researchers persevered. Eventually, they found my father's sister in nearby Minnesota. Before long, they found me.

In 46 years, the $50 my mother invested had turned into roughly $3,000. After paying a finders fee, my portion was just over $2,000. My mother was going to pay for my trip home.

TheFortean Times

Unfortunately, my health has been poor the last few years, and I was forced to retire in 1992. My retirement pension is meager, and with children at home, it has been difficult to survive. Attacks on my mother's insurance money came from every side of my battered budget, and I soon realized I would need additional funds to complete the trip to England. I wondered if perhaps a publication dealing with the paranormal might not contribute to my trip in exchange for a story about my"return to Borley."

Through my work designing web pages for the Internet, I approached one of my contacts who was editor of the paranormal magazine, "The Fortean Times." He agreed to contribute£250 toward my venture. His staff would follow me as I visited Borley on the anniversary of the nun's appearance - July 28. My ticket home was purchased a second time.

Return of the"Son of Borley"

I bought the ticket June 23, 1997. It was so expensive, and I was so anxious about the trip. Still, I couldn't summon the energy to pick up the packet from the travel agent. I didn't understand why I was so hesitant - a person might think I should run for the tickets.

For what ever reason, I didn't pick up the tickets, and the very next day, my life took one more dramatic change. Someone I had never heard of before responded to one of many Internet web pages I designed. This particular page tried to stir up interest in enough people for a "U.K. Ghost Tour." Along with one of my Internet clients, I figured if enough people joined a tour, I would get free passage back to England. The new message rolled my mind over several times.

"How is your tour doing? I also have a tour this fall. Please send me details of yours. My group is going in September. If I have clients who want to go this summer, I can refer them.

"If you have some that can't go in the summer, and could go in the fall, perhaps you could refer them to mine."

My Internet client and I were not having a great deal of luck putting the pieces of our own tour together. It looked great on paper, but neither one of us knew how to proceed. It was the next sentence in the e-mail message that changed all my plans.

"It's quite an exciting tour with Peter Underwood speaking to us on the first evening."

Peter Underwood!

I immediately visited the web page of Novel Explorations, and stared:

Wednesday, 17th, September

You arrive in London, where you'll be met at the airport by your coach and British Heritage Tours guide, Mike Levy. After an opportunity to freshen up at the Rembrandt Hotel, you'll have an opportunity for a panoramic coach tour of the city.

Afternoon will be at leisure before you rendezvous for a welcome dinner at the hotel with special guest speaker, Peter Underwood, the great ghost hunter and president of the Ghost Club Society of Great Britain. A truly fine way to set the scene for your tour.

There was even more. The third day of the tour was dedicated to Borley!

Friday, 19th, September

After breakfast you'll be joined by Mr. Ron Russell, Chairman of the Enfield Parapsychical Research Group, and ghost-hunter extra ordinaire. He will give a talk, illustrated with slides, photographs and tape recordings, which are the result of his astonishing investigations of many years. In particular, you'll hear of his research into the world-famous haunting of Borley Rectory and Church. Borley was the site of at least 2,000 recorded paranormal incidents before it burned down in 1939. Since then, the phenomena have continued at the nearby church.

After the talk in the hotel, you'll transfer to the offices of the Society for Psychical Research where you'll be given a short talk and have time to browse in their fascinating library.

My life had become one of surprises and the unexpected. This latest news again sent me into turmoil and I contacted the organizer immediately. Through the Internet and several phone calls, she extended an invitation to join the tour for the first three days in exchange for the information I had about "The Most Haunted Woman in England." While I would still have to pay my way to London, my lodging for the first three days would be taken care of and, I would get to meet Peter Underwood!

While Underwood had written to me from time to time in response to my many queries, Russell had not. Now, I could meet both. As an extra special bonus, I would be able to visit the offices of the Society for Psychical Research!

Visiting the SPR was important to me. Rumor had it that Borley researcher Mrs. Goldney filed a report with the SPR accusing my mother of killing Lionel Foyster. Now, I would be able to search for that evidence in person. I was very excited.

My excitement was tempered, however, by two key concerns. First, I didn't want to upset any of my contacts who had made plans to meet me in July. Stewart Evans for one, had extended a warm welcome and hoped to visit at length. Nick Rowland and Alan Wesencraft were also making plans for July. I had just joined the Ghost Club Society, and the fellow responsible for my membership -Robert Snow - was anxious to meet me. I didn't want to disappoint them.

My second concern was for the people of Borley. How would they accept all this? As one of my Internet contacts put it:

I would be delighted to come down to Borley to meet you on [July] 28th. I've also taken the liberty of speaking to my colleague, Andy Waters, and he would very much like to meet you too. He did ask me to point out that the 28th is not a very good day, because although you may be lucky enough to see the nun walking, you are more likely to see a local beat policeman who will move you on.

Andy has been there on a previous 28th, and he said that it was extremely busy, with kids cruising up and down in their cars. Parking will definitely be a problem (a chain across the entrance to the church makes it impossible to park there).

You probably know that the church is kept locked now, and I have been finding it difficult getting permission to have the key for half an hour when we have an Anglia Paranormal Research Group picnic near there in August, and that is without being totally clear about the full extent of our interests in the place.

Best wishes,
Tom Ruffles

There was no way that I wanted to disturb the people of Borley. Quite the opposite was true- I wanted them to be my friends. How could I make my visit meaningful, and yet not create a stir? I became extremely anxious about this conundrum.

To be rejected by the living and the dead?

This was to be a trip of a lifetime, but it soon became apparent not everyone wanted me back. Members of my mother's previous families did not respond to my letters. Of the dozens of contacts I had made, only a handful would be "available" when I returned. Several times I wondered if I should even make the trip at all.

It was so important to me to find my family. I had uncovered the addresses of my blood brothers and a sister, but what if they slammed their doors in my face?

I wanted desperately to meet my "adopted" family members. They were not responding.

My third goal was to get some sort of message from beyond - to at least feel the spirit of the dead if not actually witness an appearance. Was that intense desire addled folly?

On Friday night August 15th, I did something I very rarely do - stay up past midnight. I was alone in the house, and wound up watching television. I stayed awake until 2 a.m. and ended up watching The Gordon Elliott talk show. He was reuniting families. I cried.

A week later, I watched a rare episode of Oprah Winfrey. The theme of that particular show? Reuniting families. The tears welled up again.

August 26 - Peter Underwood canceled. I was terribly disappointed. Changing my plans had cost me a great deal, but there was something more important than money. It was his February 18, 1954 letter to my mother requesting permission to publish Fifteen Months in a Haunted Housethat started my search. If he had not written to my mother about Borley Rectory, I would not be going to England. Now I felt he was rejecting me, and we hadn't even met! A silly notion, of course, but emotions were high.

September 2 - A mysterious letter arrived with a photo of Kate's home. An overhead view of Framlingham was included, and it had an "X" marking the spot of her home. I have no idea who the writer is, and immediately wrote back to enquire.

September 3 - One of my mother's other adopted children wrote to say he will not be available. He was going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land which he has been planning for three years. He joked about going on a "Holy Ghost Hunt." This may be my last and only chance to meet him, but it is not to be. By now, my disappointment is becoming routine.

Mid-September - Preparations for the trip have me alternately excited and immobilized. Everyone who calls me "friend" is advising that I not expect too much from this trip. They do not want me disappointed. Still, this may very well be the last opportunity I have to discover my roots and to explore Borley. It is maddening.

Those who have any first hand experience with Borley are rapidly leaving this mortal existence. So are those who are intimately connected with my heritage. It is impossible to remain calm.

After Underwood canceled, I was fortunate enough to contact a couple of people who agreed to attend at least a portion of the tour, Guy Lyon Playfair and Stewart Evans. I am grateful to them both for stepping in to make our trip more enjoyable.

A long days journey into the past

September 17, 1997 - My trip to London was smooth, but very long. All my arrangements had been taken care of by Novel Explorations, but I arrived early at the Elizabeth Hotel. My room wasn't ready, but the trio of ghost-hunting ladies from the tour met me in the lobby and volunteered their quarters. I tried to sleep, but it was impossible. I sat outside my room until it was made up, and then tried another nap. That didn't work either.

It was just as well, for within minutes, Alan Roper arrived to show me his continuing research into everyone who had any connection whatsoever with Borley. He presented me with dates and certificates for several people, and promised more. I was very grateful for his devotion.

The ladies were preparing a book about their tour of ghostly haunts in the United States and England. Their goal was to take photos with anomalies, and I must admit, some of the prints I saw were quite impressive. I was scheduled to tell them about Marianne's life after Borley later in the week.

Out of necessity, I threw off my jet-lag and prepared to meet Borley collector extra ordinaire Stewart Evans. I had arranged for him to join the ghost tour so he could talk about his Jack the Ripper book, The Lodger, but it was his fascination with Borley that interested me.

Stewart answered a letter I had sent years earlier to the air museum at Parham, England. That was where Robert O'Neil had been stationed, and I wondered if any records of his service there survived. Stewart was instrumental in founding the museum, but no records of my father were found. However, Stewart indicated he was also a student of Borley, and started sending me duplicates from his collection. I was anxious to meet him.

As the ladies and I approached the Old George Inn at the appointed hour, someone brushed up against me ever so lightly and said, "Hi, Vincent."



I grabbed him like a long-lost brother and gave him a big American hug. It served him right for surprising me!

The ghost-hunters shared ideas about the famous serial killer of London, but Borley dominated the conversation. I delighted in meeting two good friends.

September 18 - Alan Wesencraft is curator of the Harry Price Library which is stored in the University of London Library. Many authors have acknowledged his unselfish cooperation in the preparation of their Borley books. Now it was my turn.
The public is not allowed direct access to this fabulous collection, but Alan was kind enough to give me a guided tour. I was in seventh heaven.

It was a tremendous pleasure to touch the actual documents that supplied the fuel for the Borley Legend. Some of the items needed to be catalogued, and others needed to be placed in binders. Additions to the collection continue to arrive. Time flew by and it was 4 p.m. before I knew it. Alan has become a dear friend, and directed me to all the right corners of the Library. I had found my vocation.

Unfortunately, I live thousands of miles away, and would have no way to support myself in the heart of London. Still, I can think of no better way to spend the last years of my life than crawling about dusty old books and manuscripts. Sigh.

Thank you, Alan. This visit alone made my trip worth while.

The day was not over. It was time to meet paranormal author Guy Lyon Playfair.

Playfair was generous enough to answer my invitation and we all took off for Fleet Street to talk about the paranormal over dinner. He too, was familiar with Borley, and that subject once again dominated our conversation.

September 19 - Scheduling conflicts forced us to rearrange our schedules, but that gave me a chance to learn more about one of the ghost-hunters and shop the London book stores.

Romance author Pat Cody had found my pages on the Internet, and we had struck up a conversation a couple of weeks before the tour. It was remarkable to list the number of things we shared in common, and crawling about dusty book shelves was one of those interests.

Pat had arranged for a special sitting with a medium, but my schedule wouldn't allow time for such a luxury. Instead, she went to the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain while I traveled to the offices of the Society for Psychical Research.

Originally, all members of the ghost tour were schedule to visit the SPR, but because of the schedule change, only two of us could make it. It was one of the reasons I had changed my original itinerary, and represented a serious investment of my limited funds. It was important for me to connect with the Society and to meet Ronald Russell.

Russell was a founding member of the Enfield Parasychology Research Group that had undertaken a serious investigation of the Borley Church in the 70's. I had read about the fantastic results they had obtained, but had never been able to hear the actual tape recordings. Now, they gave me goose bumps.

Not only did their tape recorders pick up thumps and bangs, they also picked up distinct moans of a male voice. Talk about creepy!

Additionally, I met the secretary of the SPR, Eleanor O'Keeffe. We had talked on the phone previously, but now we each had a face to relate to. I would not be able to dig through the SPR records for the incriminating letter from Goldney, but now I had at least connected with the source. My search should be easier from now on.

This visit alone made my trip worth while.

After the SPR visit, Pat and I hooked up once again to visit a phantom. The Phantom of the Opera, to be exact. It was a joy to see my first legitimate theater production in London. The music had long been a delight to me, and now I heard it live. This visit alone made my trip worth while.

September 20 - Saturday morning was my turn. We gathered in the room of the ghost-hunters and I tired to squeeze in three years of research into one hour.

After describing Marianne's testimony to investigators, I shared her autobiographical notes which I believe are the most revealing. The words she typed in the privacy of her own room, without someone hounding her, give the best glimpse of what really happened at Borley.

My conclusion was that something happened at Borley. How much happened is opened for debate, but something strange did happen there.

Later, Karen Stevens told me, "When you were speaking to us in our room at the Elizabeth, I glimpsed a greyish cloud hovering just behind your right shoulder. Not an aura, but a definite 'presence.' Don't know who it was, but strongly suspect your mom was there, supporting you. I sense a female, making impatient little 'shooing' motions with her hands, saying, 'Go on, go on, tell him!' By the time I raised my camera, it was gone, so there's no photographic proof."

I was very disappointed there was no evidence my mother was with me that day, but still feel my entire trip was "guided." From the day I gathered the most pertinent documents from my mother's files, to all the special arrangements for my trip, I am convinced something or someone has steered my path. She wanted me to find out the truth. She wanted me to return home. As she always told me, "I believe in a guided life." So do I.

After my talk, the ghost-hunters and I parted company. They to pursue anomalies, me to seek some answers. Pat gave me a ring to ward off evil spirits. She told me not to take Marianne's mementoes to Lionel's grave. I thanked her, but told her the reason for my trip was to experience some sign of the here-after. I bluntly explained that I would not heed her advice, but go ahead with my plan. She was obviously upset.

Guy Playfair had been kind enough to introduce me to Montague Keen, who lived just a few miles from Borley. It was only after I arrived at his home did I realize he was also a paranormal investigator! I was delighted. Unfortunately, we were unable to spend any time together in mutual pursuit of the paranormal, but it seemed only fitting that of all the houses I might have stayed at, this one was special.

September 21 - Sunday. Joe McNally from the Fortean Times picked me up in time, but we promptly took the wrong turn and ended up late for services. I had purposely avoided contact with Borley until this moment, and I was extremely nervous.

Church We crept in through the door and took the first available bench - next to a floral display on the old wood-burning stove. I had a Lily in my face for the next half an hour.

Only nine parishioners were in attendance as Reverend Brian Sampson talked about Saint Matthew. It was impossible for me to not look around and soak up all that was before me.

Borley Church is old. Very old. The Waldegrave tomb is not as large as I envisioned, but it is still the dominating feature of the church. The organ is opposite the tomb, in the center of the building. The organ sounded clear, but was much smaller than I had anticipated. I couldn't wait to touch the same keys my mother had touched.

The wood stove supporting the flowers had been disconnected, and every pew had its own electric space heater. Some were running now, as it was cold. I knew my mother had stoked many fires in that stove, and thought about how hard it was for her to convince me to keep the fires burning at "Four Acres" in Jamestown, North Dakota. We had something in common.

Paranormal author Peter Hough joined us at the end of the services, and we made introductions to the pastor. He was affable, and quite warm.

We did not receive as warm a welcome from the wardens, Colonel and Mrs. Dorie. He never did join our party, and she tried very hard to be sociable, but it was difficult for her. She had good reason to be wary. Just the week before my visit, vandals had broken one of the stained glass windows, stolen the chalice, and used the altar cross to pry open a door. I was aghast that such a thing could happen in a church, but she had been in charge of the building many years, and nothing surprised her any more.

I learned later that the Dories had given in to the constant crowds the previous Halloween. In1996, they went so far as to set up a hot dog stand during the 'holiday.' Perhaps it was an attempt to keep a vigil, but it must have produced unsatisfactory results, for they did not repeat the offer the next year.

Reverend Sampson asked Mrs. Dorie for the keys three times, indicating he would be happy to talk to me and then lock up later. It didn't happen. Eventually, he gave up, and all the negative talk soon made him cautious as well. I realized I was not going to be able to ask for a late night vigil, nor any time alone in the building with a tape recorder and camera. I was quite disappointed, but not surprised.

Before leaving the building, we moved about freely. Upon my request, Mrs. Dorie showed me where the original altar stone had been re-seated. Reverend Sampson was surprised to learn this bit of church history. I don't think he knew about the tomb under the altar either.

I couldn't actually play a hymn on the organ, although it was turned on for me and I fondled the keys. I wanted to play some chords I had invented over the years, but my fingers just wouldn't work, and before long I was told it was time to go. Oh, how I wanted to linger.

Outside, we wandered about the graves for a while, but the uneasy feeling from our hosts made us uncomfortable and we made preparations to leave. Some pictures were taken, and we departed for Campse Ash. No one experienced anything abnormal at Borley Church.

Campse Ash was the location of Lionel's grave. After getting out of the car, I strode briskly and directly to it as if I had been there several times.

I had told Joe and Peter that this was important to me, and that I didn't want anyone to think me weird for what I was about to do. I desperately wanted to know if Mom had reallykilled Lionel. Perhaps if I brought them both together again? If she had really murdered him, wouldn't he resent her presence? Wouldn't he "roll over in his grave?"

I figured that of all the reasons ghosts had for appearing to people after death, surely this situation would provoke something. Of all the casual observances others had made through the centuries, very few of the visits meant anything. Yes, there were times when the deceased reportedly appeared to explain where the latest will was hidden, or protect someone from harm, but generally speaking, most reported phenomena were casual. Surely, my request was unique and deserving of a reply?

Lionel's grave With trembling hands, I placed what few items of my mother's still remained in my possession. A small treasure box. A few medals. A rosary. The scapular she wore to ward off evil spirits. The box holding her ashes.

I had not written anything down to say, but felt the strongest urge to talk out loud to Lionel. I went down on one knee, coughed a bit, and through shaking lips was finally able to say,"Lionel, Marianne is here. She raised me from a month old. I knew her only as my mother. There are people who believe that she is responsible for your death. I would dearly love to know one way or the other. It's very important to me. If you. .. . if you could let me know, I would appreciate it very much."


The wind blew through the cemetery. Peter asked for some pictures, and I responded that was okay as long as I could get copies. I was so lost in thought, however, he had to remind me several minutes later to pose closer to the grave. He was very sensitive to the struggle I was going through and asked if I would like to be left alone. I didn't respond at first, and then realized that was exactly what I wanted.

After they left, I cried.

After several minutes, I asked God to help me.


We left, and I was eventually able to talk sensibly. The tape recording I made has nothing unusual on it. Several photos were taken by Peter that I haven't seen yet, but I seriously doubt they will have anything unusual on them either.

My favorite place on the planet

September 22 - Exactly three years from the day Nick told me about Borley. Since the visit to Borley and Lionel's grave were squeezed into one day, Stewart Evans came by and we began to look for my roots. Before we left Montague Keen's farm, however, we stopped at the next door neighbor to take some pictures.

Stewart had pointed out "Pentlow Tower" to me the night before, and I was incredulous that I had ended up next door to such a fabulous bit of history. I couldn't wait for Stewart to show up, so I introduced myself early Monday morning before Stewart got there. The son of the current owner was very gracious. He introduced himself as artist Nick Fenwick. Before I left, he gave me a beautiful lithograph of his home with the gracious message, "Vincent; I hope your journey has eased some pain and will give you many happy memories." Once again, I was made to feel at home.

Tower Pentlow Tower gets it name from a fabulous "folly" that soars 90 feet high on property once owned by the Bulls. A former rectory still stands there - older than Borley by several years, and in magnificent condition. The same architect that constructed Pentlow Rectory also constructed Borley.

The tower itself is not in such good condition. The roof was blown off in a storm, and the pigeon droppings make the stairs unaccessible. An undated parish newspaper recalls articles published in former editions:

February 24th 1859. A handsome memorial tower, 90 feet high is to be erected in Pentlow. It is intended to perpetuate the memory of the late Rector the Rev. John Bull M.A. and will stand amist (sic) the many trees he planted. The ascent will be by a spiral staircase in the centre of the shaft and the view from the top will be one of the most extensive in the Kingdom including about 40 churches, whilst from the height of its position it will be seen for many miles around. The erection of the tower will be under superintendence of Mr. John Johnson, architect, of Bury St. Edmunds. Mr. Webb of Sudbury who's satisfactory completion of important works we are called upon to notice being selected as builder. - Suffolk Free Press

March 3rd 1859. The first brick of the memorial to be erected in the Rectory grounds at Pentlow was laid on Friday last by the Rev. Edward Bull, he briefly addressed the persons present with a feeling of allusion to his brother's labours to this parish and his own endeavours to follow in the same steps. The tower which is to be finished in June next, will be octagonal. In Tudor style of red brick with white dressings, 16ft in diameter at the base where the walls are to be 3ft 6ins thick and tapering to the height of 60ft where it will be contracted to a diameter and rise perpendicularly 30ft higher, it will be lighted on the sides by lancet windows and surrounded by machiolated cornice and enbattled parapet, the whole being surrounded by a flag staff for public and special occasions.

While not accessible inside, the imposing edifice bears the initials of several Bull relatives carved in stone, as well as a plaque declaring:

Erected to the memory of his honoured parents the Rev. John Bull, M.A. and Margaret his wife. On a spot they loved so well by EdW. Bull, M.A. 1859.

Pentlow A few days after discovering this magnificent site, I had one more chance to admire Pentlow Tower. Thursday, September 25th found me at loose ends, so I walked from the farm into Sudbury, and then back home through Borley. I walked slowly, admiring views my mother must have see all those years earlier. She couldn't possibly have seen the same trees in the same shapes, but many of the homes and even the road beds were unchanged. I felt a special kinship with her. When I reached Borley Church, there was no one about, and I was able to spend a few minutes alone. Nothing of a supernatural nature occurred, but it was peaceful. On the way back to the farm, I took a slightly wrong turn, but was able to use Pentlow Tower as a beacon to guide me back to my destination. The same Tower Mom must have used on her similar walks about the countryside. I had never walked so many miles before and I was exhausted, but the link to my mother was very unique and very special.

The tower and the estate are magnificent. Neither is accessible to the public. If I could wave a magic wand, I would move the Harry Price Library to the Coach House, and live out my days here as the happiest of men. It is my favorite place on the planet, and this visit alone made my trip worth while.

Another surprise

Stewart and I then went all about Suffolk visiting the places Mom had lived. Just as in America, she moved about a great deal. We couldn't squeeze everything in to one day, and I became anxious to visit my birthplace. I kept giving Stewart mental and audible signals that if we only saw one place, I really wanted to visit 54B Roseview Avenue in Ipswich.

We finally arrived about 4 in the afternoon. As we had done at the other houses we visited, we decided to knock and let people know what we were about. We had been greeted warmly at all the other places, and I was secretly hoping the resident at this particular house would let us in so I could see the room where I was born.

The man who answered our knock looked us over grimly. Stewart offered, "This is an American friend of mine. We would like to take a picture. . ."

Stewart didn't finish before the man said, "I've been expecting you. Come in."

I don't recall the exact words he used to introduce himself, because I was in such shock I almost dropped my camera. He was my cousin, Peter Frederick Long!

Bedroom Kate had gone to the home of her sister to give birth, and Peter was six years old at the time. He remembered me, and we deduced I was named after him - Peter Richard! He showed me the room in which we had both been born. We took several pictures, including a few together which show me holding on to him like a long lost brother!

I showed Peter my list of family members, and he told me how a mutual friend had met with the family in a pub to discuss my search. I had sent a blind letter to the mutual friend outlining all my medical problems and concerns, and the family was quite concerned about what kind of weird person would one day come knocking on their door!

Peter said it would be alright to contact my oldest living brother, Billy, and Stewart suggested we do that from his home. I was way to nervous for that, and asked if I could call right then and there. Peter agreed, but I was shaking so badly, he had to handle the call.

It was just as well. He was able to get Billy and his wife to agree to meet me - at the same pub where the original "war council" had been held to discuss my inevitable visit. I would have to wait until the next evening, however, at 7 p.m. After all these years, those 26 hours would drag on forever. It was agreed that I would not contact my youngest brother, as he knew nothing about me. I believe his wife, however, had been brought in on the family secret.

Stewart tried his best to ease me through the next day. He showed me tons of material on Borley, on Jack the Ripper, and on the Titanic. His collection of Borleyania is surely the most extensive outside that of Peter Underwood and the Harry Price Library. Indeed, he has at least one very rare document, a letter regarding the insurance claim of Capt. Gregson. Stewart was kind enough to share as much as he could, and promised to send even more. I am very grateful to him for everything he has done for me.

September 24 - It was Nick's turn to drive me around, and we visited Kate's home town. We took pictures of all the relevant houses in Framlingham, and tried to find Kate's grave. We later learned she had been cremated in Ipswich.

Pond We also visited Dairy Cottages in Rendlesham where Lionel died. It was a beautiful place, and Nick couldn't understand why I took pictures of the grounds. It was the exact type of place Mom told me over and over again that she loved. She had described it many times to me - a place for some chickens, a cow, and lots of flowers. There was even a fishpond and an arbor, like our first home in the States. Nick was nervous with our intrusion to an empty house, but I felt very much at peace and could have stayed very much longer.

Finally, it was time to meet my brother. We arrived at the pub early, but it was not yet open. While we waited in the car, another couple who arrived even earlier went to the door to see if it was ever going to open up. I had a feeling who the couple was, but Nick told me to relax, it couldn't be them. As they walked back to their car, I couldn't take the suspense any more.

"Billy?" I asked. They stopped.

I could see the anxiety in his face, and the total concern in hers. "I'm Vincent."

There were no hugs, and no tears. I behaved myself like a perfect gentleman.

We were finally allowed inside the Three Tuns Inn, and slowly shared our stories. It was obvious they had been given much information by our mutual friend, and probably even read my book Who Am I? The Mysterious Search For My Identity. Mostly, we talked about their side of the family.

Billy was married to Gwen, and she was kind enough to bring two photos of Kate with her. Photos of at least 20 years ago, but now I had a face to place with the name. It seemed obvious from whom I had inherited my chronic depression.

Kate was born in 1906, and had worked hard all her life. She managed to save just enough when it was all over to pay for her cremation. At Helmingham School, she was respected enough to be put in charge when the teacher had to leave the room. She took piano lessons, and was considered quite clever. She was bright, and enjoyed crossword puzzles. One brother had been a lay preacher, and two brothers joined the Coldstream Guards in World War I. She died in 1980 of congestion. She also had breast cancer.

Kate's husband was a master builder, and I got the feeling the marriage was not a good one."Katie was never so happy as during those two years," Gwen explained. The two years she was with my father. No one recalled the name of her boyfriend. Kate named me Peter Richard so the first name is probably after my cousin, but Richard is not a familiar one with the family. "Could that be the name of my father?" I wondered to myself. Kate's husband died of coronary thrombosis, and in 1999, I was scheduled for a pacemaker.

"There is an equal chance Kate's husband was also my father," I pointed out. "We could be full brothers." This was firmly denied. They would have none of that.

My oldest brother, John, was born in June of 1925. He died in 1994 of heart problems, and we had no sister. Billy worked various construction jobs and spent 25 years putting tarmac on the roads. I have a younger brother who was born in 1948. Remarkably, he has the same name I gave my youngest boy - Philip. We share the same second initial, R. Although I had his address and phone number, I was asked not to contact him. As painful as it was, I agreed.

We talked for about an hour, and then ran out of things to say. As we parted in the parking lot, I asked, "May I write?"

The solid looks I received were answer enough. "I understand," I said. "I'll write one letter, and if I don't get a reply, I will understand." We shook hands and they disappeared into the dark.

PeterUnderwood at long last

September 26 - I returned to London a day early so that I could meet the members of the Ghost Club Society and its president - Peter Underwood. He was close to the door when I arrived, nodded, and went directly away from me. He may have thought better of our meeting, for here turned several minutes later and stood beside me.

"My wife is ill," he told me, "so I won't be able to stay and chat. I'll have to leave right after the meeting."

I gave him my copy of The Ghosts of Borley to autograph, and that was that. One of these days I can ask him about his correspondence with my mother, and also why he called me Vernon and said we lived in Canada. Did he do that to protect us? I prefer to think he did. [He has since become one of my strongest supporters.]

Ah, just one more thing. . .

I had been to Borley. I had been to Campse Ash. I had met a cousin and one brother. Almost everyone I had met welcomed me and had been most cordial and helpful. Thousands of people in my same shoes would be elated. I was disappointed.

Disappointed at having to leave my home. Disappointed at not meeting my younger brother. Disappointed at not being more accepted by my kin. Disappointed that my relatives in England were as poor as me, and were all hard working laborers. Disappointed that Mom had not appeared to me to settle my anxious heart.

Some day, perhaps, I will return.

One chapter closes

October 9, 1997 - The 52nd anniversary of my birth. Back in the Sates. The executor of my mother's estate told me today that Mom wished for her ashes to be scattered in the mountains of Utah. I knew this was the right thing to do.

I had held on to her ashes for a couple of reasons: first, I hoped if I kept her close she would contact me; second, I didn't know what she wanted me to do with them. Now, it seemed more than fitting to close at least one chapter by spreading her ashes.

The executor told me the instructions had been given to me when Mom was dying, but I honestly do not remember them. I would not have been strong enough emotionally to go through with it at that time anyway. It was December when she died, and climbing mountains would have been a bit risky. I was told Mom wanted her ashes "thrown into the wind, on the side of the mountain, so I can go into the LIVING...the grass...the trees...the wild flowers."

And so, with my son David, I climbed the mountains east of where Mom spent her last days. We found a lovely outcropping of rocks, and carefully spread her ashes into a comforting wind. We prayed. We sat in silence. It was quite an emotional tribute.

As we came down the mountainside, the sun broke through the clouds and warmed us. We ate dinner in her honor at a buffet. It was a very special time.