by Iris Owen
(excerpts relating to Borley)

Trevor Hall was experimenting with various subjects, and [Trinity College, Cambridge] wanted to have his figures checked for mathematical accuracy. George [Owen] was asked to be his supervisor in these experiments.

There was something of a detective in Trevor, and he was also at that time interested in exploring the truth of what happened at Borley Rectory, the house that had been made famous some 20 years or more earlier by Harry Price as "the most haunted house in England." Trevor was approaching his investigation from the viewpoint not of what had actually been said to have happened, but from the viewpoint of the backgrounds of the people actually involved in the story. So he was digging into the life stories of these people with some very fascinating and unexpected results.

We accompanied him on some of his expeditions. We drove off into the countryside, not only to visit the site of the burnt-out rectory, but also to talk to the people who had known the people who had lived there, to find out what kind of people they were and how their neighbors viewed the events that had produced so much publicity. In many ways the background stories of these people was more interesting than the stories of the hauntings themselves.

The events seemed to centre around the personality of the then Vicar's wife, Marianne Foyster, who had disappeared from view after the end of the Second World War. She had, in fact, moved to the United States, and by sheer chance I was told of her whereabouts during those early years in Toronto. With the aid of a reporter on the Hamilton Spectator, I managed to gain some interviews and correspondence with her regarding her years in Borley. To my mind the information she new light on the controversy. This generated further speculation and refuelled interest in the subject.

Marianne had taken an adopted baby with her to the United States. The child had been kept in ignorance of Marianne's history and involvement woith the famous haunting. However, on her death, he found mention of the name in papers she had left and pursued the matter on the Internet, discovering the whole story, much to his surprise and interest.

The story of Borley has become a legend, and the actual details of what really happened no longer seem to matter. Indeed, it is now impossible to be sure what the facts really were. But public fascination remains with theis classic story of hauntings and poltergeistery.

Most people at that time believed that reports of such events were completely fradulent, that people were making the stories up for resons of their own, and that if anything moved it was only because someone actually moved or threw it. Very few people believed in the reality of such happenings, and I have to admit that that was the frame of mind in which George and I came to the subject at that time, especially in view of the discoveries that Trevor had been making about the people involved in the Borley story. (pp. 218-21)

Trevor's opinion, and ours at the time, was that these poltergeist events were either a complete hoax or the products of someone's overactive imagination. Of course, things do not move about by themselves; it is against all the natural known laws of physics. There had to be another explanation. We discussed these happenings at great length. (p. 297)

[After investigating the cases of Virginia Campbell and Matthew Manning], we eventually came to the conclusion that these events can occur when the person concerned is under a great deal of stress, which they are unable to express in any tangible way, and it becomes supressed, until at last some form of energy is released to relieve the tension. When the tension is released, or as a result of the events, the problem is solved, then the phenomena cease. (p. 301)

[Teleportation] is even more difficult to accept than that of the poltergeist. . . It is not until one has talked to many normal, intelligent people, with no axe to grind, to whom this has happened, that one is forced to accept that it does indeed happen, and not all that rarely. (p. 303)

We did an extensive overview of the phenomena of Borley Rectory, "The Most Haunted House in England," following our lucky contact with Marianne Foyster, the central figure of that story. Much later, we made contact with her adopted son, Vincent, and the story of Borley Rectory goes on and on! (p. 332)
MY MANY LIVES by Iris Owen. Toronto: Colombo and Company, 2000