A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology

By Paul Kurtz | Go to book overview

13
A Note on Borley Rectory:
"The Most Haunted House in England"
TREVOR H. HALL

The writer of nonfiction books on unusual subjects is frequently asked how his interest was first aroused. I have been a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast since my schooldays, and it was as a schoolboy that my father, who was acquainted with the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, introduced me to the creator of my hero. The meeting took place in Sir Arthur's psychic bookshop in Westminster, and we were invited to inspect the curious exhibits in the basement museum. The impression made upon a small boy by the greatest exponent and champion of spiritualism in its history was clearly formidable, and my father, who was a wise man, decided that an immediate antidote was necessary.

We went to Maskelynes, where I saw that greater miracles than those described by Sir Arthur could be accomplished in full light by normal means. An enthusiasm for amateur conjuring was a natural development, leading after many years to an Hon. Vice Presidency of the Magic Circle of London and to an interest in the historical bibliography of the subject, on which I wrote the standard work in 1972. That afternoon in London so long ago also accounts for my contributions to the published literature of critical psychical research. Old houses, supposedly haunted, have always been of great interest to me for more than one reason. First, I happen to live in one, and during the whole of my years of occupation I have never heard so much as a solitary tap not due to natural causes. Second, it was during my investigation of a case of this kind that I met the lady who is now my partner in a particularly happy marriage.

During a period of nearly thirty years eight books on critical psychical research by me (two in collaboration) have been published. The first was The Haunting of Borley Rectory, 1956, of which my joint authors were Dr. E. J. Dingwall and Mrs. K. M. Goldney.The purpose of the book, based on a five-year investigation, was to establish the facts in regard to the supposed "psychic phenomena" alleged to have occurred in the notorious Essex rectory. It was written in the public interest to correct the sensational and inaccurate

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