Browsing through the Reader's Digest guide to British folklore I found the following story regarding Chilbolton (near Stockbridge) Rectory in Hampshire:
'Chilbolton is said to be haunted by a nun. The window where her apparition most often appeared was bricked up to discourage her but, a few years ago, her ghost was again seen by two guests at the rectory. One said that he had seen a beautiful nurse gazing out of a window; the other awoke in the night and saw a nurse standing by his bed. The rector confirmed that there was no such person in the house on either occasion. In 1393 a nun named Katherine Faukener ran away from the nearby Benedictine Abbey of St Cross at Wherwell. On her return seven years later, she is believed to have been walled up alive on the site of the rectory which was then a nunnery.'
Reader's Digest Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain (1973) p.174. See also Wendy Boase The Folklore of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (1976) p.78.
This story once more brought to mind Borley Rectory, with it's bricked up ground floor window and peeping nun. The window can be seen in the photograph at the top of this post. Here is Harry Price's rather repetitive description from The Most Haunted House in England (1940 pp.17-18):
'speaking of windows, the first thing a visitor notices when he enters the carriage drive from the road is a large bricked-up window to the left of the entrance porch ... The disfigurement quite spoils the appearance of this side of the house and one immediately wonders why it should have been done ... I began to make enquiries and from three different sources learned that the window was bricked up because the spectral 'nun' ... habitually peered into the room from the drive thus annoying the Rev Henry Bull, who had the window removed and the aperture bricked in.
Pursuing my enquiries I then heard that the window was not blocked up because of the too inquisitive 'nun', but because people passing along the road could see the Bull family having their meals. Candidly, I do not believe that this was the reason at all, because (a) very few people use the road past the rectory, and fewer must have used it at the time when the window was removed; (b) the carriage drive is so wide ... that it must have been a sheer impossibility to see through the window from the road, as I have proved to myself by trying to peer through the other windows on the side of the house; (c) the hedge and belt of trees separating the drive from the road form an impenetrable screen that would discourage anyone trying to peer in at the window, even if the drive were not so wide. In any case a light curtain or blind would have prevented any person from seeing what was going on in the room. That is, any normal person. But it might have been thought that such a screen would not prevent an entity such as the 'nun' from peering into the room. Whatever the reason, a drastic remedy was decided upon, and the window was strongly and permanently bricked up, as it remains today, completely spoiling this side of the house. The illumination of the room by day is obtained only from the bay window overlooking the lawn.'
The Haunting of Borley Rectory, A Critical Survey of the Evidence by Dingwall, Goldney & Hall (1956) pp.25-26 is characteristically more critical:
'In The Most Haunted House in England Price discusses the mystery of the bricked-up dining room window at the rectory which, it is suggested, was blocked by the Rev. Henry Bull (and therefore prior to 1892) to prevent the nun peering through the window from the drive. No testimony is available other than the mute evidence of the window itself, or if it is, none is offered by Price. The rectory was built rather close to the road and was separated from it by the narrow drive only and there would probably have been some lack of privacy if this window had not been bricked up.
The room was adequately lighted by another large window facing the lawn and had indeed the same amount of natural light from this one window as the drawing room, which was identically illuminated. The other principal rooms on the ground floor, the drawing room and the library, had complete privacy from passers-by (facing on to the lawn as they did) and the bricking-up of the small dining-room window merely made this room uniform with the other two in this respect.
Indeed Price admitted in MHH (p.18) that when pursuing his enquiries in Borley he was told that the window was bricked up "because people passing along the road could see the Bull family having their meals"; but adds that he does "not believe that this was the reason at all." It is curious that he does not disclose that this explanation was made by Mr Walter Bull who, as a son of Henry Bull, was presumably entitled to speak with some authority.'
So, was the window bricked up because a ghostly nun persisted in peering through it, or because it was close to a road where curious passers-by might spy the inhabitants eating and relaxing?
As with many ghost stories, no dates are provided for the Chilbolton haunting, but the resemblance to Borley is noteworthy - does it predate Borley or does it originate from the popularity and influence of Price's book? Are there a number of similar tales of ghostly bricked-up windows around Britain that post-date the Window Tax (1696-1851)?
Another coincidental aspect of bricking-up concerns the unfortunate nun. Legend at Borley tells of a novice from the nunnery at Bures - 7 miles south of Borley on the River Stour (there is no evidence for the nunnery) - attempting to elope with a lay brother from the monastery on the site of the Rectory (no archaeological or written evidence has ever been discovered for this claim). Their escape in an anachronistic coach was thwarted and she was captured and returned to her nunnery to be bricked up alive as her cruel punishment - the monk was hanged. It may be her ghost that haunted Borley and was seen on the 'Nun's Walk' - see The Borley Rectory Companion (2009) 'The Phantom Nun' pp.230-233.
Bricking up of nuns was a motif (often anti-Catholic) in popular literature such as Sir Walter Scott's poem Marmion (1808) and one also recalls Poe's tale The Cask of Amontillado (1846) in which the Italian nobleman Fortunato is immured in the wine cellar of the narrator Montresor for some unspecified insult (for more see here).
A well-researched online essay by Rene Collar that deals with immurement, especially in the work of H Rider Haggard (author of King Solomon's Mines and She - who incidentally lived in St Leonards; the house - North Lodge - is still there, with a plaque) 'They Walled Up Nuns, Didn't They?' can be found here. It references a book called Walled Up Nuns & Nuns Walled In by W Lancelot Holland, see here.
This would appear to be another example of Harry Price's entertaining but speculative use of local legend and folklore to bolster his arguments for the haunting of Borley Rectory.