Enfield Poltergeist Revisited
Enfield Poltergeist Revisited
The BBC will be airing a three part mini series about the infamous Enfield Poltergeist next month.
What is the Enfield Poltergeist you ask? Well it’s probably the most famous of all haunting cases in the world.
The incident happened in the 1970’s in Enfield, North London, England with about 1,500 psychic occurrences recorded, including the possession of an eleven year old girl.
The story begins when the Hodgson family moves into the council house at 284 Green Street, Brimsdown, Enfield, England. The family included, single mother Peggy Hodgson, and her four children; Margaret, thirteen; Janet, eleven; Johnny, ten; and Billy, seven.
It was during August 1977 that the two children, Janet and Margaret were playing with an Ouija board. The unexplained events soon followed, starting with Janet and Johnny’s beds inexplicably shaking.
The following night brought mysterious knocking sounds and the sliding of a chest of drawers in the girls’ room, soon followed by more knocking sounds which finally prompted the kids mother Peggy to call in the police.
Peggy Hodgson explained, “The next night, I heard screaming and banging coming from their room after they had gone to bed. When I went in, a heavy chest of drawers was sliding by itself across the floor, trying to block the doorway. The girls were terrified.”
“I pushed the chest back against the wall, but it slid towards me again. I tried, but I couldn’t stop it. I wondered if my two younger boys were playing pranks, because they also slept upstairs, but they weren’t anywhere near the room.”
One of the attending police officers, WPC Constable Carolyn Heeps witnessed the chair slide but was unable to determine what caused the movement.
She later said; “It came to rest after about 4ft. I checked it for hidden wires or any other means by which it could have moved, but there was nothing to explain it.’
By the next morning, marbles and Lego toy pieces began to “zoom out of thin air and bounce off the walls.”
Over the next few weeks paranormal occurrences escalated with plates, cutlery, toys and books flying around.
Next, Peggy Hodgsons contacted the Daily Mirror and photographer Graham Morris visited the house. Later he said, “It was chaos, things started flying around, people were screaming.”
Utterly desperate, Peggy called in the Society for Psychical Research, who sent two members, Guy Lyon Playfair,
the Cambridge-educated author of several books about psychic phenomena, and businessman Maurice Grosse to investigate.
Guy’s first experience with the Enfield Poltergeist was when a marble appeared from thin air and dropped at his feet on the floor.
Over a period of 14 months he visited the house almost 120 times, with the ghost being quiet sometimes and on other visits it would be very active.
He recalled one of his first visits to the house when pieces of Lego were thrown at him as if it was an initiation he said. Even more puzzling, the blocks were hot.
Later he witnessed a cabinet falling saying, “When I checked the wall fixings of the cabinet that had fallen to the floor, the screws were still in place. Janet was dismissive when I told her what happened. ‘Oh, that’s not unusual,’ she said. ‘What’s really annoying is when it pulls out all the drawers and leaves everything
on the floor.’”
Guy went on to say, “On subsequent visits I experienced cold draughts, graffiti, water puddles appearing from nowhere, bad smells, and chairs and tables moving of their own accord.”
Other witnesses reported being physical assaulted, and that matches would mysteriously burst into flame plus they had caught sight of different apparitions appearing.
Perhaps the scariest of all was an imprint of a body found on one of the beds, as if someone had been sleeping there. Peggy said she would straighten the sheets, only to find the shape back again later.
“One night when the family were all together in the living room with me”, Guy said, “there was a slow rapping coming from Janet and Margaret’s bedroom, directly above. We dashed upstairs, but no one was there.”
A few nights later, Guy said he heard ‘a tremendous vibrating noise’ coming from the same empty room. “It was as if someone was drilling a great big hole.”
He went in and found that the fireplace had torn out from the wall, where it had been cemented in. “It was one of those old Victorian cast iron fires that must have weighed 60lb. The children couldn’t have ripped it out of the wall, but in any case they weren’t there,” he said.
On a different occasion, he was joined by SPR investigator Maurice Grosse, and with all the children in bed, and Maurice downstairs, he heard Janet screaming.
He ran into her room only to find her being dragged from her room by some unseen force. She was then dragged down the stairs and landed on the floor.
Graham Morris had set up and recorded an audio tape of some of these events plus others were caught by a remote camera.
And the Enfield Poltergeist didn’t make it easy; Morris would set up his equipment with flash guns powered by new batteries, only to find them dead. Tape-recording was often difficult too, a BBC team’s state-of-the-art machine, which worked perfectly outside the house, would sometimes inexplicably jam once inside.
Still some incredible pictures were taken, some showing Janet being levitated off the bed, other include curtains twisting themselves into a spiral, pillows being thrown, sheets being pulled off the sleeping children.
Guy said when he asked Janet if she realized she had been whirled across the room in her sleep, she said she
thought that she had somehow drifted through the wall into the house next door.
“I can tell you exactly what I saw,” she then described where various objects were situated in the neighbors house. Guy said that he checked with the neighbors, Vic and Peggy Nottingham, who verified that everything in their bedroom was exactly where Janet had told me.
In another incident two passers-by, a school crossing guard and a baker, looked up at the house only to see through the window Janet spinning around and bumping into the glass.
Events took a turn for the worst when Janet started to lapse into violent trances, swearing and hurling insults in disembodied voices that sounded like a man.
“This thing never seemed to know who it was,” Guy Playfair said. “It would claim to be many different people, speaking in different voices, and much of what it said through her was pure nonsense. It was as if Janet was being taken over by the spirit.”
One night an eerie message, which was captured on tape, came out of Janet’s mouth loud and clear, and what it said sent a chill through all of us. ‘My name is Bill,’ said a raspy voice. ‘Just before I died, I went blind and then I had a haemorrhage and I fell asleep and died in the chair in the corner downstairs.’
At the time this meant nothing to us or the Hodgson family and their neighbours. But after the tape was played on the radio, a man contacted us to say he recognized his father’s voice. ‘His name was Bill Wilkins,’ he said, and confirmed that his father had lived at the Hodgsons’ house many years earlier, long before Janet was born, and that he had died exactly as was had described.
Maurice Grosse, who died in 2006, and Guy Playfair believed it wasn’t so much Peggy Hodgson’s house that was haunted, but that it was Janet herself, and to a lesser extent, her older sister Margaret. One night we had all gone out to visit Janet’s uncle, who lived a few doors away, and the paranormal events continued happening
there. “This is person-centered,” Playfair said, “It doesn’t stay in the house, but follows Janet around.’
Michael Hellicar, who works for Dailymail, reported on the story back in 1977 and says that what he saw there still haunts him to this day.
He says that the Hodgson house had a very strange atmosphere, whether Janet was there or not. And that he always felt as if we were being watched by a malignant spirit.
He said, “It was never comfortable for me, especially after I discovered the corner where Bill Wilkins died was where I invariably sat! I was worried, too, that the poltergeist might attach itself to me, just as it apparently had to Janet.”
“I had a young family; what if it left the Hodgsons alone and took up residence in my house?”
“It frightened the life out of me”, he said. “I’m scared of anything like that in case it leads to me being haunted. I didn’t want to wake up at night with the doors opening and shutting.”
And there are the accusations that the Hodgson family were making an elaborate hoax, and Playfair and Grosse were simply dismissed as gullible.
Janet even admitted in a TV interview during the 1980 that she and her siblings had tried to fake some happenings, ‘about two per cent’ because they felt pressured when so many visitors came to the house expecting to see something.
Guy said, “We would catch them each time because we were watching for trickery. They would try to bend spoons, like Uri Geller. They tried to hide my tape recorder so I would think the poltergeist had moved it. But they didn’t realize it was switched on, so I heard every word of their plot.”
“But there were too many other things that happened that could not be faked. Usually there were too many witnesses. What about all the things that happened in empty rooms, when the kids were somewhere else?”
“What about all the things I saw and heard? And the police officers? Children couldn’t have fooled so many people, all of whom wanted to find a rational, earthly explanation for what was happening.”
And as for the voices coming out of Janet’s mouth, the psychic investigators made their own test. With Janet’s mother’s agreement, the girl’s mouth was filled with water before being taped up to prevent her speaking. Yet the voices still came out. And afterwards, all the water was still in her mouth.”
Maurice even offered £1,000 (£6,500 today) to anyone who could reproduce the voices by ventriloquism or any other form, but no one took up his challenge.
Guy Playfair even invited two psychic medium friends to see what they could make of the hauntings.
“They came to the house and almost immediately made contact with the poltergeist,” said Guy, “It took them 15 minutes of talking to him calmly, and the effect was remarkable.
The nastiness died down at once and Janet went to sleep for 14 hours, the first uninterrupted sleep she’d had in nearly two years. After that, there was very little trouble.”
Life in the Green Street house returned to normal. Peggy, who had refused to move, even when things got so bad that the family would huddle together in fear, remained there until she died from breast cancer in 2003.”
Janet left home at 16, married and moved to Essex. She prefers to stay out of the limelight, saying she doesn’t want to rake up those traumatic events. “I’m still in touch with her,” Guy says, “but I respect that she doesn’t want any more fuss.”
Janet, now 45, said to Guy, “I wasn’t very happy to hear about the film, I didn’t know anything about it. My dad has just died, and it really upset me to think of all this being raked over again.”
She went on to say, “It was an extraordinary case. It’s one of the most recognized cases of paranormal activity in the world. But, for me, it was quite daunting.
I think it really left its mark, the activities, the newspaper attention, the different people in and out of the house. It wasn’t a normal childhood.”
“I recall being very distressed by the photos when I was a child, I was very upset.”
“I knew when the voices were happening, of course, it felt like something was behind me all of the time. They did all sorts of tests, filling my mouth with water and so on, but the voices still came out.”
“It was hard, I had a short spell in the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital in London, where they stuck electrodes on my head, but the tests proved normal.”
“The levitation was scary, because you didn’t know where you were going to land. I remember a curtain being wound around my neck, I was screaming, I thought I was going to die.”
“My mom had to use all her strength to rip it away. The man who spoke through me, Bill, seemed angry, because we were in his house.”
Janet said that she stills believe in the poltergeist, saying; “It lived off me, off my energy. Call me mad if you like. Those events did happen. The poltergeist was with me and I feel that in a sense he always will be.”
After Peggy Hodgson died, Clare Bennett moved into the home with her four sons and said, “I didn’t see anything, but I felt uncomfortable. There was definitely some kind of presence in the house, I always felt like someone was looking at me.”
She said that her sons would wake up in the night after hearing people talking downstairs. Clare then found out about the history of the house, “Suddenly, it all made sense.” They moved out after just two months of living in the there.
One of her sons, Shaka, 15, said, “The night before we moved out, I woke up and saw a man come into the room. I ran into Mum’s room and said; ‘We’ve got to move,’ and we did the next day.”
The house is currently occupied by another family, who do not wish to be identified. The mother says simply; “I’ve got children, they don’t know about it. I don’t want to scare them.”
Inevitably, the TV drama will bring out the disbelievers. “To all those who say the poltergeist must have been a hoax I say this,” said Playfair.
“I was there and you weren’t. I investigated everything at first hand and you didn’t. I know what I saw and heard.”
25 Apr, 2015
Enfield Poltergeist Revisited
Posted in Ghost Tales and tagged Bill Wilkins, Carolyn Heeps, Enfield Haunting, Enfield Poltergeist, Enfield Poltergeist Revisited, Graham Morris, Guy Lyon Playfair, Janet Hodgson, Maurice Grosse, Michael Hellicar, Peggy Hodgson by cnkguy with no comments yet.