Carol Nicholson, PhD.
Carol Nicholson, PhD.

The Baffling Enfield “Poltergeist”

It is believed by those of the paranormal community that a poltergeist is merely a manifestation made into the form of an invisible spirit agent which can move objects, create chaos, or even allow levitation. A poltergeist ghost is thought to be created by a living person who is angry, repressed, or emotionally charged. This person is not usually aware of being the cause of the phenomena. Poltergeist activity usually stems from the unconscious mind of an adolescent, however, recorded similar events has shown no younger person present.

The Enfield Poltergeist was a period of apparent poltergeist activity in England between August 1977 and September 1978, with an added outburst in August 1980. The said activity occurred at, Enfield, North London; a council house rented to Peggy Hodgson, a single parent with four children. During this time furniture is said to have moved by itself, knockings on the walls were heard, and children’s toys were said to have been thrown around and to have been too hot to the touch when picked up. A police officer signed an affidavit to affirm that she saw a chair moving. Reports of the activity attracted various visitors including mediums and members of the press.

The Enfield Poltergeist

Children Allegedly Levitated Often

After visiting the house George Fallows, a senior reporter for the Daily Mirror at the time, suggested that the Society for Psychical Research in Britain (SPR) be called in to investigate. The incidents were duly investigated by Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair, both members of SPR, who were convinced by the evidence which they encountered during their five month investigation. They reported witnessing various phenomenon, including moving furniture, flying marbles, cold breezes, shallow pools of water appearing on the floor, and fires which spontaneously ignited and extinguished themselves.

The family in the “Enfield Case” centered around a mother, two daughters, and two sons; Margaret aged 12, a younger sister Janet 11, Johnny aged 10 and Billy aged 7. Billy had a speech impediment. Johnny featured only marginally in the inexplicable events, at least 26 of which the investigators considered could not be accounted for by fraud. These included movement of small and large objects, interference with bedclothes, pools of water on the floor, apparitions, physical assaults, graffiti, equipment malfunction and failure, spontaneous combustion, disappearance and reappearance of objects, and apparent levitations.

Among other alleged phenomena they witnessed was one of the children speaking using her false cords for hours on end (which is believed to be medically impossible), while she was apparently possessed by another entity.When speaking with the false cords she said she was “Bill” who had died in the house. Recordings were made of these occurrences.

After the BBC went to the house, the recording crew found the metal inside recording machines bent, and recordings erased. However, further investigations by Anita Gregory and John Beloff, also from the SPR were not so positive. They spent a few days with the family and came to the conclusion that the children had faked the poltergeist activity after they found them bending spoons themselves. One of the children (Janet) admitted to Gregory that they had fabricated some of the occurrences. This admission was repeated on the ITV News (12 June 1980) when she stated: “Oh yeah, once or twice [we faked phenomena just to see if Mr. Grosse and Mr. Playfair would catch us. And they always did.”

After writing a feature on supernatural activity for Loaded Magazine, journalist Will Storr, included a retrospective investigation of the events and conflicting personalities involved
in the Enfield case in his book, Will Storr Versus the Supernatural. The book comes to no positive conclusions regarding the truth of the haunting but throws considerable light on the personalities involved, particularly those of Maurice Grosse and Anita Gregory.

Conclusion:

Margaret has publicly stated that although they did fake a few phenomena to catch the investigators out, but they were not responsible for all the phenomena. She has stated that “It is ridiculous to suggest that either my sister or I could have been responsible for the strange activity that went on in our house.” However, despite this declaration, there remain differences of interpretation regarding whether the girls faked all the phenomena or not.

 

Note: Source material largely gathered from Wikipedia…

 

Carol’s Opinion:

I believe some of the phenomena to be real but a lot looks faked; especially in the photos taken of the girls. They clearly look to be jumping up from the bed. A video tape of the phenomena would have been helpful. (See above)