Debated English Case: Bealings Bell-Ringing Poltergeist

A Victorian photograph of Great Bealings Hall. Photo by: Dave Kindred, source: eadt.co.uk
In 1834, Bealings House was the scene of seemingly paranormal manifestations. Although the owner investigated and documented the events, no rational cause was found.

The case is unique because it’s the singular documented one in which the only poltergeist activity was bell ringing. Major Edward Moor who lived in the house, at the time, investigated, documented and wrote a book, Bealings Bells, about it.

Major Edward Moor

When Moor lived in India, he wrote several books about the Hindu religion, a subject that fascinated him. He retired from the Army and returned to England with his family. They moved into a Georgian house in Great Bealings, Suffolk.

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society, the premier scientific organization in the UK and oldest in the world. Founded in 1660, it was and still is, dedicated to promoting scientific thought and research. Fellows are eminent professional scientists.

Bell Ringing Phenomenon

This began on Sunday, February 2, 1834. When Moor arrived home from church, servants told him that the dining room bell mysteriously rang three times between 2 and 5 PM.

The next day, the same thing happened at the same times. The day after, when Moor returned home, servants told him the bells had been pealing in the kitchen. He went into the room where the cook told him 5 of the 9 bells rang.

When the Major stared at the bells, they chimed and moved so violently, he thought they would break free from their anchors. The clamor continued until about 7:45 PM.

The bells rang numerous times before the phenomenon stopped abruptly on March 27th.

Documentation and Investigation

Moor wrote a detailed description of the layout of the bells’ system, but, beause there were flaws, no one has been able to figure out how it was supposed to work. He recorded barometric pressures, temperatures and other environmental conditions. Moor didn’t note where the people in the house were when the bells rang.

He wrote a letter to the newspaper about the phenomenon, asking for suggestions. Mr. Maskelyne responded with an excellent one. He advised Moor to ask trusted people for help.

All members of the household would be locked in a room with a “sentry” standing outside. Others would be stationed at strategic points so no one could move about without being detected.

Each room would be searched and the door, locked again. Maskelyne doubted the bells would ring and, if they did, the culprit would be discovered.

Moor didn’t take the advice. Instead, he continued to document for publication of his book. The writing was scientific, mystical and filled with odd lingo, making the work nearly impossible to understand. Moor’s conclusion was that there was no logical explanation for the bells ringing.

Poltergeist Phenomenon or Prank?

Moor, his family, servants and other experients believed the cause was paranormal because there was no rational way of explaining the bells’ chiming. There were and still are those who believe this was a classic carefully documented poltergeist case.

Others believe this was an elaborate prank, being Moor’s satire of inquiries into strange phenomena because of several factors:

– The bungled description of the bells’ system appears to be deliberate and not merely sloppy writing.
– He didn’t document people’s whereabouts in the house when the bells chimed.
– Moor rejected Maskelyne’s advice immediately, although it could have helped to ascertain the causation of the phenomenon.
– The writings are rambling and confusing. This isn’t the literary style of a distinguished man of science, nor was the investigation scientific.

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