The Enfield Poltergeist

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The aftermath of one of Janet’s attacks
There are widely divergent opinions on the strange case of the Enfield Poltergeist. To some it is one of the best examples ever of real poltergeist activity, others simply consider it to be a hoax. In the end both points of view would appear to be partially correct.

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The poltergeist first made its presence known on August 30, 1977. The location was a semi-detached council house at 284 Green Street, in the North London suburb of Enfield. The family consisted of single mother Peggy Hodgson and her four children. Margaret was the oldest at age 12, followed by Janet 11, Johnny 10, and Billy 7. The children had been put to bed when Peggy heard a commotion coming from their rooms upstairs. She warned the children to quiet down and go to sleep but Margaret said that the beds were “wobbling.” The activity would cease for the night but return the next evening.

Once again, the children were in bed when Peggy heard a loud crashing sound coming from upstairs. She ran to see what had happened and found a large chest of drawers had been pushed out from the wall. She attempted to return the piece of furniture to its original location but was unable to do so. It appeared that whatever was responsible for moving the chest of drawers was attempting to block the door, the family managed to escape the room and slept elsewhere. Then the knocking began, it was in the walls, in the ceiling, loud sounds of something rapping or pounding from the inside.

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As the activity of the Enfield Poltergeist increased Peggy Hodgson enlisted the help of a neighbor. The man searched the family’s home for the source of the bizarre activity and eventually left, terrified by what he saw, heard and felt. By this time not only did furniture move and levitate but things like marbles and Lego toys were flying through the air. It soon became apparent that 11-year-old Janet was the focus of the increasingly violent poltergeist activity.

Janet would be thrown or levitated from her bed and began to go into a trance, speaking with a gruff mans voice. The mans voice claimed to be the ghost of Bill Watkins. Through Janet, Watkins said “Just before I died, I went blind, and then I had an ’aemorrhage and I fell asleep and I died in the chair in the corner downstairs.” The claim that Watkins died in the Green Street home was later verified by his son, who said his father died in just the manner that the voice described.

Police were called to the home and while there witnessed some of the poltergeist activity. One of the officers, WPC Carolyn Heeps, watched as a large chair moved approximately four feet across the room. Heeps checked the chair for wires or anything that could account for the movement but found nothing. The police eventually left, baffled by what was going on in the home. Still looking for help from anywhere she could find it, Peggy Hodgson contacted the media.

“The Daily Mirror” sent photographer Graham Morris to the Enfield home, he described what he found as “chaos”, a word that would be used frequently by those entering the house. The BBC also sent reporters to Green Street who experienced some unexplained problems with their tape recorders, tape jammed and internal metal parts bent. As word of the Enfield Poltergeist spread the paranormal investigators began to arrive.

Some, like Society for Psychical Reasearch investigator Guy Lyon Playfair, a poltergeist expert, was convinced the paranormal activity was real. There were of course the sceptics, including magician Milbourne Christopher. In his opinion what was happening was not paranormal at all, it was all the work of the very clever Janet and possibly others. Eventually a priest arrived at the Hodgson home and by 1978 the strange events nearly stopped but never completely ceased.

There was in fact some hoax in the case as was admitted by Janet to investigators. She said in later years that about 2 percent of the events had been hoaxed by her and her sister. Even taking Janet’s confession into consideration, it doesn’t seem possible that all the events reported in the Hodgson home could have been hoaxed.

Today Janet is married and lives in Essex. As for the home on Green Street, the family that moved in after the death of Peggy Hodgson reported that while they never experienced the things that the Hodgsons did, they did have the unnerving feeling that there was something in the home and they were being watched. That family moved out shortly after arriving.

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