The Enfield Poltergeist
Ghosts tend to be associated with ancient castles and grand mansions – imposing old buildings which are far removed from the kind of place where most of us live.The story of the Enfield poltergeist demonstrates that the paranormal can emerge anywhere however even in semi-detached council houses in north London.
Britain’s most famous poltergeist case occurred between 1977 and 1978. It affected the Hodgson family, and appeared to centre on the person of Janet Hodgson who was then 11 years old. The sequence of strange incidents began when Janet and her brother complained that their beds were moving around of their own accord. Their mother didn’t believe them until she saw a chest of drawers slide across the room on its own. She pushed it back; then it moved again and wouldn’t budge. By this time Mrs. Hodgson had become frightened and told her children to get out of the house. They ran to the neighbours’ house and the neighbours came back with them to have another look. All heard strange knocking sounds coming from various places in the house. Everyone agreed that something eerie and frightening was going on and the police were called. When the police arrived, they heard the knockings too but were unable to trace their source.
From then on, bizarre happenings became routine in the Hodgson household. Objects would move around on their own and even the people in the house sometimes found themselves thrown around or levitated into the air.
Captured on FilmThis was to become one of the most public hauntings in history. The Hodgsons contacted the media about what was happening to them. Journalists and photographers and paranormal researchers soon arrived and spent considerable time with the family. They themselves witnessed the same weird occurrences and recorded them on their camera equipment. Much of the equipment had trouble functioning in the strange environment of the Hodgson house. Batteries depleted very quickly, for example.
Some fascinating images were captured, however. There are photographs of Janet Hodgson being flung through the air as well as objects floating around on their own.
It seemed that whatever entity was responsible for the disturbances in the house was sentient in some form. The people in the house found they could communicate with it verbally and it would respond by making rapping sounds to indicate yes or no. At times, it even spoke through Janet’s body in a harsh, rasping masculine voice. It said its name was Bill and that it had lived in the house fifty years before.
Suspicions of FraudMost people who visited the Hodgson house became convinced that something very weird was going on. At least one researcher from the Society for Psychical Research, however, believed that fraud was being committed. She saw objects being flung around but thought the children were doing it when her back was turned. Moreover, at one point, the cameras which had been placed in Janet’s bedroom caught her bending spoons herself. When confronted about this, she claimed she was only doing it to test the researchers. Janet’s uncle was also sceptical, but most people who looked into the phenomenon became convinced that it was real.
That Janet was the source of the activity there can be little doubt. When she spent some time away from the house to undergo medical examination, all trace of the poltergeist activity disappeared. After about a year and half, the activity ceased entirely of its own accord.