The Enfield Poltergeist was a period of apparent poltergeist activity in London, England between August 1977 and September 1978, with an added outburst in August 1980.
The activity occurred at Enfield in North London, at 284 Green Street, 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 touch when picked up. A police officer signed an affidavit to affirm that she saw a chair move. Reports of the activity attracted various visitors including mediums and members of the press. One photographer reported being hit on the forehead with a Lego brick. After visiting the house, George Fallows, a senior reporter for the Daily Mirror, suggested that the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) be called in to investigate.
The incidents were duly investigated by Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair, both members of the SPR, who were convinced by the evidence which they encountered during their thirteen month investigation.
The family in the Enfield case consisted of a mother, two daughters and two sons; Margaret aged 12, a younger sister Janet aged 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 moving furniture, flying marbles, interference with bedclothes, cold breezes, pools of water on the floor, apparitions, physical assaults, graffiti, equipment malfunction and failure, disappearance and reappearance of objects, apparent levitations, and fires which spontaneously ignited and extinguished themselves.
Among other alleged phenomena they witnessed was Janet speaking using her false vocal folds for hours on end while she was apparently possessed by another entity. Speaking in this way is believed to be medically impossible. When speaking with the false cords Janet said she was "Bill" who had died in the house of a brain haemorrhage. The "Bill" persona habitually made jokes and exhibited a very nasty temper, swearing at Maurice, once calling him a "fucking old sod". Grosse was contacted by a man who claimed to be Bill's son. Recordings were made of these occurrences. After the BBC went to the house the recording crew found the metal inside of the recording machines bent, and recordings erased.
Further investigations by Anita Gregory and John Beloff, also from the SPR, were less positive. They spent a few days with the family and, after they found them bending spoons themselves, concluded that the children had faked the poltergeist activity. 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.
Margaret has publicly stated that although she did fake a few phenomena to catch the investigators in action, 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."
Peggy Hodgson remained in the house until her death in 2003. Grosse died in 2006.
In the book The Ghost That Haunted Itself, Jan-Andrew Henderson argues that "(b)oth [the Amityville and Enfield poltergeist cases] turned out to be fakes. The witnesses were misrepresented or had something to gain. Evidence turned out to be manufactured."
In the June 2003 edition of Focus magazine, Caroline Green wrote "There was no concrete evidence and [Peggy] was accused of making it up."
Further media coverage
In 1998, Living Spirit Pictures produced a film called Urban Ghost Story starring Jason Connery and James Cosmo which is loosely based on the events of the Enfield Poltergeist.
In March 2007 Channel 4 aired a documentary about the events of the Enfield case, entitled Interview with a Poltergeist.
In 2010 Dead House productions registered the name "The Enfield Poltergeist" with a view to making a feature film version with the same title. Although the film is billed for release in October 2012, casting is not expected to start until the beginning of 2012.
On Halloween night, 1993, the BBC aired a fictional mockumentary entitled Ghostwatch, written by Steven Volk and based on the Enfield Poltergeist investigation. Like the Enfield Poltergeist, Ghostwatch supposedly took place in a North London house, and featured a possessed adolescent girl speaking by using her false vocal cords. The programme, which was only aired once on television, created a brief period of public hysteria due to many viewers believing the events that they had just witnessed were real.
- recording of BBC Radio 5 Live interview with photographer Graham Morris
- Original documents relating to the Enfield case from Haunted Mansions Around the World
- Enfield PoltergeistPhotographic recreation of Janet Hodgson's levitation