SELENE PAXTON-BROOKS looks back on London’s most talked-about ghost cases of the 1970s – the Enfield Poltergeist!
Today in 1977 was the beginning of a horrifying disturbance in a council house in the borough of Enfield, London, that became one of the most documented poltergeist cases in England.
I remember seeing reports in the newspapers as a child and have vivid memories of watching a special report on the BBC’s programme ‘Nationwide’ in 1977, when I was 11 years old, which can be seen here about the Enfield Poltergeist.
Even today it fills me with terror, and having listened to Guy Lyon Playfair, psychical researcher who worked on the case, talk about his experiences in the house, I have no doubt that this was a genuine paranormal event that cannot wholly be explained away.
It was on this day that Peggy Hodgson, mother to four children, called the police after furniture had moved around the house and unexplained knocking had been heard on the walls of her rented house.
The activity seemed to centre on 11 year old Janet, who went into violent trances, spoke in a demonic voices, which were recorded by Playfair, and was photographed flying through the air as if being thrown.
Over the years the case has been written off as a fake, especially as Janet herself admitted that they made up some of the phenomena, but assured ITV news that they only did it once or twice to see if anyone would catch them out, but they were always found out when they faked something.
She described the experiences as very traumatic and she was bullied at school because of all the publicity.
There was a huge amount of attention from the press, who were keen to report on the haunting, which seemed so similar to the horror film The Exorcist that had been released just four years before.
Not only was the story covered copiously by numerous British newspapers, several members of the Society for Psychical Research, BBC and ITV television, a magician, the police, neighbours, photographers, investigators, were all involved in discussing the case with the outside world.
After everything that happened at the house many experts still believe that the poltergeist was genuine and Playfair wrote a detailed account of the case in his book ‘This House is Haunted: The True Story of a Poltergeist‘ (1980) which makes very interesting reading. You can also read Playfair’s article for Spooky Isles about the case: Mystery still surrounds Enfield Poltergeist case.
Janet, in an interview for The Daily Mail in 2011 told the reporter that she believes that the haunting was a result of playing with an Ouija board and is still convinced that the poltergeist was real. You can read: What IS the truth about the Enfield Poltergeist? Amazing story of 11-year-old London girl who ‘levitated’ above her bed here.
It truly is one of the most interesting modern paranormal stories of our time, and still makes me quake in my boots… I must say this is one place I’m NOT going to visit!
SELENE PAXTON-BROOKS is The Spooky Isles’ South East England Correspondent. She is particularly interested in folklore and historical hauntings, “I’ve been intrigued by the paranormal from an early age. I am also an avid fan of British horror, particularly Hammer and Amicus productions, and I love all things strange and macabre. ”
Follow Selene Paxton-Brooks on twitter here.