Thornton Heath, London 1970s haunting terror, still puzzling to this day


RICK HALE explores a 1970s South London haunting that at Thornton Heath had all the hallmarks of a poltergeist, but it wasn’t… it was something worse!

Thornton Heath

It has become popular in recent years to use the term ‘poltergeist‘ when describing any unpleasant spirit.

Although human spirits may use psycho-kinesis to move objects, that still doesn’t make them a poltergeist. This can be somewhat disconcerting when trying to investigate a haunting.

Such was the case with an aggressive haunting that occurred in Thornton Heath, South London, from 1970-1974.

Thornton Heath haunting

This case is often referred to as a poltergeist, however, angry spirits were said to be involved at the center of the activity. Spirits who were hell-bent on making the lives of a young family a living hell.

In August 1970, a family in Thornton Heath were enjoying a much needed rest when the inexplicable tore them from their slumber.

A radio turned itself on and proceeded to blare a foreign language station.

Thinking this was nothing more than a strange occurrence, the man of the house unplugged the radio and went back to bed. Little did they know this was only the beginning of many sleepless nights and terror filled days.

As the days gave way to months, other strange, even violent activity began happening. Pictures fell from walls, glasses and plates flew out of the cupboards and a lamp lept from a table and shattered over the head of the man of the house.

A few days before Christmas, the family watches in terror as the Christmas tree violently shook and the ornaments flew off in all directions shattering against the walls.

To the student of anomalous phenomena, this sounds like the family had fallen victim to a poltergeist.

This, however, was not the case when the sound of heavy footsteps and voices were heard on the second floor. And as in most cases, the family diligently investigated and found nothing.

Family and friends were not spared the wrath of the vengeful spirit.

In an attempt to alleviate the terror infesting their home, the family invited friends for a night of food and drink.

As everyone sat at the table enjoying themselves a loud bang issued from the front door. When a member of the family went to open the door it blew open with a violent force. All the lights in the house switched on then off, bathing the house in an eerie, silent darkness. That night, the family came to the conclusion they needed help, and quickly.

The next day they contacted a local church and a priest was immediately dispatched to the home.  A blessing of the property was performed, unfortunately it didn’t seem to work. The entity stepped up its onslaught of terror on the family.

It banged furiously on the walls, loud crashes came from the upstairs rooms and a terrifying apparition appeared bringing with it a feeling of cruel malevolence.

Following the failed blessing, the family was put in touch with a spiritualist medium. When the medium arrived she immediately sensed the presence of two spirits in the home.  The medium explained the spirits were a farmer and his wife named Chatterton.

The Chattertons, considered the family to be trespassers and attempted to make them leave using any method at their disposal.  The medium tried to get the spectral couple to leave, but they flatly refused.  This was their house and no one was going to make them leave. Even if they were dead.

Finally, after four long years the family could endure no more.  They packed up all their worldly possessions and abandoned the home they worked so hard for. The ghosts that relentlessly terrified them got what they wanted, their house back.

Discover more of the Riddle of the Thornton Heath Poltergeist here

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Rick Hale
Rick Hale, is a native of Chicago, Illinois and first became interested in the paranormal after having a positive interaction with an apparition at a young age. Rick is the author of The Geek's Guide To The Strange and Unusual: Poltergeists, Ghosts and Demons. Behold! Shocking True Tales of Terror...and Some Other Spooky Stuff. And Bullets, Booze and Babes: The Haunted History of Chicago and Illinois. Rick is the co-host of The Shadow Initiative Paranormal Talk. Rick was featured in the documentary Ghost Tapes 2. Rick is a featured writer for Spooky Isles and Rick has also been published by Haunted Times, Paranormal Underground, The Supernatural Magazine and Legends Magazine.


  1. A film has been made about this case . trouble is every time I ask no one has the original source and i am starting to think this is just an urban myth ? Ricky … please advise the source you got this story from ?
    All the best
    John Fraser
    Society of Psychical Reasearch
    Living in THORNTON HEATH

  2. Hi I must admit I’m getting a bit bored of this likely ‘non existant’ case on My patch appearing again and again and again . Please spooky Isle either take down this post or get the author to give his source. (Other than the internet ) . Thanks

  3. Hi Mr Fraser, I’m sorry that I had not got back to you sooner. I left a message on your Facebook page on my sources. I will also leave them here for anyone else that may have that question., and true life ghost stories at thank you again.

  4. Hello my name is Peter
    I live in Spalding Lincolnshire
    Prior to Lincolnshire I lived in Merstham near Reigate Surrey
    Even prior to that I lived at 24 Woodville Road Thornton Heath
    As a young lad I attended Beulah Road School and later Ingram High School
    I can remember at the time I was at Beulah Road School I was out and about with my infant friends
    Please understand I am recollecting over forty five years ago as I am now 53 years old
    So actual places and destinations in that area are very vague to me and so I am only giving the information I can remember
    My friends and I had just come from the recreation ground
    At that time I remember it had quite a few tennis courts on display as you entered the Park
    Not far from the Park was a Public Library that I and my brothers used a great deal
    Im just elaborating on destinations I remember to see if it rings a bell with anyone
    At the bottom of Woodville Road there was the main High Street and I can remember the small Clock Tower The Zebra crossing and the laundry we also used a great deal
    I can remember the Pub on the corner painted blue at that time and the Boxing Gym above it I wanted to attend but was too chicken
    There was also the main swimming baths around the corner on the High Street where we lived which we used an awful lot and I can vaguely remember at that time there seemed to be a big rat problem
    Indeed our garden and house suffered the infestation as well so much so our front room floor was on the brink of collapse and this forced the Council to give us priority over rehousing us hence my parents chose 30 Dundrey Crescent in Merstham
    Anyway this get back to the main part of this recollection
    As I stated my infant buddies were walking down a road or street and in all honesty I don’t remember whether it was a road or street or even its name
    At that age its something you never ever consider
    We was walking past a house and two children I think two boys but definitely one boy who was roughly the same age as us give or take a year
    They had run from the back garden of the house and seemed to be in an excited mood
    The older boy waylaid us and said Do you want to see something and beckoned us to go with them to the back garden
    Seeing the excitement in them both it was infectious and we followed them both not knowing what to expect
    When we entered the back garden I was personally hit by a weird feeling that Ive never felt before a kind of fear for no apparent reason as there was no visible sign of anything untoward to give rise to this sensation It just did nt seem right
    Then things started to kick off
    Now I remember on this house all the back windows had shutters and they all started to instantly slam open and shut
    There was no wind infact I remember it being a perfectly sunny day
    There was also a washing line in the garden and this bit may sound contrived but im only reminiscing details I can remember
    There was a solitary white bed sheet on the line and the older boy who took us to the back garden
    Let me also point out I have no idea whether these two children were related or even lived in this house
    All I know is that they were the ones that came from the back garden and took us round to see these strange events
    All I can say is that they gave the impression that this was a regular occurrence
    Going back to this washing line sheet I saw it raise itself from the line and with perfect aplomb cover the young boy
    Quickly he disentangled himself from the sheet
    Again let me reliterate it was a perfect sunny day and there was no wind and besides what struck me was the precision the sheet encompassed the boy it could not have been scripted
    Obviously there was a great deal of nervous laughter from us all at what we were seeing
    It was nt normal and I had the feeling there was something bad there
    We all quickly ran from the back garden to the front of the house where it felt safer and quiet eventhough I cannot say if anything was happening inside the house
    All I can suppose though is that there could not have been anyone at home otherwise they would have shown there faces because of all the activity happening
    As a collective we decided to dare ourselves to run round to the back garden again
    I cannot remember whether the activity continued but to be honest we never stayed that long the second time to find out I can still recall that uneasy feeling of something bad being there but instantly when you are not in the vicinity the feeling would miraculously go away
    Now I don’t know in all honesty if the house I am writing about is the infamous Thornton Heath poltergeist house as I was too young to know about such things and the location of such places but all I can say is that I can still remember that day over forty five years ago and it as always fascinated me what happened as there was no explanation to the things I saw and felt and to be honest Ive always kepted it to myself
    Afterall no ones going to believe a small child over such matters they are going to say its all in his imagination
    Mind you ever since that day I have always believed in the paranormal ghosts poltergeist or evil spirits I just believe that there is maybe something sinister and unexplainable that we have not yet actually been able to ascertain
    That is anyway my own personal opinion
    Well the internet came along and so did my wifes computer and like you do I wanted to browse the web for things that interested me and because I remembered this occurrence many years ago and I like the intrigue of anything the science of mankind cannot answer I decided to take a chance by typing in famous ghosts in Thornton Heath to see if by chance there was anything to collaborate what I saw on that day and my instinct proved right
    Not just the place but the age I was when I attended Beulah Road School in the seventies matching the same period as the poltergeist activity that took place in the house in Thornton Heath
    Just a foot note the one piece of evidence to validate this statement I have written is that as I clearly mentioned earlier I distinctly remember the shutters on the windows in the back garden opening and slamming shut with great gusto
    I ll be interested to know whether that particular house did indeed have shutters on its windows as I would have no other way of knowing unless I was privy to the property
    Any feedback would be kindly appreciated

    • Hello Peter – I can confirm you have described Thornton Heath accurately the Pub you referred to was The Price of wales quite famous for is Boxing Club Upstairs (Now demolished and changed into appartments) . The issue with this poltergiest is that the entire area around Woodville is as far as I am aware Victorian or Edwardian. I do not know of any House which is likely to be shuttered in the area now. Though if you could look on a Thornton Heath google Map and perhaps discover the name your school . I might be able to be a bit more precise in your thoughts 🙂 All the best in any case .

    • Hi peter, what year did you go to Beulah school. I went there early 70s
      Your story by the way is fantastic.

      Regards Colin.

    • The Park was trumble gardens.
      Fire Station next to the Library is flats, so is the Prince of Wales boxing club.
      Fish and chip shop at Melfort is still there.

  5. Hi I currently live in Thornton heath. I know of a house with shutters. The house looks quite old and odd compared to the others in design. If I can I will take a photo of it. To be honest it looks like the Munsters house. I don’t know if it’s the same one the above person described? But I’ve always wondered about it. It does look eerie.

  6. Hi. I live on Kitchener Road very near Woodville Road. I have lived here for 37 Years. I got the DVD about the Thornton Heath Poltergeist. But nowhere in the movie do they mention the town or road, but they say it’s a true story. It would be interesting to know if the house you talk about is the very same house the film is about. Maybe we will never know.

  7. I very much believe this house was in Beulah Road at the junction of Grange Road. I have so many strange and weird stories of spending my childhood in the Thornton Heath area from 1961 to 1989. Someone told me all the things that happened to me were linked to the EMF emitted from the two local transmitter towers. However to me they were real, including ghosts, time slips and UFO sightings. That whole area is extremely highly charged with energy of different frequencies


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