Friday, October 15, 2021

The Mystery of the Enfield Poltergeist

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Nayanika Dey
Just your everyday perpetually cash-strapped teenager.

What is a poltergeist? An unseen ghost which causes disturbances by levitating physical objects, and in this case – a human.

On August 30, 1977, an 11- year old girl named Janet Hodgson hovered in the air, seemingly possessed of a raspy voice emanated from her mouth saying:

“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 eerie voice that of Bill Wilkins who had lived and died in the house years ago was recorded and can still be heard today and moreover, there are pictures to prove this.

The tale of the Enfield poltergeist, something which has bewitched the world and the police alike for the past 30 years with still no convincing explanation other than the supernatural, is being visited again by the makers of Conjuring 2. Even psychics and occult exerts remained confused with all the levitation, flying object hurling towards people, graffiti, the sudden appearance of water and even physical assault.

The haunting continued in at a council house at Brimsdown, Enfield in England from 1977 to 1979 and many believe it to be genuine, though some professors of psychology say it contains the markings of a “hoax.” Let us revisit the past once more to uncover the mystery.

Peggy Hodgson was a single mother of four kids namely Margaret, aged 12, Janet, who was 11, Johnny, ten, and Billy,  then seven. On the evening of August 30, she went upstairs upon hearing shuffling sounds and hearing Janet complain about a wobbling bed. Then she saw a chest of drawers move slightly. Cursing herself, she tried pushing it back. But instead, she felt a force propel it forward as if trying to bring it in front of the door and lock them in.

Over the days, the family kept hearing strange noises and finally, when none of them got any sleep in the house anymore, they asked their neighbors for help. Their neighbor, a burly builder, went inside but kept hearing noises without any reason for their being – silent taps, knocks on floors, walls, ceilings.

The police were called, but they seemed equally confused, and one of them, later on, signed an affidavit in which she clearly stated she saw a chair move four feet across the room unassisted. The Press was contacted next, and when their photographer went inside, he came out with a pale face claiming everything was in chaos with things flying and people screaming.

Janet, who was just 11, seemed to have sudden trances of possession. Some are captured on film. They show her being thrown across the room or with a face contorted in pain. Her mother said these violent trances were awful for her to watch and there was nothing to be done to get her out of it. When the BBC went in, they received a shock to see that their recorders were not working, and some metal equipment had been twisted. Next, the family visited the Society of Phychical Research who sent two poltergeist investigators – Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair. They later wrote a book on it titled This House is Haunted.


Grosse said he knew things were keeping bad because the family was in a weak state of mid. They too found themselves in the midst of activity. It started with small lego blocks flying but soon turned into big chairs and clothes unfolding themselves. One of the kids yelled that he couldn’t move, and his legs were frozen. They had to wrestle him free from invisible hands. Family members say they have seen Janet float right across the room, and the iron fireplace was also wrenched free from the wall.

But, now 45 years old and living in Essex, Janet said that some of the activities were staged just to see if Maurice and Guy caught them. They always did. Maurice, later on, told the media that she didn’t thing the poltergeist was truly evil. But Janet described those days as traumatic. She also admitted that she and her sister had played with an Ouija board just before all this activity had flared up.

While she maintains that only 2% of the events were staged or blown up for media attention, the rest gave her a very usual childhood. She was constantly bullied at school and had to change schools. She also does not recall being in a trance and only came to know after being shown the photos. Levitation was frightening, she said, because you never knew where you would be hurled.

Finally, it was a priest’s visit in late 1978 that ‘quietened’ down the house but she still maintains that the presence is always there. Janet left home at 16. Her brother died of cancer aged just 14, and she lost her son at only 18. In 2003, her mother passed away from breast cancer.


When American Milbourne Christopher was asked to investigate, he was disappointed to find no trace of the paranormal and said that it was a trickery on the part of the sisters. Several cameras even caught the kids trying to bend spoons themselves and Janet was once found erasing the tapes. The vocalization of Bill Wilkins, after being examined was also ruled as something that could have been easily produced by a child since the larynx and chords suggested someone young.

The Hodgson sisters maintained that they did indulge in frivolity to up the content but it was only around 2% of it. The rest was true. Others also accused demonologist Ed Warren of blowing things up to gain attention. Irrespective of this, after Peggy Hodgsonr’s death, they moved out and Clare Benett came along with her four sons.

But they moved out after just two months, complaining of hearing whispers and seeing silhouettes.  One of her boys complained of seeing a man enter his room. The current family residing there do not wish to be identified and have not divulged the current status.

The truth perhaps, we will never know.

About the author

Just your everyday perpetually cash-strapped teenager.

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