The Background Of The Enfield Poltergeist Case
A Timeline Of Paranormal Occurances
Tuesday 30th August, 1977
Where It Began
The family had already reported hearing several odd knocks and bangs, but one Tuesday, as the children were settling down to bed things escalated. Janet told her mum that her brother, Billy's bed was "going all funny" and moving of its own accord, the Hodgsons soon came to the conclusion that their house was haunted.
Wednesday 31st August, 1977
The Call For Help
The following night at 9:30pm, Peggy heard a noise coming from the back bedroom, she went into the room to tell the children to stop messing around but Janet told her that the noise was coming from the chest of drawers near the doorway. Then, Peggy witnessed it herself, the drawers shuffled forward across the lino flooring out into the room. Peggy pushed it back against the wall, only to find that it moved again, the third time she tried to push it back, she couldn't, it was as if an invisible force was stopping it.
Thursday 1st September, 1977
Later that night Peggy Nottingham called the police. At 1am two officers arrived and checked the house over but said there was nothing they could do to help as no crime has been committed. However, before they left the house, constable Caroline Heeps saw an ordinary kitchen chair which was near the sofa in the living room began to wobble before sliding about a meter across the floor towards the kitchen as if it was being pulled.
Sunday 4th September, 1977
Another Disturbed Night
After another evening of strange goings on, Peggy Nottingham phoned the Daily Mirror in the hope they would put her in touch with someone who could help. They sent along reporter Douglas Bence and photographer Graham Morris, who became a regular at the house. The Hodgsons were next door when the journalists arrived so took a look around the empty house on their own, they spent all night in the house and found nothing unusual.
Monday 5th September, 1977
Maurice Grosse's First Visit
George Fallows, a senior reporter from the Daily Mirror visited the house to follow up on the story, this time with photographer David Thorpe. The paper had contacted the Society for Psychical Research for advice and had brought along one of their newest members, an eager new investigator by the name of Maurice Grosse. Speaking about his first visit to the house he said, "I found chaos, the whole family was congregated in the house together with the neighbours next door and there were a lot of very very frightened people there." He advised Peggy to stay calm and recommended that she made a diary of every incidents that occurred.
Thursday 8th September, 1977
Maurice Convinced By The Case
Maurice was back in the house on Wednesday, again joined by reporters from the Daily Mirror. At 1:15am on the 8th September, they all witnessed a loud crash coming from the girls' bedroom, they rushed in to find the two sisters asleep but a chair which was beside the bed had flipped over and moved a meter across the room. This was enough to convince Maurice that the case warranted further investigation.
Saturday 10th September, 1977
The House Of Strange Happenings
The Hodgsons' story became front page news as the Daily Mirror broke the story and described how the family are "living in fear of strange goings-on that are driving them from their home". That evening, Peggy also appeared on a radio phone in show on London station, LBC. The show, 'Night Line' aired from 22:30pm until 1am and Peggy had Maurice along with her for support.
Sunday 11th September, 1977
BBC Radio Arrive At The House
When Peggy arrived home after the LBC show at 2am, waiting outside for her was Rosalind Morris, a journalist from the BBC Radio 4 show 'The World This Weekend'. Roz stayed most of the night and witnessed a chair move and a bed shake. She also interviewed Peggy and Maurice, her findings were broadcast that afternoon.
Monday 12th September, 1977
Guy Lyon Playfair's First Visit To The House
Guy Lyon Playfair, another member of the Society of Psychical Research and an author had just finished his latest book on the paranormal and was looking forward to a well earned holiday, but after responding to the SPR's appeal for help, decided to cancel his break and assist Maurice in Enfield. On the 12th of September, Guy made his first of 180 visits to the house, which included 25 all night vigils.
Sunday 25th September, 1977
Refuge At John & Sylvia's
Once again the family were chased on of the house by the strange happenings and this time sought refuge in Peggy's brother, John Burcombe's house, while his wife Sylvia was making a cup of tea, a piece from a child's toy appeared in front of her face and dropped to the kitchen counter. This marked the first time any activity happened outside of 284 Green Street, it seemed the poltergeist was able to follow the family.
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Saturday 22nd October, 1977
Rosalind Morris' Second Visit
The BBC's Rosalind Morris visited the Hodgsons for a second time, this time she was armed with her tape recorder and managed to record several instances of unexplained knocking sounds, at one point capturing 30 rapping sounds in the space of just quarter of an hour.
Saturday 29th October, 1977
The frequent paranormal occurrences were keeping Janet awake at night and affecting her school work, the council refused to rehouse the family but agreed to send them away for a week long break at Clacton-on-Sea during half term. The whole family went, including Johnny who was home from boarding school for the holidays.
Saturday 5th November, 1977
Knock Once For "No", Twice For "Yes"
It was bonfire night and while the sky was full of the pops and bangs of fireworks, the Hodgsons' house played host to bangs of a different kind. It was the day the family got back from their holiday and during their time away, Maurice had decided to try to communicate with the poltergeist using knocks. He started off by asking the spirit questions like, "can you tell me what five and five is?" and after hearing the correct number of knocks, moved on to ask specific questions like "did you die in this house?" The spirit was encouraged to knock once for "no" and twice for "yes", which it did until it answered one of Maurice's questions with three knocks. Maurice asked "are you having a game with me?" and all of a sudden, a cardboard box full of cushion flew two meters across the room and hit him in the face.
Monday 10th November, 1997
Janet's 12th Birthday
Guy invited an Argentinian psychic who was working in London to visit the house, Eduardo Balanovski arrived armed with a magnetometer which they used to look for anomalies in the electromagnetic field around the girls. During their vigil Janet's pillow was twice thrown across the room and each time Eduardo's equipment showed a change in EM field strength.
Saturday 12th November, 1977
"I Will Stay In This House"
At 5am Janet was tipped out of her bed while sleeping, along with her mattress which landed on top of her. Now wide awake, Peggy decided to try to make contact using a technique the investigators had suggested to her, she placed pens and paper around the house and called out to the spirit saying "leave me a message." Five minutes later she found a note on the fridge saying "I will stay in the house. Do not read this to anyone or I will retaliate."
Saturday 26th November, 1977
On The Radio
On the evening of November 26th, 1977, John Burcombe went into the girls' bedroom to check on his nieces, he was amazed to find her asleep on top of a radio which was on top of a chest of drawers. The Mirror's Graham Morris was on hand to capture the moment on his camera. What made this more incredible was that Janet was out cold having been given 10mg of valium by doctors earlier in the day after experiencing a violent seizer of some kind.
Wednesday 30th November, 1977
Bump In The Night
On the evening of November 28th, within the space of five minutes, Maurice found Janet asleep under her bed twice. According to Maurice she was "completely limp, as if unconscious." Later that night Janet and her mattress were throw onto the floor, and twenty minutes after that, she was found in the corner on the floor, having apparently been thrown a distance of over four meters.
Tuesday 29th November, 1977
The First Medium Visits Number 284
The Brazilian psychic Luiz Gasparetto became the first medium to visit the house, he arrived in late November, along with his interpreter, Elsie Dubugras, a member of the healing department of Sao Paulo State Spiritist Federation. They offered spiritual help to the family which resulted in some temporary relief. Luiz is a skilled spiritual artist, he is able to produce drawings and paintings while in a trance-like state with his eyes closed. Something that Janet was clearly impressed by...
Friday 30th December, 1977
Janet produced a series of nine drawings, each one was described as being very disturbing and all featured elements of blood, death and knives. Janet drew these images while in a semi-conscious state and had no memory of having drawn them afterwards.
Saturday 3rd December, 1977
Pulled From Bed
Just after 1am Janet was again pulled from her bed while sleeping, later she described the event as feeling as though she was pulled by her arm. What makes this incident different to other times that Janet was thrown from her bed was that this time she landed outside the bedroom. Peggy said she saw the bedroom door open and Maurice found her sliding down the stairs head first, still asleep.
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Monday 5th December, 1977
David Roberts' First Visit
David Roberts a student physicist joined Maurice and Guy at the house. He was recommended by a Society of Psychical Research contact of Guy's, Professor John Hasted, a physicist at London's Birbeck College. David became a full time member of the team.
Saturday 10th December, 1977
The Voices Begin
Two more Society of Psychical Research members visited the house on December 10th, Dr. John Beloff the head of Edinburgh University's psychology department and Anita Gregory from North London Polytechnic. While they were there Maurice, as advised by Professor Hasted, challenged the poltergeist to speak. At first the researchers witnessed a series of whistles and dog-like barks, but before long a gruff, male voice came from Janet. The voice sounded like that of an elderly man and the researches were convinced it was not the voice of a 12-year-old girl. The voice identified itself as Joe Watson, the whole conversation was caught on tape by Maurice but the following evening Joe was replaced by the voice of another spirit.
Tuesday 13th December, 1977
Bill Makes Himself Known
After making contact with the spirit of William "Bill" Wilkins for the first time the previous night, Maurice brought his son to the house to speak to the now very chatty poltergeist. Richard Grosse was a newly qualified solicitor, making this the first time a poltergeist has ever been cross-examined by a solicitor, he asked "what happened when you died?" The gruff voice answered that it had died of "a haemorrhage".
Wednesday 14th December, 1977
Hugh Pincott Visited The House
The founder of the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP) and Society of Psychical Research member Hugh Pincott visited the house in mid-December to see how his colleagues were getting on with the investigation.
Thursday 15th December, 1977
One of the most important days at the house and one that provided some of the most compelling evidence which was corroborated by two independent witnesses. David Robertson was sat outside the girl's bedroom while automatic cameras were set up inside the room. David was trying to encourage Janet to levitate. To start with objects including pillows and books started moving around, one red cushion even ended up on the roof of the house.
Saturday 17th December, 1977
Matthew Manning Visited Enfield
British author and healer, Matthew Manning paid a visit to the house before Christmas. He is known for his psychic abilities and spoke to Bill at great length. While in the house he also witnessed the microphone of Guy's tape record fall of its own accord and break. That same day, the tape recorder went missing, and despite searching the whole house, no trace of it was found. Later in the day Matthew and Guy heard a crash and ran upstairs to find that a chest of drawers had been pushed over, his tape recorder which had been hidden underneath was now in plain sight.
Monday 19th December, 1977
Milbourne Christopher Not Convinced
An American magician and paranormal researcher, Milbourne Christopher visited the house while in London. First he used his skills to impress the children by performing several illusions. Later he caught Janet sneaking out of bed and peering down the stairs as if planning a stunt, Milbourne believed this to be an obvious sign of trickery and wrote the case off as a possible hoax.
Friday 23rd December, 1977
"I Done That"
Two days before Christmas the family woke up to find their two pet goldfish had both mysteriously died during the night. When talking to the spirit of Bill through Janet later in the day, the voice said "I done that," adding that he electrocuted the fish with "spirit energy." On the same day Maurice filled Janet's mouth with water and taped it shut, he then asked Bill to repeat phrases that are notoriously difficult for ventriloquists to say, like "bottle of beer." According to the researchers, the water and tape didn't seem to affect the voice's clarity.
Sunday 25th December, 1977
Again the Hodgson family woke up to a loss, this time it was the family's pet budgie that had passed during the night, but Bill didn't take responsibility this time. Later in the day, Janet was sitting by the living room window and one of the curtains wrapped itself around her neck. This wasn't an isolated incident, it happened a total of eight times during the case.
Sunday 15th January, 1978
On the evening of her mum's birthday, Margaret walked into bathroom to find the word "shit" smeared the on wall, in shit. While Peggy's birthday fright was an apparition which she spotted while going upstairs. She said she saw a "sort of apparition of the bottom half of a man's trousers, and as I went to look up, I got a very quick glimpse, and it faded completely. The trousers were the type my Dad would have worn, the turnover style he used to wear about 1945."
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Monday 16th January, 1978
"I am Fred"
Another message was left in the bathroom, this time it was spelt out using strips of insulating tape that belonged to David Robertson. The tape was stuck to the back of the bathroom door and read "I am Fred". Guy and Maurice conclude that this couldn't have been faked by the girls as the writing was made up of twenty individual pieces of tape and would have taken too long.
Thursday 26th January, 1978
Rosalind Visits The Hodgsons Again
BBC Radio 4's Rosalind returned to Green Street, this time she was able to make recordings of voices which were now coming from Margaret too. Janet's older sister started speaking in a similar gruff voice to Janet's after Christmas. Margaret's version of the voice lacked the intensity and duration of Janet's.
Sunday 12th March, 1978
Stewart Lamont, a news broadcaster from BBC Scotland visited the house twice, on his return visit he interviewed the Hodgson family for a 'Nationwide Special'. The crew captured footage during their time in the house which showed the poltergeist speaking through Janet.
Monday 27th March, 1978
Guy Lyon Playfair Consults Hans Bender
Hans Bender, a German parapsychologist with a history in researching poltergeists case met with Guy at the end of March. Hans recommended that Maurice and Guy should examine the family's psychological state and consider asking the Church of England to conduct an exorcism.
Sunday 30th April, 1978
Fires & Shadowy Figures
Maurice and Guy gave the family some space throughout April but left Peggy with instructions to make a note of any paranormal occurrences. When the paranormal investigators saw Peggy's diary, they were amazed to find that she had logged 155 incidents and that apparitions of human forms were becoming more and more frequent. There had also been a worrying trend in the increase of incidents which involved small spontaneous outbreaks of fire.
Tuesday 16th May, 1978
Ed & Lorraine Warren Make Contact
Famed American paranormal researcher Lorraine Warren wrote to Maurice on behalf of her and her demonologist husband, Ed. In the letter she says that she has been following developments at the house and that she had hoped to visit but was not able to make it, however Ed was planning on visiting the house in London in June. The couple eventually made three visits to the Hodgson home.
Tuesday 16th May, 1978
Enfield Investigation Committee Formed
The Society for Psychical Research formed a committee to look into the Enfield investigation, it consisted of Mary Rose Barrington, Hugh Pincott, Peter Hallson and John Stiles. The committee were tasked with interviewing many of the witnesses and reviewing the testimonies collected by Maurice and his team. The committee concluded that there was some good evidence for genuine poltergeist activity, however they reserved judgment on certain claims which weren't observed by a credible witnesses.
Tuesday 30th May, 1978
Sticks & Stones
Janet and Margaret were in the back garden arguing with the children next door when suddenly what appeared to be a handful of stones was thrown over the fence, before the girls could retaliate more stones were thrown from the other neighbouring garden. Within minutes another neighbour showed up, he was angry and accusing someone of throwing stones at him. The girls had no idea where these stones, and at one point even bricks and rocks came from.
Friday 16th June, 1978
Ed & Lorraine Warren Arrived
Ed and Lorraine finally arrived in London in mid-June, accompanied by a colleague. The couple interviewed the family, including John Burcombe. That evening the girls took part in a live transatlantic linkup with the WVAM, a radio station in Pennsylvania. The discussion was carried out over the phone, as the Hodgsons didn't have a phone in the house, it took place down the street in John's house. Shortly after the Warrens visit it was decided that Janet needed some time away from the house and was sent to live in a home run by nuns.
Tuesday 25th July, 1978
The Maudsley Hospital
Guy was able to arrange for Janet to be admitted to the the Maudsley's Institute Of Neuropsychology in South London, Guy states in his book that this was the first time Janet ever crossed the river into South London. While at the hospital, Janet underwent a series of physical and psychological test to see if there was a medial or psychological explanation for what she'd been experiencing.
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Saturday 29th July, 1978
Guy and Rosalind visited Janet in hospital, while she'd been there no unusual incidents had occurred and she seemed to be in good health. When asked why she thought the poltergeist had left her alone at Maudsley, Janet said "the power can't build up cuz there's no one else to help build it up."
Friday 1st September, 1978
There's No Place Like Home
After almost six weeks away, Janet returned home after being discharged from Maudsley hospital with a clean bill of health but within half an hour of her return she saw a figure in the kitchen, she described it as being like "a little boy".
Monday 2nd October, 1978
Dono Gmelig-Meyling Heals The House
A friend of Guy's recommend a Dutch medium based in Amsterdam, Guy brought him over so that he could put his healing skills to use in the house. Guy said he wasn't sure what Dono, who couldn't speak English, actually did, "there was no sort of ceremony performed". He went up to the bedroom on his own, came down later and implied that was it. Guy said, "after he left, things definitely calmed down."
Monday 20th November, 1978
Despite the fact the house had calmed down, one national newspaper ran a follow up piece in November 1978 which started with the line, "for more than a year now, strange and seemingly inexplicable events have been talking place in a house at Enfield in Middlesex. The family who live there, and many other people besides, believe that what is happening is caused by a poltergeist."
Monday 6th August, 1979
The Warrens Return
Almost a year after the activity began to decrease, Ed and Lorraine Warren paid Enfield another visit. During their four days in the house between the 6th and 9th of August, the Warrens and two colleagues recorded over 13 hours of audio and captured phenomenon such as levitation of objects on camera. They also reported witnessing rocks appear from nowhere and even what they described as the "spontaneous removal of the wallpaper" in the kitchen.
Monday 1st October, 1979
This House Is Clean
Since Dono Gmelig-Meyling's visit poltergeist activity at 284 Green Street had died down, although there were still a few isolated incidents, but even these rare occurrence became even more infrequent after a priest came to bless the house in Autumn 1979. Janet said that after the blessing incidents quietened down but never stopped entirely while the family were living in the house.
What Happened Next?
This House is Haunted: The True Story of the Enfield Poltergeist
Guy Lyon Playfair's book is a must for any paranormal researcher as he reveals what really went on at 284 Green Street in 1977 and 1978.
No other case of its kind has been so well witnessed from start to finish or so thoroughly documented and this book contains every detail of that investigation. Incidents are described as they happened, without embellishment, from some six hundred pages of transcripts of live tape recordings.
The story of the Enfield poltergeist is already regarded as a classic in the annals of psychical research.
More On The Enfield Poltergeist Case
The UK's most famous haunted house, 284 Green Street, Enfield. A case which centred on the Hodgson family. The paranormal activity occurred with stark regularity between August 1977 and October 1978.
Whether you believe the Enfield Poltergeist was evidence of a real haunting or not, there's no doubt that the story had an enormous impact at the time. After all, the media relies on public interest to sustain a story. The Enfield Poltergeist was widely covered in newspapers, books, radio and TV at the time and continues to fascinate. So how could this seemingly simple haunting have had such a large impact over such a timespan?
The Enfield Poltergeist case is one of the best documented case of a haunting ever, but while researching the topic ahead of the 40th anniversary of the event I uncovered six interesting facts that aren't widely know about the events that took place in Enfield, North London in 1977.
40 years ago this month, the Hodgson family of Enfield in north London reported strange goings on in their house at 284 Green Street, it became one of the most famous poltergeist cases ever, but 40 years on, how much do you remember about this iconic case?
The classic paranormal comedy movie 'Ghostbuster' introduced us to an array of spirits and demons including Gozer the Gozerian but it turns out that the demon deity first made its presence known at a haunted house in Enfield in the 1970s.
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