Stemming from events beginning in the year 1977 to 1979 in Enfield, England , The Enfield Poltergeist, also know as the Enfield Haunting has becoming one of the most documented paranormal cases and perhaps the most famous haunting ever in the history of Britain.
The newest adaptation of the Enfield poltergeist is the Movie The Conjuring 2 starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, which tells the tale of Peggy Hodgson and the haunting of her Enfield home that began on the evening of August 30, 1977. It was on that night that her daughter Janet, 11 at the time, told her that her brothers’ beds were wobbling. They had shared rooms. The next evening, Peggy Hodgson heard a loud noise from upstairs. She entered her children’s bedroom and saw a chest of drawers moving all by itself.
The night after that first disturbance was the 31st August 1977. When Janet and Johnny heard something moving in the dark, they called for their mother again, who came upstairs once more and got a little upset because she thought they were playing around. But when she left, the sound returned. They sat up in bed to see a chest of drawers slide from the side of Janet’ s bed towards the door. The mother, Peggy, thought there were burglars in the house. She called the neighbors in. They all searched and didn’t find anyone. But the sounds continued.
Maurice Grosse was called in who was a member of the world’ s oldest paranormal research organisation, the Society for Psychical (Sigh-kik-al) Research (SPR for short). Founded in 1882. The knocking, according to Grosse, could come from several places at once. He said “If you go and listen to it in the wall over here, it’d suddenly come from the wall over there.” A series of knocks would often fade in, louder and louder, and then, slowly, fade out again. Over the next several months of investigation, Maurice Grosse witnessed couches floating and tipping over; beds, tables and chests of draws spinning around and being pushed over; stones flying right over the house; coins dropping out of the air in front of him. He would even hear the sounds of dogs barking inside various rooms in the house, and no dog was present.
One day, Maurice and one of the neighbors heard one of the daughters yelling “I can’t move! It’ s holding my leg!” They rushed out to find Janet’s sister Rose standing on the staircase on one leg, with the other leg stretched out behind her. The neighbor grabbed one of her hands and Maurice grabbed the other. They both pulled as hard as they could, and Rose didn’t even budge. Whatever was holding her, have a crazy tight grip on her.
Besides the creepy noises and furniture moving, Janet would go into violent trances, and repeatedly thrown out of her bed in the night. the SPR investigators then removed everything from her bedroom to see what would happen if it had nothing to throw. Later, the family heard a violent wrenching sound. Upstairs, in an empty room, they found the iron fireplace had been pulled out of the wall.
The spirit would also begin to talk through Janet… She would often speak with a deep, rough voice which identified itself as ‘ Bill. She would speak like this for hours at a time.. So who was Bill?
It is believed that the haunting was triggered by the death of Bill Wilkins, a former occupant of the house. The voice once described the death of Bill, speaking in first person it said:
‘Just before I died, I went blind, and then I had a hemorrhage and I fell asleep and I died in the chair in the corner downstairs.’
This voice can still be heard on audio tapes today.
There have been many claims that Janet had just been acting and making up the voice. So they decided to do a test.
In one experiment while she was possessed, they made her hold a good amount of water in her mouth… yet the voice still came through.
Further vocal tests were carried out by a Professor from Birckbeck College (now part of the University of London) who concluded that it was next to impossible to speak for so long in that way because Janet would have damaged her vocal cords, if she was just making it up.
The professor also claimed that Janet wasn’t producing the voice consciously.
Despite this evidence, was it still possible that the whole thing could have been a giant hoax?
Two experts also from the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) caught the children bending spoons themselves. They also found it strange why no one was allowed in the room when Janet was talking in her possessed voice. Janet herself admitted that some of the Enfield haunting events were fabricated. In 1980, she told ITV News, “Oh yeah, once or twice (we faked things), just to see if Mr. Grosse and Mr. Playfair would catch us. They always did.” In an article that was published in the year before the release of The Conjuring 2, Janet said that roughly two percent of the paranormal activity in their Green Street home had been faked. This lead many to believe that if you could fake some of it, perhaps everything was faked.
American magician Milbourne Christopher investigated, but he failed to observe anything that could be called paranormal, and was dismayed by what he felt was suspicious activity on the part of Janet. Christopher would later conclude that
“The poltergeist was nothing more than the antics of a little girl who wanted to cause trouble and who was very, very, clever.”
In 2015, editor in chief of Skeptic magazine Deborah Hyde commented that there was no solid evidence for the Enfield poltergeist. She said the following statement:
“The first thing to note is that the occurrences didn’t happen under controlled circumstances. People frequently see what they expect to see, their senses being organized and shaped by their prior experiences and beliefs.”
Even though she admitted that certain instances were indeed fake, The real Janet Hodgson says the Enfield haunting was VERY real, and when it began to die down, she believes that it was a priest’s 1978 visit in the fall to the family’s Enfield home in North London that caused the haunting to calm down, though the occurrences did not end completely. her mother Peggy still heard noises in the house from time to time, and Janet’s younger brother Billy, who lived there until his mother passed, said that you always felt like you were being watched.
There was never really any happy ending to this story. Janet’s other brother Johnny died of cancer aged just 14 and Janet lost a baby son to cot death when she was 18. Cot death is more properly known as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It is the term used to describe the sudden death of a baby in its sleep where no cause or reason can be found.
After the real Peggy Hodgson passed away, Clare Bennett and her four sons moved into the Enfield home. Like Janet’s younger brother Billy, Clare claimed that she always felt as if someone was watching her. During the night, her children would get woken up by voices coming from downstairs. She then learned about the Enfield Poltergeist. One of Clare’s sons Shaka, 15, woke up and saw a man enter his room. They moved out the next day after being in the house for only two months.
Elaborate hoax or not, paranormal enthusiasts and skeptics alike, still are intensely fascinated with this bizarre story. The Conjuring 2 hits theaters June 10th 2016. Will you be watching?