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The Enfield Poltergeist, Fact or Fiction?

Updated on July 26, 2017

Janet being thrown off her bed.

What is a Poltergeist?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a Poltergeist (noun) is:-

A ghost or other supernatural being supposedly responsible for physical disturbances such as making loud noises and throwing objects about. The origin is mid 19th century from German Poltergeist, from Polter 'create a disturbance' and Geist 'ghost.'


On a recent visit to my local library, I borrowed a book called 'This House is Haunted - The Amazing Inside Story of the Enfield Poltergeist' written by Guy Lyon Playfair. He has written books about parapsychology and has written this book on his account of what happened in this house in a normal, suburban area in Enfield, London. Both himself and Morris Grosse, a Paranormal Investigator, spent over a year at this house investigating the alleged poltergeist.

Guy Lyon Playfair

The Enfield Poltergeist

It is 30th August 1977 and Peggy Hodgson and her 4 children start encountering strange experiences. After reports from her children that they could hear knocking sounds and furniture was being moved, she began wondering what was going on. She went to her neighbours, Mr & Mrs Nottingham, and they also had experiences of the Poltergeist with hearing knocking and things being thrown around the house. In fact, Mr Nottingham said that he was hit by a piece of flying lego that left a mark on his arm. At the start, it just began with marbles and lego being thrown around. But over the course of the days and months that followed, the poltergeist became more agressive with throwing things like chairs, beds and other furniture pieces. The Police were called in the early days as Peggy Hodgson had no idea what was going on. But the Police couldn't do anything, although one Police woman did claim she saw a chair move.

In a desperate bid for help they contacted a National Newpaper. They sent a photographer and reporter round to the house. In hindsight, perhaps this wasn't the best move to make. As things unfolded and the poltergeist was becoming ever more active and the media became ever more interested. It came to a point where people were calling round to the property to see this poltergeist, which is not what Mrs Hodgson wanted at all. As the story made the national headlines on TV and in the newspapers, the family found it virtually impossible to lead a normal life - whatever normal is under the circumstances.

When Maurice Grosse, from the Society For Psychical Research got involved with the case, he got in touch with a fellow member, Guy Lyon Playfair, to help him. Over the coming year or so they got as much evidence as they could of the poltergeist and what it was doing to the family. They set up tape recorders and taped as much as they could of the happenings to gain as much evidence as they could. There is no video evidence of what went on though. There is, however, taped recordings of the voices and other other goings on in the house.

Although the poltergeist, quite obviously, affected the whole family, it seemed to hone in on 11 year old Janet inparticular. As you can see from the photo at the top of this article, Janet is being thrown across the room. There are many instances where the beds would move across the room on their own, and no one could understand why this was happening. On one occasion, Janet even got thrown on top of the radio, seemingly still asleep. And there are occasions where Grosse and Playfair were apparently having full on conversations with the poltergeist, through Janet. She would talk in a low, throaty voice like an old man. It was almost like snarls, virtually impossible to do for any length of time they claim. Her voices, apparently, were the voices of Bill Wilkins, who was a former resident at the same address some 40 years or so previously. He was foul mouthed and often used bad language through Janet. He didn't seem a very nice man at all. Reports say he died in an armchair.

The poltergeist stopped as abruptly as it started some 18 months later. Why did it suddenly stop its activity? I guess we shall never know the answer to that question. But one this what is sure, it put the Hodgson family through living hell. Today, the house still stands and a different family live in there now. We don't know if the poltergeist is still in the house. Although people that have lived in the house since the Hodgsons have said that they have felt a presence.

The Hodgson Family

Enfield, London

Is this truth or not?

At the height of the drama in 1977/78, there were people who, quite rightly so, were very skeptical of what was going on. Evidently, the people involved were deeply affected by the poltergeist, as were the neighbours, Maurice Gross and Guy Lyon Playfair and other people involved in the case. Of course Janet Hodgson and her family will have to live with this for the rest of their lives. It's a shame there is no video evidence of what went on, but there are many hours of tape recordings of what went on, including dialogue and conversations with the said poltergeist.

The film, The Conturing 2, is loosely based on this case. There have been many programmes and documentaries made over the years based on this case. And there are plenty of these to watch on You Tube. Whether people believe in this kind of thing or not is down to individual chose, but the family very much believe what they were hearing and seeing. Personally, I'll remain skeptical. I'm not sure what to make of it all.

Interviews with the family & other people involved.

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    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 8 weeks ago

      I have never heard of this case but have family near there in Essex and was there in the summer of 1977 for the Queen's Jubilee. It is a shame if the family suffered an event like that and then had to put up with the media attention and probably ridicule as well. I suppose it is possible that they made all of it up but- why? Then if two paranormal investigators were there, they just went along with the fraud? The police officer too? The neighbors?

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 months ago from SW England

      I'm always sceptical of such things but there often seems to be no plausible explanation. I'm sure I wouldn't want to stay in such a house but then does one have a choice when you need somewhere to live?

      Interesting.

      Ann

    • diana1000 profile image

      Diana Harvey 2 months ago from Philippines

      Although I am not au faire with this type of science, I have to say that there definitely are poltergeists around.

      Several of my friends and my family have experienced this but to a very minor degree.

      Take care

    • lylacrooz profile image

      lylacrooz 2 months ago from n.y.c.

      Very interesting article. Thank you for sharing this event.

    • Claire-louise profile image

      Claire Raymond 5 months ago from UK

      I watched the dramatization of this, it was very good, but as for the reality of it, i am still fairly skeptical.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 5 months ago from USA

      I don't know what to make of it, but it's scary and strange to imagine it as real. Even if it's a hoax that is also interesting. The motivation and coordination required to pull that off would be something. Very well presented. I'm not sure I'd stay in that house if I believed it was possessed.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 5 months ago from Nibiru

      Fact. Spirits exist. They are created by the seven wandering stars.

    • Nathanville profile image

      Arthur Russ 5 months ago from England

      Hi Louise, an interesting article.

      In the opening photo, my first impression and thought is that the image could so easily be faked e.g. jumping off the bed onto the floor. That could be tested by photographing people jumping off a bed to see if the same posture could be replicated?

      However, the last few months before I left school and left home to move back to Bristol, the house we lived in developed (for want of a better word) occurrences similar to what you explain in this article (but not quite to the same scale); which eventually stopped after my mother persuaded the local vicar to do an exorcism. As an atheist it’s difficult for me to quantify my experience of that event with my beliefs, so it remains open as a fascinating, but unexplained, event in my life.

      As an atheist it would be easy to put it to bed with a belief that there will be a perfectly rational explanation. However, from my own personal experiences, even though I don’t believe in ghosts (in the traditional sense), and certainly not spirits, I can’t dismiss it completely; although I can remain sceptical.

      Albeit, one of my hobbies (interests) is quantum physics; and in this respect, if you’re willing to remain open minded about some of the fringes of quantum physics research, then there are areas where it crosses over into the realms of certain aspects of paranormal research.

      So there are plenty of questions but no definitive answers; at least not at our developmental stage of understanding the world around us. No real difference in principle to the mysteries of the sun rising every morning to humans during the Stone Age; or not understanding gravity before Isaac Newton.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 5 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Louise,

      Interesting article. I guess we'll never know what was really going there. Thanks for sharing this.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I feel like you do, skeptical, but many people believe in the paranormal. I can't imagine staying in a house like that. If they could make audio, why not video? I did find your article interesting and well presented.