Documented by journalist Guy Lyon Playfair in his book This House Is Haunted, the bizarre and frightening events that were to unfold in this seemingly normal residence centred around the Hodgson family and investigator Maurice Grosse, member of the Society for Psychical Research.
With sceptics and believers alike intrigued by this case, the question still remains: was this a true entity of the unexplained, or could the alleged poltergeist activity be blamed on more human interventions?
The History Of A Haunting
Single mother, Peggy Hodgson, and her four children were being kept awake by strange knocking sounds and furniture that moved of its own accord. This was to be the beginning of months of activity, which would draw dozens of people to the small residence in Enfield, none of whom would be able to explain the strange events they saw.
The family first appealed to their neighbour, a builder, who couldn’t account for the noises he heard, and so called the police. One of the officers to respond became the first person outside of the family to witness what was happening, watching as a chair moved four feet across the floor, apparently unassisted.
Reporters began to take an interest, with the Daily Mirror capturing photos of 11-year-old Janet Hodgson lifted off the floor, and the BBC making an attempt at audio recording, only to find their tapes became twisted and unusable.
But the most dedicated investigators of the Enfield Haunting were two members of the Society for Psychical Research – Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair.
Grosse’s interest in the paranormal was recent to the event, while Playfair had travelled the world investigating supposed poltergeists, and written two books on the subject. Later they would co-write This House Is Haunted based on the events they witnessed together, which included Lego bricks and marbles flying across the room, becoming hot to the touch and landing on the floor in an unnatural way.
And as time went on the phenomena got darker, and more dangerous.
Playfair and Grosse began to attempt to communicate with the spirit, at first asking for knocks in response to questions, and eventually their quest lead to the most disturbing element of the haunting – a spirit spoke, using the children as a conduit, its rasping, masculine voice emitting from the child’s mouth.
It’s been over 30 years since the activity in Enfield but the fascination of what happened in that house still intrigues sceptics and believers alike.
Paranormal investigator and member of the Society of Psychical Research
(Speaking on the BBC’s Video Diaries)
“The voice was just part of it, the girl levitated going from horizontal to vertical in a sixth of a second and furniture was thrown around the room.
The house was swarming with journalists, but after four days, they were baffled and frightened and called my team for help.
A policewoman gave a sworn affidavit of the extraordinary activity she witnessed.
Many objects materialised out of thin air, spoons were bent and fires broke out spontaneously in the family’s home. The family had to endure practically every known phenomenon in a poltergeist case.”
“There were four distinct taps on the wall and then silence. About two minutes later I heard more tapping from a different wall.
The other police constable checked the other walls, attic and pipes, but could find nothing to explain the knocking. The eldest son of the family pointed to a chair next to the sofa.
I then saw the chair slide across the floor.
It moved approximately three to four feet then came to rest. I checked the chair but could find nothing to explain how it moved.”
(Speaking to the BBC)
“I got hit by a Lego brick – one of the kids’ toys – just above my eye… which left a mark there for a few days.
Everyone that was stood there just saw these things with amazement, and couldn’t believe what was happening. I wouldn’t [believe it] if I hadn’t been there.
You had to see it to believe it.”
A Voice From Beyond The Grave
Along with moving objects, knocking and levitations, the case was to take a more terrifying turn when the poltergeist apparently took control of one of the children and began communicating through them – an eleven-year-old child seemingly speaking with the voice of an elderly man.
To start with, the voice used knocking and barking to interact with investigator Maurice Grosse. It then started to use words, first saying Maurice’s name and then gradually producing more clues as to who this being was. On investigation, it claimed to be a former resident of the Hodgson’s house.
In an age before modern technology, the voice was recorded on audio tapes. In an interview with the BBC you can clearly hear the voice responding to the questions from Maurice and Guy.
Starring an award-winning cast and crew comes a brand new three-part series based upon the real events that occurred in that ordinary house in Enfield in 1977.
Adapted from Guy Lyon Playfair’s book This House is Haunted and drawing on extensive documentation, recordings and witness statements of the time, the show brings to life the phenomenon that remains to this day the most documented account of poltergeist activity in British history.
The stellar cast comprises of Timothy Spall OBE, recently bestowed the Best Actor accolade at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for his role in Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner, BAFTA-winning actor Matthew Macfadyen and BAFTA-nominated actress Juliet Stevenson. They are joined by Olivier Award® winning young actress Eleanor Worthington-Cox in the lead role of Janet Hodgson, the youngest daughter of Peggy Hodgson played by British actress Rosie Cavaliero.
Kristoffer Nyholm, widely acclaimed for his work on the global hit drama The Killing will direct from screenplays by Joshua St Johnston.