The Enfield Haunting of 1977: The Unbelievable Events

The Enfield Haunting of 1977 is one of the most notorious cases involving supernatural intervention that has captured the attention of many people over the years. It has been at the center of public imagination over the years and yielded countless conspiracy theories, books, TV- Series, and even movies.

But exactly what happened during this strange occurrence? This question still haunts the amateur ghostbuster in us all. Was it a set-up, a mere hoax; or was it a genuine paranormal event? So, bring your candles, dream catchers, and ouija boards people, and sit down with us, as we de-construct the Enfield Haunting once and for all.

enfield haunting
By: Tama66/ Pixabay. Copyrights 2018

1. Introduction

The Enfield haunting (or events associated with the Enfield Poltergeist) refers to a series of paranormal events that reportedly took place in a council house in Enfield, London, England during the late 1970s. These events attracted widespread media attention at that time.

The alleged haunting involved a family of four, including two young girls, who experienced fantastical and strange occurrences attributed to some kind of supernatural intervention: moving of furniture on its own, knocking sounds without any physical explanation of the same, and levitation.

These things were first noticed by the Hodgson family. Later as more people were involved these oddities were experienced by several other people as well including police officers, journalists, and some paranormal investigators. Soon, it became a well-known case study and the subject of numerous books, documentation, and dramatizations.

2. How and When Did the Enfield Haunting Begin?

The origin of the Enfield haunting is situated in a council house in Enfield, London, England, between 1977 and 1979. The events of the haunting were investigated not just by individuals but also by organizations, including the Society for Psychical Research and journalists.

The story of the Enfield haunting began in August 1977 when Peggy Hodgson, a single mother, and her four children, Margaret(12), Janet (11), Johnny (10), and Billy (7) claimed to experience strange occurrences in their home, such as furniture moving on its own, objects levitating, unexplained knocking and banging sounds.

Skepticism about supernatural forces led the Hodgsons’ neighbors to initially dismiss the family’s claims, but the activities continued, and the issues faced by the Hodgsons gained traction with the public imagination. More people began becoming interested in what was happening inside their houses. The societal engagement with the case heightened as paranormal investigators, journalists, and experts in supernatural occurrences began to get involved.

The haunting reportedly escalated over time, with the children claiming to have been physically attacked by an unseen entity. Witnesses also reported seeing the children levitate and speak in voices that were not their own. The phenomena continued for months and the Hodgson’s home became a popular spot for investigators and curious onlookers.

The case remains controversial, with skeptics questioning the authenticity of the events and suggesting that the children may have faked or exaggerated the haunting. However, many people including some of the investigators who witnessed the events, believe that something unexplainable in rational terms and possibly paranormal was happening in the Hodgson house.

enfield haunting
By Daniil Ustinov/ Pexels Copyright 2021

3. Investigations

Several people were involved in the investigation of the Enfield haunting, including Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair (members of the Society for Psychical Research). Apart from them, there were others as well. So, here’s a rundown of all those who were engaged in the Hodgson affair and came in close contact with the case.

3.1. Police

The police were notably the first responders to the Enfield haunting. This is because the family contacted the police regarding what they were experiencing but the police thought that the family was being subject to some kind of a prank. The Hodgsons insisted still and maintained their position. Ultimately, the police personnel involved in the case decided to file a complaint and contacted SPR regarding this matter.

3.2. Society for Physical Research (SPR)

SPR is a British organization that investigates paranormal phenomena. Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair were members of the SPR and were sent to investigate the Enfield haunting. They spent several months documenting the happenings and alleged supernatural activity as well as interviewed several witnesses.

3.3. Individual Paranormal Investigators

In addition to the SPR, several other independent paranormal investigators also visited the Hodgson home to investigate the Enfield haunting. Most popularly these investigators included Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were well-known paranormal investigators in the United States at the time.

3.4. Media and Journalists 

With much cause, the Enfield haunting received a lot of media attention and several journalists visited the house to document the activity. One of the most famous media reports was a documentary called The Enfield Poltergeist that aired on British television in 1992.

3.5. Skeptics

While many people believed that the Enfield Haunting was genuinely paranormal, there were also skeptics who believed that all the alleged activities and experiences were faked. These skeptics claimed that the Hodgson children were playing pranks and that Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair were easily fooled. There were still others who held Grosse and Playfair to be part of the hoax, as contributors in weaving a false tale.

3.6. Researchers

Several researchers have studied the Enfield haunting in detail and have tried to analyze the audio recordings and photographs taken during the investigations to determine if the events were genuine or not.

enfield haunting
By cottonbro studio/ Pexels Copyright 2020

4. Guy Playfair’s The True Story of the Enfield Poltergeist

In his book, The True Story of Enfield Poltergeist, Playfair explores the Enfield Haunting, investigated by him. A writer and researcher of paranormal phenomena he was joined in his investigations by his colleague Maurice Grosse.

Playfair explores events that started on August 1977 when Peggy Hodgson, a single mother of four children, reported strange noises coming from the walls and the furniture of her home. The noises soon escalated into violent incidents, such as furniture moving on its own and objects being thrown across the room. Peggy’s children claimed to have seen an apparition of an old man, and one of them, Janet, began to speak in a voice that was not her own, claiming to be a spirit named Bill Wilkins, who had died in the house years ago.

They both began to investigate the case, setting up the cameras and tape recorders to capture any evidence of the paranormal activity. They witnessed firsthand some of the strange occurrences, including Janet’s apparent possession by the spirit of Bill Wilkins. They also interviewed other witnesses, such as neighbors and police officers, who had seen or heard strange things in the house.

The investigators faced skepticism from some quarters, with some accusing the Hodgson family of hoaxing the phenomena for publicity. However, Playfair and Grosse remained convinced of the authenticity of the case and continued to investigate and document the occurrences. They also sought the advice of an expert in various fields, such as physicists and psychologists, to try to understand the nature of the phenomena.

The phenomena gradually decreased in intensity and eventually ceased altogether in 1979, after nearly 2 years of activity. the Hodgson family remained in the house until the 1980s when they moved out.

Playfair and Grosse documented their investigation in the book This House is Haunted: The True Story of a Poltergeist, which was published in 1980. The book remains a popular and controversial account of the Enfield Poltergeist case and has been adapted into films, documentaries, and television dramas.

5. Adaptations of the Enfield Haunting: A Timeline

5.1. The Enfield Poltergeist Tapes (2001) 

This documentary features audio recordings of the voices of the alleged poltergeist that haunted the Enfield house, as captured by paranormal investigators who visited the house during the 1970s.

5.2. Interview With a Poltergeist (2007) 

This documentary, produced by Channel 4, features recordings of interviews with Janet Hodgson, one of the children who claimed to be haunted by a poltergeist in the Enfield house.

5.3. The Real Ghostbusters: The Enfield Poltergeist (2008) 

This documentary, produced by the Discovery Channel, features interviews with witnesses and experts who discuss the Enfield haunting and its possible explanations.

5.4. Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains (2013) 

This documentary explores the controversy surrounding the 1992 BBC Halloween special Ghostwatch, which claimed to be a live investigation into the Enfield Haunting. This caused hysteria among the viewers when they mistook it for an authentic documentary.

5.5. TV Mini-Series

A three-part British television miniseries that first aired in 2015 is also one crucial notch in the adaptation belt for the Enfield Haunting. The series follows paranormal investigator Maurice Grosse (played by Timothy Spall) and writer Guy Lyon Playfair (played by Mathew Macfadyen) as they investigate the strange occurrences that take place in the Hodgson family’s home, where Peggy Hodgson (played by Juliet Stevenson) and her four children are being terrorized by a poltergeist.

The mini-series portrays that as the investigation progresses both investigators become convinced that the haunting was real, but skeptics are quick to dismiss the events as a hoax. Overall, this series serves the horror palette and those craving more information into the Enfield haunting case.

5.6. The Conjuring 2

Perhaps the most popular adaptation of the story of the Enfield Haunting is the American horror film Conjuring 2, the second installment in the Conjuring series directed by James Wan, which came to the movie screens in 2016.

It follows the engagement of the main protagonists, Ed and Lorraine Warren in the case. As the Warrens investigate, they discovered that the spirit involved was a demonic entity that latched onto one of the Hodgson children, Janet (played by Madison Wolfe).

The movie builds tension through a mix of jump scares and atmospheric horror, with strong performances from the cast and impressive visual effects. The movie depends upon creative liberties to accentuate the viewer’s experience, but in essence, follows the Enfield haunting.

6. Was the Hodgson House Really Ever Haunted?

In the end, the question of whether the Hodgson house was haunted may never be fully resolved, and the case will likely continue to fascinate and intrigue people for years to come. Over the years, Janet has given numerous interviews about her experiences, both about the Enfield haunting and her life more generally.

From the very first time the world came to know about the events now collectively referred to as the Enfield haunting, there has been much conjecture and public debate. Janet’s firsthand accounts of the Enfield Haunting have been instrumental in shaping our understanding of this infamous case.

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