Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Forty Years Ago Today: The Enfield Poltergeist

On this day in 1977, one of the best-documented paranormal cases of modern times began, a poltergeist in England. The case involves a quadruple-digit number of incidents spanning a few decades, with dozens of known witnesses, including police officers, reporters, and individuals who had been skeptical prior to what they witnessed. I've discussed the case in depth in the past, and you can access a collection of my posts here. Those who read my initial posts may want to check the comments sections of the threads, since I've posted some updates since the time when the original posts went up.

If you don't have much familiarity with the Enfield Poltergeist, start with this December 26, 1978 radio documentary that aired on BBC Radio. It's hosted by Rosalind Morris, a BBC reporter who investigated the case and witnessed some of the phenomena. The documentary is about forty minutes long and includes interviews with a lot of the eyewitnesses. During the first few minutes, for example, you'll hear from one of the family's neighbors, Vic Nottingham, discussing how the poltergeist's knocking followed him as he walked through the house and occurred in each room upstairs (apparently simultaneously) when he and two other men were there. Later in the program, Rosalind Morris and John Hasted refer to videos of the voice phenomena, though a video from Stewart Lamont is the only one I'm aware of that's available to the general public today. (Lamont's video includes both the voice phenomena and some knocking.) The documentary includes a lot of valuable information and is well worth listening to.


  1. Since the documentary I linked dates the start of the case to August 31 of 1977, I should explain why I've dated it to August 30. August 31 is when the family recognized that something paranormal was going on, and the events of that night were far more numerous and dramatic than what happened the night before. But the activity seems to have started on August 30. Guy Playfair writes on the first page of his book, This House Is Haunted (United States: White Crow Books, 2011):

    "It was about half past nine on the evening of 31 of August 1977, and none of the [Hodgsons] could be expected to know that the family had already had its last normal night's sleep for a long time to come. Mrs. [Hodgson] came out of her bedroom. 'What's all this going on?' she asked, rather crossly, for this was the second time running that [Billy] and Janet had been larking about at bedtime. The night before, they had tried to have her believe that their beds were shaking up and down. 'Going all funny,' Janet had claimed."

    Some sources date the start of the poltergeist to August 30, and others date it to August 31. (When Rosalind Morris did her documentary in 1978, she didn't have all of the books, articles, and other documentation we have today, and she hadn't had years or decades to research and think about the case.) Since we can date the relevant paranormal activity as far back as August 30, that's the date I use.

    1. The reference to one of Janet's brothers in the Playfair quote above should have the name Johnny, not Billy.