Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Enfield Miscellany (Part 1)

I'm going to periodically post collections of miscellaneous items related to the Enfield Poltergeist, mainly taken from Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair's audio tapes. These will be discussions of material I didn't include in my earlier posts, that wouldn't fit well in any post I plan to write in the future, etc.

My citations of the tapes will use "MG" to refer to a tape from Grosse's collection and "GP" to refer to one from Playfair's. For example, MG88B is tape 88B in Grosse's collection, and GP3B is tape 3B in Playfair's.

Disembodied Hands

Some individuals reported seeing one or two disembodied hands involved in the paranormal events they witnessed (MG29A, 34:19; GP51A, 3:12; GP52B, 12:39; GP57B, 20:08). On the second tape just cited, for example, Peggy Hodgson refers to how she saw a disembodied hand on the kitchen door, then saw it move away and fade. None of the children were close by, it seems, and she says it looked like a man's hand anyway. In the third context cited above, Peggy saw a small hand, like a child's. The hands would sometimes accompany a paranormal event, so that a hand would be seen throwing a slipper that moved paranormally, for example. There's precedent in other cases for a disembodied hand (Alan Gauld and A.D. Cornell, Poltergeists [United States: White Crow Books, 2017], approximate Kindle location 2185).


I noticed a few occasions on the tapes when people commented on watches or other clocks having the wrong time. I initially didn't think much of it (and probably didn't include all of the incidents in my notes), but the cumulative effect seems significant. And other cases have involved the altering of time on clocks (Alan Gauld and A.D. Cornell, Poltergeists [United States: White Crow Books, 2017], approximate Kindle location 4835). On two different days only about a week apart, Grosse referred to his watch having the wrong time (GP71A, 31:21; GP73A, 16:18), and John Burcombe referred to his watch having the wrong time shortly before the second incident Grosse experienced (GP72A, 0:47). In another context, Grosse and Peggy Hodgson talked about how they'd noticed some clocks in the kitchen losing time (GP96B, 1:59). Notice that a few of the occasions involved watches. How would the Hodgson children have faked those incidents by changing the time on watches people were wearing on their wrists? It's unlikely that two people would have taken their watches off and allowed the children to access them a few different times in so short a period.

Tape Recorders

I've referred in previous posts to how the poltergeist often caused camera equipment to malfunction. Go here and do a Ctrl F search for "equipment" for a summary of the evidence. There were occasions when the poltergeist apparently interfered with audio equipment as well. Playfair discusses some examples in his book (e.g., This House Is Haunted [United States: White Crow Books, 2011], 153-54). There are many more on the tapes. Peggy and Margaret saw Paul Burcombe's tape recorder thrown and broken in the process (GP7A, 4:55). Peggy and both of the girls saw a microphone on Playfair's tape recorder move (GP31A, 27:00). Grosse and Peggy refer to a tape recording that was erased, and they suggest it happened paranormally (GP32A, 50:02). The poltergeist pulled the plug from John Burcombe's tape recorder (GP64A, 11:43). After Grosse criticized the poltergeist for doing something he disapproved of, it cut the wire of the microphone on his recorder (MG47B, 16:11). Sometimes it seems that there's a good chance or even that it's probable that audio problems with the tapes were caused by the poltergeist. For example, Grosse told it to stop swearing, and just after he said that, there's more than two minutes straight of distorted audio on the recording, after which it returns to normal (MG52B, 22:09). The poltergeist often responded defiantly when people told it to stop swearing. (Listen here, for example.)


The whistling allegedly produced by the poltergeist is often dismissed as unimpressive and something that could easily have been faked. There's good evidence for the paranormality of some of it, though. On one occasion, Grosse commented that he had everybody in the area under close enough observation that he was confident that nobody produced the whistling by normal means, that "absolutely nobody" present was whistling (GP73A, 3:49). Peggy then seems to refer to some whistling that occurred inside the house while all of the children were outside (4:20). In another context on the same tape, Grosse says the whistling that just occurred happened with a scarf tied around Janet's mouth (14:41). He says she couldn't possibly have whistled with the scarf in place, and he says that the scarf experiment completely rules out the notion that the whistling came from Janet. Later on the same tape, he noted that some whistling occurred near a tape recorder when nobody was nearby (19:08). The whistling sometimes occurs so frequently, for such a long period of time, that it's hard to believe that none of the adults present would have seen that it was being faked by the children if it was faked (MG41A, 3:06; MG47B, 25:10). Whistling has been reported in other cases as well (GP43B, 9:04; Alan Gauld and A.D. Cornell, Poltergeists [United States: White Crow Books, 2017], approximate Kindle location 3802).


In some of the Enfield photographs that have been released to the public, you can see wallpaper coming off the walls in the house. Some of that may be a result of normal causes, but it seems that at least some of it was paranormal. Janet comments on the subject on one of the tapes. She refers to the poltergeist tearing the wallpaper off the walls by itself, apparently without using any person or object to do it, and how it moved the wallpaper into shapes as well, apparently the form of an animal (GP91A, 26:54). It sounds like Margaret says "yeah" while Janet is talking, so Margaret apparently witnessed it as well. On another occasion, John Burcombe asks Peggy whether she saw the wallpaper coming off (MG61A, 58:32). She says she did, and Margaret says that she saw it. There was an event that happened more than a year later that's somewhat related (MG95B, 14:08). Burcombe was in the house alone, remodeling the Hodgsons' living room. He was putting up new wallpaper and was using an ashtray to hold one end of the wallpaper down, since it was so light and tended to curl up if not weighted down. He noticed that the wallpaper had started wrapping around his arm. Apparently, the poltergeist had moved the ashtray. It did that more than once. It also moved some other items while he was in the house on that occasion.

Events Outside The House

One of the things that stands out about the Enfield tapes is how often paranormal events were reported to have happened outside the Hodgsons' house, more than you'd think from reading Playfair's book, watching documentaries, etc. I've given some examples in previous posts, such as events that occurred in neighbors' houses or when the Hodgsons visited a local park. Another context in which events happened outside the house was when the children were at school. The poltergeist was much less active there than at the Hodgsons' house, but it apparently was active in school contexts from time to time. Janet referred to her chair jumping while she was at school (MG2A, 37:19). She was in a medical room at school, lying on a bed, and the bed shook (39:14). Margaret was in a class and something was cut up into eight pieces and distributed (something related to cooking, apparently), but they found that they had nine pieces afterward (MG14A, 2:02). The teacher and Margaret both double-checked how many pieces they initially had, and they were confident that they had eight. What makes this incident more significant is that Peggy goes on, just after Margaret gave her account, to refer to something similar that happened when she was cooking at home. Janet then refers to something similar, again in the context of cooking, and what she reports is confirmed by Peggy. The incidents with Margaret and Janet involved the adding of an item, and the incident with Peggy involved the subtracting of one. The three experiences (Margaret, Peggy, and Janet's) are mutually reinforcing, since they suggest the poltergeist's interest in adding or removing items in the context of cooking, and all three events happened around the same time. Janet referred to the poltergeist "crossing out" her work at school, apparently meaning that it moved her arm when she was writing, and the voice would sometimes manifest at school (MG65B, 8:41; MG87B, 7:32; GP26B, 29:14). Peggy was visiting Margaret's school on the opening day of a school year, and they got a ride home in some sort of school vehicle, which she refers to as a "coach" that had other people in it as well (MG91B, 26:12). The driver stopped at one point, put on the brakes, and turned the vehicle off to do something. Though the vehicle was off, with the brakes on, and they weren't on any sort of slope, the vehicle started moving again on its own. It went the length of a couple of houses. The driver commented that nothing like that had ever happened to him before. Peggy explains that she and Margaret looked at each other, apparently because they both suspected the poltergeist was moving the vehicle.

The Center Of The Poltergeist

It's common to refer to Janet Hodgson as the focus of the poltergeist without qualification, as if she was at the center of the poltergeist's activities throughout the case. But Grosse comments on one of the tapes that although Janet was initially the epicenter, there were multiple ones later (MG1A, 13:05). He refers to a period when Margaret seemed to be the focus of the poltergeist (GP38B, 32:46). In the spring of 1979, Grosse and Peggy Hodgson agree that the poltergeist is currently focused on Johnny (MG95A, 21:32). And poltergeist activity continued in the house long after Johnny's death and when Janet and Margaret had moved out. After Peggy Hodgson's death in 2003, the next family who moved in also reported paranormal activity.

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