Sunday, January 01, 2023

Where should Enfield research go from here?

This is the last of my monthly posts on the Enfield Poltergeist, though I intend to continue posting about the case periodically as circumstances warrant it. There's another Enfield documentary on the way, and I suspect there will be more around the time of the case's fiftieth anniversary in 2027. I expect to post about those. But this marks the end of the monthly posts I've been doing for most of these past six years in which I've been writing so much about Enfield. I want to offer some concluding thoughts here and outline what direction I think future work on Enfield should take.

I'm not suggesting that the conclusion of my monthly posts or my Enfield work in general marks some turning point in research on the case that should be recognized by other people. Rather, I'm addressing how things should proceed from here regardless of the significance of my involvement up to this point or how much I will or won't be involved in the future. I'm a layman with no relevant educational or career credentials, and I had no involvement in the original Enfield events. A lot of other people could have done the work I've done on the case and could have done it better. It was an unexpected privilege and honor to be as involved in working on the case as I have been. I haven't lost interest in Enfield. But there's only so much to say about the information I've had access to so far, so the monthly posts have to come to an end at some point.

I'm grateful to the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), especially Melvyn Willin, for the access I've had to Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair's tapes and the SPR's committee report on the case. I also appreciate the help I've received from Guy Playfair (shortly before his death), David Robertson, and others involved in the original Enfield events and the comments, encouragement, and such that I've received from others along the way. I appreciate this platform I was given for doing my Enfield work (and a lot of other things) by Steve Hays. I miss him so much.

In previous posts, I've said that more work needs done on the opening of the case and its conclusion. That's still true. I've done some research on the closing of the case, and I posted an article on my findings last year. We have a relatively large amount of information on what happened from late August of 1977 to mid August of 1979, the two years when the poltergeist apparently was most active. We still need much more research done on the timeframes before and after those two years.

We also need more people to listen to the tapes, especially people with relevant expertise. I've discussed some further work that can be done on the taped knocking, for example. Carl Sargent, who died a few years ago, had one or more Enfield tapes of his own. It would be good if somebody could get a hold of what he recorded.

The notes of Peggy Hodgson, Maurice Grosse, Guy Playfair, and other relevant individuals should be studied. I don't know how many of the notes are even extant at this point.

A lot of work still needs done on the photographs. I don't know what percentage of Graham Morris' photos has been made public. My impression is that most of Grosse's haven't been. One thing that needs done is to line up the photos with the tapes and other relevant evidence. They can and should shed light on one another. People often object that the photos don't prove that something paranormal occurred, but why expect them to do that to begin with? They're good as supplementary evidence. See my discussion here regarding how much some of the levitation photos have been underestimated, for example.

I contacted a couple of publishers to see if they were interested in putting out a new edition of Tony Cornell's Investigating The Paranormal that would include the Enfield material he left out of the original edition. The original publisher told me that Cornell's family wanted to republish the book in England, which the publisher (Helix Press) couldn't do, so they released the book back to the family. I then contacted another publisher about the situation, and they never responded. If any of you have a significant connection to the publishing industry or a connection with the Cornell family or some other relevant source, please consider making an effort to get Cornell's book republished with the Enfield material added.

I continue to be astonished that Anita Gregory's doctoral thesis has gotten so little response nearly five years after it was made so easily accessible to the general public (maybe more than five years, if I'm wrong about the timeline). I've written two lengthy responses to her thesis, here and here, and I've discussed it to some extent elsewhere. It would be good to hear from people who knew her. I think Kathleen Wilson, Gregory's research assistant, later had the name Kathleen Korner, and I believe she's still alive. She was on the phone with Gregory when they made their controversial call to Carolyn Heeps in 1983. It would be good if Korner could offer some clarifications about that phone call and other issues related to Gregory, like Grosse's claims shortly before his death about seeing Gregory's Enfield notes and what he saw in those notes.

Speaking of Heeps, more work should be done on what the police officers who visited the house experienced. They haven't said much about their experiences in recent years, as far as I know, and most of them said little even in the early years of the case. (Here's my article about the police officers involved in Enfield.) See here regarding an interview in a 1996 book with somebody who's supposed to be a police officer who went to the Hodgsons' house. I find his claims highly suspicious, for reasons explained at the link above. But if anybody knows the authors of the book, John and Anne Spencer, or has contact information for them, it would be good to get more information from them. I don't know much about what police documents are available in England or how to go about getting them. In 2018, I made an attempt to get any documents that might exist that were filed by Heeps and her partner after their visit to the Hodgsons' house on what's typically considered the opening night of the case. I received a form letter back telling me that no documents were found. It would be useful if somebody who knows more about how to get such documents would make an effort to do it. It would also be useful to get in contact with any of the colleagues of Heeps and her partner who worked with them at the Ponders End police department during the timeframe in question. One of the things we should be after here is confirmation that what Heeps said in her signed statement to Grosse is what she was saying before meeting Grosse, which is something Anita Gregory tried to cast doubt on.

There are occasional references on the tapes to stores on Green Street where paranormal events happened when the Hodgsons were there. Any owners or employees at those stores who were young at the time might still be working there or may be available in some other context.

These are just several examples among many others that could be mentioned. There's still a lot of work that should be done.

Some of my Enfield posts that I most enjoyed writing were tributes to four of the most important individuals involved in the case. If you haven't read them, I hope you will:

Peggy Hodgson
Maurice Grosse
Guy Playfair
John Burcombe

I think the posts I'm most pleased with that addressed issues related to the case are the one about what Enfield skeptics actually experienced when they visited the Hodgsons' house and the one about events involving the operation of machinery.

An article I read about Enfield a few years ago made a comment that stood out to me, which I've remembered ever since then, about how the Hodgsons' home "became a portal for spirits in late 1977". The case would involve a quadruple-digit number of events experienced by a triple-digit number of witnesses over a double-digit number of years. And close to 200 hours of audio recordings were produced, including many paranormal events caught on tape, along with many signed witness statements, notes taken by the investigators and others involved, and a lot of other data collected. Much of that material is still in need of a lot of further research. The case is epic and surely will continue to be discussed for a long time to come. On April 27, 2019, about a year after Guy Playfair's death, the SPR held a study day in remembrance of him. Near the end of it, Melvyn Willin commented, "So, it's the usual thing, isn't it? It's the white crow. As far as I'm concerned, it was certainly flying around in Enfield."


  1. And so your excellent work on the case is concluded, Jason - at least on a monthly basis. I firmly believe that it should be recognised by other people and, while other people could have done the work on the case and perhaps could have done it better - the fact is, they didn't.

    I look forward to properly reading all of your writing on the case from start to finish and hopefully commenting on many recent posts that I've missed. Much of my spare time recently has been taken up with research on my own book (a work of local history, not the paranormal).

    It's a real pity that Helix Press - presumably for commercial reasons - couldn't republish Cornell's excellent book. It's one of the best books on the paranormal I've read. It's interesting that he wanted to include Enfield in the book, since I get the impression he wasn't overly impressed with his experiences at the house. However, as with his investigation of the RMS Queen Mary, had he been able to go back to the house, he might have been convinced.

    I've always been intrigued by WPC Heeps and her partner, who it seems we can call 'PC Hyams' with a fair degree of confidence. I'm very surprised that neither has publicly commented about the Enfield case in the intervening years, unless the Spencers really were interviewing PC Hyams in 1996. It was brave for a female police officer to go on camera about what she witnessed, given the degree of casual sexism there was back then, so that perhaps makes it even more surprising that she hasn't resurfaced in the subsequent Enfield documentaries. It may simply be that she doesn't want the attention because she embarked on having a family, or she may even be dead. I'm also surprised that Melvyn Willin was unable to track Heeps down. We don't know either whether she was even approached for comment in the recent Enfield documentaries.

    As for records at the Ponders End station, Jason, I suspect they'll have been destroyed not long after the Heeps and Hyams visit, or else lost or misplaced. I assume it was also a fairly minor, satellite police station, particularly at the time. So the 2018 reply you received, although regrettable, was probably truthful, rather than it being a case of someone simply being too idle to look. I have even heard of the BBC misplacing and losing valuable archive material.

    1. It's good to hear from you again, Anthony! And I appreciate the encouragement.

      Howard Hughes did an interview with Guy Playfair in 2011, which you can listen to here. At 1:05:51, Guy seems to refer to Heeps as still an "active servant" or something like that, apparently meaning that Guy thought she was still a police officer in 2011. Earlier in the interview (14:46), he refers to how Heeps received a lot of negative reaction from her colleagues in the 1970s.

      There's a good chance you're right about the unavailability of the police report. It's sad to think of how much wasn't preserved that so easily could have been. But it's also good that so much was kept.