Over the last 40 years the Enfield Poltergeist has become world famous. Numerous Hollywood films – most recently The Conjuring 2 – have been (very loosely) based on strange events taking place in a council house in Enfield in the late 1970’s. The story has never gone away and it gained a new lease of life with the arrival of the internet and growing worldwide interest in the paranormal.
Stories about the Enfield Poltergeist started in 1977 and 1978 with BBC broadcasts on radio and television, as well as numerous newspaper reports including the Daily Mirror, The Observer, News of the World, the Daily Mail, and in America the National Enquirer. The book ‘This House is Haunted: An investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist’ by Guy Playfair was published in 1980 and was reviewed in the Daily Telegraph and other national newspapers.
On Sunday 8 April 2018, BBC Radio 4’s The Reunion Programme brings together presenter Sue MacGregor and 3 Enfield Poltergeist eyewitnesses: former BBC reporter Roz Morris, now TV News London’s Managing Director (Roz is pictured left in 1977 with her BBC Radio reel to reel tape recorder), lawyer Richard Grosse, and professional photographer, Graham Morris (No relation to Roz). The programme will be repeated on Friday 13 April. Each of them remembers their experience with the Enfield Poltergeist and are pictured above after recording the programme. (Left to right Richard Grosse, Roz Morris, Sue MacGregor and Graham Morris).
Roz’s report ran for 10 minutes in The World This Weekend on Sunday 11th September 1977 and she was so intrigued by the strangeness of what was happening to the Hodgson family that she went on to produce a 40-minute radio documentary – first broadcast in December 1978 on BBC Radio 4. It was repeated in 1979 on Radio 4 and also repeated twice on BBC World Service Radio.
The programme contains recordings of poltergeist activity including unexplained knocking sounds on walls, and also the strange deep voices seeming to come from Janet and her sister Margaret, and which claimed at times to be the voices of ghosts.
So why did this come to be known as the Enfield Poltergeist? Poltergeist means noisy spirit in German and there have been reports of this type of noisy and energetic ‘ghostly’ behaviour for hundreds of years. ‘All the incidents reported at Enfield fitted in with previous reports of what is known as ‘poltergeist activity’ Roz says.
The Conjuring 2 has so far made worldwide profits of more than $300 million. “I should point out that you have to take all these Hollywood films with a huge pinch of salt ” Roz says. “The films tend to focus on religious themes with demons, evil spirits and crosses turned upside down and so on, but in fact nothing like that was ever reported at Enfield.”
The Enfield Poltergeist is still controversial. Critics claim that the whole thing was faked by the Hodgson family. Some have claimed it was all down to the family wanting to move to a better council house. “However, this is not factually true “ Roz points out. “ Mrs Hodgson did not want to move and in fact lived in the house in Green Street for nearly 40 years and died in the house in 2003. The family did not make money out of the poltergeist, which, even in the much less frantic media times of 40 years ago, they could have done.“
“I really do not know what caused the Enfield Poltergeist “ Roz says. “ I do know that, apart from total sceptics who deny anything extraordinary happened at all, there are two types of theories. There is an internal cause theory – everything is caused by a young person around the age of puberty generating a form of psychic energy that can move objects around without touching them. There is also an external cause theory – ghosts centre around a troubled young person and the ghosts cause objects to move, strange voices and levitation of objects and people.
“ I simply don’t know what was happening at Enfield just over forty years ago. But what I do know is that in a long career as a journalist and broadcaster, this is the strangest and most disturbing story I have ever reported on.”