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Ask any paranormal enthusiast what they consider to be the best-documented and most fascinating poltergeist haunting of all time and they’re likely to name the Enfield Poltergeist. Thirty years on, the case continues to attract interest, and is still a matter of debate between skeptics and believers. The first manifestations of the haunting began on August 30, 1977, at the home of single mother Peggy Hodgson and her four children, Margaret, 13; Janet, 11; Pete, 10; and Jimmy, 7.
The house, located in the suburb of Enfield, North London, was a place of much activity, as the children were often boisterous—as young children normally are. It was also a place of considerable despondence, as Peggy had recently separated from her husband. The atmosphere in the house was far from happy.
Pete and Janet shared the same bedroom. That evening, soon after they had gone to bed, something shook their beds in a way that defied explanation. They told their mother what had happened, but she thought they were playing games. She told them to go back to sleep.
The next evening, the children heard a strange shuffling noise, as did Peggy. They also heard four loud knocks. Then things got truly bizarre. They all watched in amazement as a heavy chest of drawers slid out from the wall on its own. As soon as Peggy pushed it back into position, it slid out again. When she tried pushing it again, the object wouldn’t budge. Something was preventing it from moving.
Scared out of their wits, everyone rushed downstairs. Peggy told her neighbor, Vic Nottingham, what had occurred, and he agreed to go inside and take a look for himself. He searched the house from top to bottom, attempting to find out what had caused the strange phenomenon. But he was just as baffled as everyone else.
As is typical of poltergeist disturbances, the Hodgsons were often bothered by loud and persistent knocking sounds. As soon as the lights were switched off, it started. The sound emanated from different areas of the house, and would often shift around from wall to wall. Sometimes it would come from the ceiling.
That same night, the police were called in to investigate. They found it difficult to take the case seriously, and were unable to offer any assistance. Just as they were preparing to leave, however, the poltergeist decided to show itself. A chair levitated off the floor, and began moving across the room. According to WPC Carolyn Heaps, “It came off the floor nearly half an inch. I saw it slide off to the right about four feet before it came to rest. I checked to see if it could have slid along the floor by itself. I even placed a marble on the floor to see whether it would roll in the same direction as the chair. It didn’t. I checked for wires under the cushions and chairs and I could not see any. I couldn’t find any explanation at all.”
The following evening, the disturbances began again. The poltergeist started hurling small objects around the room, like marbles and Lego bricks. One of the marbles that had been thrown was found to be hot to the touch.
A friend of Peggy’s called up the Daily Mirror, who sent a reporter and photographer to investigate. Once again, objects began flying around the room at great speed. The photographer began snapping shots frantically, eager to capture the paranormal activity on film. During the commotion, a Lego brick flew across the room and hit him on the brow; the bruising lasted a few days. Referring to this incident in his book Poltergeist!, paranormal expert Colin Wilson calls it “one of the few examples of a poltergeist actually hurting someone.”
When the photos were developed, they were found not to exhibit any poltergeist activity whatsoever. All they showed were terrified and astonished witnesses.....
Read the rest of this article in the October 2007 issue of FATE
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