The Enfield Poltergeist

The Enfield Poltergeist was a period of poltergeist activity between August 1977 and September 1978, with an added activity in August 1980.

In late August, 1977, Mrs. Peggy Harper, a divorcee in her mid-forties, had put two of her four children to bed. The family was living in a three bedroom, semi-detached council house in Enfield, North London. Late one night Janet, age 11, and her brother Pete, age 10, complained that their beds were “jolting up and down and going all funny.” When Peggy entered the room all movement stopped. She was convinced the children were imagining things or playing a joke on her. The following evening around 9:30 p.m., Peggy was called to Janet and Pete’s room when they complained that something was making a shuffling noise. Janet said it sounded like one of the chairs in the room was moving, so Peggy took the chair out of the bedroom to put their minds at ease. Saying goodnight to the children once more, turning off the light, she heard the shuffling noise. She described the sound as being similar to “feet shuffling across the floor in slippers”. She turned the light on to see the furniture unmoved and the children under their covers. Turning the lights off, the noise resumed.

The family then heard four loud nocks on the partitioning wall of the house. Peggy then saw a heavy chest of drawers moving about 18 inches across the floor, well beyond the reach of her children. When it stopped Peggy pushed it back against the wall but when she turned her back it moved back to it’s former position. This time she found it impossible to move the chest. This caused her to shake with fear, yelling at the children to get out of their beds and to go downstairs – she was convinced something unexplainable was taking place. Seeing the neighbour’s lights were on, the Harpers, still in their pyjama’s, ran next door for help. The neighbours searched the house and garden, but found no one. Soon the entire group heard the knocks on the walls that continued at spaced out intervals. At 11:00 p.m. they called the police, who also witnessed the knocks. One officer saw a chair move across the floor and later signed a written statement to confirm the events.

The following day, the events continued with small plastic bricks and marbles being hurled around the house – when picked up they were found to be hot. This “attack” continued for three days by which time they sought help again, not only from the police, but a local vicar and a medium. But no one seemed to be able to explain or stop the escalating events.

September 8, between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., they heard a crash in Janet’s room. They discovered that her bedside chair had been thrown about four feet across the room where it was lying on it’s side, Janet was asleep at the time and no one saw the chair move. It happened again about an hour later and photographer Morris was there to document it on film.

The phenomena continued. There was interference with electrical systems in the house, electrical faults and mechanical failure. As soon as camera flashes were recharged they were quickly drained of power. An infra-red sensitive television camera was brought in to do remote monitoring of the bedroom but as soon as it began recording the tape would jam or break. The same thing happened to the BBC Radio reporter’s tapes when tape cassettes were found to be damaged, often the recordings erased, the metal inside some of the equipment would be found bent and even some of the tape decks would dematerialize reappearing several hours later in another location. The knocking on walls and floors became an almost nightly occurrence. Furniture slid across the floor and was thrown down the staircase. Drawers were wrenched out of dressing tables. Toys and other objects would fly around the room. Bedclothes were pulled off family members in the dark of night. Water was found in mysterious puddles on the floor. There were several outbreaks of fire followed by their inexplicable extinguishing. Curtains blowing and twisting in the wind when all windows and doors were tightly closed. There were even accounts of human levitation.

Janet claimed to have been picked up and thrown about the room by an unseen entity (witnessed by neighbours passing by and looking up into the girl’s bedroom ). One of the girls claimed that the curtain beside her bed twisted several times into a tight spiral and attempted to wrap itself around her neck trying to strangle her. This was substantiated by her mother who had witnessed this on more than one occasion. Soon a gravely, guttural male voice could be heard- coming from Janet’s throat. Janet claimed to have no control over the voice and would even appear to be in a trance-like state when the voice manifested. The voice claimed to be several identities, often speaking in obscene language. One character who did keep reappearing, identified himself as “Bill” who claimed to have died in the house. Out of all the voices this was the only one that could be verified. “Bill” identified himself as a man who had allegedly died in the house, an event that none of the Harpers were aware of. Naturally, this did not verify that this voice was, in fact, the ghost or spirit of the actual Bill who died. It merely represented itself as being this individual.

After two years of activity, the events subsided and the Harper family continued their lives.

Was this genuine phenomena? If not, why did the Harpers have their household disrupted for two years, invaded by investigators, psychiatrists and mediums? What caused the chest of drawers to move in the beginning? What caused the blocks to fly around? What spoke to the reporters in their vehicle? Because they sought out a medium in the beginning, sceptics argue this was a hoax. Did Maurice Grosse, who lost his young daughter in a car accident one year earlier, want to believe too easily that paranormal phenomena was occurring? Was the poltergeist activity caused by frustration externalising? Was the recent divorce of Janet’s parents a factor? Two years later, why did the activity come to a halt? It was claimed that Peggy Harper was trying to get to the top of the housing queue as it was becoming quite common for council tenants to have created “haunted houses” – however Mrs. Harper refused to leave her home.


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