The Enfield Poltergeist has fascinated people and been the subject of debate ever since reports of the poltergeist activity started to appear in the national newspapers back in the late nineteen seventies. Psychic researchers who spent months investigating the case obtained photographs and audio recordings of the poltergeist activity. They became firmly convinced that the Enfield Poltergeist was a genuine case of poltergeist infestation. Guy Lyon Playfair, one of the investigators involved in the Enfield Poltergeist case, subsequently wrote a book on the subject called This House Is Haunted. There are, however, people who remain sceptical and say that there is insufficient evidence to prove that the Enfield Poltergeist was anything other than a hoax played out by the children involved in the alleged poltergeist manifestations.
The Enfield Poltergeist case centred around a family living in the North London suburb of Enfield. The family comprised of a divorcee, Peggy Harper (her pseudonym from the famous book, This House is Haunted, not her real name), and her four young children. The Poltergeist activity was focused on the younger daughter of the family, Janet, who was aged eleven when the strange events began in August 1977. The Enfield Poltergeist remained active in the household until September 1978.
The first manifestation of the Enfield Poltergeist happened one night when Janet and her brother, Peter (then aged ten), complained to their mother that their beds were shaking about in a strange way. The movement had apparently ceased when their mother entered the room and turned on the light. At first Mrs Harper dismissed the occurrence as a prank on the part of the children and the event would have been forgotten but further strange things began to happen. On the same night, Mrs Harper and the children heard noises that sounded like feet shuffling across the carpet.
Having introduced itself, the Enfield Poltergeist made a further nuisance of itself that night. Mrs Harper and the children heard loud knocking coming from the walls of the house and saw furniture moving, apparently of its own accord. The experience frightened the family so badly that they ran out of the house to seek help from neighbours and called the Police in to investigate. The Police found no trace of any human intruder but it is reported that one of the Police officers witnessed a chair moving several feet across the floor without human intervention. .
The day after this, the poltergeist became even more active and toy bricks and marbles flew through the air as if thrown around by an invisible hand. When the toys were picked up, they were hot to the touch. Mrs Harper sought help from a local vicar and a psychic medium but they were unable to explain or halt what seemed to be a paranormal attack on the family.
In desperation, Mrs Harper turned to the press and the case was reported in the national newspapers. One of the reporters suggested to Mrs Harper that she should call in the SPR (Society for Psychical Research). One of their members, Maurice Grosse, who lived in North London went to the house and started his investigations just a week after the disturbing events had begun. Although the evidence gathered during the investigations on behalf of the SPR was inconclusive, Maurice Grosse became convinced that the Enfield Poltergeist was a genuine case of poltergeist activity and remained firm in his convictions until his death at the age of ninety in October 2006.
As the haunting continued, the Poltergeist activity escalated. Throughout the time the Enfield Poltergeist was in residence the Harper family experienced just about every kind of Poltergeist activity recognised by psychic researchers. The knocking and sliding furniture were followed by furniture flipping over, drawers opening and closing, footsteps, the sighting of apparitions including a small child, an old lady and a man in old fashioned clothing. The Poltergeist became interactive firstly communicating through rapping and later by speaking through Janet and her brother Jimmy (the gruff male voices were apparently produced by using the false vocal chords). Janet was thrown around her bedroom by an unseen force and there were unexplained failures of electrical equipment in the haunted house.
I can vividly remember reading about the Enfield Poltergeist in the newspapers back in 1977/78. The Harpers’ house was near to where I lived and my eldest daughter was just a year younger than Janet Harper. Although the Harper children did not attend the same schools as my children, they might well have played together in the local park. One of the things that made the Enfield Poltergeist so unsettling was the fact that the haunting took place in a completely ordinary three bed roomed semi-detached local authority house. Somehow the haunting seemed more creepy because it took place in such ordinary surroundings. We expect ghosts to appear in isolated manor houses, haunted mansions or Transylvanian castles. Feeling that ghosts might turn up in an ordinary family house with carpets and kids’ toys and a TV set, must have made many people uncomfortably look over their shoulders to identify the source of any strange noise or unexpected draught. I certainly felt that way. Although my curiosity was strongly aroused by the sensational newspaper coverage, I did not dare to take a walk past the haunted house just in case some malevolent invisible presence decided to follow me home.
It has not been proven that the case of the Enfield Poltergeist was a real instance of poltergeist activity but, on the other hand, it has never been proven that the Enfield Poltergeist was anything other than a genuine haunting.
Elaine Currie runs a Work At Home Directory from her home in Enfield. To learn more about the home of the Enfield Poltergeist visit Enfield