After 40+ years the debate lives on
Was it genuine paranormal activity or a sham dreamed up by two mischievous teenagers? Almost half a century after photographer Graham Morris and I made our way the Hodgson family home in Enfield’s Green Street on behalf of the Daily Mirror, opinion remains divided.
The Starsky & Hutch posters on the wall featuring TV detectives David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser, anchor the Enfield Poltergeist to the late 1970s.
Soon after the Daily Mirror broke the story in 1977, what had been experienced by the Hodgson family was hailed as perhaps the best recorded case of paranormal activity in Europe.
But when skeptical outsiders became involved it turned into a media circus. Those who had never been to Green Street or met the family, condemned it all as a farce, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the claims.
No matter. If the reality isn’t sufficiently persuasive, make it up. So lots did. Inadvertently, Graham and I had kick-started a media frenzy that turned a genuine paranormal investigation into a farce.
There were various TV documentaries, Sky’s mini series ‘The Enfield Haunting’ was aired in the UK in 2015, filming started in California on ‘The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist’, allegedly based on the experiences of the American ‘ghost hunters’ Ed & Lorraine Warren.
The film was released by Warner Brothers on 10 June 2016. The location sequences in Watford, Maida Vale and Marylebone Station had nothing to do with reality, but they worked well in that the 1970s retro material was convincing.
For authenticity, Janet and Margaret Hodgson were flown to California so that the actresses Madison Wolfe and Lauren Esposito could meet the characters they were playing.
Whatever your views, the case shows no sign of sinking into oblivion. The Daily Mirror’s interest began when the family next door telephoned the news desk, explained what was going on and said the mother and her children were terrified.
On our first visit to the house, Graham was hit by a Lego brick and his word has never been doubted. I didn’t see the brick whizzing towards its destination, but I saw Graham’s reaction. Graham and I returned on the following and subsequent nights, bringing another Mirror reporter with us, George Fallows whose idea it was to alert the Physical Research Society. This was the beginning.
It was moved forward by Maurice Grosse, who led the Society of Psychical Research investigation, and Guy Playfair, who wrote a book about it.
The Mirror remained in contact with the Hodgsons and Graham took some superb pictures, including the one above which shows Janet, the younger of the two girls, and the one most affected.
Although the three of us were keen to help the family, we were there for a story. A piece appeared on pages one and two of the Daily Mirror on 10 September 1977. Follow this link to see the original, but scroll down until you see the headline ‘The house of strange happenings.’
It was the first paranormal tale to appear in the Mirror since 1929 when the paper was famously duped by the charlatan-psychic Harry Price at what he said was the most haunted house in England, Borley Rectory near Sudbury in Essex.
Graham and I had no idea that we’d still be talking about what happened at Green Street all these years later. Unexplained things did happen, although not to the extent that TV mini series or feature films would have you believe.
I’ve been dubbed a skeptic simply because I never attributed what happened to poltergeists. Strange things did go on at that house in Green Street, and I have always maintained that there are forces on the planet that we can neither measure nor understand.
The last attempt to introduce some unbiased logic was a book published in 2019: The Enfield Poltergeist Tapes (pictured right) written by Dr Melvyn Willin who was the custodian of the recordings relating to the case. Have a read and make up your own mind.
The late psychical researcher
Maurice Grosse reading
Guy Playfair’s book which recorded
the goings-on at Green Street
Graham Morris went on to
specialize in photographing
test cricket, but he’s still
asked about that Lego brick
Published in 2019, Dr Willin’s book presents all the recordings in a genuine attempt to put this extraordinary story into perspective