Most fans of the paranormal and horror have seen or are going to see the the newest installment in The Conjuring series, which has opened to a box office haul of over $100 in two weekends. The Conjuring 2 features famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. I have been asked several times since the film hit theaters, “What is this ‘Enfield Poltergeist’ case they are talking about?” Time for a paranormal history lesson.
The Enfield Poltergeist case is one the most famous modern hauntings. It allegedly started in August, 1977. Single parent Peggy Hodgson called police to her rented home in Enfield, North London after her two older children claimed that bedroom furniture was moving and they heard knocking sounds on the walls and ceiling. The children included Margaret, age 13; Janet, age 11; Johnny, age 10; and Billy, age 7.
A police constable saw a chair slide on the floor but could not determine if it moved by itself or was pushed by someone. The Society for Psychical Research took an interest in the case and investigators Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair. reported “curious whistling and barking noises coming from Janet’s general direction.” Playfair maintained the haunting was genuine and wrote in his book This House is Haunted: The True Story of a Poltergeist (1980) that an “entity” was to blame for the disturbances, he doubted many of the children’s claims and wondered if they were playing tricks or exaggerating.
Still, Grosse and Playfair believed that even though some of the alleged poltergeist activity was faked by the girls, other incidents were genuine. Did demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren really investigate the Enfield Poltergeist case? Yes, but to a lesser degree than portrayed in the movie, billed as being “based on the true case files of the Warrens.” The Warrens briefly investigated the Enfield Poltergeist in the summer of 1978 and were just two of the many investigators to visit the Hodgson’s Green Street home.
Most articles about the Enfield Poltergeist case don’t even mention the Warrens, leading one to conclude that their role in the case was significantly dramatized for The Conjuring 2. Guy Lyon Playfair, one of the original paranormal investigators on the Enfield Poltergeist case, came forward prior to the movie’s release and said that the Warrens had showed up “uninvited” and only stayed for a day.
He also said that Ed Warren told him he could make him a lot of money off the case. Ed Warren touched on the case and its skeptics in Gerald Brittle’s book The Demonologist, stating, “Inhuman spirit phenomena were in progress. Now, you couldn’t record the dangerous, threatening atmosphere inside that little house. But you could film the levitations, teleportations, and dematerializations of people and objects that were happening there – not to mention the many hundreds of hours of tape recordings made of these spirit voices speaking out loud in the rooms.”
As the case became widely viewed as a hoax, some saw it as proof that the Warrens themselves were frauds. That’s the answer in a nutshell. Take it for what you will but these appear to be the facts.
by Guy Lyon Playfair [White Crow Books]
by Gerald Brittle [Graymalkin Media]
by Lorraine Warren [Graymalkin Media]