From the Archives: The Enfield Poltergeist | Haute Macabre

From the Archives: The Enfield Poltergeist

Last weekend, I wound up watching the first two Conjuring movies (I had no idea there was a third!) and fell back into the rabbit hole of the Enfield Poltergeist.

From the Haute Macabre Archives, first posted in April of 2019.

Perhaps due to the famed medium Lorraine Warren passing this week, I’ve been back inside a deep rabbit hole of The Enfield Poltergeist, one of the most (if not the most) heavily documented hauntings of all time. Lorraine has little, if anything, to do with this case, in particular, she and her husband were only briefly involved, but the recent news of her death dominoed me back into this story.

I am fairly certain that the majority of you are already familiar with the case, as it was the inspiration behind The Conjuring II and Poltergeist, but a brief introduction just in case:

The Enfield Poltergeist plagued a family in the London suburb of Enfield in the late 1970s, with the center of activity focused on Janet, the youngest daughter. It has been hypothesized that poltergeist activity is triggered by puberty, especially around girls. An energetic manifestation of the hormone time-bomb of that age, Janet was the locus, and also possibly the actual source of activity. Most of the happenings, including the guttural voice that would speak through Janet, would almost never happen if any of the investigators were looking directly at the children or in the room, leading many to believe that it was all an elaborate hoax put on by the children.

The two men that were the main paranormal investigators on this case, Guy Playfair and Maurice Gross, both members of the Society for Psychical Research, believed in the actual presence of this entity, although they did catch Janet on more than one occasion contributing to some of the tricks. The poltergeist moved furniture, tossed objects about the rooms and through walls and floors, threw the children (especially Janet) from their beds, levitated her, pooled water, flicked lights on and off. The investigators were in the home morning through the night almost daily and documented each day thoroughly.

My take on this case is that it’s a mixed bag: I do believe that there was something not of this realm happening there, but I also think that the children were enjoying the attention that the activity was giving them, and they may have amped up the stakes a bit. What has always struck me is the total lack of reaction by the children in the videos of Janet channeling the Voice. Were they so desensitized by the constant activity that it didn’t even phase them any longer? I’ve been watching these videos for days now, and still find that the most unsettling part. The most compelling evidence is that an actual police officer that was called in early on in the activity witnessed a chair moving on its own, and filed a formal report on the incident.

For further and much more detailed accounts and overviews of the Enfield Poltergeist, I recommend the two-part episode from Last Podcast on the Left, and the book This House is Haunted by Guy Playfair, one of the main paranormal investigators involved in the case. I will admit that I abandoned this book with about 50 pages remaining: it is not a fast-paced or even truly engaging read, but more of a specific play-by-play of the nineteen months of events.

Below are a number of the videos I’ve been watching the last few days that I wanted to share. I am always curious what others’ take on this story is, so please share your with me in the comments!