In the late 1970s, an ordinary North London home was allegedly haunted by a poltergeist — which tortured the family who lived inside.
In The Conjuring 2, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren travel to England to investigate the Enfield haunting. Though the film is fictional, the alleged haunting in North London did take place in the 1970s.
During that time, a single mother named Peggy Hodgson and her four children reported a series of bizarre incidents that happened at their home. More than 30 eyewitnesses later backed them up, describing items that flew through the air, matches that spontaneously burst into flames, and the voice of an old man that spoke through one of Hodgson’s young daughters.
Over time, some have come to see the Enfield poltergeist as concrete evidence of the paranormal. But others think that the entire haunting was orchestrated by the family who lived in the home.
How The Enfield Haunting Began
According to Peggy Hodgson, the haunting of her home at 284 Green Street, Enfield, in North London, began in August 1977. Peggy, who lived there with her four children, Margaret, 12, Janet, 11, Johnny, 10, and Billy, 7, claimed that she first knew something was up after there was a crash upstairs.
When Peggy went to investigate, she found Margaret and Janet cowering in the corner of their bedroom. “We [told our mom] the chest of drawers was moving toward the bedroom door,” Janet said. “She said, ‘Oh don’t be silly.'”
But the chest then slid across the room. “I just couldn’t believe it,” Peggy said. “In fact, I pushed it back twice, and a third time I couldn’t move it.”
As a strange knocking noise seemed to spread through the house, Peggy went to get help. She first reached out to a neighbor, and then the police.
When police constable Carolyn Heeps arrived on the scene, she said that she witnessed a chair moving on its own. “It came off the floor, maybe a half-inch I should say,” Heeps remembered. “And I saw it slide off to the right about three-and-a-half to four feet before it came to rest.”
And with that, the Enfield haunting had just begun.
When Ed And Lorraine Warren Investigated The Enfield Poltergeist
As time went on, the strange events at 284 Green Street seemed to escalate. Graham Morris, a Daily Mirror photographer who visited the house at the family’s request, described “chaos,” saying, “Things started flying around, people were screaming.” Morris himself got hit by a flying LEGO.
Eerily, the Enfield poltergeist seemed particularly focused on 11-year-old Janet. “I was used and abused,” Janet recalled. Some unknown force, she said, yanked her through the air and forced her to levitate. Additionally, Janet began speaking in the gravelly voice of an older man.
“Just before I died, I went blind, and then I had a hemorrhage and I fell asleep and I died in the chair in the corner downstairs,” the voice said, through Janet, on recorded audio. Chillingly, a former occupant of the house named Bill Wilkins had died in that same exact way years earlier.
By 1978, the so-called Enfield haunting had attracted the attention of American paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. As depicted in The Conjuring 2 film, the Warrens came to England to investigate.
Though their involvement was not as expansive as it was in the film, the Warrens did study the case and conclude that it was an authentic haunting.
“Now, you couldn’t record the dangerous, threatening atmosphere inside that little house,” Ed Warren later said. “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.”
In total, over 30 people also claimed to have experienced some kind of paranormal event during the Enfield haunting. They include reporters, police officers, lawyers, psychic researchers, and, of course, the Hodgson family.
But not everyone was convinced that the Enfield poltergeist was real. Some believed that Janet and her siblings faked the entire thing.
Is The Conjuring 2 Based On A True Story?
To some, the Enfield haunting was nothing more than an elaborate prank. Skeptics claimed that Janet made up the voice of Bill Wilkins herself and that her mother encouraged her for attention and fame.
Perhaps most damning, investigators once caught the children bending spoons. Janet admitted to doing that — but said that she and her siblings were just trying to see if anyone could tell the difference. And Janet insists that they faked paranormal events just “2 percent” of the time.
The family’s defenders also point out that Peggy Hodgson had nothing to gain from spreading the story. “Checkbook journalism,” as the Daily Mirror photographer, Morris, put it, simply didn’t exist at the time.
In any case, the hauntings trickled to a mysterious end in 1979. Though the family says they sometimes experienced slightly strange things after the haunting — like odd noises — nothing extreme happened in later years. That said, their chilling experience has stuck with them to this day.
“It stays with you. Every step of the way,” Margaret said. “It’s just like a death really, it gets a little bit easier as time goes on. But the fear and the memories of it and what happened never leaves you.”
And Janet, who experienced most of the haunting, dismisses the views of skeptics who say that she and her family made up the Enfield poltergeist.
“I don’t care what they think,” Janet said. “I know what happened and I know it was real.”
After reading about the Enfield haunting and the true story of The Conjuring 2, take a deeper dive into the real stories behind The Conjuring films. Then, discover the stories behind these haunted houses in the United States.