When The Conjuring was released in 2013, it was met with critical acclaim. Critics everywhere praised it for its all-too-realistic portrayal of the demonic haunting of an innocent family in Rhode Island.
Most viewers assumed that the movie was nothing but the wild imaginings of director James Wan. However, the true story of The Conjuring is actually rooted in a horrifying true experience of Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Ed Warren was a World War 2 veteran and a former police officer who became a self-professed demonologist after studying the subject on his own. His wife, Lorraine, claimed to be a clairvoyant and medium who was capable of communicating with the demons that Ed discovered.
In 1952, Ed and Lorraine founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, the oldest ghost hunting group in New England. They quickly gained notoriety as respected paranormal investigators after their initial investigation of the Amityville hauntings.
Their two most famous cases, however, were heavily popularized by the Conjuring franchise, a series of movies that focuses on Ed and Lorraine’s experiences exercising demons from two possessed families.
Though the movies seem over-dramatized and impossible to believe, the Warrens maintain that all of the events depicted actually transpired. Though Ed died in 2006, Lorraine was a consultant on the film and claims that she didn’t let the directors take any more dramatic license than was necessary.
Nevertheless, the true story of The Conjuring remains almost unbelievably chilling to this day.
The True Story Of The Conjuring: The Perron Family
The true story of The Conjuring begins with the first film which focuses on the Perron family.
In January 1971, the Perron family moved into a 14-room farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island, where Carolyn, Roger, and their five daughters began to notice strange things happening almost immediately after they moved in.
It started small. Carolyn would notice that the broom went missing, or seemed to move from place to place on its own. She would hear the sound of something scraping against the kettle in the kitchen when no one was in there. She’d find small piles of dirt in the center of a newly-cleaned kitchen floor.
The girls began to notice spirits around the house, though for the most part, they were harmless. There were a few, however, that were angry.
Carolyn allegedly researched the history of the home and discovered that it had been in the same family for eight generations and that many of them had died under mysterious or horrible circumstances. Several of the children had drowned in a nearby creek, one was murdered, and a few of them hanged themselves in the attic.
The spirit that was depicted in the film, Bathsheba, was the worst of them all.
“Whoever the spirit was, she perceived herself to be mistress of the house and she resented the competition my mother posed for that position,” said Andrea Perron, the oldest of the five girls.
It turns out there was actually a real person named Bathsheba Sherman who lived on the Perrons property in the mid-1800s. She was rumored to have been a Satanist, and there was evidence that she had been involved in the death of a neighbor’s child, though no trial ever took place. She was buried in a nearby Baptist cemetery in downtown Harrisville.
The Perrons believe that it was Bathsheba’s spirit that was tormenting them.
According to Andrea, the family experienced other spirits as well that smelled like rotting flesh and would cause beds to rise off the floor. She claims her father would enter the basement and feel a “cold, stinking presence behind him.” They often stayed away from the dirt-floored cellar, but the heating equipment would often fail mysteriously, causing Roger to venture down.
Over the ten years that the family lived in the house, the Warrens made multiple trips to investigate. At one point, Lorraine conducted a seance to attempt to contact the spirits that were possessing the family. During the seance, Carolyn Perron became possessed, speaking in tongues and rising from the ground in her chair.
Andrea claims to have secretly witnessed the seance.
“I thought I was going to pass out,” Andrea said. “My mother began to speak a language not of this world in a voice not her own. Her chair levitated and she was thrown across the room.”
Though the movie version of events culminates with Ed performing an exorcism rather than a seance, Lorraine insists that she and her husband would never attempt one, as they must be performed by Catholic priests.
After the seance, Roger kicked the Warrens out, worried about his wife’s mental stability. According to Andrea, the family continued to live in the house due to financial instability until they were able to move in 1980, at which point the spirits were silenced, and the hauntings ceased.
The Enfield Haunting
Six years after the Perron family was terrorized by their demon, another family in Enfield, England began to experience similar things.
In August of 1977, the Hodgson family started seeing and hearing strange things. Janet, who was 11 at the time, recalled sitting up in bed to see her dresser slide across the room that she shared with her brother.
“We shouted ‘Mum! Mum!’,” said Janet. “We were sort of frightened, but also intrigued.”
Later the family began to hear knocking coming from all sorts of places in the house. She remembers her mom thinking there were burglars, or drifters hiding out in their home, and calling the police to investigate.
The officer who arrived reported witnessing a chair rise up and move across the floor on its own. Reporters from the Daily Mirror, who were also called in to report on the Enfield haunting experienced them for themselves too.
Legos and marbles were reported flying around the room, hot to the touch when picked up. Clothing folded on tabletops would leap off of them and fly across the room. The sound of dogs barking would be heard in empty rooms, lights would flicker, coins would drop out of thin air, and furniture would spin or tip over without being touched.
Then, one day, the iron fireplace in an upstairs bedroom was ripped out of the wall. After that, paranormal investigators from all around the world showed up, claiming to be able to contact spirits, and wanting to know more about the Enfield haunting.
Most of them decided that the children had been faking their experiences, as one of them had admitted to doing so on one occasion, but the Warrens were different.
They showed up and immediately believed that a demonic presence was present. However, their claims were overlooked, as a noted skeptic at the time accused Ed Warren of “exaggerating and even making up incidents… often transforming a “haunting” into one case of “demonic possession.”
This is where the story differs from the movie as there was no exorcism-like practice from the Warrens. In 1979, two years after they began, the hauntings abruptly stopped, though the family maintains they did nothing to stop them.
After reading about the real story behind The Conjuring, check out the shocking muders behind the Amityville horror house and Robert the Doll, a haunted doll that Ed and Lorraine Warren would have loved.