Although not strictly a ghost, the word 'poltergeist' means 'noisy spirit'. Moreover, the Enfield Poltergeist is probably the most famous and well documented haunting of this nature that has ever been recorded.
In 1977, Mrs. Hodgson, a single parent with four children, Margaret 12, Janet 11, Johnny 10 and Billy 7, were living in a terraced house in Enfield, North London.
One evening in August 1977, Mrs Hodgson called the police to the house as furniture was apparently moving of its own accord and loud bangs were heard issuing from the walls. The police could find nothing to explain what was happening and could do nothing to help but they did witness objects flying through the air and signed an affidavit to that that effect.
The disturbances got more intense and Mrs. Hodgson turned to anyone who could possibly help including the media and various mediums.
Through a newspaper, the Society for Psychical Research got involved and sent along Maurice Grosse to investigate. He quickly realised that the two girls were the focus for the activity although they were not physically moving objects. Also, when the objects, or 'apports' as they are known, appeared apparently from thin air, they were too hot to touch with bare hands. This could not be achieved by normal means.
Maurice Grosse managed to make contact with the entity, first by getting it to knock, once for 'Yes' and twice for 'No'. He then progressed to actually getting it to speak through Janet. By using an instrument, he was able to discover that it was not her voice box that was being used but her false cords. Normally a person can do this only for a few minutes at a time but sometimes Maurice Grosse held a conversation with the poltergeist for hours on end which he recorded on a tape recorder. The voice said claimed that he was a man called Bill who had died many years before in a chair in the house of a brain haemorrhage.
Girls in flight
By mid 1978, the level of activity in the house had reached a terrifying level. The children were captured on camera 'flying' out of their beds. A reporter challenged the poltergeist to show what it could do. Immediately, a heavy bed was moved against the girls' bedroom door and Janet was levitated several inches above her bed where she stayed, suspended in mid-air for several minutes. This was witnessed, and testified to, by both a delivery man and a school crossing lady who happened to be outside the house at the time.
Having reached a climax, the disturbances died down in September 1978. Peace once again returned to the house and Maurice Grosse left, disappointed that he had been unable to confirm the identity of what had been dubbed by the media, the 'Enfield Poltergeist'.
Then, three years later, a letter arrived at the Enfield house from a man claiming that his father, a William Wilkins, had died many years before, in the house of a brain haemorrhage. And of course, the man who died would have been known as 'Bill'.
This case is unusual in that the poltergeist seemed to have an identity and consciousness, rather than just being a 'blind force' as can be seen in this preview for the Channel 4 program, Interview with a Poltergeist. So perhaps the Enfield Poltergeist does count as a 'short lived ghost', if that is not a contradiction in terms!
You can read about noisy spirits of a totally different sort by going to the Screaming Skulls page.Return from The Enfield Poltergeist to Haunted London