The photographer who famously took a photo of a girl “floating” in an Enfield house, allegedly haunted by a poltergeist, disputes claims she “just jumped” and believes she may have had telekinesis powers like Stephen King’s Carrie.
The Hodgson family were at the center of a media frenzy in the 1970s when their council house at 284 Green Street was allegedly haunted by former tenant Bill Wilkins, who died there.
Single mother-of-four Peggy Hodgson’s 11-year-old daughter Janet was at the epicenter of the unknown forces, reportedly inside the house, with furniture flying and Bill’s raspy voice channeling through the young girl.
The Enfield poltergeist phenomenon was the inspiration for the Hollywood horror film The Conjuring 2 and several documentaries. Next month The Enfield Haunting, starring Catherine Tate, opens in the West End.
Photographer Graham Morris was in his 20s when, while working for the Daily Mirror in 1977, he was sent to the semi-detached house with a reporter around midnight after their neighbors Vic and Peggy Nottingham called pleading for help as Hodgson was frightened Family had sought refuge with them.
The children were returned to their home but it was only when Janet came in that scary events began, the now 69-year-old told MailOnline.
Photographer Graham Morris has filmed Janet Hodgson appearing to “float” in the bedroom of her council house on Green Street, Enfield, while her siblings cower in their beds
The children’s room, covered in Starsky and Hutch posters, where many of the events took place
“Bang, things started flying around,” he said. “I stand in the corner and look through my lens.” I can see everything. Nobody throws this stuff away. Nobody does anything. They’re not trying to do anything for fun or laughs or whatever.
“They were all absolutely horrified, especially the children.”
Frightened Janet, her 13-year-old sister Margaret and 7-year-old Billy began screaming, crying and biting their fingernails as a Lego brick flew, hitting Mr Morris in the head and leaving a nasty bump on his right for four days eyebrow left behind.
Her brother Johnny, 10, was at boarding school at the time.
Intrigued by what was happening, the skeptical Mr Morris returned to the home for up to four nights a week over the next 18 months – even as The Mirror dropped the story – and sometimes helped the children with their homework.
The family’s problems left “smart” Janet barely able to communicate with her siblings and mother, and her sister “cried whenever she was spoken to.”
The Society for Psychical Research (SPR), full of “very smart guys”, stepped up to document what happened, with experts from universities also trying to find out what was happening to the family who were “desperate for it to end”. .
A cast-iron bed was tipped on its side and a fireplace ripped out of the wall – but researchers’ attention was drawn to Janet when they said they discovered she was “floating”.
284 Green Street in Enfield was allegedly haunted by former tenant Bill Wilkins, who allegedly channeled his voice through Janet
Paranormal investigator Maurice Grosse (right) from the Society for Psychical Research was called in to find out what was happening in the house
To prove their theory, a camera was placed on a tripod in the corner of the child’s room, triggered by a button on a long cable leading into the living room, with an audio recording also made.
“As soon as I hear there’s something, like a bed spring rattling or someone moaning or screaming, a bang or a crash… anything.” “I pushed the button,” Mr Morris said.
This created the famous image that can be seen all over the world, in which Janet is said to be “floating” and “flying through the air.” Mr Morris remembered hearing a scream or a scream and then nothing for a second before there was a huge crash.
“There was no way she was doing it for fun,” he said. “You have to be crazy to actually want to do something like that.” It was a completely dark room.
“If she were to jump, she would launch herself into a brick wall or a door in pitch black darkness.”
They ran upstairs and found Janet crumpled in a “mess” on the floor on the other side of the bedroom.
He denied ever saying she was jumping, leaving it to the SPR’s experts to decide whether she was floating or not.
Mr. Morris has his own theory behind it and openly admits that he doesn’t believe in ghosts.
“I think this girl has some kind of power,” he said.
He believes the house was not haunted because something happened whenever Janet was there, whether at school, with her neighbors or at the shops.
Instead, he compared it to Stephen King’s character Carrie, who can move things with her mind using her telekinesis powers.
‘[I think] “Janet has this kind of kinetic energy, she’s really smart,” he said. “Like I said, she can’t talk to her dad – he’s not there – mom’s too busy, her sister is crying, a brother has such a severe speech impediment that I doubt she can even understand what he’s saying, and the “other brother is here.” a special school.
An iron bed was tipped on its side and a chimney was torn from the wall – but researchers’ attention was drawn to Janet when they said they discovered she was “floating”.
“And she really wants to get that…whatever it is.” That energy, that power, whatever she has to communicate with people. And it is expressed in a kind of force in different ways. Like a kinetic energy where things move.’
He doesn’t think the Enfield poltergeist mystery will be solved in his lifetime, but in 100 years it will be considered something simple.
Mr Morris did not speak to anyone about what happened on Green Street. His own family only learned of his involvement when they saw him in a documentary.
“The whole thing was too crazy, too strange … just too outlandish,” he said. “Everyone who heard about it wanted to be there and see it for themselves. They wouldn’t take anyone’s word for it. You just had to experience it for yourself.
“I have very good friends, relatives and everything.” They believe everything you say, but they still had to see it and they didn’t want to trust me or the pictures. I’m afraid it turned into a Victorian freak show.’
The year-and-a-half-long spooky photos on Green Street have stayed with Mr. Morris for the past four decades.
“Nothing like this has ever happened before or since,” he says, before letting out a quick breath.
“It was just the strangest thing that ever happened to me. And that’s why I wanted to stay there and finish it and find out what it was – for me as much as anything else.”
Although he was initially frightened on the first day by witnessing things floating and flying, he feels that this time has transformed him from a child who was afraid of the dark to one who is more accepting of most things is pretty bulletproof.
He chuckled, “You see these weird shows on TV about sleeping in a haunted house and you think, ‘Hey, join in.’ After Enfield it will be a piece of cake.”
Instead, he approaches things scientifically and laughs at Halloween movies. He even says he would probably be thrown out of the latest West End production of Enfield Haunting for giggling in the audience.
‘The [Enfield] “It wasn’t Hollywood,” he said. “They didn’t have CGI.” They [the Hodgson family] I didn’t fake it.’
Catherine Tate will star alongside David Threlfall in the West End production of The Enfield Haunting later this year
The Enfield Poltergeist saga has been the subject of numerous documentaries and drama series. Timothy Spall starred in Sky’s three-part miniseries The Enfield Haunting in 2015 (pictured: Juliet Stevenson, Timothy Spall and Matthew Macfadyen).
The series is based on Guy Lyon Playfair’s book This House Is Haunted.
Mr Morris added: “There’s something going on in this house that we haven’t discovered yet. “We haven’t found out what it is or how it happened.
“If that’s the case, we’ll probably all look pretty stupid and say, ‘I’m stupid, why didn’t I think of that?’ And that’s what we just don’t know.
“In the coming years we’ll all be doing it, teleporting or moving things with our fingers from ten meters away.” But we just don’t get it.
“I don’t know how it works or how it happens, but I knew then that the children weren’t intentionally causing these things to happen. “There could be some power or force or flash of genius coming from one of them – Janet.’