Photographer who took famous Enfield poltergeist ‘levitation’ image says ‘possessed’ girl Janet Hodgson, 11, ‘just jumped’

The tale of the Enfield Poltergeist had the nation spellbound some 50 years ago, puzzling policemen, psychics, experts in the occults and hardened reporters alike.

A series of eerie happenings allegedly took place in a council house at 284 Green Street, Enfield, North London in the 1970s.

Perhaps most horrifying of all, however, was the voice of a dead man coming from an 11-year-old girl, Janet Hodgson, who appeared to be possessed as she levitated in her bedroom.

The events, which unfolded for more than a year behind the door of an ordinary-looking semi-detached council house, still resonates today and is the focus of a brand new TV mini series. 

However, the latest update in the Enfield Poltergeist saga comes at an inconvenient time for Apple TV+, since Graham Morris, a photographer from the Daily Mirror who worked on the case, claimed that the levitation images of Janet merely showed her jumping, according to The Times.

‘She frightened herself to death and almost broke her neck. She endangered her own life every time so I don’t see why she would want to do that,’ he explained. 

Daily Mirror photographer Graham Morris told The Times that Janet Hodgson (pictured) was just jumping in the famous 'levitation' images from the Enfield poltergeist case

Daily Mirror photographer Graham Morris told The Times that Janet Hodgson (pictured) was just jumping in the famous ‘levitation’ images from the Enfield poltergeist case 

The rasping male voice coming from Janet’s suspended body supposedly delivered a message from beyond the grave, describing in graphic detail the moment of death. 

‘Just before I died, I went blind, and then I had an ‘aemorrhage and I fell asleep, and I died in the chair in the corner downstairs,’ she was heard saying. 

The eerie voice — which can still be heard on audio tapes today — is purportedly that of Bill Wilkins. The recording was made several years after his death.

The young girl at the centre of the events seemingly acted as the mouthpiece for Bill Wilkins, a foul-mouthed, grumpy old man who had died in the house. His son contacted investigators to confirm the details of his story. 

Naturally, many questioned whether it was all a hoax — but no explanation other than the paranormal had ever been convincingly put forward, until last week. 

Graham, who captured the images of Janet during the alleged paranormal instances, said that the young girl was merely jumping.

In conversation with The Times, when asked whether she was levitating, the 69-year-old said: ‘No. But then I’m in a house with member of the Society Psychical Research. 

‘They went: “Oh, she’s levitating.” I just stared back. I wasn’t there to make any claims.’ 

The series of paranormal events allegedly took place at a house on Green Street in Enfield, North London (pictured above in 2011)

The series of paranormal events allegedly took place at a house on Green Street in Enfield, North London (pictured above in 2011) 

Graham reasoned the so-called paranormal activity to be Janet simply jumping across the room.

The photographer operated his camera remotely from a room downstairs in the Enfield home, with his equipment taking a frame every second.

According to the photographer, these images did not support the theory that Janet levitated up from the floor and continued to hover in the air. 

Yet, Graham’s images have been at the heart of claims that Janet was subject to a poltergeist’s presence.

Graham further discredited the claims that Bill Wilkins’ voice was channelled through Janet’s body as ‘a load of rubbish’.

He added that the family were under a huge amount of stress, which was only exacerbated by the presence of members from the Society for Psychical Research.

Apple TV has recreated the eerie happenings in a new drama called The Enfield Poltergeist, which is set to be released on October 27

Apple TV has recreated the eerie happenings in a new drama called The Enfield Poltergeist, which is set to be released on October 27

Apple TV’s re-telling of the Enfield Poltergeist, set to release this month, follows the story through original recordings made inside the house.

The show strives to recreate the story as the Hodgson family told it, which began in 1977. Peggy Hodgson was unusual, at the time, in that she was a single mother to four children — Margaret, 12, Janet, 11, Johnny, ten, and Billy, seven — having split from their father.

The Enfield Poltergeist: Sisters haunted by a ghost 

Janet Hodgson, who was 11 at the time, was convinced she was possessed by a former resident of the house in Green Street, Enfield, a man called Bill Wilkins who had died there many years before.

The case of the Enfield Poltergeist also involved levitation, furniture being moved through the air, and flying objects swirling towards witnesses.

There were cold breezes, physical assaults, graffiti, water appearing on the floor, and even claims of matches spontaneously bursting into flame.

It became the centre of a media storm, however, many reports of poltergeist activity have ultimately proved to be hoaxes.

While believers say that adolescents are more ‘susceptible’ to hauntings, even psychical researchers have put forward the ‘naughty little girl’ theory, saying that the activity impacts teenagers because they’re acting out for attention.

According to research in anomalistic psychology, activity can be explained by psychological factors such as illusion and memory lapses.

Attempts have also been made to scientifically explain poltergeist disturbances that are not apparently fraudulent.

Skeptic and magician Milbourne Christopher found that some cases of can be attributed to unusual air currents, such as a 1957 case on Cape Cod where downdrafts from an uncovered chimney became strong enough to blow a mirror off a wall, overturn chairs and knock over objects.

It was the evening of August 30, 1977, and Penny was keen to get her children into bed. She heard Janet complaining from upstairs that her and her brothers’ beds were wobbling.

Penny told her daughter to stop mucking around. The following evening, however, there was an altogether more bizarre disturbance. Mrs Hodgson heard a crash from upstairs. Cross, she went to tell her children to settle down.

Entering their bedroom, with Janet’s Starsky & Hutch posters on the wall, Mrs Hodgson saw the chest of drawers move. She pushed it back, but found that it was being propelled towards the door by an invisible force. It seemed as if some supernatural presence was trying to trap the family in the room with the heavy oak chest.

The family appealed for help from their neighbours, Vic and Peggy Nottingham. Vic, a burly builder, went to investigate.

He says: ‘I went in there and I couldn’t make out these noises — there was a knocking on the wall, in the bedroom, on the ceiling. I was beginning to get a bit frightened.’

Margaret added: ‘He said: “I don’t know what to do.” I’d never seen a big man like that looking scared.’

The Hodgsons called the police, who proved to be similarly mystified. WPC Carolyn Heeps saw a chair move.

She said at the time: ‘A large armchair moved, unassisted, 4ft across the floor.’

She inspected the chair for hidden wires, but could find no explanation for what she had seen.

Eventually, the officers left, telling the family that the incidents were not a police matter, as they couldn’t find anyone breaking the law.

Next, the Hodgsons contacted the Press, which is when Daily Mirror photographer Graham Morris visited the house.

The BBC also went to the house, but the crew found the metal components in their tape equipment had been twisted, and recordings erased.

Next, the family sought help from the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). It sent investigators Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair, a poltergeist expert who subsequently wrote a book, This House Is Haunted, about the affair.

The investigators found themselves caught in a maelstrom of apparently psychic activity, with every poltergeist trick thrown at them.

Most of the activity centred on 11-year-old Janet. She went into violent trances, which were awful to behold. On one occasion, the iron fireplace in her bedroom was wrenched from the wall by unseen forces.

Family members also claim to have seen her levitating — floating clean across the room.

She told Channel 4: ‘I felt used by a force that nobody understands. I really don’t like to think about it too much. I’m not sure the poltergeist was truly “evil”. It was almost as if it wanted to be part of our family.

‘It didn’t want to hurt us. It had died there and wanted to be at rest. The only way it could communicate was through me and my sister.

Speaking to MailOnline previously, Janet recalled: ‘It was hard, I had a short spell in the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital in London, where they stuck electrodes on my head, but the tests proved normal.

‘The levitation was scary, because you didn’t know where you were going to land. I remember a curtain being wound around my neck, I was screaming, I thought I was going to die.

‘My mum had to use all her strength to rip it away. The man who spoke through me, Bill, seemed angry, because we were in his house.’

The situation had a huge effect on the family.

Janet said: ‘I was bullied at school. They called me Ghost Girl and put crane flies down my back.

‘I’d dread going home. The front door would be open, there’d be people in and out, you didn’t know what to expect and I used to worry a lot about Mum. She had a nervous breakdown, in the end.

‘I’m not one for living in the past. I want to move on. But it does come to me now and again. I dream about it, and then it affects me. I think why did it happen to us?’

Her brother was called ‘freak boy from the Ghost House’ and people would spit at him in the street.

Janet herself was on the front page of the Daily Star with a headline: ‘Possessed by the Devil.’

She left home at 16, and married young.

‘I lost touch with everything, all the coverage of the case in paranormal books. My mum felt people walked over her at that time. She felt exploited.’

Shortly after the Press attention drifted away, Janet’s younger brother Johnny died of cancer, aged just 14. Janet’s mother then developed breast cancer, dying in 2003, and Janet suffered the loss of her own son, in his sleep, when he was 18.

She rejected any suggestion that the whole story was faked in pursuit of fame or money.

‘I didn’t want to bring it up again while my mum was alive, but now I want to tell my story. I don’t care whether people believe me or not, I went through this, and it was true.’

Asked whether she believes the house is still haunted, she said: ‘Years later, when Mum was alive, there was always a presence there — something watching over you.

‘As long as people don’t meddle the way we did with Ouija boards, it is quite settled. It is a lot calmer than when I was a child. It is at rest, but will always be there.’

Janet reported that it was a priest’s visit to Green Street that resulted in the incidents ‘quietening down’ in autumn 1978, although the occurrences did not stop entirely, she says, with her mother continuing to hear noises in the house.

Janet said: ‘Even my brother, until the day he left that place after Mum died, would say: “There’s still something there.” You’d feel like you were being watched.’

Janet said she continues to believe in the poltergeist, saying: ‘It lived off me, off my energy. Call me mad if you like. Those events did happen. The poltergeist was with me and I feel that in a sense he always will be.’

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