The Conjuring 2 was inspired by a true story – one that was documented by multiple sources, including the BBC.
In the newest trailer for The Conjuring 2, Ed and Lorraine Warren, real-life paranormal investigators portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, travel to England to investigate claims of poltergeist activity stemming from the home of a single mother and her four children. The trailer describes the film as being from the “true files” of the Warrens, and calls the story it is based on, “the most documented case in paranormal history.”
The case in reference is in fact the true story of Peggy Hodgson and her children, who, between 1977-1979, claimed to be terrorized by poltergeist activity in their home on Green Street in the north London suburb of Enfield. Their case, which became referred to as the “Enfield Haunting,” or the “Enfield Poltergeist,” was indeed documented – and some of the footage lives on online today.
The story begins in August 1977, when Hodgson’s two daughters, 11-year-old Janet and 13-year-old Margaret, said they began hearing strange noises in the home and seeing furniture move on its own. After hearing the noises herself – described as shuffling and knocking from within the walls, floorboards and ceiling – mom Peggy called in neighbors to help investigate. The neighbors say they also heard the noises but were unable to track the source. After Peggy saw a chest of drawers apparently move on its own, she called the police. One of the two arriving constables, Carolyn Heeps, signed a sworn affidavit attesting that she had witnessed a chair moving inexplicably, stating, “A large armchair moved, unassisted, 4 ft across the floor.” She checked for wires but found none, but as they were unable to conclusively determine the cause, nor that any crime had occurred, she told the family that the case was not a police matter.
Mrs. Hodgson next called in the press. A crew from the Daily Mirror, reporter Doug Bence and photographer Graham Morris, initially thought they were being hoaxed, until, Bence says, they saw children’s Lego bricks flying around the room:
“Inside the house the children’s Lego bricks were flying all over the place, going so fast you almost couldn’t see them… The kids were screaming and one of the bricks hit the photographer in the face.”
The Mirror crew then called in members of the “Society for Psychical Research.” Two of the group’s members, Guy Lyon Playfair and his colleague, the late Maurice Grosse, would spend the better part of the next year investigating and documenting the case through a series of photographs and recordings, and the two men became convinced that there were supernatural forces at work.
The reported activity at the home escalated over the next months to include a range of terrifying phenomena, from a fireplace being ripped out of a wall, to reports of levitations to the apparent possession of one of the daughters, Janet, around whom most of the activity centered. Janet began to speak with a strange, gravelly, deep voice that sounded like an old man and she began to identify herself as “Bill.” Investigations into the home’s history revealed that there was a gentleman named Bill who had in fact died in the home.
The Warrens visited the Hodgsons in Enfield in 1978, and the late Ed Warren was quoted as saying that he and Lorraine believed that there were “inhuman spirit phenomena in progress.”
Even though it was later revealed and admitted by Janet that she had faked some of the activity surrounding the case, many directly involved with the case, including Janet, maintain that the fakery only accounted for a fraction of the overall events.
In an interview with Will Storr for The Telegraph, a grown-up Janet had this to say:
“Maurice was annoyed with me.” Why did you do fake things? “There was times when things would happen and times when they wouldn’t. Sometimes, if things didn’t happen, you’d somehow feel you’d failed.” So you felt obliged to make things up so people wouldn’t be sceptical of you? “That’s pretty much it. Plus you’d get bored and frustrated at all the people coming and going. I mean, life wasn’t normal.”
When asked how much of the activity had been faked, she quoted “less than 2 percent.”
Maurice Grosse was not deterred in his beliefs by any of the fakery. “Of course they played tricks!,” he told Storr. “They’re children! But it was nothing to the real thing.”
Daily Mirror reporter Doug Bence remains open minded, and said in a Mirror interview last year: “I do believe that science isn’t capable of measuring every force in the universe – and this was unexplained.” He also added: “Although I didn’t see doors opening and people floating in the air, I did see the family’s reaction. They were scared witless, absolutely terrified – you can’t fake fear like that.”
The newest trailer for The Conjuring 2 opens with a priest playing a recording to the Warrens of a scary sounding voice, which is revealed to be coming from an 11-year-old girl (Janet Hodgson, portrayed in the film by Madison Wolfe). It also features a scene where Janet speaks in “Bill’s” voice in front of a group of reporters.
In the first six minutes of this first clip, narrated by the late investigator Maurice Grosse, you can watch and listen for yourself some real footage of Janet Hodgson, her sister and mother, and you can hear “Bill’s” voice for yourself. It also features an interview with a grown-up Margaret and her mother Peggy twenty years after the events took place:
This next, even more fascinating clip features testimony from the actual officers who saw a chair move, as well as recordings of “barking” and whistling and the first time “the voice” was heard and documented, plus unexplained knocking that occurs as the girls are being interviewed by the BBC (*the knocking occurs at around the 5:15 mark):
What do you think about the real case that inspired The Conjuring 2? Do you believe there were supernatural forces at work, or do you believe it was all a hoax? Perhaps a bit of both? Could it have been mass hysteria or collective hallucinations by those involved?
Regardless, the Enfield Poltergeist case remains incredibly strange, creepy and fascinating.