The photographer who famously took a picture of a girl ‘levitating’ at an Enfield home supposedly being haunted by a poltergeist denies saying she ‘just jumped’ and believes she may have had telekinesis powers like Stephen King’s Carrie.
The Hodgson family was at the centre of a media frenzy during the 1970s when its council home at 284 Green Street was supposedly being haunted by former tenant Bill Wilkins who had died there.
Single mother-of-four Peggy Hodgson’s 11-year-old daughter Janet was at the epicentre of the unknown forces supposedly within the home with furniture flying around and Bill’s rasping voice being channelled through the young girl.
The Enfield Poltergeist phenomenon was the inspiration for Hollywood horror movie The Conjuring 2, multiple documentaries, and next month will see The Enfield Haunting starring Catherine Tate open at the West End.
Photographer Graham Morris was in his 20s when in 1977, while working for the Daily Mirror, he was sent with a reporter to the semi-detached home at around midnight after their neighbours, Vic and Peggy Nottingham, called pleading for help when the terrified Hodgson family had sought refuge with them.
The children were brought back to their home but it was only when Janet walked in that eerie happenings began, the now 69-year-old told MailOnline.
Photographer Graham Morris captured Janet Hodgson appearing to ‘levitate’ in the bedroom of her council home in Green Street, Enfield, as her siblings cower in their beds
The children’s bedroom plastered with Starsky and Hutch posters where many of the events happened
‘Bang, things started flying all over the place,’ he said. ‘I’m in the corner looking through my lens. I can see everything. No one is throwing this stuff. No one is doing anything. They’re not trying to do anything for fun or for laughs or whatever.
‘They were all, particularly the kids, absolutely horrified.’
Terrified Janet, her 13-year-old sister Margaret, and Billy, 7, began screaming, crying, and biting their fingernails while a Lego brick flew and hit Mr Morris in the head leaving a nasty lump above his right eyebrow for four days.
Their brother Johnny, 10, was at boarding school at the time.
Fascinated by what happened, over the next 18 months the sceptical Mr Morris returned to the home – even when The Mirror dropped the story – for up to four nights a week and would sometimes help the children with their homework.
The family’s problems meant ‘bright’ Janet was barely able to communicate with her siblings and mother, with her sister ‘crying whenever she was spoken to’.
The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) full of ‘very bright blokes’ got involved to document what happened with experts from universities also trying to solve what was happening with the family ‘desperate for it to end’.
A cast iron bed was tipped on its side, and a fireplace was torn from the wall – but the researchers’ attention was drawn towards Janet when they say they discovered she was ‘levitating’.
284 Green Street, in Enfield, was supposedly haunted by former tenant Bill Wilkins who was said to be channelling his voice through Janet
Paranormal Investigator Maurice Grosse (right) of The Society for Psychical Research was called in to try and find out what was happening at the home
Keen to prove their theory, a camera was set up on a tripod in the corner of the children’s bedroom, which was triggered by a button on a long cable which ran down to the living room, with an audio recording also being taken.
‘As soon as I hear there’s anything, like a bed spring goes twang or somebody moans or screams, a bang or crash… anything. I hit the button,’ Mr Morris said.
It is through this that the famous picture seen across the world of Janet supposedly ‘levitating’ and ‘flying through the air’ was taken. Mr Morris recalled hearing a scream or a shout and then nothing for a second before a huge crash.
‘There is no way she was doing this for fun,’ he said. ‘You have got to be mad to actually want to do something like that. It was a completely darkened room.
‘If it were the case she were jumping she’d be launching herself at a brick wall or a door in pitch black.’
They ran upstairs to find Janet in a ‘mess’, crumpled on the floor on the other side of the bedroom.
He denies he ever said she was jumping and he left it to the experts at the SPR to decide whether she was levitating or not.
Mr Morris has his own theory behind it and openly admits he does not believe in ghosts.
‘I think this girl has some sort of force,’ he said.
He believes the house wasn’t haunted as things would happen whenever Janet was there, whether it was at school, her neighbours’ homes, or at the shops.
Instead, he likened it to Stephen King’s character Carrie who can move things with her mind through harnessing her telekinesis powers.
‘[I think] Janet has got this sort of kinetic energy, she’s really bright,’ he said. ‘As I said, she can’t talk to her dad – he’s not here – mum’s too busy, her sister cries, one brother has a speech impediment so bad I doubt she can even understand what he says, and the other brother is at a special school.
An iron bed was tipped on its side and a fireplace was torn from the wall – but the researchers’ attention was drawn towards Janet when they say they discovered she was ‘levitating’
‘And she is desperate to get this… whatever it is. This energy, this power, whatever she has, across and out to communicate with people. And it’s coming out in different ways in a sort of force. Like a kinetic energy where things are shifting around.’
He doesn’t think the mystery of the ‘Enfield Poltergeist’ will be solved in his lifetime but when it is 100 years from now it will be looked upon as something simple.
Mr Morris didn’t talk to anyone about what was happening at Green Street, with his own family only discovering his involvement when they saw him in a documentary.
‘The whole thing was too wacky, too weird… just too way out,’ he said. ‘Everybody who heard about it wanted to be there to see it for themselves. They wouldn’t take anybody’s word for it. You just had to witness it yourself.
‘I have very good friends, relatives and all sorts. They believe everything you say, but they still had to go see and they wouldn’t take my word for it or the pictures. It was turning, I’m afraid, into a Victorian freak show.’
The year-and-a-half snapping creepy photos at Green Street has stayed etched in Mr Morris’s mind for the last four decades.
‘Nothing like that has ever happened before or since,’ he says before audibly puffing out a rapid breath.
‘It was just the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me. And that’s why I wanted to stay there and see it through and find out what it was – for me as much as anything else.’
Although initially spooked on the first day having witnessed things floating and flying around, he feels the period hardened him from being a kid scared of the dark to feeling fairly bulletproof to most things.
He chuckled: ‘You see these strange programmes on TV saying go sleep in a haunted house and you think “hey, bring it on. It’s got to be a piece of cake after Enfield”.’
Instead he takes a scientific approach to things and laughs at Halloween movies. He even says he’d probably get thrown out of the latest West End production of the Enfield Haunting for giggling in the audience.
‘This [Enfield] wasn’t Hollywood,’ he said. ‘They didn’t have CGI. They [the Hodgson family] weren’t faking 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 many documentaries and drama series. Timothy Spall starred in Sky’s three-part mini-series of The Enfield Haunting in 2015 (pictured: Juliet Stevenson, Timothy Spall, and Matthew Macfadyen)
The series was based on Guy Lyon Playfair’s book, This House Is Haunted
Mr Morris added: ‘There is something going on in that house which we haven’t discovered yet. We haven’t worked out what it is or how it happened.
‘When it does, it’ll probably make us all look rather stupid and we will go “silly me, why didn’t I think of that?” And that’s the thing, we just don’t know.
‘In years to come we all will be doing it, teleporting or moving things with our fingers ten yards away. But we just don’t understand it.
‘I don’t know how it works or how it happens, but I knew at the time that the kids were not making these things happen intentionally. There might be some power or some force or some brainwave that’s coming from one of them – Janet.’