; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Thornton Heath Poltergeist Ordeal

The Thornton Heath poltergeist case is not to be confused with the 1938 case of the same name, which was investigated by Dr Nandor Fodor.

This later case started one night in late August 1972 in the south London district of Thornton Heath, Croydon. A family first experienced the poltergeist activity when they were woken in the middle of the night by a blaring bedside radio that had somehow turned itself on...tuned to a foreign-language station. This was the beginning of a string of events that lasted nearly four years.

A particular lampshade repeatedly fell to the floor by some unseen force. During the Christmas season of 1972, an ornament was hurled across the room, smashing into the husband's forehead. "As he flopped into an armchair, the Christmas tree began to shake violently. Come the New Year and there were footsteps in the bedroom when there was no one there, and one night the couple's son awoke to find a man in old fashioned dress staring threateningly at him. The family's fear grew when, as they entertained friends one night, there was a loud knocking at the front door, the living room door was then flung open and all the house's lights came on."

They contacted the local Church who in turn sent a priest to bless their home. Sadly this did little good as the phenomena continued unabated. "Objects flew through the air, loud noises were heard and the family would sometimes hear a noise which suggested some large piece of furniture...had crashed to floor. When they went to investigate, nothing would be disturbed."

A medium who was consulted told the family that the house was haunted by a farmer of the name Chatterton, who considered the family trespassers on his property. An investigation bore out the fact that had indeed lived in the house in the mid-18th century. "Chatterton's wife now joined in in causing mayhem, and often the tenant's wife would be followed up the stairs at night by an elderly gray-haired woman wearing a pinafore and with her hair tied back in a bun. If looked at, she would disappear back into the shadows. The family even reported seeing the farmer appear on their television screens, wearing a black jacket with wide, pointed lapels, high-necked shirt and black cravat."

After the family moved out of the house, the poltergeist activity ceased, and none have been reported by subsequent residents.


Croydon's Ghostly Past Diminishes

Whether or not the overall strange past had anything to do with this particular poltergeist, the Croydon area is known for it's macabre history.

Croydon is an ancient town and people have settled here since the 6th century. As such, the borough has a past rich in spooks.

Frances Stewart, who researched Croydon’s ghostly past in the late 1980s, wrote in her book Around Haunted Croydon: “So many of Croydon’s original buildings have been demolished that it is hardly surprising to find the centre becoming devoid of ghosts.

“An office block that scrapes the sky or an exhaust-filled multi-storey car park are not fitting habitats for self-respecting spirits.”

Twenty years later the town centre is almost unrecognisable from what it once was and Croydon’s spirits have been forced to haunt the borough’s more rural outskirts.

One of the centre’s lost ghosts was a distressed woman who used to appear at the top of a staircase in the Old Palace, originally the manor house of the Archbishop of Canterbury and now an exclusive girls’ school.

The ghost appeared crying and wringing her hands in despair.

It has been suggested she was one of Elizabeth I’s maids-in-waiting who committed suicide in the house when she had a baby out of wedlock.

According to Mrs Stewart, there have been many exorcisms in the building in the past.

More recent additions to the borough’s ghostly population were the spooks that haunted the site of the Croydon Airport. Open from 1915 to 1959, this early icon to aviation was the site of many accidents and was also heavily bombed during the war.

The first spirit sighted there was a Dutch pilot in the 1930s.

His aircraft crashed in a fog that descended upon him suddenly, after he took off in favourable weather.

About a fortnight later, a pilot who was plotting his course when a voice behind him said: “You can’t take off, the weather is just the same as when I did.”

The pilot spun around to see a figure of the dead pilot standing behind him. Despite the clear day, he was in too much of a shock to take off and just a few hours later, a thick fog descended on the airfield as predicted.

The number of people killed during the war meant many ghosts were sighted in the borough in the 1940s and 50s. One sighting was in Thornton Heath.

A Scottish lady moved into a maisonette built on one of the old bomb sites in Princess Road. One evening she saw two strange children sitting at the top of the stairs in her house. They vanished and when the puzzled woman asked her own children if they had any friends over, they said that they had not.

The sightings continued and the woman soon discovered a brother and a sister had been killed when a bomb had fallen on their house in that exact same spot.

A haunting can take many forms and usually occur in places where there has been a violent or unusual death.

Whether violent, benign and helpful or merely sad, it would appear that Croydon’s ghosts are vanishing along with much of Croydon’s past. - croydonguardian.co.uk

Quotes from rwhit.dsl.pipex.com - Haunted Croydon
"Around Haunted Croydon" - Frances D. Stewart