The story of the Battersea Poltergeist

The most famous Poltergeist case in London is undoubtedly that of Enfield in the 1970s, which lasted a little more than a year. Another significant case was that of Battersea, which lasted more than 12 years from the end of the 1950s.

It happened at 63 Wycliffe Road, where 15-year-old Shirley Hitchings became the focus of another epidemic of phenomena in January 1956.

Shirley was joined by her father, Wally (under 40 years old), a London Underground driver, and her mother, Kitty, who suffered from severe arthritis. Ethel, the grandmother, whose convictions Her interpretations of who or what the poltergeist was were influenced by deeply rooted nuns, and her adopted son John also lived in the house.

The occurrence began one morning in late January 1956, with the appearance of a key. Then there were noises and bangs.

The first and subsequent nights, neighbours knocked on the Hitchings’ door, complaining about loud noises. To try to solve the problem, the family had to call the police and surveyors. Unfortunately, the initial police involvement resulted in a tip in the newspapers, resulting in a surge of press interest, leaving the family in a siege-like situation.

The media circus reached a climax near the end of February 1956, when Shirley’s father’s co-worker Harry Hanks, who claimed to be a medium, held a séance in an attempt to exorcise the poltergeist.

The local police decided to halt the séance, which was later discussed in parliament. Hundreds of newspaper articles were written around the world within days of the séance, as well as extensive reports from leading British newspapers at the time.

The family had to deal with recurring phenomena for weeks, then years. They were constantly terrified; at night, they would snuggle together in the kitchen or all sleep in the same bedroom.

BBC 4 has created a podcast on this story with interviews with Shirley too, you can find it here .

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