• We have updated the guidelines regarding posting political content: please see the stickied thread on Website Issues.

The Battersea Poltergeist

titch

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Sep 30, 2009
Messages
3,508
I Have just finished "the poltergeist prince of london, the remarkable true story of the battersea poltergeist" and while i thought it was a very interesting read, the case itself i have my doubts about. While there appear to be a few events for which shirley can't seem to be blamed for, i think most of this case seems to be a young woman's fantasies of royalty and movie stars coupled with a desire to play with dolls and avoid going to work.
 
I must admit that sounds really sad. Apart from the not wanting to go to work part. I often worry about these cases, Enfield in particular, that they aren't at the expense of some very vulnerable people.

I'll look out for this book.
 
I just finished this book too and it was a great read, if thoroughly unconvincing about paranormal goings on. The idea of the polt sitting down to watch its favourite tv programs with the family is just great.
 
When the polt discovered Michael Parkinson didn't have a chat show anymore did it start with the loud bangs and throwing objects?
 
I recently read a book, The Poltergeist Prince, about a purported case of poltergeist phenomena in 50s Battersea. At the centre of it all was Shirley Hitchings, the usual teenage girl at the centre of these matters, in this case one who seems to have been intelligent, imaginative and frustrated at the life of apparent drudgery set out for her. The striking thing here was the extent to which the alleged polt seemed to be an object lesson in wish-fulfilment. The polt introduced himself as a handsome teenaged prince, the son of Louis XVI, and proceeded to threaten the family with arson if:
  • they made Shirley get a job;
  • they did not give Shirley her own room;
  • they did not buy her a pet hamster;
  • they failed to buy her new clothes;
  • they did not make every effort to arrange a meeting with a film star with whom she was infatuated; or
  • did not send her to theatre school.
The alleged Dauphin communicated this by raps, notes (in an approximation of French which would make Gorden Kaye blush) and the occasional act of graffiti.

Even the SPR treat this case with some scepticism (http://www.spr.ac.uk/publication/po...n-remarkable-true-story-battersea-poltergeist) but to those involved it must have seemed horribly real as every one of the polt's wishes was granted.

I have seen the Enfield case characterised as simply attention-seeking, and others as children's games which have got out of hand, but this case seems to be a targeted and conscious attempt by the subject to assert herself and find a way out of what must have been quite a tedious and frustrating existence.

Does anyone else know of any similar cases where the poltergeist made similar demands? If so, there must be potential for an article on 'The Paranormal as a Means of Self-Assertion" or some such...
 
Last edited:
Fascinating, never heard of it before. You could argue the polt, if supernatural, was channelling the girl's subconscious, but equally it does sound like orchestration by a strong-willed manipulator who found a way to get her family at her beck and call. Who was the film star, as a matter of interest? Did they indeed meet?
 
The film star was Jeremy Spenser, who appeared in a number of secondary film roles and leading man TV roles at the time. They never met, although the family did write to him to explain the situation and try to fix something up. Jeremy's agent seems to have been intrigued by the polt and tested 'him', ultimately being unsatisfied and breaking off the correspondence (if I remember correctly).

Oddly enough, the one accurate prediction the polt seems to have made is Jeremy Spenser being in a car crash, although that has to be set against a large number of inaccuracies. Bizarrely, the Dauphin also briefly made way for a newly-dead James Dean (who Shirley had also had a thing for) to communicate with the family. 'James' spoke in a rather stilted, 'hard-boiled' sort of a way.

Shirley, moreover, is still with us and as at the date of publication, vehemently denied having faked anything - though given what the family was put through, she was hardly likely to admit to it if it was her!
 
The polt didn't set the house aflame, did it? I know, I should read the book...
 
The polt didn't set the house aflame, did it? I know, I should read the book...

Matches dropped through floorboards, occasionally, which smouldered out. Not enough to endanger, but enough to alarm.
 
Wasn't there a Goon Show about this - the phantom batter-pudding hurler of Battersea, or something?
 
Wasn't there a Goon Show about this - the phantom batter-pudding hurler of Battersea, or something?
It's on Youtube.

Video unavailable
This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
A mere 2 weeks later, the video is no longer available. Perhaps if the account had had an ad free subscription option . . . Rhymes with Orange - cartoon strip 2-21-20.jpg
 
On further investigation: "Video is blocked in country." Aw, phooey!

I can access "Tales of Old Dartmore" though.
Mysterious universe, YouTube.
 
This may be old news - if so I apologise for being so late to the party. I've just come across this three-part series on BBC Sounds about this case. I haven't listened to it yet so can't vouch for its quality.

63 Wycliffe Road is an ordinary house on a quiet South London street, but in 1956, it becomes famous as the site of an alleged poltergeist. The strange events focus around teenager Shirley Hitchings – but is it a haunting or hoax? Ghost hunter Harold Chibbett arrives to investigate. This series blends drama and documentary to explore an intriguing paranormal cold case. As we hear the original haunting brought to life, host Danny Robins begins his own present-day investigation – what really happened to terrify the Hitchings family 65 years ago?
Written and Presented by Danny Robins, starring Dafne Keen (His Dark Materials), Toby Jones (Detectorists, Capote), Burn Gorman and Alice Lowe, with original theme music by Mercury-nominated Nadine Shah and Ben Hillier, this gripping 8-part series interweaves a chilling supernatural thriller set in 50s London with a fascinating modern-day investigation into Britain’s strangest ever haunting – a mystery unsolved... until now.

Cast:
  • Shirley Hitchings........Dafne Keen
  • Harold Chibbett.........Toby Jones
  • Wally Hitchings........Burn Gorman
  • Kitty Hitchings..........Alice Lowe
  • Ethel Hitchings..........Sorcha Cusack
  • John Hitchings........Calvin Demba
  • Mrs Cameroo..........Amina Zia
Written and presented by Danny Robins
With thanks to James Clark, co-author of 'The Poltergeist Prince of London'
Consultant: Alan Murdie
Experts: Ciaran O’Keeffe and Evelyn Hollow
Sound Designer: Richard Fox
Music: Evelyn Sykes
Theme Music by Nadine Shah and Ben Hillier
Produced by Danny Robins and Simon Barnard
Directed by Simon Barnard

Links hopefully available here.
 
Hi calgacu I will have a listen to that.
I’m presently either sat twiddling my thumbs on the sofa or in bed.Got fitted with a catheter on Monday after having rest of kidney stone removed and a biopsy for bladder cancer.
But all is well I hope I’m trying to find a thread swifty put up about paranormal radio programmes one with selina Scott on it.
 
Hi calgacu I will have a listen to that.
I’m presently either sat twiddling my thumbs on the sofa or in bed.Got fitted with a catheter on Monday after having rest of kidney stone removed and a biopsy for bladder cancer.

I hope that your results are good and you're feeling better soon @Who me.

I have to admit that I'd never even heard of the Battersea poltergeist until I came across those BBC Sounds productions. I'd (of course) heard about, and read about (and watched the serialisation of) the Enfield poltergeist case, and had read about the Sauchie poltergeist, but the Battersea equivalent had passed me by.

(When Googling for the above link for the Sauchie case I also came across an article about wider happenings on the same housing estate in the Sunday Post (my apologies for the source :worry:)). The account that I was actually searching for was in a blog post by an investigator who had interviewed friends and neighbours of the Campbell family - but it seems to have disappeared into the ether. :(
 
Last edited:
Thanks mate I’ve seen stories about the sauchie poltergeist but never got around to reading them.
And then the neighbours reporting the same events. Well creepy
 
This may be old news - if so I apologise for being so late to the party. I've just come across this three-part series on BBC Sounds about this case. I haven't listened to it yet so can't vouch for its quality.



Links hopefully available here.

Highly recommended listening it is, too. The line-up is the presenter, a female parapsychologist and a skeptic plus an original witness. Also links to the Enfield case.

Apparently there will be 8 episodes in total, so I have subscribed on the Sounds app
 
I've just been listening to this on BBC Sounds - currently up to Episode 4, plus the listener q&a bonus show.

The dramatisation is nicely done, and the occurrences outlined so far are pretty much classic polt - will be interesting to see how they tackle the rather more exotic events outlined in the original post upthread, and how the panel of experts will interpret them. Since the author of The Poltergeist Prince is mentioned in the show credits, I imagine the audio version will stick fairly closely to the book.

This particular case wasn't familiar to me either, though I had heard of another Battersea Poltergeist, this one dating from November 1927. It focused on a property at 8 Eland Rd, occupied by the Robinson family, and was investigated by Harry Price. The case gets a mention in Colin Wilson's book Poltergeist!, on p.285, and seems to have attracted a fair degree of media attention at the time as well.

Looking forward to hearing more.
 
The Battersea Poltergeist is now the most popular Documentary on the BBC radio Sounds app. Hopefully this will encourage the BBC to make some follow-up cold case paranormal investigations as there is clearly an appetite for it (WelshTriangle please!).

As regards the outcome, its going to be interesting as the original witness is sticking to her story, time will tell...
 
Great interview with Evelyn Hollow on the case. Fascinating and Evelyn is stunning to boot.
 
I also enjoyed the BBC sounds podcast, although it's interesting reading upthread as there are a couple of details I don't remember being included in the podcast.

It looks like the book was fairly unconvincing but I haven't read it myself. I'm on the fence really. The podcast is fairly sympathetic to Shirley although it does explore most possible explanations including hoax. In the podcast she comes across as sincere and when you listen to her discuss her experiences it sounds quite compelling and believable. However, as others have pointed out it's notable how often the poltergeist demands tied in with Shirley's interests. For myself, when they started talking about a french dauphin etc. it just seemed too far fetched.

Even if there wasn't a ghostly phenomena at play, perhaps there was some other paranormal phenomena involved. I'm not particularly interested in poltergeists but my take on these cases is that it's always one of the following: 1) Genuine ghostly phenomena. 2) Other paranormal phenomena such as telekinesis triggered by a specific person. 3) A hoax. 4) A combination of all the above.

Nevertheless there were quite a few aspects that seemed pretty inexplicable/implausible if it were just Shirley acting alone. How could she have caused sounds so loud, without anyone noticing, that it led multiple neighbours in the street to complain? In the podcast, we're led to believe that her father ended up in hospital with burns due to the poltergeist activity. Even if that was a result of a prank gone wrong, you would have thought it would have shocked the perpetrator into ceasing their antics.

P.S. I'd recommend listening to the podcast even if poltergeists aren't really 'your thing'. :)
 
Last edited:
After listening to the podcasts I was left wondering if there wasn't some sort of 'folie a deux' thing going on with the grandmother.
Even if that was a result of a prank gone wrong, you would have thought it would have shocked the perpetrator into ceasing their antics.

That supposes that the perpetrator is aware that they are creating a hoax. Is it possible that they perform the hoax in some sort of fugue state? I don't know enough about the phenomenon to further my ideas but they are my musings on the subject, for what they're worth.
 
There was an additional Episode 9 reviewing information that had come to light following the 'concluding' Episode 8. Interesting that a major sewer ran under the building. There was also mention of rat poison during the series but no discussion of any noises made by rats. I once stayed in a caravan that had a ran trying to gain access by chewing its way up from below and it made s hell of a racket. It would also respond to human voices in that it would pause scrabbling and stratching if you shouted at it...! It was eventually despatched to rat heaven with the hand axe (not a pleasant experience).

The whole French prince thing was a bit too much for me, too. I struggle with it and yes, there is the perfume connection to the land the house was built on but that could very well have been known about locally already (my childhood village still had tales from the time of the Black Death being passed down from generation to generation...!).

But there have also been new witnesses to the poltergeist activity come forward and so I find myself back at square one. Personally, I believe there was something paranormal going on but it was probably distorted by human hand/s. The most encouraging fact to come out of it all is that modern technology has not killed the poltergeist: the presenter states he has been contacted by 'many' listeners who had had their own poltergeist experiences. However, he makes the pertinent point that today's media would not be kind to such witnesses and thus they stay quiet
 
Have you posted these tales anywhere on the Forum?
If not, please do!
One I remember is about Doctor's Corner, a junction on a single track B road between Witheridge and Thelbridge road in North Devon. It is supposedly haunted due a plague cart overturning on the sharp corner and spilling its cargo of the unburied dead. The haunting takes the form of a disembodied hand reaching out from the hedgerow into the road.
 
I’ve been catching up on the pod casts. I’m nearly there. What on earth is with the ‘drinking the cool aid (koolaid?)? I’ve never heard of this, don’t tell me it’s an American thing. Not very helpful for a confused British audience. He already told us grannies weight in lbs which meant nothing to me.
 
I’ve been catching up on the pod casts. I’m nearly there. What on earth is with the ‘drinking the cool aid (koolaid?)? I’ve never heard of this, don’t tell me it’s an American thing. Not very helpful for a confused British audience. He already told us grannies weight in lbs which meant nothing to me.

"Drinking the Kool Aid" is a reference to the massacre in Guyana of the Jim Jones cult in the 1970s, where his followers were given poisoned soft drink to kill them in what was reported as a mass suicide, but was actually a mass murder. It's now become shorthand for swallowing any old rubbish because you are brainwashed. It's a complete misnomer of a phrase, and not just because the dead didn't drink Kool Aid, they drank Flavor-Aid.
 
Back
Top