22. The Thornton Heath Happening
During the 1930s and 1970s several ghosts besieged residents of Thornton Heath, Croydon.
The case was investigated in 1938 by researcher Nandor Fodor, who claimed that the victim of the poltergeist was in a sense possessed by the spirit of a murderer, stating that the visions and nightmares she’d been having were in fact memories of something akin to a past life. The case was never solved, as various spiritualists condemned Fodor’s methods.
The events, which allegedly took place at Beverstone Road, concerned the Fielding family, where activity involved the throwing of crockery, damage to furniture, and garments taken from residents, which would then disappear.
During the 1970s, at Thornton Heath house, a Mrs Forbes claimed that a vampire-like apparition attacked and choked her regularly, leaving bite marks on her neck and also burn marks, caused by an invisible force wrenching her necklace from around her throat. The victim also claimed that she was attacked by a tiger that left marks on her arm!
Mrs Forbes was studied in a laboratory, again through Fodor’s research, where dishes and other objects began to be thrown about, but those who monitored her claimed that she was somehow manifesting the activity, or using ‘psi trickery’.
Much confusion arises within the case however. Some sources claim that a whole family was plagued by a poltergeist, which began its reign of terror one summer’s night by turning the radio on and off, before throwing an ornament at the man of the house, hitting him square in the forehead.
Throughout the Christmas period of 1972 decorations and even the family’s Christmas tree were shaken with force and as the New Year approached footsteps were heard throughout the house. The family’s son claimed that one night he awoke to see a man, dressed in old-fashioned clothing, staring at him menacingly.
Despite having the house blessed, the family never seemed to rid their home of the non-specific presence, although a medium apparently stated that the troublesome spirit was that of a farmer who lived there during the 18th century and considered the current family as invaders. The farmer’s wife was also said to haunt the building, appearing in a pinafore, and hair tied into a bun. The family eventually moved out.
As to whether a sinister presence still lurks within the walls of the house I’m unsure, and how much of fact was obscured by rumour and clouded by exaggeration is a question that remains to this day.
But something malevolent did inhabit the area of Thornton Heath, and could well remain there, dormant, waiting to be awoken once again.
By Neil Arnold