Monday, 5 November 2012

The Butterton Poltergeist of 1877

Last year the Daily Mail reported on a case of poltergeist activity in the West Midlands. The case followed the classic type of poltergeist activity pots and pans thrown around the kitchen, blinds moving up and down, lights going on and off, doors locking themselves, chairs flying across the room, and cupboard doors opening and banging shut before being ripped off their hinges among other phenomena. The strange occurrences started a couple of weeks after Mrs Manning and her children moved into the Coventry council house. The disturbances became more malevolent when the poltergeist pushed the family's two dogs down the stairs resulting in horrific injuries to one of the pets, which resulted in it having to be put down. A chair moving across the floor on its own was also captured on film. The housing association who owns the property sent a priest who blessed the house and the phenomena temporarily abated for a couple of weeks before starting up again. Derek Ancora the medium was then called in who identified the source of the problem as Jim who died in 1900 at the age of 58 of a heart attack.

The Moorlands has its own case of poltergeist activity. In July 1877 the village of Butterton was subject to a bizarre occurrence a humble cottage in Back Lane and dating from 1617 the former home of Hannah Gould was subject to periods of sustained noise and thumping which struck terror into the hearts of the villagers. Hannah had died the previous February at the age of 80 and locals assumed that it was her ghost that was causing the commotion. Anxious villagers consulted with church elders. They contacted the old women’s son who was reluctant to become involved and still the noise was heard constantly and the local vicar Mr Cantrell who lived close by Back Lane. The next Sunday villagers gathered in old Hannah’s house where it is reported that the rapping continued and furniture rocked. Eventually suspicion fell upon a serving girl in the village who is thought to have engineered the event to gain access to the property.

What causes poltergeist activity?

Aside from accusations of hoax and exaggeration, which although applicable to a number of cases by no means apply to them all, the most popular theory is that the poltergeist is caused unwittingly by a human agent, usually a teenage girl. Researchers believe that a troubled adolescent unconsciously manipulates objects using psychokinesis (PK), a type of energy generated in the brain. According to researchers at the Rhine Research Center Institute for Parapsychology at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, poltergeist activity is the physical expression of psychological trauma. However, more natural explanations are often the cause of what appears to be a poltergeist disturbance.

Perhaps this might help to cast light on some poltergeist cases . However, this does not explain how enough power is generated to move objects such as heavy pieces of furniture, or to shower a room with stones, make objects appear from nowhere, or start fires, if accounts of such phenomena can be trusted.
Nevertheless, the inability to find a convincing explanation for the phenomenon, the significant amount of cases exhibiting similar characteristics occurring over a long period of time in widely different cultures, and the bizarre but somehow consistent nature of the phenomena, make the poltergeist perhaps the most baffling and enduring of unexplained mysteries.