The famous Enfield poltergeist case of 1977 has made it to the cinema screen in the Conjuring 2. If you’ve seen the other horror films by director James Wan, you can imagine how his take on the paranormal activity is a touch more sensational than the Enfield Haunting, the 2015 down-to-earth television dramatisation with Timothy Spall and Matthew Macfadyen.
As with the first Conjuring film, Conjuring 2 follows the investigations of New England demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. The picture above shows Lorraine about to meet one of the Enfield entities - imagine a meth-crazed Marilyn Manson joining the cast of Sister Act. Fortunately, these demonic types didn't appear in the council house until the Warrens got there, as I can't imagine how Timothy Spall's placid character Maurice Grosse would have coped with them. Also, fortunately, they were never seen again after the Warrens left, although this movie suggests that Lorraine brought the Marilyn Manson entity to London from the hell house that was Amityville.
Yes, the Warrens were the researchers who investigated the infamous hauntings at Amityville and Lorraine is also the owner and ‘custodian’ of Annabelle, the possessed doll who starred in the 2014 film by the same name. After terrorising its owners, the doll was locked away in a special cabinet in Lorraine’s occult museum beneath her house in Monroe, Connecticut. Its evil is somehow contained in the glass case and it can hopefully do no more harm.
For some reason, the makers of the film didn’t feel the genuine Annabelle doll, seen here with Lorraine, looked scary enough and decided upon a new design. I can’t think why.
The only problem is the design of the cabinet glass door, which has a warning sign saying: 'Positively Do Not Open'. Unfortunately, you can’t see the word 'Open' until the door has been opened.
I met Lorraine and Ed back in 1984 at Borley, a tiny isolated village on the Suffolk/Essex border. This, of course, was the site of Borley Rectory, and the pair arrived late in the afternoon on a coach. This wasn't the spectral horse-drawn coach that has been seen galloping through the hamlet by many witnesses, but an air-conditioned 52 seater. They were leading a tour group of Americans on a paranormal journey of the British Isles, they’d visited various haunted hot spots, such as the Edinburgh Vaults and York’s Treasury House, and Borley was the much anticipated highlight.
After the rectory was demolished in 1944, the spirits moved over the road to Borley Church and I joined the tour group as they wandered quietly and excitedly around the old building hoping for glimpses of phenomena. This was back when the church wasn't permanently locked, the porch fitted with a metal security gate, and before visitors were actively deterred.
Lorraine and I talked at length about her interest in Borley and how on a previous visit she’d witnessed an ‘apport’, a rare supernatural event where an object literally appears out of thin air. In this case it had been an old pre-decimal penny that fell to the floor in front of them near the altar, an obvious sign from Harry Price, she claimed. Price wrote books about the Borley hauntings, Lorraine had spoken to him psychically on several occasions and the pair were, more or less, on first name terms.
As we were chatting, one of her group, a young man, suddenly spotted an old English halfpenny on the aisle carpet. Everyone agreed it hadn’t been there moments before, and picking it up, Lorraine realised it was another apport from Harry. If proof were needed, it was right there in the date on the coin – 1946, the year Price published the End of Borley Rectory, his second book on this place.
The halfpenny was a physical message from Harry, said Lorraine, to let us know he was there with us.
Incredible as this was, I couldn't help wondering why he didn't send a coin dated 1940, the year of his first (and more famous) rectory book, the Most Haunted House in England, or 1881, the year of his birth, or perhaps more pertinent, 1948, the year of his death. All in all, I felt 1946 was more likely to be a sign from the departed owner of Harrap & Co Ltd, the publishers of the End of Borley Rectory. As it turned out, this was pointless speculation, as Lorraine held the coin tightly and felt Harry's definite presence in the church with us. That and an overwhelming sensation of peace.
The picture shows Ed and Lorraine on either side of the young guy who noticed the coin. The paranormal apport now resides in Lorraine’s occult museum, close to the case containing the evil Annabelle.
Ed sadly passed away in 2006. I visited Connecticut in September 2016 and, as my travels took me close to Monroe, I hoped to visit the museum which is open for public viewings if you book ahead. It would have been nice to see the coin again. On contacting the curator through the Warren's website beforehand, it turned out they charge £75 per person, the address isn't divulged until you pay the money, and it was emphasised that no one ever gets to meet Lorraine. It was at this point I decided the Annabelle doll was just too scary for me, I bypassed Monroe and continued north to Salem instead.