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Observations placeholder

The house at Wilkins Grove, Newtown and its exploding vases, disappearing money, cups jumping over saucers and plates jumping off the table



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Science and the Spook – George Owen and Victor Sims

The following account which I received at first hand from a correspondent conveys an excellent idea of the confusing nature of these cases. (Some names have been changed but the account is otherwise just as given to me.)

About 12 years ago we moved into a house at Wilkins Grove, Newtown: the house was new and had not been occupied previously. Events started immediately but as they were only minor things we took little notice. Money disappeared, glasses broke, my husband heard knocking on the door, the clock face gradually cracked and exploded. It was only when a large blue glass vase that I particularly liked exploded in my hands that I decided to do something about it.

I went to the Newtown Development Corporation, who owned the house and told them. They came to investigate for stress, etc., as the house was of an unusual design, being split-level, and being built on a hill. However they found nothing. Shortly afterwards a glass bowl exploded in the hall with such force that glass particles were embedded in the carpet on two flights of stairs and in the hall carpet.

 I then became very worried because of my eighteen month old daughter Jacqueline, and again went to the Corporation. They suggested I go to the Psychical Research Society which so surprised me that I really thought they were joking. However, as I was worried, I did so.

Two representatives came, a Miss Green and Lord Somebody: unfortunately I have forgotten his name [probably Miss Celia Green, now director of the Paraphysical Laboratory at Oxford, and the late Lord Charles Hope, a very experienced investigator].

Many questions were asked and it was decided I was slightly psychic and the poltergeist was attached to me. I wasn't terribly interested at all and, to my regret, didn't ask many questions. Lord X eventually asked my permission to go into my bedroom alone and when he came out he said he thought we wouldn't be bothered again, and we weren't for quite some time.

One point I must mention here is that my daughter often asked where the lady and the little boy were going, and it wasn't until some time had passed that I realized something might be wrong and when I watched I found she was seeing them when, in fact, there was no one I could see.

 This has now passed: she, Jacqueline, is eleven years old, and my sons of seven and five have never made any comment. At the time I was about twenty- eight and my husband thirty-two. When the occurrences began again, neither my husband nor I mentioned them and it was only when an event took place in the bathroom that we told each other that we had both had things happen to us.

My husband had been laying the kitchen table and a cup jumped over a saucer and a plate jumped off the table.

I had had glass broken and money was again disappearing. The event in the bathroom was that I was in the bath, facing a lavatory: my husband put the lid on the lavatory, turned to undress Jacqueline, turned to put her clothes on the lid and they went straight into the lavatory pan. The lid had risen without us seeing it do so.

My husband was absolutely astounded but we both laughed and then told each other we had both been having "experiences".

We weren't afraid of these happenings. We had both travelled extensively and gone through more than most people; so we weren't easily frightened.

The last event was when an outfit I had put out to wear to a dance disappeared. I was angry: so much so that I called the police who were quite amused when I told them but nevertheless they searched the house and could not find the clothes.

Sometime after we moved house. The wardrobes at Wilkins Grove were emptied and taken to pieces and re-erected here at our present home, and the first thing I found when I opened the wardrobe was the missing outfit. No other clothes at all! This was just about the final event.

These are very brief details as it would take far too long to go into the occurrences fully in a letter, because they extended over a period of about three years. I believe now, looking back, that the events started before I moved into Wilkins Grove. My husband was abroad at the time and I lived in London with a friend who was to be trusted implicitly. Odd pieces of jewellery and money disappeared but I didn't bother as the jewellery wasn't very valuable and the sums of money weren't large.

I believe I am probably "psychic" to some extent, but I do nothing about it normally. A few years ago when living in Hong Kong, my husband had to fly to Formosa and I became sure that something would happen to the plane and begged him not to go. He was an aeronautical engineer and knew the plane and said it would be all right and went. On the return journey one of the engines failed completely: luckily they had three more but when the engine was examined it was found to be completely useless, metal having torn through it. Now this might be plain fear of having something happen to him, but there it is for what it is worth.

Now this narrative comes from an educated intelligent woman, and on the basis of my own study of poltergeist cases I am sure it is true in toto. But I can readily see that many critics would reject the notion that small objects and large ones, like the dance frock, can disappear and reappear. These highly anomalous phenomena do figure however in quite a large proportion of cases, and they do constitute a stumbling-block in the way of acceptance. Readers may have reservations about the exploding or crumbling glass-ware. However this phenomenon has been quite often reported authoritatively.

Professor Lombroso, the founder of criminology, saw it happening in a wine-cellar in Turin. I know a young man who has an explosive effect on electric light bulbs. In the United States savants last year were investigating a young man in whose presence glassware burst to pieces. I am prepared therefore to suspend judgement on the knotty problem of if, why and how things can disappear.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps