A new book has revealed the unexplained case of the haunting of a Thornton Heath housewife who was apparently possessed by a poltergeist. Alma Fielding even claimed to have been attacked
by a vampire and was able to apparently summon small animals, a bullfinch and mice, as well as jewellery from thin air and even performed a psychic shoplifting of a ring from Woolworths.
In 1938, crowds had gathered outside the 34-year-old’s house at 98 Beverstone Road, hoping to catch a glimpse of the poltergeist.
The occupants of the end of terrace house, including husband Les, a builder, son Don and lodger George, had seen saucers and lumps of coal fly through the air, ornaments smashed, handprints appeared on mirrors.
The house “seemed to be under siege from itself,” and 16-year-old Don was so scared he temporarily moved out. Alma—the apparent focus of the haunting—had written to the national newspaper Sunday Pictorial urging them to investigate and they dispatched two journalists who witnessed the phenomenon for themselves. Under the headline Terror Night in Home Wrecked by Ghost, they wrote that some “malevolent, ghostly force is working miracles.”
The famous ghost hunter Nandor Fodor was intrigued by the case and was desperate to prove either way the existence of spiritualism.
While researching Fodor, author Kate Summerscale, former literary editor of the Daily Telegraph came across his original dossier on the Fielding case and turned it in to a book called: The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story.
Foder who was director of the International Institute for Physical even consulted the eminent neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud about the case.
Alma had agreed to be tested in laboratory conditions but as Foder became more sceptical of Alma’s apparitions she is subjected to more intrusive searches, x rays and body scans – taking part in seances to judge whether she was manifesting the activity or using ‘psi – trickery’.
Fodor’s colleagues were appalled when they learned of his conclusions about Alma’s haunting and in the autumn of 1938, they expelled him from the International Institute and confiscated his papers.
These were the papers found by Kate Summerscale in the Cambridge archive. Mrs Summerscale told The Guardian: “Some of Fodor’s methods were troubling, I was moved by his refusal to condemn Alma as a maniac or a fraud.”
Fodor later became a Psychoanalyst and wrote a book about the case claiming Alma’s unconscious mind was responsible for the activities linked to an incident in her childhood which had become repressed.
During the war years the Fielding’s moved to Branscombe in East Devon with Alma regularly returning to Croydon where she had grown up.