Stockwell Poltergeist Of 1772
By James Donahue
As the story is told, an elderly woman identified only as Mrs. Golding, who lived
in a country home at Stockwell, in Surrey, England, spent 20 hours of unexplained horror when she was besieged by a malicious
spirit or poltergeist.
The phenomenon began at about ten o’clock in the morning on January 6, 1772,
when glass dishes and china began flying from the shelves and smashing on the walls and floor in her kitchen.
When Mrs. Golding and her maid went to the kitchen to investigate the noise they
found the broken glass. Even as they were making this discovery, a row of plates from a lower shelf began falling to the floor
for no apparent reason. Then other things in the room began tumbling. Before long objects started flying from walls, shelves
and tables all through the Golding home. The sounds of breaking glass and objects slamming against the walls resounded throughout
Word of the strange events occurring at the Golding home soon brought neighbors to
the scene to observe what was happening with their own eyes. One visitor, a carpenter named Rowlidge, said he thought the
house was collapsing from the weight of an extra room that had been added to the second floor.
It was not long before Mr. Golding fled the house, fearing for her personal safety.
But to her horror the spirit followed her. After she entered a neighbor’s home it was not long before objects began
moving around there as well. At the same time friends, who entered the Golding house in an attempt to salvage things of value,
found that all of the activity there had stopped. It was obvious that the poltergeist was in some way attached to Mrs. Golding.
A local surgeon was called to the scene. His remedy was to bleed the distraught Mrs.
Golding. We cannot explain why he thought this would bring an end to the odd things going on around her but this is what was
done. The blood drawn from the woman suddenly flew up and out of the basin and splashed to the floor. Then the basin cracked
into pieces. At about the same time, a nearby bottle of rum shattered.
The distraught woman moved to a third place, the home of a friend, where thing remained
quiet until that evening. At around eight o’clock pewter dishes began flying from a shelf and landing in the middle
of the floor. When the dishes were picked up and returned to their places on the shelf, they flew off again. Next some eggs
began flying across the room, one of them striking the house cat in its head.
Next a pestle and mortar jumped from a shelf next to the chimney. Next went candlesticks
and other brass pieces, followed by glass and china. Things literally were observed dancing and tumbling around on the floor.
Before the night was over even the house furniture was bouncing around the rooms. No one in the house got any sleep. Neighbors
came to observe the odd happenings.
People began to wonder if Mrs. Golding was under this spiritual attack because of
some evil thing that she had done. She assured everyone that her conscience was clear and that she could think of no reason
why this was happening to her. She became very distraught, however, thinking that if it continued she would have no place
to go to get away from such trouble.
The strangeness ended as abruptly and mysteriously as it began. By then Mrs. Golding
and her maid had returned to the Golding home. When they arrived a large cask of beer in the cellar turned upside down. Then
a pail of water began to boil and a box of candles toppled from a shelf to the floor. Finally a round mahogany table turned
upside down in the parlor.
After this all became quiet. The spirit that caused all of the trouble apparently
left the house sometime before seven o’clock the following morning.
When examining the details of the events of that day, we notice that Mrs. Golding
always was accompanied by her personal maid, a woman who was never identified, when all of the poltergeist activity was occurring.
In the end after she chose to send her maid away, the activity stopped. One story said that the maid was “immediately
discharged” and that brought an end to the trouble.
This strongly suggests that it was the maid and not Mrs. Golding that was the source
of the poltergeist energy.