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A Norfolk poltergeist

06 September 2019

September 5th, 1919

STRANGE but not unprecedented things have been happening at Swanton Novers Rectory in Norfolk, where a vigorous and resourceful poltergeist seems to be in possession, having put the rector and his family first to great inconvenience and then to flight. The ingenious but obviously inadequate theories of the surveyor, the educational expert, the mineralogist and the journalist have been daily presented to a wondering public. Stranger still than the occurrences is the fact that up to the time when we write it seems to have escaped the attention of all concerned that the Society for Psychical Research has provided a very complete, though sadly prosaic, explanation of many cases of the kind, and that the aid of their skilled investigators might be invited. At present it seems to be slowly dawning upon a few minds that sandalwood oil, petroleum sufficiently refined to be used in a lamp, petrol and methylated spirits are not natural products of the soil, and that if they were it would not be their habit to find their way to the surface of a ceiling without human assistance. The manifestations are said to accompany a servant girl of fifteen from room to room; we note that the records of the S.P.R. provide several parallel cases. They are sometimes preceded by a hissing sound — such, in fact, as is made by a garden syringe. We fear that the solution of the problem will be far less thrilling than its statement has been.

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