The ‘Hornsey Coal Poltergeist’ is perhaps one of the lesser known ‘extreme’ hauntings of the twentieth century. Like the disturbing manifestations on the Hillcrest Estate, which is situated just one mile south west in Highgate, the Hornsey ‘ghost’ chose a seemingly innocuous suburban housing development when it allegedly began tormenting the Frost family in January 1921.
Ferrestone Road, which lies close to Hornsey High Street and Tottenham Lane, was built in the late 1900s on what had previously been church land belonging to the parish of Hornsey. Burials on the site, which is adjacent to Old St Mary’s Church Tower, had only ceased in 1894. It seems though that the residents of these new builds had little or no idea of how slapdash the builders and church authorities were in ensuring that the grounds and foundations of the houses were excavated prior to their construction.
Things began to go wrong for the extended family of Mr. Ivan Frost, a brass founder living with his wife, elderly parents, his two adult sons and three orphaned nieces and nephews, on New Year’s Day 1921. 1921 was a cold winter, and Mr. Frost purchased a normal nineteen hundredweight of coal. However, the coal shortly began to behave in an extremely unusual fashion. Interviewed by the Daily Mail on 31st Jan 1921, Mr. Frost reported:
When big lumps leapt out of the fire and broke the kitchen windows we thought some sort of explosive had got mixed up with the coal. But after other lumps smashed pictures and damaged the furniture in the dining-room, we cleared all the coal out into the garden. Last night some of it reappeared in the house, and we heard it dropping at the top of the stairs. It seemed to be moving up from below …
On 30th March 1921 the Ferrestone Road haunting reached its worst and final climax, when five year old Muriel, ‘the baby of the family’ passed away after a short illness. Some sources attributed her death to meningitis, whilst others have long regarded her passing as one of the few deaths directly attributable to supernatural phenomena.