‘Donald the poltergeist threw me out of bed and scrawled sick messages on my walls’

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The Hitchings family were woken by loud banging and scratching noises and heard disembodied voices


From January 1956 bizarre things started happening at 63 Wycliffe Road in Battersea, south west London – home of the Hitchings family – after a mystery key was found.

They began to be woken by loud banging and scratching noises and heard disembodied voices.

Over the coming months objects such as chairs, clocks, pots and pans started flying around, fires broke out spontaneously and slippers even walked around the room on their own.

Shirley Hitchings, then 15, was at the centre of the disturbances. She was thrown out of her bed by an unseen force and had her clothes ripped.

The family nicknamed their poltergeist “Donald”, but things got even scarier when hair-raising messages started to be scrawled on the walls including chillingly: “Shirley, I come.”

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The Hitchings family were woken by loud banging and scratching noises and heard disembodied voices

Shirley says: “He was like a bully.”

There were other witnesses to the events and the case became so notorious it was even debated in parliament.

Ghost hunter Harold Chibbett was called in to help tame Donald. But it took until 1968 until the haunting suddenly stopped.

Now 80 and married, Shirley lives in Waterlooville, Hants.

Ghost hunter Harold Chibbett offered his help to the family
Ghost hunter Harold Chibbett offered his help to the Hitchings family

She remembers: “It was horrendous…it was though there was a presence there watching you all the time.

“I thought this is going to be the end – we were going to die.”

To this day the puzzling case remains unexplained.

  • Discover more in Radio 4’s The Battersea Poltergeist available on BBC Sounds now.





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