See caption
Servants’ bells, as would have been installed at Bealings House
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bealings Bells was the name given to an unexplained ringing of house bells at the home of Major Edward Moor, Bealings House in the village of Great Bealing, Suffolk. An early example of what would today be called a poltergeist incident, it came to public attention through a letter written by the major to the Ipswich Journal, published on 1 March 1834:[1]

A circumstance of an unaccountable nature has recently occurred in my house … On 2nd inst. returning from the afternoon service I was told the dining room bell had been rung three times, at intervals, between two and five o’clock. At this, the servants left in the house, a man and a woman, were surprised; no personal cause being perceptible, though sought.
— Major Edward Moor

The ringing continued for fifty-four days, but on 27 March it ceased as suddenly as it had begun. Despite his investigative efforts the major could not explain the phenomenon, stating that “I am thoroughly convinced that the ringing is by no human agency”. Such was the public interest in the case that Major Moor published a book on his own experience and that of others in Bealings Bells: An account of the mysterious ringing of bells, at Great Bealings, Suffolk, in 1834; and in other parts of England: with relations of farther … unaccountable occurrences, in various places, published in 1841.[1][2]

Modern interpretation


The author and paranormal sceptic Trevor Henry Hall concluded that Major Moor was the butt of a practical joke by one of his servants, and that he could not be considered a reliable witness.[3] The author Daniel Cohen wrote that there was “more than a suspicion” that Moor had played a joke on everyone, and his book “may have been conceived as a gentle satire on investigations of other odd phenomena.”[4]

Ronald Pearsall, a social historian and member of the Society for Psychical Research, has described the case of Bealings Bells as “a classic example of pure poltergeist”, which he explains as meaning that “there were unexplained noises, that they were recorded enthusiastically and unobjectively, [and] that observation was slack, amateurish and arbitrary”.[2]

Citations



Bibliography


Alexander, M. (2002). A Companion to the Folklore, Myths & Customs of Britain. Sutton Publishing.
Cohen, D. (1972). In Search of Ghosts. Dodd Mead.
Hall, T. H. (1965). New Light on Old Ghosts. Gerald Duckworth & Co.
Pearsall, R. (2004). Table-Rappers: The Victorians and the Occult. The History Press.