The Ghost Club
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Science & Technical Officer
Ghost Club Webmaster
Gianna De Salvo
The Ghost Club is a paranormal investigation and research organization, founded in London in 1862. It is widely believed to be the oldest such organization in the world. Since 1862 it has primarily investigated ghosts and hauntings.
The club has its roots in Cambridge in 1855, where fellows at Trinity College began to discuss ghosts and psychic phenomena. Launched officially in London in 1862, it counted Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle among its members. One of the club's earliest investigations was of the Davenport brothers and their "spirit cabinet" hoax, the club challenging the Davenports' claim of contacting the dead.
The group continued to undertake practical investigations of spiritualist phenomena, a topic then in vogue, meeting to discuss ghostly subjects. The Ghost Club dissolved in the 1870s following the death of Dickens.
The club was revived on All Saints Day 1882 by the medium Stainton Moses and Alaric Alfred Watts. initially claiming to be the original founders, without acknowledging its origins. In 1882, the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), with whom there was an initial overlap, was founded at a similar time.
While the SPR was a body devoted to scientific study, the Ghost Club remained a selective and secretive organization of convinced believers for whom psychic phenomena were an established fact. Stainton Moses resigned from the vice presidency of the SPR in 1886 and thereafter devoted himself to the Ghost Club. Membership was small (82 members over 54 years) and women were not allowed but during this period it attracted some of the most original and controversial minds in psychical research. These included Sir William Crookes Sir Oliver Lodge, Nandor Fodor and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The archives[clarification needed] of the Club reveal that the names of members, both living and dead, were solemnly recited each November 2. Each individual, living or dead, was recognized a member of the Club. On more than one occasion deceased members were believed to have made their presence felt.
Also involved were the poet W. B. Yeats (joined 1911) and Frederick Bligh Bond (joined 1925), who became infamous with his investigations into spiritualism at Glastonbury. Bligh Bond later left the country and became active in the American Society for Psychical Research. He was ordained into the Old Catholic Church and rejoined the Ghost Club on his return to Britain in 1935.
Early 20th century
The 20th century's move from séance room investigation to laboratory-based research meant the Ghost Club fell out of touch with contemporary psychic research. Harry Price, famous for his investigation into Borley Rectory, joined as a member in 1927 as did psychologist Nandor Fodor who represented the changing approach to psychical research taking place. With attendance falling, the club closed in 1936 after 485 meetings. The Ghost Club records were deposited in the British Museum under the proviso that they would remain closed until 1962 out of respect for confidentiality.
Within 18 months, Price relaunched the Ghost Club as a society dining event where psychic researchers and mediums delivered after-dinner talks. Price decided to admit women to the club, also specifying that it was not a spiritualist church or association but a group of skeptics that gathered to discuss paranormal topics. Members in this period included C. E. M. Joad, Sir Julian Huxley, Algernon Blackwood, Sir Osbert Sitwell and Lord Amwell.
Following Price's death in 1948, the club was again relaunched by members of the committee, Philip Paul and Peter Underwood. From 1962 Underwood served as President; many accounts of club activities are found in his books.
Tom Perrott joined the club in 1967 and served as Chairman from 1971 to 1993.
In 1993, the club underwent a period of internal disruption, during which Underwood left to become Life President of another society he had revived called "The Ghost Club Society".
In 1998, Perrott resigned as chairman (although he remained active in club affairs), and barrister Alan Murdie was elected as his successor. Murdie has written a number of ghost books including Haunted Brighton and regularly writes for Fortean Times. In 2005 he was succeeded by Kathy Gearing, the club's first female chairperson. Gearing announced her resignation in the club's Summer 2009 newsletter.
The club continues to meet monthly at the Victory Services Club near Marble Arch, in London. Several investigations are performed in England every year. In recent times, investigations have been organised in Scotland by the club's Scottish Area Investigation Coordinator.
The club has been mentioned in numerous books, the most notable being No Common Task (1983), This Haunted Isle (1984), The Ghosthunters Almanac (1993) and Nights in Haunted Houses (1994), all by Peter Underwood, Some Unseen Power (1985) by Philip Paul, The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits (1992) by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Will Storr Versus the Supernatural (2006) by Will Storr, The Guide to Mysterious Glasgow (2009) by Geoff Holder, Ghost Hunting: a Survivor's Guide (2010) by John Fraser and A Brief Guide to Ghost Hunting (2013) by Dr Leo Ruickbie.
- Peter Underwood (1978) "Dictionary of the Supernatural", Harrap Ltd., London, ISBN 0-245-52784-2, Page 144
- William Hodson Brock (2008). William Crookes (1832-1919) and the commercialization of science. Science, technology, and culture, 1700-1945. Ashgate Publishing. p. 440. ISBN 0-7546-6322-1.
- "The Ghost Club History". "Ghost Club".
- Oppenheim, Janet. (1988). The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England, 1850-1914. Cambridge University Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-0521347679 "Moses became one of the first vice-presidents and council members of the SPR"
- Hall, Trevor H. (1963). The spiritualists: the story of Florence Cook and William Crookes. Helix Press. p. 97n.
- "Read "The Everlasting Club"". Project Gutenberg Australia.
- ""Tedious Brief Tales of Granta and Gramarye" by Arthur Grey". Ash-Tree Press.
- ""Tedious Brief Tales of Granta and Gramarye" by Arthur Grey". Mythos Books. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-03. Retrieved 2013-05-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- The Ghost Club Society Archived 2014-12-16 at the Wayback Machine
- Haunted Brighton. British Local History. ISBN 978-0-7524-3829-0.[permanent dead link]
- ""Fortean Times" article by Alan Murdie". Fortean Times. March 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-03-14.
- The Ghost Club newsletter, Summer 2009, page 2
- "Ancient Ram Inn investigation". The Ghost Club. 2003-07-12.
- "Balgonie Castle investigation". The Ghost Club. 2005-02-26.
- "Ham House investigation". The Ghost Club. 2004-03-27.
- "First New Lanark investigation". The Ghost Club. 2004-05-15.
- "Second New Lanark investigation". The Ghost Club. 2005-04-23.
- "First Coalhouse Fort investigation". The Ghost Club. 2003-10-04.
- "Second Coalhouse Fort investigation". The Ghost Club. 2007-10-20.
- "GRCH investigation". The Ghost Club. 2009-03-07.
- "First Alloa Tower investigation". The Ghost Club. 2007-11-24.
- "Second Alloa Tower investigation". The Ghost Club. 2007-11-08.
- "First Scotland Street investigation". The Ghost Club. 2007-10-27.
- "Second Scotland Street investigation". The Ghost Club. 2008-10-25.
- "Michelham Priory investigation". The Ghost Club.
- "Culross Palace investigation". The Ghost Club. 2003-07-19.
- "Clerkenwell investigation". The Ghost Club.
- Peter Underwood (1983) No Common Task: Autobiography of a Ghost Hunter, Harrap Ltd., London, ISBN 978-0-245-53959-6
- Peter Underwood (1984) This Haunted Isle, Javelin Books, Poole, ISBN 978-0-7137-1699-3
- Peter Underwood (1993) The Ghosthunters Almanac, A Guide to Over 120 Hauntings, Eric Dobby Publishing Ltd., Orpington, ISBN 978-1-85882-010-1
- Peter Underwood (1994) Nights in Haunted Houses, Headline Book Publishing, London, ISBN 978-0-7472-4258-1
- Philip Paul (1985) Some Unseen Power - Diary of a Ghost-Hunter, R. Hale, London, ISBN 0-7090-2384-7
- Rosemary Ellen Guiley (1992) The Encyclopaedia of Ghosts and Spirits, Checkmark Books, New York, ISBN 978-0-8160-4086-5
- Will Storr (2006) Will Storr Versus the Supernatural: One Man's Search for the Truth about Ghosts, Ebury Press, London, ISBN 978-0-09-190173-8
- Geoff Holder (2009) The Guide to Mysterious Glasgow, The History Press, London, ISBN 978-0-7524-4826-8
- John Fraser (2010) Ghost Hunting: a Survivor's Guide, The History Press, London, ISBN 978-0-7524-5414-6
- Leo Ruickbie (2013) A Brief Guide to Ghost Hunting, Constable & Robinson, London, ISBN 978-1-78033-826-2
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