The Ghost Club
This is one of my favorite topics on the paranormal!
Being an investigator I consider these men our Founding Fathers. Anyone who is on a paranormal team is doing the same things as these distinguished gentlemen did. We are all in this to study the paranormal, but at the same time trying to preserve the field from charlatans.
The Ghost Club was started in 1855 in Cambridge by a few men from Trinity College. Some of the members through the years you may have heard of, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Peter Cushing, Harry Price, Siegfried Sassoon, Donald Campbell, Peter Underwood, Maurice Grosse Sir Shane Leslie and Eric Maple.
The only downfall to the 54 years is no woman were allowed.
One of the clubs first investigations was of the Davenport Brothers and their “spirit cabinet” hoax. The Davenport Brothers were magicians and after hearing about the spiritual movement and the Fox sisters they started to report similar experiences. They built the spirit cabinet to be used by mediums during a séance. The cabinet would section the medium off from the crowd to see, sometimes their hands and feet would be bound while they performed their paranormal phenomena. The ghost club challenged the Davenports claim to contact the dead.
The club would meet and partake in investigations of the spiritualism phenomena and talk about ghostly subjects.
They remained active until 1855 when Charles Dickens died. It wasn’t until All Saints Day in 1882 when the club was finally revived by the famous medium Stainton Moses and Alfred Alaric Watts. The club remained exclusive through the years with only 82 members over the 54 years. The club was an organization of convinced believers in which the psychic phenomena was a fact, unlike the Society for Psychical Research was grounded in the scientific belief.
Some of their most notable investigations are The Borley Rectory and The Ancient Ram Inn.
Now The Ghost Club remained a selective and secretive organization of convinced believers that believed the psychic phenomena was an established fact, unlike SPR (Society for Psychical Research) that was founded around the same time as the Ghost Club, who’s beliefs where more grounded in the scientific. So, when the twentieth century brought the laboratory-based research, The Ghost Club’s séance room investigations made them fall out of touch with contemporary psychic research.
Harry Price, famous for his Borley Rectory investigations, joined in 1927 along with psychologist Dr. Nandor Fodor who was infamous as a leading authority on poltergeists, haunting and paranormal phenomena.
But with the attendance falling for The Ghost Club they closed in 1936 after 485 meetings. The records from The Ghost Club were sent to the British Museum under the provisions that they would remained sealed until 1962 for confidentiality reasons.
But in 18 months Harry Price relaunched The Ghost Club as a society dining event where psychic researchers and mediums could deliver after dinner talks. Price also at this time decided to allow women to join the club. Price wanted to specify that the club was not spiritualist church or association but a group of skeptics that gathered to talk about paranormal topics.
After Price’s death in 1948 the actual club was relaunched again. It went through many changes but did expand its study to UFO’s, dowsing, and cryptozoology.
The club continues to meet monthly at the Victory Services Club in London. They still have several investigations a year.