A Short History of the Early Ghost Research Group

Exhibits in the Haunted Museum are based on the work of Troy Taylor from his book, Ghosts by Gaslight!

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The Ghost Club is a private organization that is based in London and is devoted to psychical research and paranormal investigations, including but not limited to ghosts, apparitions, mediums, hauntings and poltergeist phenomena. Today, the society is the oldest existing organization associated with ghosts and hauntings and has had a number of different incarnations since its beginnings in 1862.

Members of the Ghost Club have included such renowned psychical investigators as Harry Price (Shown on Right Side of Photo on Left) and Tom Perrott (Right)

The Ghost Club was originally formed by a select group of London gentlemen with the goal of exposing fraudulent spirit mediums and investigating authentic psychic phenomena. One of the group's earliest investigations was of the Davenport Brothers, two mediums / magicians who literally invented the idea of the spirit cabinet that was later used in most sťances. They came to England to perform in 1862 and their claims of contacting the dead were challenged by the Ghost Club. The outcome of the investigation, as well as most of the early activities of the society, remains unknown today.

Not long after its inception, the Club began to attract the attention of other well-bred gentlemen and British celebrities. One such member was Charles Dickens, who claimed many paranormal experiences in his life, including encounters with ghosts. Despite this, he was opposed to the trappings of the Spiritualist movement and so he applauded and supported the efforts of the society in their continued exposure of phony mediums.

The Ghost Club eventually became inactive but was revived again on All Soul's Day 1882. This incarnation of the group lasted until 1936 and it was during this era that it was the most active. The group remained a private circle of 82 men ( no women were allowed to join ) and members included many who were eminent researchers of the time and who were pioneers in the field of paranormal investigation. These men included Sir William Barrett, Frederic Bligh Bond, Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, Nandor Fodor, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, William Butler Yeats, Harry Price and many others. In 1936, the group disbanded and made arrangements to deposit all of the society's records and papers in the British Museum. They were sealed away in July 1938 and remained that way for the next 25 years.

However, also in 1938, ghost hunter Harry Price revived the group on his own and became the chairman. He limited membership to 500 persons and for the first time, admitted women into the ranks. He emphasized that the Club was not, and never had been, a Spiritualist organization and stated that he was a "body of extremely skeptical men and women who get together every few weeks to hear the latest news of the psychic world and to discuss every facet of the paranormal." Members at this time included Professor C.E.M. Joad, Sir Julian Huxley, Algernon Blackwood, Sir Ernest Jelf, Sir Osbert Sitwell and Lord Amwell. The Club continued until World War II made its activities nearly impossible. In 1947 though, another revival took place and Price invited author Peter Underwood to join. Unfortunately, meetings ceased with the death of Harry Price the following year.

The present Ghost Club, which is by invitation only, was revived in 1954. Peter Underwood became the chairman in 1960 but other chairmen have since followed. In November 1963, the papers of the earlier society were retrieved from the British Museum and the full history of the Club became public.

The Ghost Club prides itself on the fact that it does not subscribe to any particular belief or creed about the paranormal or about survival after death, nor does it follow any single approach to investigations or the beliefs of the members. The Club also does not undertake any investigations on an official basis but instead allows its members to pursue their own inquiries under the auspices of the society. Membership includes scientists, amateur investigators, authors, Spiritualists, philosophers, skeptics and professional and lay persons. Members live mostly in England but there are others around the world and have included Tom Perrott, Colin Wilson, Dennis Wheatley, Arthur Koestler and others.

© Copyright 2003 - 2008 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

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