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
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,
William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, Nandor Fodor,
Arthur Conan Doyle, William Butler Yeats,
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.