Friday, 29 November 2019

A Skeptic’s Guide to Aliens

7.45pm Wednesday 29 January 2020
£4 / £2 Concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook Page



Are aliens really visiting our planet on a regular basis? Are people really being abducted by aliens and subjected to bizarre medical investigations? Even worse, are the aliens engaged upon a sinister cross-breeding project to produce human-alien hybrids?

Chris French, Professor of Anomalistic Psychology at Goldsmiths College, will explore psychological aspects of various types of alien contact claims, ranging from simple sightings of unidentified flying objects to alien abduction experiences. Along the way, he’ll review the history of UFOs within society and discuss the risks inherent in the “memory recovery” techniques employed by some ufologists. 

Chris will argue that all claims of alien contact can be plausibly accounted for in terms of known psychological phenomena such as sleep paralysis and false memories.

7.45pm Wednesday 29 January 2020
£4 / £2 Concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook Page

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Fortean Travels in London

7.45pm Wednesday 27 November 2019
£5 / £2 Concessions 
Advanced tickets are not off sale - we will still have tickets on the door
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook Page

Get on board the fortean buses (and tubes, trains and barges). Join writer and tour guide Chris Roberts for an exploration of strange tales from London transport featuring both new and more established stories of ghosts, odd phenomena, folklore and urban legends associated with different means of getting about, or to, the city.


Everything from the Peckham Terminator via headless commuters to feral albino swine. “Transport for(tean) London,” you might say.

Chris Roberts’ latest book Bus Travel in South London – stories from the city over the water will be available.



7.45pm Wednesday 27 November 2019
£5 / £2 Concessions 
Advanced tickets are not off sale - we will still have tickets on the door
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook Page

The Haunted Landscape: Magic and Monsters of the British Isles

Live streaming / video: We are live streaming The Haunted Landscape (I didn't know we were going to do this!)

https://youtu.be/lwzg-D0x6A0

The year grows darker. The London Fortean Society and friends return to the Haunted Landscape, our one-day symposium on the folklore, magic and monsters of the British Isles and beyond. Authors and researchers discuss the undead, fairies, witchcraft, witches and their familiars and the magic of the common folk.

£22 / £16 concessions plus booking fee (Advance tickets)

Saturday 23 November 2019 10am - 5pm

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Tube: Holborn


Facebook event page

Just added: Blanc Sceol - Roar



9 am onwards Registration (we're pretty sure there will be coffee on sale. If not at Conway Hall then in Red Lion Square and surrounds.)

10.10 am-10.50 am The Rites of Autumn - Doc Rowe
10.50 am-11 pm Break

11.00 am-11.30 am Hollow Places: The Dragon Slayer's Tomb - Christopher Hadley 
11.30 am-12.00 am  English Witches and their Familiars – Dr Victoria Carr

12 pm - 12.15 pm Break and book signing

12.15 pm - 12.45 pm Wolves in the Wolds: The Weird case of Old Stinker, the Hull Werewolf - Dr Sam George

12.45 pm-1.15pm The Croglin Grange Vampire – Deborah Hyde
1.15 pm-2.15pm Lunch

2.15 pm-2.45 pm England's Historic Graffiti: Voices Preserved in Stone - Crystal Holis

2.45 pm-3.15 pm Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft - Brian Hoggard

3.15 pm-3.25 pm Break and book signing

3.25 pm-3.55 pm Fairies A Dangerous History Richard Sugg

3.55 pm 4-15 pm Break and book signing

4.15 pm -5 pm Up the airy mountain, Down the rushy glen, We daren’t go a-hunting, For fear of little men… – Paul Devereux

5pm - 5.30pm Blanc Sceol - Roar
'the sound of thunder underground is borne on the air’ ….

Times are approximate. We shall probably be ending nearer 6 pm.



Up the airy mountain, Down the rushy glen, We daren’t go a-hunting, For fear of little men… – Paul Devereux

In this unique illustrated presentation, Paul Devereux will be our tour leader through the haunted landscape, touching on topics such as death roads, spirit ways, fairy paths, ghosts, and actual encounters with ‘other-than-humans’, including his own. It’s all the real stuff.

Paul Devereux is a prolific book author, with 27 mainstream books published, some of them international titles. Among many others, titles have included Secrets of Ancient and Sacred Places, Re-Visioning the Earth, The Sacred Place, The Long Trip, Sacred Geography and Lucid Dreaming.

Along with academic papers, he has also published a great many articles for popular publications, including Readers Digest, Time-Life, New Scientist, Focus, Financial Times, Prediction, etc. He is a correspondent for Fortean Times with his bi-monthly popular archaeology column. He is the co-founding managing editor of the academic Routledge publication, Time & Mind – The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture.

Fairies: A Dangerous History – Richard Sugg

In Britain, fairies filled the landscape. They haunted rivers and seas; the air; and the
earth beneath your feet. Almost anything strange in nature belonged either to fairies or the devil. People saw them, heard them, and even smelled them. In Wales they appeared at local markets and forced up prices. Sightings of fairies in the British countryside have been recounted by the most unlikely witnesses, well into the era of living memory. In Ireland especially, fairy paths, trees and forts were treated with intense reverence. If you accidentally built your house across a fairy path, you might slice a corner off the building, or abandon it altogether. And it was in Ireland that folklore met the strangest fringes of real terror. For the many disturbances credited to angry fairies were, in fact, the work of real poltergeists.

Richard Sugg is the author of eleven books, including Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires (2015), A Singing Mouse at Buckingham Palace (2017), Fairies: A Dangerous History (2017), and The Real Vampires (2019). His newest book, Our Week with the Juffle Hunters, is a children’s story inspired by fairy folklore. He is currently writing Talking Dirty: The History of Disgust. He lives in Cardiff.

Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft

Belief in magic and particularly the power of witchcraft was once a deep and enduring presence in popular culture; people created and concealed many objects to protect themselves from harmful magic. The principal forms of magical house protection in Britain and beyond from the fourteenth century to the present day. Witch-bottles, dried cats, horse skulls, written charms, protection marks, and concealed shoes were all used widely as methods of repelling, diverting or trapping negative energies. Many of these practices and symbols can be found around the globe, demonstrating the universal nature of efforts by people to protect themselves from witchcraft.

Brian Hoggard is an independent researcher who has been studying the archaeology of magical house protection for many years. He has a  popular website Apotropaios through which he receives reports and requests for advice about these objects from all over the world. He is the author of Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft. 

The Croglin Grange Vampire – Deborah Hyde

In 1875, a flame-eyed creature picked at the lead in a windowpane to let himself into a remote, rented farmhouse in Cumberland. Thus started a campaign of menace against a young woman: a campaign which only stopped when her brothers tracked the creature down to its resting place in a local crypt. The Beast of Croglin Grange has entered our folklore as one of England’s very few homegrown vampires. So let’s take a look at the story see if we can work out what really happened.

Deborah Hyde wants to know why people believe in the malign supernatural, approaching the subject using the perspectives of psychology, sociology and history. She writes and lectures extensively about superstition, cryptozoology, religion and belief in the paranormal, with special regard to dark folklore. Deborah is Editor-in-Chief of The Skeptic magazine and is a fellow of The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. @jourdemayne

Hollow Places: The Dragon Slayer's Tomb - Christopher Hadley


In the Middle Ages a remarkable tomb was carved to cover the bones of an English hero. For centuries the grave spawned tales about dragons and devils, giants and winged hounds. To understand why this happened, Christopher Hadley takes us on a journey through 1,000 years of history.

The story begins with a Hertfordshire dragon-slayer named Piers Shonks but soon draws us into the company of outlaws and stonemasons, antiquaries and champions. Full of wonder and always surprising, the story takes us to the margins of the Bayeux Tapestry where strange creatures gather, to ancient woodland where hollow trees hide secrets, and to the scribbled clues about folk heroes in eighteenth-century manuscripts. Along the way, we discover how long bones will last in a crypt and where medieval stonemasons found inspiration.

The story of Piers Shonks is the survivor of an 800-year battle between storytellers and those who would mock or silence them. It stands for all those thousands of seemingly forgotten tales that used to belong to every village. It is an adventure into the past and a meditation on memory and belief that underlines the importance and the power of the folk legends we used to tell and why they still matter.


Christopher Hadley is the author of Hollow Places: An Unusual History of Land and Legend

England's Historic Graffiti: Voices Preserved in Stone
Historic graffiti are a common occurrence throughout England and the rest of Europe. Images, names, and symbols have been spotted on the walls of barns to churches, cathedrals, castles, and homes. The prevalence of these markings demonstrates their significance to the people of the past but what do these inscriptions mean and what do they tell us about the buildings where they are found? 



Crystal Hollis has spent the last seven years staring at walls and deciphering their stories. She's worked on a variety of buildings across the UK and specialises primarily in church graffiti. Her previous work includes the discovery of medieval inscriptions in a transplanted French chapel in the USA and several in-depth looks at graffiti in churches in Suffolk.

Wolves in the Wolds: The Weird case of Old Stinker, the Hull Werewolf


British folklore is unique in recording a history of werewolf hauntings in places in Britain where there were once wolves. This exploration of Old Stinker, the Hull Werewolf is rooted in landscape and absence. It focuses on the climate in which the spectre of the werewolf has re-emerged (rising from the ashes of the flesh and blood wolf). It takes its inspiration from Mark Fisher’s The Weird and the Eerie (2016). 

Dr Sam George is Senior Lecturer in Literature at the University of Hertfordshire, UK and the Convenor of the Open Graves, Open Minds project. She is a leading spokesperson for the contemporary gothic; her interviews have appeared in newspapers from the Guardian to the Independent and the Wall Street Journal. She is the author of Botany, Sexuality and Women’s Writing (2007). 

She has co-edited with Bill Hughes, Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires and the Undead (2013); a special OGOM issue of Gothic Studies on vampires (2013), and a second on ‘Wildness and Werewolves’ (2019). Her book In the Company of Wolves: Werewolves, Wolves and Wild Children will be published by MUP in 2020. She is also completing a monograph In the Kingdom of Shadows: Optics, Dark Folklore and the Gothic for publication in 2021.

Recent articles include but are not limited to: ‘Spirited Away: Transylvania and the Pied Piper and Dracula Myths in Britain and Germany’ in Dracula: An International Perspective, ed. by Marius-Mircea Crişan, (2017); ‘Wolves in the Wolds: Late Capitalism, the English Eerie, and the Weird Case of “Old Stinker” the Hull Werewolf’, Gothic Studies, Werewolves and Wildness 21.1 (Spring 2019) and, with Kaja Franck, ‘Contemporary Werewolves, in Twenty-First-Century Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion, ed. by Maisha Wester and Xavier Aldana Reyes (2019)..

English Witches and their Familiars – Dr Victoria Carr

In early modern England, the familiar was a feature of witchcraft beliefs. These creatures assisted the witch in carrying out her diabolic attacks upon her enemies. They could reach places and people that the witch could not because they often appeared as normal animals. Using stories from witchcraft trials, this talk will explore the wicked witch and her evil and demonic familiar from sixteenth-and seventeenth-century England. 


These stories include details of how the witch was believed to have met her familiar, through to how she used it for personal gain and to harm others, ending in how she parted from the creature. Through these stories, the troubles and hardships of those accused of witchcraft and of owning a familiar will be explored. Those who claimed that they were victims of witchcraft will also feature, for their accounts of their entanglements with this pairing bring with it the deep-seated fears associated with those who owned familiars. 

By exploring these stories of the witch and her familiar, it will become clear that this pairing was believed to have been a real threat. They represented a threat not only to the witch’s enemies but even to her family and occasionally to the witch herself.

Dr. Victoria Carr's research concerns the history of the witch's animal familiar in early modern England. Dr. Carr interests include demonic beliefs, the North Berwick witch hunt, magic, and print culture. Most recently her research has focused upon the animal familiar in Early Modern England, which was the topic of her recently completed PhD thesis.

Blanc Sceol - Roar
'the sound of thunder underground is borne on the air’ ….

A performative intervention exploring the other-worldly sounds of the ‘bullroarer' ‘buzzer’ ‘hummer’ ‘bummer’, using replicas of specimens found across the British Isles. This mysterious instrument's many uses are well documented, as a long-distance communication device, a children's plaything, a phallic symbol, a sacred tool for ritual, to coax mythological monsters, cattle, and rain. It continues to puzzle musicologists around the world, Sachs asks incredulously in The History of Musical Instruments ‘Is it really acceptable that every human tribe must invent an oval board held by a cord and whirled around the head for certain magical purposes?


Blance Sceol say "We are sound makers, improvisers and deep listeners. Our work is ‘psychosonographic’ expressing our experience of place, with field recordings, self-created instruments, found objects, voice, and text. We begin by listening to our environment, observing, making recordings, writing, often making our own instruments and sound objects with found materials. Our compositions and performances are like living maps, anchored in what we find in a landscape but re-imagined into new territories, and attentive to the vibrational nature of materials and surroundings."

£22 / £16 concessions plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Saturday 23 November 2019 10am - 5pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Usborne World of the Unknown: All About Ghosts : A Celebration

7.45 Tuesday 19 November 2019
£5 / £2 Concessions 
Pre-booked tickets are now closed - please get tickets on the door tonight. Thank you.
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube and Rail: London Bridge
Facebook Page


Speak to any British fortean, ghost hunter or folklorist of a certain age about the Usborne World of the Unknown: All About Ghosts children’s book and you will get a teary eye, vivid reminiscences and a very specific sense of nostalgia for this illustrated work. The London Fortean Society are excited, tiny spooky twelve-year-olds again to have author Christopher Maynard and publisher Anna Howorth, plus, hopefully, a guest of two,

First published in 1977, this cult classic has been reissued for a new generation of ghost-hunters. This book is for anyone who has shivered at shadowy figures in the dark, heard strange sounds in the night, or felt the presence of a mysterious ‘something’ from the unknown.

Ghost stories are as old as recorded history and exist all over the world. Many of

the different kinds of ghosts that are thought to haunt the Earth and their behaviour are described here. You will meet haunting spirits, screaming skulls, phantom ships, demon dogs, white ladies, gallows ghosts and many more.

This book also explains the techniques and equipment of ghost hunting and tells how lots of ‘ghosts’ have been exposed as fakes or explained away as natural events. Also included are some theories that attempt to explain the possible existence of ghosts.

Do please join us to celebrate. Copies of Usborne World of the Unknown: All About Ghosts will be available to be bought and signed on the night.

7.45 Tuesday 19 November 2019
£5 / £2 Concessions 
Pre-booked tickets are now closed - please get tickets on the door tonight. Thank you.
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube and Rail: London Bridge
Facebook Page

Friday, 25 October 2019

Where we go one, we go all: the QAnon conspiracy

7.45pm Wednesday 30 October 2019
£4 / £2 Concessions 
Advanced tickets are not closed but tickets are available on the door. 
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook Page




In just two years, an elusive figure, posting cryptic messages, has gone from obscurity to being the most talked-about conspiracy theorist in the USA. Who and what is Q, or QAnon? A government insider telling truth to power? A figment of the fake news industry? A deluded alt-right apologist for Donald Trump? A clever hoax?

Fortean Times Conspirasphere writer Noel Rooney takes us down the rabbit hole to try to get at the truth of this bizarre viral phenomenon.

7.45pm Wednesday 30 October 2019
£4 / £2 Concessions 
Advanced tickets are not closed but tickets are available on the door.
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook Page

Friday, 30 August 2019

Cursed Britain: A History of Witchcraft and Black Magic in Modern Times

7.15pm Wednesday 11 September 2019 Sold out
7.15pm Wednesday 23 October 2019
£6 (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page



This is the definitive history of how evil magic has survived into the present day from the largely rural world of Georgian Britain and the time of the British Empire to the multicultural present.

In our age of technology and information, it is easy to imagine that black magic in Britain is dead. On the contrary, over recent centuries it has persisted, changed and returned.

Spanning across the largely rural world of Georgian Britain and the time of the British Empire to the multicultural present, and drawing on an unprecedented range of sources, including, diaries, folklore reports and oral interviews, Thomas Waters explores the enduring power of ancient fears and desires.

Through fascinating individual stories, he shows in his book how witchcraft is as diverse as modern Britain itself, incorporating ‘cunning folk’, cynical quacks, and the victims of witch-hunts as well as benevolent and sincere magical healers. Cursed Britain ranges from wise-women to the deliverance ministry, from Victorian occultists to New Age therapists, to reveal why witchcraft has persisted, and why it is again on the rise…

Thomas Waters is lecturer in history at Imperial College London and a specialist in the modern history of witchcraft and magic. His first book Cursed Britain: A History of Witchcraft and Black Magic in Modern Times will be available to buy on the night.

7.15pm Wednesday 11 September 2019 Sold out
7.15pm Wednesday 23 October 2019
£6 (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

Poltergeists and Possession

7.45pm Wednesday 28 August 2019 Sold Out
7.45 Tuesday 15 October 2019
£5 / £2 Concessions (Advance tickets)
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS

Tube and Rail: London Bridge

Facebook Page



Most 20th and 21st-century researchers who consider that poltergeist activity has a paranormal cause have attributed manifestations to instances of psychokinesis emanating from the minds of living people. Only a minority of researchers have thought that poltergeist activity is caused by ghosts or other entities. In three British poltergeist cases (the Battersea poltergeist 1956-68, the Enfield poltergeist 1977-79 and the South Shields poltergeist 2006) researchers were driven to the conclusion that external entities or forces were involved, capable of possessing the minds and bodies of the living. 

Claims of possession in Western society have a long history and today are generally ascribed to psychiatric causes or the impact of wider societal beliefs. Alan Murdie, chairman of the Ghost Club, asks if possession could be an explanation in very rare cases.

7.45pm Wednesday 28 August 2019
£4 / £2 Concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook Page