Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Magic as Treason

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 6 February 2018 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
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Throughout history, people have believed in the power of magic not only to influence their own lives and communities but also their rulers. Furthermore, rulers and their advisers often lived in fear of magical attack. Francis Young examines the phenomenon of magic as a form of treason in England and Scotland between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as the ways in which belief in the political power of magic echoes down to the present day.

Francis Young obtained his PhD from Cambridge University and is a historian specialising in the history of supernatural beliefs. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books including Magic as a Political Crime in Medieval and Early Modern England (I. B. Tauris, 2017).


£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 6 February 2018 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

Monday, 20 November 2017

Rendlesham — Deconstructing a Myth

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 30 January 2018 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
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Over the past 30 years the Rendlesham Forest incident has become one of the top ten UFO cases in the world as voted by UFO believers, and is now often described as the “British Roswell”. Here, skeptical investigator Ian Ridpath looks at the main points of the case and provides explanations for each in turn, correcting various misunderstandings, and pointing out how various unsubstantiated claims have passed uncontested into a body of unreliable knowledge that has taken on the status of a modern myth.

For further information on Ian’s investigations, see his website.
Ian Ridpath is a writer and broadcaster on astronomy and space with a particular interest in the way astronomical phenomena are misidentified as UFOs. He produced the first full explanation of the Rendlesham Forest UFO case back in 1984 and marvels at the way the myth has grown ever since.

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Monday 30 January 2018 7.30pm
Tuesday Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Helen Duncan: Medium on Trial


7.45pm Thursday 30 November 2017
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook page

It’s arguable that without the persecution of Helen Duncan, the Witchcraft Act would never have been repealed. Geraldine Beskin of the Atlantis Bookshop argues that Duncan was a truly remarkable spirit medium whose accuracy and extraordinary work ethic made her very famous, and that her ability to generate ectoplasm has never been surpassed.

Her accuracy during World War II panicked the authorities, she says; throw in a Catholic plot and an Oxford Professor of Logic and the mists begin to clear about why she was pursued, attacked and lied about

7.45pm Thursday 30 November 2017
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook page

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Haunted Landscape 2017: Folklore, Ghosts and Witchcraft

£20 / £16 concessions plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Saturday 18 November 2017 10am - 5pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page



As the year darken the London Fortean Society once again explores the folklore, ghosts and curses of the British Isles with the one-day symposium The Haunted Landscape 2017.

Authors, experts and researchers discuss ghosts, strange beasts and magic. From haunted folk songs to 3000 year old chalk giants, phantom black dogs, Albion’s Goat God and the Queen of the Fairies. Join us at Conway Hall to learn that this green and pleasant land we abide in has dark, strange and uncanny other side.

             
9.30am Doors
10am-10.10 Film screenings from Video Strolls
10.10-10.55 Phantom Black Dogs - Mark Norman
10.55-11.05 Break / Book signing: Mark Norman


11.05-11.35 The Walking Dead – Dr. Carolyne Larrington
11.35-12.05 The Appearance of Ghosts: shrouds, sheets or see-through? Dr. Susan Owens
12.05 - 12.15 Break / Book signing: Carolyne & Susan


12.15 - 12.45  How to Clean a 3,000-Year-Old Hill Figure - Emily Cleaver
12.45-1.15pm In the dead of the night, when all people were sleeping: Ghosts in folk songs – Dr. Paul Cowdell

1.15-2.15 Lunch!

2.15-2.45pm Talk of the Devil – Jeremy Harte
2.45-3.15pm The Goat God in Albion – Gyrus
3.15pm-3.25pm Break / Book signing: Gyrus & Jeremy


3.25-3.55 The Haunted Landscapes of World War One – Professor Owen Davies
3.55-4.25 'I Shall Goe Unto a Hare' - Isobel Gowdie, Covens, Shamans and Familiar Spirits in Seventeenth Century Scotland – Dr. John Callow


4.25pm-4.35pm Break / Book signing: Owen and John


4.35 - 5.05pm Camile Ralphs - Malin
5.05 onwards: end and Camile signing.


Malkin: The Pendle Witches
Camille Ralphs will recite the entirety of acclaimed poetry pamphlet Malkin, ‘an ellegy in 14 spels’ in the voices of those accused in the 1612 Pendle Witch Trials.


Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet, and featured on BBC Radio 6 Music’s Sunday show with Cerys Matthews. Ralphs served as 2016-17 President of Oxford University Poetry Society, won the University of Oxford’s Lord Alfred Douglas Memorial Prize, and reviews for the TLS.

Haunting the battlefields of the First World WarProfessor Owen Davies
Whether one believes in ghosts or not, it is an easy assumption that sightings of ghosts must have been common on the First World War battlefields considering the sheer number of traumatic deaths and the intensity of individual and collective emotions. There is certainly a long tradition of the appearance of ghostly armies. So what sort of ghostly expressions of conflict might have been expected during and after the First World War?


Owen Davies is a reader in Social History at the University of Hertfordshire. His main field of research is on the history of modern and contemporary witchcraft and magic.

The Walking Dead – Dr. Carolyne Larrington
The dead don't always stay peacefully in their graves. British folklore and chronicle relates from very early times instances of vampire-like and undead behaviour, spelling disaster for communities. Radical social upheaval – such as the Norman Conquest – spawns narratives about the undead; later chroniclers remark that there are so many tales of the undead it would be tedious to list them all.  Recent archaeological finds seem to confirm the survival of these beliefs right up to the end of the medieval period; time-honoured ways of preventing the dead from walking again offer the best explanation for the unusual post-mortem treatment of some bodies. Nor is it just the British Isles that suffer from the plague of the walking dead; Icelandic sagas have many such tales, and some useful tips about how to settle such revenants once and for all.

Carolyne Larrington is a Tutorial Fellow in English Literature at St John's Oxford and the author of The Land of the Green Man, Winter is Coming: the Medieval World of Game of Thrones and An Introduction to Norse Myths.

The Appearance of Ghosts: shrouds, sheets or see-through? Dr. Susan Owens
The idea that the dead can return to haunt the living is deeply rooted in the British imagination, and ghosts are central to countless plays and paintings, stories and ballads, photographs and films. But why has the appearance and behaviour of ghosts in art and literature altered over time? When did they stop wearing shrouds and put on white sheets or become see-through? And what do these changes reveal about them – and us?

Dr. Susan Owens, former Curator of Paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is the author of The Ghost: A Cultural History (Tate Publishing, 2017).

I Shall Goe Unto a Hare - Isobel Gowdie, Covens, Shamans and Familiar spirits in Seventeenth Century Scotland – Dr. John Callow

The four confessions given by Isobel Gowdie to a Scottish court, in May 1662, are seminal witchcraft texts; bringing folk belief in the faerie, the world of familiar spirits, night flight and the coven to stark prominence. This talk shows how a marginal figure, in her own day, moved towards the cultural mainstream, through the works of modern composers, rock musicians and novelist, and was comprehensively recast in the process.

John Callow is an author, screenwriter and historian, specialising in Seventeenth Century politics, witchcraft, and popular culture including Embracing the Darkness: A Cultural History of Witchcraft (IB Tarsus 2017).

Phantom Black Dogs - Mark Norman
Mark Norman is the creator and host of the Folklore Podcast and author of Black Dog Folklore, Black Dog Folklore, a comprehensive study of the image of the Black Dog in folklore, with an extensive gazetteer of over 700 UK sightings and traditions. He holds the UKs largest archive of black dog material and in this talk, will introduce the symbolism of the Black Dog motif.




How to Clean a 3,000-Year-Old Hill Figure - Emily Cleaver
Emily Cleaver recounts a recent ‘scouring’ of the Uffington White Horse, the traditional cleaning event that has kept the chalk figure from becoming overgrown since its construction in the Iron Age. Exploring the archeological evidence for the origins of the figure, plus local folklore from fertility rituals to furniture arrangement.

Emily is a writer with an interest in folklore, local traditions and history.

The Goat God in Albion – Gurus
Gyrus explores the bonds between the British landscape and the Greek god of nature, Pan. The Victorian obsession with Pan forms a historical backdrop for strange present-day encounters in rural darkness, and synchronicities which unearth Pan's hidden presence in the famed landscape of Avebury.'

Gyrus is the publisher of Dreamflesh  and the author of North: The Rise &Fall of the Polar Cosmos

Talk of the Devil
He builds bridges, he drains punchbowls, he hurls quoits, he preaches strange
doctrine from his pulpit. There’s no getting away from the Devil in the English legendary landscape, but who is he really? From his Arse to his Elbow, the Devil of local lore is a strange compound of fiend and buffoon. Those sulphurous hoofprints do not lead to any orthodox theology.

Jeremy Harte is a researcher into folklore and archaeology, with a particular interest in sacred space and tales of encounters with the supernatural. He is the author of English Holy Wells: A sourcebook and Explore Fairy Traditions.

In the dead of the night, when all people were sleeping: Ghosts in folk songs – Professor Paul Cowdell

Traditional songs are full of folklore about ghosts. They tell you why people become ghosts, what ghosts look like, what the living must do to allow the dead to rest in peace. Paul Cowdell, folklore expert on ghosts and a fine singer, will be talking about ghostlore in and around traditional songs, and singing some. Songs may include The Yarmouth Tragedy, The Unquiet Grave and Polly Vaughn.

Paul completed his PhD at the University of Hertfordshire, where hewas looking at contemporary belief in ghosts. The thesis is available online here.

£20 / £16 concessions plus booking fee (Advance tickets)

Saturday 18 November 2017 10am - 5pm

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

Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page


Friday, 3 November 2017

Uri Geller And Metal-Bending: Fact, Fiction or Fakery?

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Thursday 9 November 2017 

7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
Facebook event page


One of the greatest and strangest phenomena of recent times is the rise of Uri Geller and the belief that minds can bend metal. This special presentation, with live demonstrations, tells the whole story from a unique perspective.


Ian Rowland, who performs professionally as ‘The Mind Man’, is friends with (and has been hired by) both Uri Geller and arch skeptic James Randi. He is also a member of the Inner Magic Circle, and has given ‘test conditions’ demonstrations of psychic phenomena without claiming any psychic powers at all. So is it fact, fiction or fakery? All will be revealed!

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Thursday 9 November 2017 

7.30pm

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
Facebook event page

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Cage St Osyth: Media Frenzy or Haunting to be Taken Seriously?

7.45pm Wednesday 25 October 2017
£4 / £2 concessions - pay on door
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook page

The Cage in St Osyth, Essex is a haunted medieval prison that has recently hit the headlines. “Essex's most haunted house: Could you last a night?” asked Essex Live. “A retired policeman claims to have captured a picture of a ghost carrying the body of a witch on a stretcher” spluttered the Mail Online.

The Cage was the local holding cell whose prisoners included the ‘Witch’ Ursula Kemp who was held captive there prior to her trial and hanging in Chelmsford. But Ursula may haunt the cage still.

This modern-day case particularly involved one woman, Vanessa Mitchell, who felt after several years of phenomena she could neither live there or responsibly let it for residential purposes. She rented it to paranormal groups for investigations.

John Fraser has completed a detailed report on this haunting with collected witness testimony from over two dozen local people and investigators. This talk discusses his findings and the truth of the phenomena behind the national headlines.

John Fraser is a member of the Council of the Society for Psychical Research, and has been’ Vice Chair Investigations’ of the Ghost Club – the two oldest groups in the country that study the subject. His topics of study have been as varied as hypnotic regressions and vampire folklore, as well as more conventional paranormal research.

His 2010 ‘Ghost Hunting, a Survivors Guide’ was one of the first UK books published about the subject since it re-popularisation. Since 2015 John has been working on an extended project of witness testimony regarding the well-publicised phenomena occurring at The Cage in St Osyth Essex, also assessing the validity of witness testimony in spontaneous ‘paranormal ‘cases.

7.45pm Wednesday 25 October 2017
£4 / £2 concessions - please pay on door
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook page

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Seeking British Bigfoot


7.45pm Thursday 28 September 2017
£4 / £2 concessions (
Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Facebook page

For the past two years Harry Rose has been working on a project exploring evidence the of Bigfoot in the UK; working with experts in the field and hearing of first hand encounters. He will be sharing some of the stories he has come into contact with and the images he has taken in recorded sighting locations.

Harry Rose is a photographer and researcher working at the British Journal of Photography. He has a keen interest in folk lore and mythology.

"I create work base on what is physical and tangible."

7.45pm Thursday 28 September 2017
£4 / £2 concessions (
Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Facebook page