Saturday, 28 September 2019

Fortean Travels in London

7.45pm Wednesday 27 November 2019
£5 / £2 Concessions (Advance tickets)
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 (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
Facebook Page

Monday, 23 September 2019

The Haunted Landscape: Magic and Monsters of the British Isles

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



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

The Rites of Autumn – Doc Rowe

Magical House Protection: The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft – Brian Hoggard

The Croglin Grange Vampire – Deborah Hyde

Old Stinker and Other UK Werewolves - Samantha George

Fairies: A Dangerous History – Richard Sugg

Witches and their familiars – Victoria Carr

Medieval Graffiti – Crystal Hollis

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




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 and Convener of the Open Graves, Open Minds research project at the University of Hertfordshire.

£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

Friday, 20 September 2019

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

7.45pm Wednesday 30 October 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




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 (Advance tickets)
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

Monday, 26 August 2019

The Victorian Pleasure Garden

7.45pm Wednesday 25 September 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



Historian Lee Jackson, author of Palaces of Pleasure, recounts the history of London’s 19th-century pleasure gardens, from the faltering last days of Vauxhall to Chelsea’s infamous Cremorne Gardens, Highbury Barn and the Eagle Tavern (of “Pop Goes the Weasel” fame).

The rise and fall of the Victorian pleasure garden tells us a good deal about the growth of commercial mass entertainment in the industrial age. It’s a story packed with dramatic spectacle, from fake icebergs to burning men, tightrope walkers and human frogs, prostitution and the Polka, parachuting monkeys, and the power of money.

7.45pm Wednesday 25 September 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

Thursday, 27 June 2019

The Bodies Beneath: The Flipside of British Film & Television

7.15pm Monday 9 September 2019
£6 (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page


Veteran film curators William Fowler and Vic Pratt crack open the caskets of forgotten or neglected British films and telly to serve up a feast of curiosities to tempt the palate of even the most jaded cinephile. Their unflinching, all-embracing investigative gaze is as likely to reassess an established classic as it is to focus on cobweb-covered delights like pioneering 1930s female film director Mary Field’s beautifully bizarre The Mystery of Marriage, the much- maligned Doctor Who epic ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’, underground offerings like Anna Ambrose’s experimental art piece Phoelix and Andy Milligan’s bawdy bloodbath The Body Beneath.

All is grist to this monstrous mill, as the authors tamper with outmoded video

formats and meddle with magenta-bias safety film in their mission to finger-paint an entirely unexpected, highly irreverent and thoroughly personal picture of film and television culture in twentieth-century Britain.

William Fowler and Vic Pratt are both film archivists, writers, and curators, and have programmed numerous cinema screenings at venues internationally. In 2006, they co-founded The Flipside initiative at the British Film Institute. Every month for seven years, they presented weird and wonderful, offbeat, unseen and outrageous film and television, welcoming a host of acting and directorial talent.


Will and Vic write regularly for many different film publications and anthologies, and contribute programme notes for screenings, DVD and Blu-Ray releases including the BFI Flipside label.

Their new book The Bodies Beneath: The Flipside of British Film & Television will be available on the night from Strange Attractor Press.

7.15pm Monday 9 September 2019
£6 (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page