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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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

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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

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Monday, 4 September 2017

My Life with the Alpine Time Travellers

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Monday 4 September 2017
7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

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My Life with the Alpine Time Travellers – or – Sun Ra, Damanhur and the search for new myths


In 2006 David Bramwell went to visit a community called Damanhur, living in the Italian Alps. It was to be the first of many visits and the start of a lifelong fascination with the place.

Damanhur, a 600-strong community, had built the world’s most extraordinary piece of outsider art: an underground temple the size of St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the great architectural wonders of the modern world. The Damanhurians also named themselves after plants and animals, claimed to have taught a rubber plant how to sing and even built a fully-functioning ‘time machine’. Another case of a deluded cult? David didn’t think so.

After many visits (and a Radio 3 documentary), David finally thinks he’s figured Damanhur out. He believes that the Damanhurians have created something important and essential in the 21st century. And the time machine is only a tiny part of it.

What links this extraordinary community with the jazz musician Sun Ra? Is the time machine real? Who is Gorilla Eucalyptus? To find out, come to this talk, complete with astonishing images of the Temples of Humankind, singing plants and of course the community’s time machine.

David Bramwell is a co-author of The Odditorium: The tricksters, eccentrics, deviants and inventors whose obsessions changed the world, and author of two travel memoirs: The No9 Bus to Utopia and The Haunted Moustache. He has toured the UK with two award-winning one-man shows, made radio programmes for the BBC on themes ranging from Ivor Cutler to river goddesses with Alan Moore, and won a Sony Award for ‘best feature’ in 2012.

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Monday 4 September 2017
7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
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Friday, 4 August 2017

Charles Fort's 143rd Birthday in London

The naïve and the pedantic and the bizarre and the grotesque and the sincere and the insincere, the profound and the puerile.
Charles Fort - The Book of the Damned

A gathering to celebrate the 143rd birthday of Charles Fort, the American writer who inspired the idea of being fortean. 


I shut the front door upon Christ and Einstein, and at the back door hold out a welcoming hand to little frogs and periwinkles.
Charles Fort - Lo!

Meet us at 7.30pm on Sunday 6 August outside 39A Marchmont Street London WC1N 1AP, Fort’s home in London, with a reading and toast. We'll then have a drink in his honour at the nearby
Marquis Cornwallis on Marchmont Street, a "Bloomsbury pub of grandiose proportions".

All forteans and friends welcome.

 
I am a collector of notes upon subjects that have diversity—such as deviations from concentricity in the lunar crater Copernicus, and a sudden appearance of purple Englishmen—stationary meteor-radiants, and a reported growth of hair on the bald head of a mummy—and "Did the girl swallow the octopus?
Charles Fort - Wild Talents

Monday, 19 June 2017

We're All Gonna Die: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint

7.45pm Thursday 27 July 2017This event is sold out. Sorry. We shall try and book Andrew the next time he is in the UK.
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

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Viva La Muerte! Santa Muerte, Folk Saint and Holy Personification of Death, Healer and Protector.

The leading expert on the fastest growing new religious movement in the Americas, Dr. Andrew Chesnut will explain how Mexican folk saint, Santa Muerte (Saint Death), has gone from only a few thousand devotees in 2001 to some 12 million today.

Andrew is Professor of Religious Studies and holds the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He authored the first and only academic book in English on the Bony Lady, Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint (OUP, 2012). 

7.45pm Thursday 27 July 2017
This event is sold out. Sorry. We shall try and book Andrew the next time he is in the UK.

The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

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Conspiracy Theories are for Losers

£5 This event has sold out. We are sorry, please contact Conway Hall to join the waiting list.
Thursday 20 July 2017 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

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Americans have believed in conspiracy theories since before the United States united. A ceaseless array of conspiracy accusations have demonized witches, Freemasons, foreigners, red coats, black helicopters, Mormons, Muslims, Jews, fifth columns, the government, and more recently, Vladimir Putin. The common assumption is that conspiracy theories are nothing more than the delusions of paranoid minds trying to make sense of an ever more complicated world. However, the evidence tells a different story.

In this talk, Professor Joesph Uscinski will show that conspiracy theories follow a strategic logic: they are tools used by the powerless to attack and defend against the powerful. Conspiracy theories must conform to this logic, or they will not be successful. In this way, conspiracy theories are for losers.

Professor Uscinski will highlight his analysis of more than a hundred years of data taken from newspapers, surveys, and the internet. The surprising findings address the following questions: Who believes in conspiracy theories and why? Why are some conspiracy theories more popular than others? What are the dangers of conspiracy theories? Are conspiracy theorists prone to violence? How did conspiracy theories affect the 2016 presidential election? What can conspiracy theories in the United States tell us about conspiracy theories in the United Kingdom?

Joseph Uscinski is associate professor of political science at University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL and co-author of American Conspiracy Theories (Oxford, 2014).

£5 This event has sold out. We are sorry, please contact Conway Hall to join the waiting list.
Thursday 20 July 2017 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

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Glamour and Mystery: 100 Years of the Cottingley Fairies

£8 This event has sold out. We are sorry, please contact Conway Hall to join the waiting list.
Tuesday 18 July 2017 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
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London Fortean Society, in partnership with Conway Hall, present a night marking the centenary of the Cottingley Fairies case.

In July 1917 Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, 16 and 9 years old, took a photograph. It showed Frances in their garden with four fairies dancing in front of her. In 1920 Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about them in the Strand Magazine:

The recognition of their existence will jolt the material twentieth century mind out of its heavy ruts in the mud, and will make it admit that there is a glamour and mystery to life.

The Cottingley Fairy photographs were not revealed as a hoax until Elsie and Frances confessed in 1983. But they still claimed that they did find fairies at the bottom of the garden.

https://www.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/about-usMichael Terwey of the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford discusses how the photographs were taken and how they fitted in to the Spiritualist culture of the time. 

Professor Diane Purkis asks why Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, along with many others, so wanted to believe in fairies? Further panelists to be confirmed.

Tessa Farmer will be discussing her own contemporary fairy art and we shall be showing some of her wonderful yet terrifying fairy films on the night.

Tessa was born in 1978 in Birmingham and  lives and works in London. Her work has been exhibited worldwide and is in many collections including those of The Saatchi Gallery, London, The David Roberts Collection, London and The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Tasmania.

She is the great granddaughter of the influential writer of supernatural horror Arthur Machen.

Michael Terwey - The Cottingley Fairies: a photographic hoax
In July 1917, in a small village on the fringes of the industrial city of Bradford, two young women perpetrated one of the most successful photographic hoaxes in history. Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths convinced first their families, then many of the general public, that they had successfully photographed the fairies and gnomes that that claimed inhabited the woods at the back of their garden. It was only in the 1980s, nearly seventy years later, that they admitted their deception, and to this day there are many that believe that at least one of the photographs is “real”.

The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford holds important collections relating to the hoax, including copies of the photographs and the cameras used. In this talk Michael will explore the photographic technologies and techniques that are at the heart of the story and describe how they were used to such convincing effect, as well as looking more widely at the context of spirit and supernatural photography in the early twentieth century.

Michael Terwey is Head of Collections and Exhibitions at the National Science and Media Museum.

Professor Diane Purkis - Why did Conan Doyle want to believe?
Professor Purkis will be demonstrating that, odd though it may seem to us, for
the Victorians as for early modern Britain's of Shakespeare's generation, the existence of fairies with comforting and satisfying proof of the existence of a world of spirits.

Fairies could also represent the angry, restless, and hungry dead, and Diane will be suggesting that Conan Doyle's interest in spiritualism meant that he was especially anxious and guilty about the dead of the First World War, an anxiety that he shared with most of the literate society of his era.

Diane will be comparing the Cottingley pictures to Abel Gance’s 1919 film J’Accuse; she will also be referring to TS Eliot's poem The Waste Land which came out the year the Cottingley pictures were printed in the Strand magazine.

Diane Purkiss is Fellow and Tutor of English at Keble College, Oxford. She specialises in Renaissance and women's literature, witchcraft and the English Civil War.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Abbé Boullan: Paris’ Satanic Priest

7.45pm Thursday 29 June 2017This event has now sold out. We are sorry. Please let us know if you missed out and we will rebook Madeleine.
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
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This evening Madeleine Ledespencer will present the notorious heretical priest and accused satanist, Abbé Joseph-Antoine Boullan (1824- 1893), who came to be known as a bogeyman of the 19th century Paris magicians who misrepresented his occult Catholicism.

In his lifetime, Boullan went from a rising star within the church of Rome to a defrocked priest running his own ministry of mystical Catholicism in which women were consecrated bishops and preparations were made for a coming new age of Luciferian feminine power. He was hugely famed in his day, and served as an inspiration for artists and occultists as varied as JK Huysmans, Michael Bertiaux, and Maria de Naglowaska.

Tonight we will look at the life, work, and impact of this most fascinating figure and his spiritual partner, the mysterious Julie Thibault.

7.45pm Thursday 29 June 2017
This event has now sold out. We are sorry. Please let us know if you missed out and we will rebook Madeleine.

The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Gef the Talking Mongoose

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 6 June 2017 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
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On the eve of his 165th birthday (“I was born June 7th 1852, near Delhi, India…”), the London Fortean Society present for your delectation the strange story of Gef the Talking Mongoose.

In the early 1930s and for several years thereafter, an isolated farm in the rural south west of the Isle of Man became the focus of international media attention. Psychic investigators, spiritualists, psychoanalysts and reporters were all drawn to the lonely farm of Doarlish Cashen, whose inhabitants, the Irving family, steadfastly maintained that they were being ‘haunted’ by a super-intelligent weasel or mongoose by the name of Gef.

This mysterious entity was allegedly able to speak English and other languages, sing popular songs and hymns of the period, and would engage the family in nightly conversations about religion, the supernatural, and the afterlife.

Numerous people claimed to have heard the strange, high-pitched voice of Gef; a few even claimed to have seen him. Despite the absence of definitive proof, the case still remains an enigmatic one today.

Throughout the remainder of their lives, the Irvings - James, Margaret and daughter Voirrey - all insisted that the story had not been a hoax, and was true in all respects.

Christopher Josiffe, author of the definitive and official biography of Gef, will be giving an overview of this case, unique in the annals of paranormal research. He will also be examining some lesser-known aspects of the story - the parents, James and Margaret, not native to the Isle of Man, claimed to have previously enjoyed a more prosperous life in the city of Liverpool prior to their ill-fated ‘Good Life’ move to Man just after WW1. Is this true? And why were they forced to relocate?

In addition to Chris’s presentation and readings from his Gef! the Strange Tale of an Extra-Special Talking Mongoose book, writer and musician Chris Hill will be reading extracts from James Irving’s unpublished letters and diaries, giving an unparalleled insight into the family’s daily life with their extraordinary house-guest.

Copies of Chris's biography of Gef, published by Strange Attractor Press, will be available on the night.

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 6 June 2017 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
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Friday, 12 May 2017

Fortean London: Camlet Moat and the Crouch End Spriggan

7.45pm Thursday 25 May 2017
£4 / £2 concessions (
Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

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Our short talks on fortean London returns with speakers discussing the ghosts and legends of Camlet Moat and the Crouch End Spriggan.

Camlet Moat: Ghosts, Legends and Witchcraft

Camlet Moat Enfield (Wikicommons)
Nobody knows much about Camlet Moat in Trent Park, Enfield. Little wonder then that it should have become the focus of legends, ghost stories and modern-day witchcraft. My talk will take us on a journey from fact to fiction and folklore.

Jason Hollis is the author of Haunted Enfield (History Press 2013) and is currently writing a follow-up book concerning ghosts and haunted places within the London Borough of Barnet.

The Crouch End Spriggan

A trip down an abandoned rail line brings us face to face with a strange creature emerging from the brickwork of an old station arch. Its story is one of Lovecraftian synchronicity, urban legends, permaculture, and cough syrup hallucinations.

Gyrus is a writer based in south London. Creator of the journals Towards 2012 and Dreamflesh, and author of North, an epic cosmological history. He runs the website Dreamflesh.


The 'Spriggan' on the Parkland Walk by fiomaha.
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

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Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Green Children of Woolpit

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 16 May 2017 (Please note the new date!)
7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

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Image by John Clark
One summer in the 12th century harvesters in the fields of the Suffolk village of Woolpit were amazed when two children suddenly appeared, as if out of the ground.

Their skin was green, and they spoke an unintelligible language. Later, when they had learnt enough English to communicate, they said they came from a land called St Martin’s Land, where the sun never shone.

The ‘Green Children of Woolpit’ have inspired short stories, novels, plays, poems, pop songs, a teaching resource in drama on the theme of ‘Community cohesion and the prevention of violent extremism’, and an opera. They have been identified as fairy-folk, as extraterrestrials, as strays from a family of Flemish weavers, or as descendants of humans once abducted by aliens, returned to earth via a matter transmitter.

John Clark, formerly curator of the medieval collections at the Museum of London, returns to the original texts to disentangle the ‘facts’ of what has been described as ‘a classic of forteana’, and to consider the pros and cons of some of the many ‘explanations’. He does not promise a solution!

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 16 May 2017 (Please note the new date!)
7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Deception Day: Hoaxes, Lies and Fake News

£20 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Saturday 1 April 2017 10am – 5.30pm (Registration from 9.30am)

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

Directions


Orion: The Man Who Would be King
From hoax hip-hop stars and haunted houses to military deception, fake news, cancer myths and a joke that may have started World War III join the London Fortean Society and Conway Hall Ethical Society for an April Fools Day of hoaxing, deceit and unreal things. Some may be charming, others are terrifying.

1st April is the traditional day for hoaxing and japes but deception and deceit riddle everyday news and communication.


 
Fake News discussion with Padraig Reidy, James Ball and Peter Pomerantsev
Ghostwatch: The scariest TV show ever made? Stephen Volk and Lesley Manning
Orion: The Man Who Would Be King & The Great Hip Hop Hoax. Jeanie Finlay

The Hoaxes of Crass. Penny Rimbaud

Fake Cancer Cures and Anti-Vaccination Myths. Dr David Robert Grimes
Magic, Deception and the Abuses of Enchantment. Mark Pilkington

Full details below.

Fake News
What are the consequences of fake news now being as easy to access as genuine reporting? It is pranking, propaganda or a reflection of the publics already jaundiced world view?

Padraig Reidy of Little Atoms chairs a discussion on fake news; what it is, where is comes from, what is means for communication and informed democracy in the twenty-first century?  The panel will include James Ball, BuzzFeed UK Special Correspondent and author of Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World and Peter Pomerantsev, author or Buy Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia.

Ghostwatch: The scariest TV show ever made?
Image result for ghostwatch
On Halloween 1992 BBC1 viewers watch a chilling live transmission from a haunted house that went terribly wrong.  Sarah Greene. Mike Smith and Craig Charles were terrorised. Michael Parkinson ended the program far worse than that.  The drama, depicted as a documentary, was frightening, controversial and not shown for another ten years afterwards.

Ghostwatch writer Stephen Volk and director Lesley Manning show excerpts and discuss the making, impact and influence of Ghostwatch on its twenty-fifth anniversary. 

Orion: The Man Who Would Be King & The Great Hip Hop Hoax 
Jeanie Finlay is an artist and film-maker who creates intimate and personal documentary films and artworks. She will be telling the stories of, and showing excerpts from, two of her films: the Bifa winning Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, Panto!, Bifa and Grierson-nominated The Great Hip Hop Hoax.

Orion: The Man Who Would Be King
Silibil n' Brains. Hadn't seen as much sunshine as they first made out.
From Jeanie’s Director’s statement: “A roller coaster tale of the Nashville music scene in the wake of Elvis Presley’s death, taking in deception, a quest for success, a search for identity and ending in brutal and tragic murder. […] Even if you’ve never heard of Orion, you probably know about the Elvis is Alive myth. What I uncovered was that the story of Orion is the story of how that myth got started.”

The Great Hip-Hop Hoax
Californian hip-hop duo Silibil n' Brains were going to be massive. What no-one knew was the pair were really students from Scotland, with fake American accents and made up identities.

The Hoaxes of Crass: The Thatchergate Tapes and Loving Magazine.
Spend some time with Penny
1980s anarcho-punk band Crass were more than a shouty protest band. Their 1983 ‘Thatchergate’ tape supposedly caught Margret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan discussing Europe becoming the US’s battlefront against the USSR and the sacrifice of HMS Sheffield during the Falklands war.

The hoax was a pre-Cassetteboy prank of spliced tape that the CIA thought was by Soviet 'produced to destroy democracy as we know it'. The hoax did not set-off World War Three.
 
In 1981, in the build up to the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diane, Crass convinced the magazine Loving to carry a free flexi disc of the song Our Wedding.
 
Ex-Crass Member Penny Rimbaud described the lyrics as “frightful, banal shit about the social fantasy of marriage” that the magazine fell for “hook, line and stinker”.
Join Penny as he discusses these hoaxes.

Fake Cancer Cures and Anti-Vaccination Myths

The news and internet are forever full of fake cancer causes and cure offering simplistic solutions to a complex and terrible illness. The 'alkaline diet' can prevent cancer Sugar can cause cancer. A carbohydrate-free diet can throttle cancer. Homeopathy, cannabis oil and natural remedies can treat cancer. Household electromagnetic radiation causes cancer.
Vaccination has been hated and feared since at least 1867 and the formation of the Anti Vaccination League and has had a recent resurgence following the false autism scare of the MMR vaccine.

Where is the truth amongst the myth?
 
Dr David Robert Grimes is a physicist and cancer researcher at Oxford University. He was a joint winner of the 2014 John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science.

Magic, Deception and the Abuses of Enchantment
Mark Pilkington looks at two formerly secret documents, published six decades apart,
Mark Pilkington, definitely in front of a secret UFO base
that reveal the methodologies of psychological manipulation and deception practised by American and British intelligence services. “The Art of Deception, Training for a New Generation of Online Covert Operations”, an internal presentation for the UK’s GCHQ, was leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden earlier this year, while “The Exploitation of Superstitions for Purposes of Psychological Warfare” was published by USAF’s RAND Corporation in 1950.


The similarities between the two papers demonstrate that while the world we live in has changed dramatically in the intervening years, the human mind, and the techniques for manipulating it, have remained very much the same; both papers discuss the exploitation of belief systems and fortean phenomena.
Mark is the author of Mirage Men (2010, now a feature documentary) and runs Strange Attractor Press.