Tuesday, 5 October 2021

The Haunted Landscape 2021: Witches, Magic and Monsters

10 am - 5 pm Saturday 20 November 2021

£20 / £15 concessions (Advance tickets)

£10 Live stream ticket.

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

Tube: Holborn

Directions

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The Haunted Landscape awaits you. Join the London Fortean Society and friends for a day of British folklore, corpse ways, giants, witches and more.

Speakers include Author Syd Moore, Alixe Bovey, Jeremy Harte and Mark Norman of The Folklore Podcast.

This event is live and will be live streamed.




Dr Alixe Bovey - Albion’s giants: Gogmagog, Brutus and the conquest of Britain

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, completed in the 1130s, opens c. 1200 BC with the tale of the conquest of Britain by a band of Trojan refugees. Led by Brutus, the great-grandson of Aeneas, the Trojans made their way to an uninhabited island known as Albion, but on arrival they discovered that it’s overrun by ferocious giants. Renaming the island Britain after Brutus, they exterminated the giants, and then founded London as the new Troy. Although Geoffrey’s story kills off the giants in just a few lines, they have persisted in the myth and material culture of Britain. This talk explores the remarkable variety of giants in the visual arts - in manuscripts and books, carved into landscapes and as pageant figures - asking how and why they have survived so long and what they reveal about the monstrous origins of the British nation.

Dr Alixe Bovey is a specialist in medieval art history based at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she is Head of Research

Mark Norman - Dark Folklore

How did our ancestors use the concept of demons to explain sleep paralysis? Is that carving in the porch of your local church really what you think it is? And what's that tapping noise on the roof of your car..? The fields of folklore have never been more popular - a recent resurgence of interest in traditional beliefs and customs, coupled with morbid curiosities in folk horror, historic witchcraft cases and our superstitious past, have led to an intersection of ideas that is driving people to seek out more information.

A new book from Tracey Norman (author of the acclaimed play WITCH) and Mark Norman (creator of The Folklore Podcast) leads you on an exploration of those less salubrious facets of our past, highlighting those aspects of our cultural beliefs and social history that are less 'wicker basket' and more 'Wicker Man'. This talk examines some of the themes of the book, which will be available to buy on the day.

Fearsome Fairies: Haunting Tales of the Fae - Elizabeth Dearnley

'You see - no, you do not, but I see - such curious faces: and the people to whom
they belong flit about so oddly, often at your elbow when you least expect it, and looking close into your face, as if they were searching for someone - who may be thankful, I think, if they do not find him.'

There was an enormous fascination with fairies in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which popularised depictions of benevolent winged friends and things of fragile beauty. But in wider folklore, the creatures of the fey are of a much more unsettling and otherworldly stock. Taking inspiration from folk tales and medieval legends, writers of weird tales and ghost stories such as Arthur Machen, M R James and Charlotte Riddell proved that fairies, elves, goblins and their ilk were something to be feared and respected as our ancestors did.

Elizabeth Dearnley is a folklorist, artist and researcher based at the University of London and the University of Wolverhampton. Her work explores fairy tales, horror and collective storytelling, and she has curated several projects including immersive 1940s Red Riding Hood retelling Big Teeth, and The Sandman for the Freud Museum, London. Her anthology Into the London Fog was published in the British Library Tales of the Weird seris. Her book Fearsome Fairies: Haunting Tales of the Fae will be available on the day. This new collection of stories pairs strange creatures with frightening encounters to revive the fearsome past of the fairy folk.


Tim Flight - Basilisks and Beowulf: Monsters in the Anglo-Saxon World

Drawing on literature and art, theology and a wealth of first-hand evidence, Tim Flight reveals a people huddled at the edge of the known map, using the fantastic and the grotesque as a way of comprehending the world around them.


For the Anglo-Saxons, monsters helped to distinguish the sacred and the profane; they carried God’s message to mankind, exposing His divine hand in creation itself. At the same time, monsters were agents of disorder, seeking to kill people, conquer their lands and challenge what it meant to be human even. Learning about where monsters lived and how they behaved allowed the Anglo-Saxons to understand their place in the world, as well as to apprehend something of the divine plan. It is for these reasons that monsters were at the very center of the Anglo-Saxon worldview.

Tim Flight obtained a doctorate in Anglo-Saxon Literature from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 2016. Since then, he has been writing full time, and has contributed articles to History Today and BBC History Magazine, among many other publications, His book Basilisks and Beowulf: Monsters in the Anglo-Saxon World will be available on the day.

Jeremy Harte - A Stake in the Landscape: Crossroads Burial in History and Legend

Until 1823 it was the law that suicides should be buried in public disgrace, their bodies shoveled under the roadway and pierced with wooden stakes. Even at the time, this inhumanity looked baffling. Was it a survival from some more primitive time, with superstitious locals trying to pin down and exorcise a potentially harmful ghost? The old folklorists liked to think of suicide burial as something archaic, kept going by peasant ruthlessness and legal inertia into later, more merciful times. But they were wrong. 

Outcast burial was not a response to suicide itself, but a way of pillorying exceptional offenders against the moral code, and it was at its most elaborate in times when that code seemed most under threat. In the Middle Ages the degrading burial of suicides had been rare – it only became routine in the 1570s, a way to impose Tudor ideologies of moral control through the physical humiliation of deviants. But often the shamed dead became village landmarks and reference points. Their scapegoat memory would outlast all trace of those who condemned them.

Jeremy Harte is a researcher into folklore and archaeology, with a particular interest in landscape legends and tales of encounters with the inhabitants of other worlds. His book Explore Fairy Traditions won the Katharine Briggs award of the Folklore Society for 2005, and his other publications include Cuckoo Pounds and Singing Barrows, and The Green Man. He is curator of Bourne Hall Museum in Surrey.


Syd Moore - Sarah Moore: The Witch of Leigh-on-Sea

Sarah Moore was the subject of a Leigh-on-Sea legend – an evil sea-witch who raised the Great Storm of the Estuary, caused havoc about the town and sank a plethora of boats.  When novelist Syd Moore (possibly no relation) probed further she learned the true story of Sarah Moore.

Syd Moore is the author of the Essex Witch Museum Mysteries (Strange Magic, Strange Sight, Strange Fascination) featuring Rosie Strange, and two previous mystery books, The Drowning Pool and Witch Hunt.

Dr Stuart Dunn - Corpse Roads: Digital Landscape Archaeology


This talk explores how digital landscape modelling can help unlock the secrets of Britain’s ancient pathways. Focusing on “corpse roads”, pathways taken by coffin bearers over the countryside before the Enclosures, it discusses the significance of such routes, and how a mapped understanding of factors such as slope, elevation and distance can shed light on the stories behind them. 

Stuart is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities and Head of the Department of Digital Humanities at Kings College London.

10 am - 5 pm Saturday 20 November 2021

£20 / £15 concessions (Advance tickets)

£10 Live stream ticket..

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

Tube: Holborn

Directions

Facebook event page

Monday, 4 October 2021

The Birth of the Hoax

7.15pm Wednesday 16 November 2021

£8 Live / £5 live concessions & Live Stream (Advance tickets)

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

Tube: Holborn

Directions

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This event will be held with an in-person audience at Conway Hall *AND* online, via Zoom. Everyone wishing to join this event must register for a ticket in advance, using the “Book Now” link **

In 1749, a newspaper advertisement appeared declaring that a man would climb inside a bottle on the stage of a London theatre. Although the crowds turned up in their hundreds to witness the trick, the performer didn’t. Over the following decades, elaborate jokes and fanciful tales would continue to bamboozle people across England.

In The Century of Deception, magician and historian Ian Keable tells the engrossing stories of these eighteenth-century hoaxes and those who were duped by them. The English public swallowed tales of rapping ghosts, a woman who gave birth to rabbits, a levitating Frenchman in a Chinese Temple and outrageous astrological predictions. Not only were the hoaxes widely influential, drawing in celebrities such as Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Swift, they also inflamed concerns about ‛English credulity’.

‘Fake news’, ‛going viral’ and ‛social media’ may be modern terms, but these concepts have been with us for centuries.

Ian Keable divides his time between performing magic; giving talks on topics ranging from James Gillray, the first political cartoonist, to David Devant, the first President of The Magic Circle; and researching and writing. His previous books include Stand-Up: A Professional Guide to Comedy Magic and Charles Dickens Magician: Conjuring in Life, Letters and Literature.  His new book The Century of Deception: The Birth of the Hoax in Eighteenth-Century England will be available on the night.

7.15pm Wednesday 16 November 2021

£8 Live / £5 live concessions & Live Stream (Advance tickets)

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

Tube: Holborn

Directions

Facebook event page

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Twins – Superstitions and Marvels, Fantasies and Experiments

In partnership with Conway Hall.

Thursday 23 June 2021

7.30pm (BST)

Please register for this event at the following booking link: Book Now.  At present this event is online only. Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering. 

Facebook event page

Human twins have many meanings and different histories. They have been seen as gods and monsters, signs of danger, death and sexual deviance. They are taken as objects of wonder and violent repression, the subjects of scientific experiment. Now millions are born through fertility technologies. Their history is often buried in philosophies and medical theories, religious and scientific practices, and countless stories of devotion and tragedy.

In this history of superstitions and marvels, fantasies and experiments William Viney – himself a twin – shows how the use and abuse of twins has helped to shape the world in which we live. His book Twins (Reaktion 2021) has been written for twins and for anyone interested in their historical, global and political impact.

William Viney is a researcher in the Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, 
University of London. His writing has appeared in Cabinet, Critical Quarterly, frieze, and the Times Literary Supplement. He is the author of Waste: A Philosophy of Things (2014).

In partnership with Conway Hall.

Thursday 23 June 2021

7.30pm (BST)

Please register for this event at the following booking link: Book Now.  At present this event is online only. Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering. 

Friday, 26 February 2021

The Corpse on the Tube and Other Urban Legends

 In conjunction with the Edinburgh Fortean Society, Scott Wood will be talking on Urban Legends.

7.30 pm Tuesday 9 March 2021

Free Join on Zoom

Meeting ID: 845 8600 5454

Passcode: 1z6ripG1

Facebook event page.


People share urban legends a lot, be they tiny rumours or full blown horror stories, but where do these stories come from and what do they represent? Using three examples of urban legends Scott Wood considers ways of how urban legends are formed and their meaning with stories of the helpful terrorist, the dead body on public transport and the hidden insult. There may be swearing. Urban legends are pieces of cultural ephemera that are also narrative demonstrations of society’s concerns, prejudices and rational blind spots. Urban legends are our contemporary folklore - coarsely humorous, cruel, bigoted and endlessly fascinating.

Scott is the author of London Urban Legends: The Corpse on the Tube and the co-founder of the London Fortean Society.

This talk will be presented live via Zoom and then archived on the Edinburgh Fortean Society YouTube channel.

Join Zoom Meeting

https://ed-ac-uk.zoom.us/j/84586005454

Meeting ID: 845 8600 5454

Passcode: 1z6ripG1

Join by Skype for Business

https://ed-ac-uk.zoom.us/skype/84586005454

Friday, 23 October 2020

Paleo-fantasy and Ancient Alien Contact

 In partnership with Conway Hall.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

7.30pm (BST)

Please register for this event at the following booking link: Book Now.  

Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering.

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Do you believe that aliens built the pyramids? Do you imagine cavemen going out to club a bear while cavewomen stayed home with the kids? Did you learn in school that the Greeks invented civilisation? When you see the image of apes evolving into man, do you stop to question the idea that it represents a progression to the ultimate goal of contemporary Western civilisation? 

These are all myths about the ancient world perpetuated by the media, uninformed pseudo-scientists, and sometimes outright racists. The way we teach history tends to focus a model of humanity that’s reinforcing 1950’s white gender roles and reproducing capitalist patriarchy. Stacy Hackner will discuss a few ways in which a common conception of the past doesn’t add up, why we’ve come to think of history in this biased way, and how we can continue to question and correct these misunderstandings.

Stacy Hackner is a human fact generator and archaeologist specialising in human bones, focusing on a reassessment of gender-based social roles in the ancient world, drawing attention to ideas we hold that are based in 1960s ideals of family life (“man hunt, woman cook!” is a hard belief to kill). She has worked in a number of dusty holes across the globe, most recently in a 19th-century cemetery in Cyprus, and has lectured at UCL and Birkbeck in archaeology, epidemiology, and museum studies. Stacy also believes that science needs to be more public-facing and decolonialised, and hosts science communication activities at museums and festivals to this end, while also managing a public engagement team at UCL Museums. 

Students describe her as “a good reason to wake up before 9” and her lectures as “kinda like falling into a Wikipedia hole”. She enjoys camping, queer cinema, and giving internet trolls a smackdown. She will always pop up on your feed to share a terrible archaeology pun.

 In partnership with Conway Hall.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

7.30pm (BST)

Please register for this event at the following booking link: Book Now.  

Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering.

Facebook event page

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Calling the Spirits – A History of Seances

In partnership with Conway Hall.

Monday 19 October 2020

7.30pm (BST)

Please register for this event at the following booking link: Book Now.  

Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering. 

Facebook event page


Lisa Morton investigates the eerie history of our conversations with the dead, from necromancy in Homer’s Odyssey to the emergence of Spiritualism – when Victorians were entranced by mediums and the seance was born.

Among our cast are the Fox sisters, teenagers surrounded by ‘spirit rappings’; Daniel Dunglas Home, the ‘greatest medium of all time’; Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose unlikely friendship was forged, then riven, by the afterlife; and Helen Duncan, the medium whose trial in 1944 for witchcraft proved more popular to the public than news about the war. Her book, Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances, also considers Ouija boards, modern psychics and paranormal investigations, and is illustrated with engravings, fine art (from beyond) and photographs. Morton begs the question: is anybody there . . .?

In partnership with Conway Hall.

Monday 19 October 2020

7.30pm (BST)

Please register for this event at the following booking link: Book Now.  

Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering. 

Facebook event page.

Online: Merpeople: A Human History

In partnership with Conway Hall.
Vaughn Scribner: Merpeople: A Human History
Tuesday 6 October 2020
7.30pm (BST)

Please register for this event at the following booking link: Book Now.  
Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering. 
Facebook event page


People have been fascinated by merpeople since ancient times. From the sirens of Homer’s Odyssey to Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid and the film Splash (1984), myths, stories and legends of half-human, half-fish creatures abound. In modern times ‘mermaiding’ has gained popularity among cosplayers throughout the world.

In his book Merpeople: A Human History, Vaughn Scribner traces the long history of mermaids and mermen, taking in a wide variety of sources and striking images. From film to philosophy, church halls to coffee houses, ancient myth to modern science, Scribner shows that mermaids and tritons are – and always have been – everywhere.

In partnership with Conway Hall.
Vaughn Scribner: Merpeople: A Human History 
Tuesday 6 October 2020
7.30pm (BST)

Please register for this event at the following booking link: Book Now.  
Conway Hall is a charity and we politely ask you to add a donation of at least £5 when registering. 
Facebook event page