The Ghost Club

Founded in 1862, and is the oldest organisation in the world associated with psychical research. Our prime interest is that of paranormal phenomena associated with ghosts and hauntings.

Overnight investigations are held at sites throughout the year with the aim of observing and recording phenomena. Naturally, we expect our members to abide by any rules on the night, showing due respect to the site and fellow members. It should be stressed, that we do not perform clearances or exorcisms, and the use of Ouija Boards is strictly prohibited, particularly because the majority of sites will not allow their use. Our aim is to conduct serious research; our investigations are not for entertainment purposes or for thrill seekers.

Details of investigations are sent via e-mail and are open to all members. If an investigation becomes over-subscribed, names are drawn on a lottery basis to give everyone a fair chance. Prospective members should be aware however, that the Ghost Club cannot guarantee an investigation in your immediate area, but we do try to furnish members with basic travel details, i.e. train stations, bus routes or local maps or directions. If a member has a particular site local to them, that has experienced recent phenomena, and may be agreeable to an investigation, I am always interested in hearing about it and will endeavour to follow it up with a view to conducting an investigation. Naturally, some sites do charge a fee that is payable by all participants, but The Ghost Club itself is a non-profit making organisation and does not charge its members to participate in investigations. (Any fees payable will be detailed in the original e-mail).

The Ghost Club does not have premises or any paid staff. The Council is made up of voluntary members around the country who put in a lot of hard work and time, free of charge to arrange these and other events for the whole membership.

Regular meetings are held in central London and are free to all members (guests welcome). Speakers cover an array of subjects and viewpoints on paranormal phenomena associated with ghosts and hauntings. Members generally retire to the bar after the meeting and this is an excellent chance for members to get to know each other and exchange views and stories. Meetings are held about once a month on a Saturday at 2pm.

In addition to investigations and meetings we generally have a couple of social events throughout the year, including a Christmas Party, which is always very popular.

Members are also sent a quarterly Journal covering many topics. Book reviews, investigation reports, and letters to the Editor, paranormal news, technology updates to name just a few. Our Journal Editor is always very happy to hear from members who have an article they would like to be included in these.

The Ghost Club is an informal, democratically run club of genuinely open-minded members and it should be stressed that unlike many similar organisations, interested sceptics are always welcome.  The Club, although based in the UK, has many members from all over the world.

If you are interested in becoming a member, please visit the Membership page for further details.

A Very Brief History of the Ghost Club

by Alan Murdie Updated with information from "The Encyclopaedia of Ghosts and Spirits" by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Its prime interest focuses on paranormal phenomena such as ghosts and hauntings. The club has been mentioned in numerous books, the most notable being "This Haunted Isle" (1984), "No Common Task" (1983), "Nights in Haunted Houses" (1994) and "The Ghosthunters Almanac" (1993) by Peter Underwood, "Some Unseen Power" (1985) by Philip Paul, and "The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits" (1992) by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

The club has its roots in Cambridge when in 1855 fellows at Trinity College began to discuss ghosts and psychic phenomena. Formally launched in London in 1862 (attracting some light hearted ridicule in "The Times"), it counted amongst its early members Charles Dickens and Cambridge academics and clergymen.

This group undertook practical investigations of spiritualist phenomena, which was then much in vogue and would meet and discuss ghostly subjects. The Ghost Club seems to have dissolved in the 1870s following the death of Dickens but it was relaunched in 1882 simultaneously with the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) with whom there was an initial overlap of members.

The Ghost Club was revived on All Saints Day 1882 by A.A.Watts and a famous contemporary medium, the Reverend Stainton Moses. Whilst the SPR was a body devoted to scientific study the Club remained a selective and secretive organisation of convinced believers for whom psychic phenomena were an established fact. Stainton Moses resigned from the vice presidency of the SPR in 1886 and thereafter devoted himself to the Club which met monthly, with attendance being considered obligatory except for the most pressing reasons. Membership was small - 82 members over 54 years - but during this period the Club attracted some of the most original - and controversial minds in psychical research, serving almost as a place of refuge for those who were unable to pursue activities elsewhere. These included Sir William Crookes who attracted scandal after investigation into Florence Cook, a medium.

Early members of the Ghost Club c.1882. In the front row, third from left is Sir William Crookes; to his left is Sir William Barrett.

At this stage of its existence the Ghost Club might possibly be viewed as a Victorian occult or spiritualist society celebrating November 2nd, the feast of All Souls. The archives of the Club reveal that the names of members - both living and dead were solemnly recited each November 2nd. Each individual, living or dead, was recognised as still being a member of the Club. On more than one occasion deceased members were believed to have made their presence felt!

On the eartly plane, meetings discussed topics as diverse as Egyptian magic and second sight. The Principal of Jesus College, Cambridge, Arthur Grey was later to fictionalise the Ghost Club in 1919 as "The Everlasting Club" of Jesus College - a famous Cambridge ghost story that many still believe to be true.

Into this circle the poet W.B.Yeats (joined 1911) and later Frederick Bligh Bond (joined 1925) who became infamous with his obsessive investigations into spiritualism at Glastonbury. Bligh Bond later left the country and later became active in the American Society for Psychical Research and was ordained into the Old Catholic Church, rejoining the Ghost Club on his return to Britain in 1935.

However. at the Ghost Club attendance dwindled and the change in the 20th century from seance room investigation to laboratory based research meant that the Ghost Club was becoming out of touch with contemporary psychic research or parapsychology as it became known in the 1930s. Harry Price, world famous in the 1930s as a psychic researcher and for his investigation into Borley Rectory joined as a member in 1927 as did psychologist Dr.Nandor Fodor who represented the changing approach to psychical research taking place. With attendance falling, Price, Bligh Bond and a handful of surviving members agreed to wind up the Club in 1936 after 485 meetings, and this took place on November 2nd 1936. The Ghost Club records narrowly escaped being destroyed because of their confidential nature but were deposited in the British Museum under the proviso that they would be closed until 1962.

However these events proved only a temporary suspension for within 18 months Price had relaunched the Ghost Club as a society dining event where psychic researchers and mediums delivered after dinner talks. Among members in this period were Dr.C.E.M.Joad, Sir Julian Huxley and Kathleen Goldney.

Following Price's death in 1948 activites lapsed but the Club was again relaunched by members of the committee, Philip Paul and Peter Underwood. From 1962 author Peter Underwood served as President and many account of Club activities are found in his books. Tom Perrott joined the club in 1967 and served as Chairman from 1971 to 1993. In 1993, however, the club underwent a period of internal disruption. Peter Underwood left to become Life President of another society, taking some of the club members with him. During this period, Tom Perrott resigned due to the political turmoil, but was invited to return to the Ghost Club as chairman, which he accepted. With this turmoil behind the club, it was decided to implement a more democratic feel to proceedings, to abolish the "invite only" clause in its membership policy, to absorb the role of Chairman and President into one post, and to allow 'ordinary' members to have their say in council meetings, and encouraging them to become more involved in club affairs. During this period the Ghost Club also expanded its remit to take in the study of UFOs, dowsing, cryptozoology, etc. In 1998, Perrott resigned as Chairman (although he is still active in club affairs), and barrister Alan Murdie was elected as his successor. Kathy Gearing replaced Alan Murdie as Chairman in 2005.

Since its founding in 1862, the Ghost Club has welcomed many luminaries to its membership. The list includes Charles Dickens, Sir William Crookes, Air Chief Marshall Lord Dowding, Arthur Koestler, Dr.C.E.M.Joad, Donald Campbell, Sir Julian Huxley, Sir Osbert Sitwell, W.B.Yeats, Sigfreid Sassoon, Dennis Wheatley, Dennis Bardens and Peter Cushing. Present members include the explorer and founder of Operations "Drake" and "Raleigh" Colonel John Blashford-Snell, OBE, and noted paranormal investigators Maurice Grosse, John and Anne Spencer and Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe, as well as author Lynn Picknett . A previous chairman of the Ghost Club was W.T.G. (Tom) Perrott, a life member of the club and an eminent figure in the field of psychical research. The club has investigated many famous locations during its lifetime, such as Borley Church, Chingle Hall, The Queen's House, RAF Cosford Aerospace Museum, Glamis Castle, Winchester Theatre, Woodchester Mansion, Michelham Priory and the Clerkenwell House of Detention.