Last October 2021, we gathered some friends, historians, a museum curator, and fellow spectrophiles to run an experiment at the Museum of the Home in London. We wanted to see if we could recreate spirit photographs using historically accurate Victorian methods.
This post contains three parts. First, a short history of spirit photography. Second, an interview with our photographer Selina Mayer. And finally, our Spirit Photography Album with the outcomes of the experiment.
I made this video with The Dickens Project out of University of California, Santa Cruz for their Dickens-to-Go project.
Just in time for Halloween, Dr. Romany Reagan explains how the Victorian revival of Mesmerism of the 1830s allowed Dickens to explore “ideas about the workings of the mind [that] come through in his work when you start to see his characters and their hauntings through the lens of his mesmeric philosophy.”
VIRTUAL TALK: ‘Hail the Highgate Vampire! Goth kids, cemeteries & the search for the secular sublime’
I’ll be giving a virtual talk Sun 27 Sept 10pm BST for the #RuralGothic conference. There will be lots of amazing speakers over the course of two days! All for a tenner!
In May 2020 Dr. Romany Reagan shared a Facebook status posing a scenario: the events experienced by a hypothetical person born in 1900. Aged 14, World War One begins. When you’re 29: The Great Depression hits. Aged 62, you have the Cuban Missile Crisis. This led Cemetery Club founder Sheldon K.Goodman to question: how sheltered are we from death nowadays? How has Coronavirus changed our attitude towards it? How are cemeteries adapting to changing ways of memorialisation and remembrance? Are they even needed any more? Join cemetery historians and guides Romany and Sheldon in a friendly death-positive conversation that we’d love you to get involved with.
“If the study of ghost belief lacks academic respectability, the study of belief in non-human ghosts is still more beyond the pale.” (Knox 262)
There are countless historic newspaper reports on ghosts of pets or animals. In fact, a quick look through the archives showed me there is way too much source material on the subject to delve into for a quick blog post.
The vast majority of these sightings occurred in the latter part of the 19th century. This sharp uptick in ghostly pet encounters coincides with the surge in interest in Spiritualism during this time. It could be a case of correlation not causation, but it’s worth taking note.
We love our ghost stories. We love to share them, analyse them, hunt for them, and hopefully even capture them with our cameras. But therein lies the troublesome aspect of ghosts—because our search is the pleasure, there is no joy in the answer.
There is in an excitement in these feelings; as a child, many of us remember the sudden horror, then the thrill, of walking through a cemetery and imagining a hand creeping out of a cracked grave. Or walking through an old ruin, forgetting the heritage of the place to instead imagine deep tragedies of our own invention, wishing for glimpses of the ghostly Grey Ladies who cry for justice amongst the stones.
From lavish feasts to naked mock marriages, death has long been an excuse for a party, even in the Christian era. This tension between life and death, celebration and grief, is marked by communities in different ways through the ages, but one common theme throughout is the need to come together, to strengthen the bonds of the community as a whole when one of their number is lost.
This audio walk is part tour of some of the veteran tree specimens in Abney Park Cemetery, but also part exploration of the unseen nonhuman networks at play in this ancient and diverse nature preserve.
This walk is a dark allegorical tale of what lies behind the uncanny mystery that envelops Stoke Newington – and lies beneath Abney Park Cemetery…
This audio walk is a meditation on modern versus Victorian mourning practices. Interweaving quotes from then and now, with stories, the walk is set to the music of The Black Heart Procession, with exit music ‘Dance While the Sky Crashes Down’, by Jason Webley.
Abney Park Cemetery Audio Walk: ‘Abney Rambles—Love, Wrath, Death, Lions: A performed history of Frank & Susannah Bostock’
This audio walk is the performed life story of Frank and Susannah Bostock, a famous travelling circus and menagerie couple, buried in Abney Park Cemetery. Frank was a famous lion tamer, and the Bostocks were part of the founding members of Dreamland Amusement Park, Coney Island, New York.
This walk is a love story, but not a simple one.
This is a fairly short (12min) walk through Tower Hamlets Cemetery telling a love story of ancient woodland gods, a sea widow, her sailor love & the sea siren who stole him away………..