The ritual underway.
The Brocken experiment
In 1932, Price travelled to Mount Brocken in Germany with C. E. M. Joad and members of the National Laboratory to conduct a 'black magic' experiment in connection with the centenary of Goethe, involving the transformation of a goat into a young man.
The "Bloksberg Tryst", involving the transformation of a goat into a young man by the invocation of a maiden, Ura Bohn (better known as the film actress Gloria Gordon), produced a great deal of publicity but not the magical transformation.
Price claimed he carried out the experiment "if only to prove the fallacy of transcendental magic."
December 15, 1937.
On the morning of Wednesday, December 8, 1937, I was rung up at my office by a lady, obviously educated and cultured, who informed me that she had read in The Listener the published version of a broadcast talk which I had given on 'haunted houses.' The reason she gave for communicating with me was that she was impressed with my efforts to 'ascertain the truth' in such matters.
She told me that she had noted that I could 'guarantee a ghost' in a particular haunted house which I mentioned in my broadcast; she, too, could 'guarantee a ghost,' but one of a much more objective nature than any I had experienced.
 For November 10, 1937.
 To the Empire, on November 4, and following days.
My informant lives in one of the better-class London suburbs, and every Wednesday evening, she told me, she and her friends hold a 'family séance' at her house, at which a 'little girl spirit,' known as Rosalie, always materializes.
The reason for approaching me, she said, was to invite me to join the family circle any Wednesday, by arrangement, and she was certain that I should be convinced of the phenomenon of materialization, of which she knew I was very sceptical.
Conditions of Sitting, Of course, there were conditions, which I anticipated.
But I was genuinely astonished at the simple rules to which I was asked to adhere.
In the first place, if I accepted the invitation to attend a séance, I was to promise not to reveal the identity of any of the sitters, or the locality where the séance was held.
I could write an account of the séance giving my candid views of it, provided I mentioned no names.
If I were impressed with the proceedings, I was 'not to seek a scientific inquiry', as the mother of 'Rosalie,' who attended each sitting, was 'terrified that her girl might be frightened away.'
These Wednesday meetings were in the nature of a sacred communion with the spirit of her daughter, and would be maintained as such.
I was not to bring to the séance any light (such as a torch); I was not to speak to or touch the materialization without permission, and I was not to do anything, or make any experiment, without the sitters' consent.
I would not be asked to sign any document embodying these arrangements: it was to be a 'gentlemen's agreement.'
And now came the surprise.
If I accepted their invitation, I would be allowed full control of the room and the sitters up to the beginning of the séance.
I could search the house from top to bottom, seal all external windows and doors, search the séance room (the drawing-room), all doors and windows of which I could lock and seal, I could move - or remove - any furniture, ornaments, etc., from the séance room which I thought fit, I could control the room to the extent of sprinkling powdered starch or other substance round doors or windows, or place electrical contacts there (she admitted that she had gathered that this was what I did, from my broadcast from the 'haunted house'.
I could search the sitters or any person in the house immediately before or after the séance.
But once the sitting had begun, I was to remain passive and ask permission if I wanted to do anything, or make any alteration during the séance.
I told the speaker that I was impressed with the conditions imposed, and that I would think the matter over and write to her.
She replied that if I accepted, I was to be at the house soon after seven p.m. and that the séance commenced usually at about eight o'clock.
 On March 10, 1936, from an old Manor, Meopham, Kent.
A Visit to the Suburbs
On Monday, December 13, I wrote to Mrs. X., saying that I would accept her invitation and agree to all the conditions.
As I happened to have lunch with Mr. R. S. Lambert, then editor of The Listener, on the day that she telephoned me, I asked her whether she would permit him to accompany me as a sort of witness of anything striking that might occur.
I told her that I would personally guarantee that he would fulfil all the conditions that I had accepted, and that he had said as much at lunch on the day she rang me up.
If the idea of a witness was acceptable, I asked her to telephone or telegraph her consent on receipt of letter, in order that Mr. Lambert could make the necessary arrangements.
This confirmatory message was not forthcoming, so on Wednesday, December 15, I journeyed alone to the London suburb - to the most amazing séance that even I have experienced.
I arrived at M― just after seven o'clock and made my way to Mrs. X's residence, which I found was a large double-fronted, detached house, in a good-class road, with a flight of twelve stone steps leading to the front door, on each side of which was a large room with bay windows.
It was at a corner of another road, and had an area.
There were three entrances (four, including the French window leading to garden) to the house: the front door, an area entrance (seldom used, except when coal was delivered, the coal cellar being under the front steps), approached by a flight of steps, and a door at the back of the house reached by a path running parallel to the side road.
There were seven windows facing the main road: two on ground level, two above, two small attic windows at the top, and a small window (guarded by iron bars) in the area room.
At the back of the house were four windows, and a French window giving access to the long, narrow garden, which was reached by some iron steps. On the side of the house facing the transverse road were two smallish windows and a lavatory window, and in the wall opposite the next-door house were two windows, a bathroom window and another lavatory window.
I have given a description of the house in some detail, in order that the reader can visualize the sort of place it is: a typical, largish, mid-Victorian, double-fronted, detached suburban house.
The History of 'Rosalie'
I was admitted by a trim parlour-maid and shown into the dining-room (the apartment on the right of the stone steps), where I was greeted by Mr. and Mrs. X., and their daughter, aged nearly seventeen.
A simple meal was set. Introductions over, we sat round the table and enjoyed a light supper, during which I heard the complete story of 'Rosalie.'
Mr. X. is in business in the City and both he and his wife are charming, with most affable personalities.
They are not spiritualists, but are interested in psychical research, though they have read little of the standard literature.
However, they listen to broadcasts on the subject, and I found that they knew something of my work from The Listener and other journals.
They appeared pleased to make my acquaintance.
My hostess has a friend named Madame Z., whom she met when helping at a local church bazaar. Madame Z. is of French extraction, was a nurse, and married an English officer at the beginning of the Great War.
Her husband was killed in action in 1916, leaving his wife with a baby, Rosalie.
Rosalie was never strong and at the age of six she contracted diphtheria and passed away (in 1921) in her mother's arms.
She was ill for only a few days.
Madame Z. is a spiritualist, though she belongs to no 'church' or group. She rents two rooms in the neighbourhood, her only home.
In the spring of 1925 - according to my hostess - Madame Z. was awakened during the night by the sound of her dead girl's voice crying 'mother.'
This occurred so frequently that Madame Z. got into the habit of lying awake at night, waiting for the 'voice.' Gradually, she thought she could see (in the dark) the dim outline of 'Rosalie' and hear her footsteps in the room.
Finally, the mother declared, one night she put her arm out of bed and her hand was clasped by that of her little girl.
Having very few friends in England, Madame Z. became intimate with the X. family.
It was my host and his wife who suggested that regular séances should be held in their house (because Madame's apartments are quite unsuitable for the purpose) in order to encourage the visits of 'Rosalie.'
The X.'s knew enough of séance technique to furnish what they thought were the right 'conditions,' and the sittings began.
This was towards the end of 1928.
It was nearly six months before there was any sign of 'Rosalie,' though she visited her mother's bedroom, as formerly.
In the late spring of 1929 'Rosalie' materialized without warning and made her presence known (of course, in complete darkness) by again gently clasping her mother's hand. From that evening the girl appeared regularly.
Very gradually, they introduced a little light into the séances by means of ordinary cheap hand mirrors, the glass being covered with luminous paint. Four of these are sometimes used simultaneously.
Finally, 'Rosalie' began to speak, usually to her mother, answering simple questions, and replying in monosyllables.
Very rarely did she say more than 'yes' or 'no,' appearing extraordinarily shy.
The original circle, with little alteration, developed the 'materialization,' but a very occasional visitor appeared to make little difference to the coming of 'Rosalie,' if that visitor was well known to the circle.
Hence my invitation to be present.
I heard a great deal about the questions that 'Rosalie' was alleged to have answered, but it would take too long to detail them here.
Such is the history of 'Rosalie,' whom I was so soon to see, feel, and hear.
By the time we had finished supper and I had heard the story of Rosalie, the two remaining sitters had arrived, and were waiting for us in the room opposite, across the hall - the drawing-room (séance room). I was first introduced to Madame Z., a pleasant French lady, and on the right side of fifty as regards her age. She said she was very pleased to meet me and apologized for not being able to admit my friend (Mr. Lambert) to the séance, as they had never risked two strangers at a sitting 'in case it frightened "Rosalie".' The other sitter was a cheerful young fellow, whom I will call Jim. He is a bank clerk in the City, and I suspect his presence in the circle is due more to his interest in the daughter of the house than in 'Rosalie.' Jim is a typical, gentlemanly bank clerk, aged about twenty-two.
After the introductions, I said I would make a tour of the house. I was accompanied by Mr. X. and Jim, and I explored the place from attics to area. I could go where I pleased, and asked to be taken to every room. I had brought with me a gimlet, screw-eyes, white tape, adhesive surgical tape, a dredger full of powdered starch, and a pocket torch (which I did not take into the séance-room). As I came to a window, I closed and fastened it and stuck a strip of tape (which I initialled in ink) across the join where the sashes met. In the case of two 'dormer'-type windows, I twisted the tape round the fasteners, and secured the initialled sticky ends to the window frames.
I sealed the three external doors and the French window of the house with screw-eyes, through which I threaded adhesive tape, tied in three knots, which I initialled.
The staff of the house consisted of the parlour-maid (whom I had seen) and a cook, whom I saw in the kitchen.
I was warned to drop no word concerning 'Rosalie.'
The women knew that 'séances' were held in the house, but had not been informed as to what took place at them.
They were instructed not to answer any knock or ring during the séance, and telephone callers were to be told to ring up later.
I now turned my attention to the drawing-room, where the séance was to be held, and I examined it with great care. It was nearly square, measuring twenty-four feet by twenty-one feet, by nine feet six inches high.
In the bay of the window was a settee and against the opposite wall was a long mahogany sideboard with eight drawers.
On a square occasional table near one corner was an electric transportable 'Pye' radio, plugged into a socket near the floor.
From this same socket a wire led to a small electric stove in the opposite corner, the flex trailing across the hearthrug.
In another corner was a round occasional table, supporting a work-basket.
On the mantelpiece were a clock and some ornaments.
Six solid mahogany chairs completed the furniture of the room - with the exception of an Airedale dog which was now lying in front of the electric fire, having just shifted his quarters from in front of the grate.
There had been a big fire in the grate, but it had been allowed to go out.
One element of the electric fire was switched on.
The ceiling of the room was of plaster and there were six pictures on the walls, which were distempered.
The curtains which screened the windows had been purchased specially for these séances.
They were of thick, heavy material, suspended on rails, and the edges overlapped, effectively preventing any street light from entering the room.
On the floor, composed of polished hardwood boards, were spread four large Persian rugs.
Controlling the Séance Room
Having assembled all the sitters in the room, I looked around to see what could be done without in the way of furniture, etc.
I decided that the ornaments, clock, pictures, and work-basket were not wanted, and these were removed into the dining-room.
Then I sprinkled starch powder in the hall outside the séance room door.
I then locked the door, put the key in my pocket, and proceeded to affix my seals. These were the usual tapes and screw-eyes.
Then I stuck four strips of adhesive tape across door and lintel, and initialled them.
I treated the windows in the same way, and was confident that no one could enter the room via door or window.
But there remained the chimney, and for a moment I was puzzled as to how I could control it. Then I hit on the idea of placing a sheet of an evening newspaper (which I had with me) flat on the top bar of the low grate, just under the chimney aperture, and sprinkling it thickly with the starch powder. Then, with my finger, I drew my monogram in the starch, the printed matter beneath showing through. No one could have tampered with the grate or chimney without disturbing the starch.
Having sealed the windows, door, etc., I examined everything in the room very thoroughly.
With the aid of Mr. X., I moved the large settee and the heavy sideboard. Each drawer was emptied. They contained such articles as clean table napkins, gramophone records (the gramophone was in an upper room) and the odds and ends that accumulate in every house - especially in drawers. The settee I turned upside down, trod on the two loose cushions, punched the canvas and webbing beneath and made the springs creak.
Then we removed the four rugs and I minutely examined every inch of the polished boards, which I found were nailed, tongued and grooved.
It was a well-built house, and I was unable to get my penknife blade between the boards, every one of which appeared as solid as a rock.
To finish my inspection of the room, I opened the back of the wireless cabinet, and saw nothing unusual.
In any case, I was informed that the radio was going to be used.
I had been told that I could examine the persons of the sitters before and after the séance, if I wished.
I could not very well search the three ladies, but I asked permission to explore the clothing of Mr. X. and Jim, and they at once turned out their pockets. I ran my hands over their clothes and satisfied myself that they were concealing nothing which could be used to simulate a phenomenon.
The two elder ladies realized my predicament in not being able to examine them, and we compromised by their agreeing to my request that I should sit between them. Miss X. had, it appeared, attended a 'health and beauty' class earlier in the evening and she had on some sort of gymnasium clothes under her house dress.
Without my requesting it, she immediately pulled up her skirt and revealed a pair of tight-fitting dark knickers.
I was quite convinced that she had nothing concealed on her person.
My last act before switching off the five (four bracket and one ceiling) lights and the fire, was to sprinkle starch dust in front of the door and chimney, after directing the sitters to their seats.
The arrangement of the chairs, and the general lay-out of the room can be seen from the plan which I made before the séance, reproduced herewith.
It was exactly 9.10 p.m. when the séance began.
Building Up 'Rosalie'
The arrangement of the sitters (my arrangement, by the way) was as follows:
I (A, see plan) sat with my back to the fireplace, with my hostess (F) on my right, and Madame Z. (B) on my left.
Next to her was Miss X. (C), then Jim (D), and finally X. himself (E).
Four of the luminous plaques, already mentioned, had been handed round, and they rested on the floor face downwards, by the sides of the chairs occupied by Madame Z, Mrs. X., Jim, and myself.
The luminous surface of each plaque had been activated at an electric light bulb previous to the séance.
We were informed (by Mrs. X.) that we could talk quietly unless told not to.
There was neither hymn-singing nor prayers, nor any suggestion of the pandemonium which often accompanies a séance.
Although it was pitch dark, I could accurately determine where a voice was coming from, and whose voice it was, and could even hear the breathing of the various sitters.
Arrangement of Furniture and Layout of Room at 'Rosalie' Seance
Harry Price, sat in a library with his Ghost Hunting Equipment in 1944.
Price joined the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in 1920 and because of his knowledge in conjuring had debunked fraudulent mediums but in direct contrast to other magicians, Price endorsed some mediums that he believed were genuine.
Price's first major success in psychical research came in 1922 when he exposed the 'spirit' photographer William Hope. (Picture opposite).
In the same year he travelled to Germany together with Eric Dingwall and investigated Willi Schneider at the home of Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing in Munich.
In 1923, Price exposed the medium Jan Guzyk, according to Price the "man was clever, especially with his feet, which were almost as useful to him as his hands in producing phenomena."
Taking the bull by the horns, the Revd Foyster had Borley Rectory exorcised. The result was positive at first and the manifestations stopped. However, it was not long before they reappeared in a new form. Strange music would be heard from the nearby Church, communion wine would unaccountably turn into ink, the servants bells in the house rang of their own accord and the Foyster's child was attacked by "something horrible".
The rector had had enough. The family left and all successive incumbents refused to live in the house.
Borley Rectory's history and story.
Unless you've been there, the small village of Borley, near Sudbury, in Essex is not the sort of place one would normally think to associate with ghoulish spectres, yet the area has a sinister reputation known throughout the country.
Borley was the site the infamous Borley Rectory, reputedly the "Most Haunted House in England".
Borley Rectory was built in 1863 for the Revd Henry Bull.
It was erected on the site of an ancient monastery and the ghost of a sorrowful nun who strolled along the so called "Nun's Walk" was already well known in the villagers at that time.
An old story claimed that she was a wayward sister from the nearby nunnery at Bures who had fallen in love with a monk from the Borley Monastery.
The two had tried to elope together but had been quickly tracked down.
The monk was executed and the nun bricked up in the cellars of the monastic buildings!
Revd Bull had a summer-house put up overlooking the Nun's walk so that he could watch the manifestations. However, the lady soon became something of nuisance: often startled guests by peering at them through the windows of the new rectory.
Servants rarely stayed long.
The Reverend's four daughters even saw the lady gliding across the lawn in broad daylight.
The hauntings increased during the incumbency of Henry Bull's son, Harry.
Apparitions now included a ghostly coach and horses seen racing up the rectory drive
1927 saw the death of the last of the Bulls, and the Revd Eric Smith and his wife arrived at the rectory. They had been warned of the building's reputation and took the precaution of inviting the well-known psychic researcher, Harry Price, to visit. Mr. Price's arrival appears to have set in motion an outburst of inexplicable poltergeist activity. Objects were smashed and stones hurled at the investigator by unseen forces. It was all too much for the Smiths and they left after only two years.
(Mysterious Writings appeared) The rectory now became the home of Revd Lionel Foyster and his family, and the ghostly phenomena immediately took a turn for the worse. The resident phantom appears to have taken a liking to the rector's young wife, Marianne. She often had objects thrown at her, but even more strange were the messages addressed to Marianne which began to appear scrawled on the walls of the house - even while witnesses watched! However, despite attempts at communication, most remained unintelligible.
Though one certainly read, "Marianne, please help get" and another, "Pleas for help and prayers".
A Brocken spectre (German Brockengespenst), also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre, is the apparently enormous and magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the surfaces of clouds opposite the sun.
In short not paranormal but I suspect pretty harrowing to someone witnessing this phenomenon.
Makes you wonder where the Yeti and Bigfoot sightings come from, would probably debunk 99% of all yeti and bigfoot sightings.
Apologists are still defending the actions and mediumship of Helen Duncan to this day, a website called'The Pscychic Truth' fervently defend mediums like Helen Duncan, even though the evidence pointing to fraud is indisputable, in the websites piece on Helen's innocence, they do not mention once any of Harry Price's scientific experiments with Helen.
It is sad that mediums set up to protect each other from fraud, maybe that outing one as fraudulent outs them all? We will let you decide for yourself.
This website today (2018) is the OFFICIAL source for news of the latest developments in securing Helen's Pardon. Over the last decade over 45 million surfers have visited here with millions more learning of her gifts and persecution via other supporting sites.
Don't forget the time period these shysters were operating in, long before special effects were known to the masses, so people were easily fooled by wow and wonders of the time in the late 1800's and early to mid 1900's, where people went to theatres and there was no television.
Then, exactly eleven months to the day after the curious ghostly warning, an oil lamp unaccountably fell over in the hall and Borley Rectory burnt to the ground.
Witnesses claimed to have seen ghostly figures roaming around and through the flames, while a nun's face peered down from an upper window.
The original spirit writing as it appeared.
Here is a photograph taken during one of her seances.
Mrs Duncan is producing a human form, which is formed by the production of ectoplasm.
This phenomena is called a Brocken Spectre, named after the mountain in Germany, the same mountain where Price and Joad conducted there experiment, and the legend that these shadows were actually supernatural beings!
Luckily for Becca and her family on this misty morning in Dorset, they were not being haunted by spectres, just physics!
Bear this in mind too with your investigations for this effect happening at your haunted location, and it is you creating your own phantom ghosts.
As Zak Bagans would famously say........."DEBUNKED"
Harry Price was a British psychic researcher and author, who gained public prominence for his investigations into psychical phenomena and his exposing fraudulent spiritualist mediums.
Born: 17 January 1881, United Kingdom
Died: 29 March 1948, Pulborough
Books: The most haunted house in England
Organisations: The Magic Circle, American Society for Psychical Research, The Ghost Club
After chatting quietly for about twenty minutes, we were asked to stop and Mr. X. said he would put on the wireless.
He left his seat and groped his way to the small table behind me, to my right.
He had some difficulty in finding suitable music, which he finally received from a foreign station.
The small lamps which lit up the stations panel also illuminated the room and I could see the sitters distinctly. Madame Z. appeared to be crying.
Within five minutes of turning on the radio, X. switched it off again and resumed his seat.
Then we were asked to remain quiet. No one spoke.
A little later I heard Madame Z. softly whisper 'Rosalie!' This was repeated, at intervals, for about twenty minutes.
Sometimes Mrs. X. also called her. I could hear both Madame Z. and Miss X. sobbing quietly.
I had been warned that the séance was of a sacred character, but I had not anticipated such a display of emotion.
I could not help contrasting this sitting with the matter-of-fact laboratory experiments with which I was much more familiar.
The Coming of 'Rosalie'
It was a few minutes after I heard the clock in the hall strike ten that Madame Z. gave a choking sob and said something about 'my darling.' Mrs. X. leant towards me and whispered, '"Rosalie" is here - don't speak!'
At the same moment I, too, realized that there was something quite close to me.
I neither heard nor saw anything, but the sensation was an olfactory one - I seemed to smell something that was not there previously.
It was a strange, not unpleasant smell.
Everyone was silent except for the rather distressing emotion of the mother.
I sensed, rather than knew, that she was fondling her child.
The next sound I heard was a sort of shuffling of feet on my left at the same moment as something slightly touched the back of my left hand, which was resting on my knee (we were not holding hands in any way).
It felt soft and a little warm.
I did not attempt to feel what had touched me, but sat very still. Madame Z. continued to whisper to the 'child,' and her sobbing ceased somewhat.
After a few minutes, Mrs. X. asked the mother whether I could touch the 'materialization.' Permission was given, and I stretched out my left arm and, to my amazement, it came in contact with, apparently, the nude figure of a little girl, aged about six years.
I slowly passed my hand across her chest up to her chin and cheeks.
Her flesh felt warm, though (and this may have been imagination) not so warm as one would expect to find normal human flesh.
I laid the back of my left hand on her right cheek: it felt soft and warm and I could distinctly hear her breathing.
I then placed my hand on her chest again and could feel the respiratory movements.
My hand travelled to her thighs, back and buttocks, then traversed her legs and feet.
They were the normal limbs of a normal six-year-old.
I estimated her height at about three feet, seven inches.
I could feel her hair, long and soft, falling over her shoulders.
There are no words to express how I felt at the appearance of the form before me - or rather to the left of me.
A supreme scientific interest, with a feeling of absolute incredulity, would best describe my reactions.
I had not bargained for anything so wonderful (or so clever!) as this.
But if I had been tricked, so had the mother, and that was unthinkable. She, at least, was not acting a part.
I asked whether I could hold 'Rosalie.' I was told that I could move my chair nearer to the child and this I did.
I was now able to use both hands and again felt every inch of that little form.
If it is a spirit - I argued to myself - then there is no difference between a spirit and a human being.
With my right hand, I lifted 'Rosalie's' right arm and felt her pulse.
It appeared to be too quick and I estimated a rate of 90 to the minute.
I put my ear to her chest and could distinctly hear her heart beating.
I then took both her hands and asked X., his daughter, and Jim to speak in order to prove their presence in their respective seats.
They did so. I knew that Madame Z. and Mrs. X. were on either side of me, as I had only to put out my hand to touch them.
 I have since ascertained that the normal pulse rate of a child from 2 to 7 years is 100 to 90.
At this juncture I asked my hostess if Madame Z. would allow me to use the luminous plaque.
After a little discussion it was agreed that both Mrs. X. and I should shine our plaques on 'Rosalie,' the stipulation being that we should begin at the feet of the form, and then later illuminate the upper part of the child.
I picked up my plaque and in turning it over a soft, fluorescent glow flooded the feet of 'Rosalie.'
They were the normal feet of a normal child.
Mrs. X. held her plaque to the left side of the girl, while I illuminated the front of her.
I could see the soft texture of the flesh, which appeared to be without a blemish.
As our plaques travelled upwards the face of the form was revealed and we beheld a beautiful child who would have graced any nursery in the land. Her features were classical and she looked older than her alleged years.
Her face appeared very pale, but the fluorescence would tend to 'kill' any colouring in her cheeks.
Her eyes (they appeared to be dark blue) were bright with an intelligent gleam in them.
Her lips were closed, with rather a set expression.
Madame Z. said the examination must now cease as 'Rosalie was wanted.'
As a special favour, I requested that I might put some questions to 'Rosalie' and this was granted with the remark that it was unlikely that she would speak that night.
If the reader were suddenly faced with an alleged spirit, what questions would he ask it?
With some preparation, a series of useful inquiries could be drawn up, but on the spur of the moment it is extremely difficult to make proper use of such an opportunity - especially when the 'spirit' is so young and unsophisticated.
However, I suppose I must have subconsciously imagined that the child was a real one; that it lived in a real place; and that it understood perfectly what I was saying.
I found myself asking 'Rosalie' what I should ask any other little girl, who had come from some strange place and whom I chanced to meet.
I was permitted one minute only in which to question her, and this is what I asked her:
'Where do you live, Rosalie?' (No answer.)
'What do you do there?' (No answer.)
'Do you play with other children?' (No answer.)
'Have you any toys there?' (No answer.)
'Are there any animal pets?' (No answer.)
The questions were asked deliberately and I paused between each one.
'Rosalie' simply stared and did not seem to understand what I was saying.
I asked her a final question: 'Rosalie, do you love your mummy?'
I saw the expression on her face change and her eyes light up. 'Yes,' she lisped.
'Rosalie' had barely uttered this single word when Madame Z. gave one cry and clasped her 'daughter' to her breast.
Mrs. X. placed our plaques on the floor again and asked for complete silence - rather difficult as all the women in the circle were crying.
I must admit that I was rather affected myself - it was a touching and pathetic scene.
In about fifteen minutes 'Rosalie' had gone.
I neither heard nor felt anything of her leaving, but as the hall clock struck eleven, Mrs. X. informed me that the séance was over.
X. switched on all the lights and invited me to make any search I liked.
I examined all my seals and every one was intact.
I again removed the furniture and examined the floor, sideboard, settee, etc., and found everything normal.
The starch powder was undisturbed.
Even the Airedale was still asleep in front of the cold electric fire. At least, the séance had not affected him.
My host asked me to remove the seals - which I did - and he opened the door and rang for refreshments.
While these were being brought, I accompanied Jim in another tour of the house.
All my seals were intact.
I remained at the house until nearly midnight, when I took my leave with many thanks for an extraordinarily interesting and puzzling evening.
December 16, 1937.
I began writing this report (which is printed verbatim and uncorrected) within two hours of the termination of the séance, in bed at the Royal Societies Club.
I purposely wrote the report at once, while my impressions were still fresh.
I feel I have not done justice in this report to the amazing events of last night, and I am still wondering if 'Rosalie' was a genuine spirit entity, or whether the whole thing was an elaborate hoax.
If the latter, then the 'hoax' has been going on for years and no actress in the world could simulate Madame Z.'s poignant emotion.
And, where did the 'spirit' come from?
These are questions which I shall have to think about, and answer.
If I had witnessed the materialization of 'Rosalie' in my own laboratory, I should not hesitate to proclaim to an incredulous world that survival was proved. It is possible - though very doubtful - that last night's historic (as far as I am concerned) séance may be repeated under better conditions in a laboratory.
But Madame Z. is convinced that 'Rosalie would be frightened away.'
The sitting I have just attended is at least distinguished by the complete absence of blasphemous humbug and hymn-singing, which characterize so many pseudo-spiritualist séances run by rogues for profit.
Looking at it in retrospect, I can think of several things I ought to have done that I did not do, and one of these is the taking of 'Rosalie's' finger-prints.
I had ample opportunity, but no materials.
Another thing I might have done was to have ascertained who the 'medium' was.
Madame Z. herself denies that she is mediumistic, but I can think of no one else.
Apparently, there was no medium.
GITUK conclusion - Written accounts of testimony have to be taken with care as it is the authors experience of the séance, and he asks us to take it at its word, in our modern era with the technology we have at our disposal today, the room could have been in complete darkness, and we could have video taped the whole event with infra red cameras, use of EVP recorders and secondary devices such as REM pods, EMF meters to capture any spirit energy present to further validate what was going on as real and credible. Harry mentions wishes he took the girls finger prints, I have to ask why? Were there finger prints availble of the deceased girl he could have cross referenced, also, spirit doesnt have a solid form, or so we think or are told, so how could he have touched and felt the girl in the room?
We also ask ourselves as to what gain would Harry Price gleen from this séance, Price is famous for debunking things like this, not championing them.
Psychologist and skeptic Richard Wiseman has praised Price for his work in debunking fraudulent mediums and investigating paranormal claims.
According to Wiseman "Price devoted the scientific study to weird stuff ... that both delighted the world's media and infuriated believers and sceptics alike."
The stage magician and scientific sceptic James Randi wrote Price accomplished some valuable and genuine research but lived "a strange mixture of fact and fraud."
Psychical researcher Renée Haynes described Price as "one of the most fascinating and storm-provoking figures in psychical research."
Science writer Mary Roach in her book Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2010) favourably mentioned Price's methods and research in debunking the fraudulent medium Helen Duncan.
Several biographies have been written about Price.
Paul Tabori's biography (1974) is generally sympathetic.
Historian Trevor H. Hall's (1978) is much more critical.
The latest biography by Richard Morris (2006) is also critical, concluding that Price should best remembered as a "supreme bluffer, a hedonistic con man, a terrific raconteur, a great conjuror, a gifted writer and a wonderful eccentric."
Price asked Reginald Pocock of the Natural History Museum to evaluate pawprints allegedly made by Gef in plasticine together with an impression of his supposed tooth marks.
Pocock could not match them to any known animal, though he conceded that one of them might have been "conceivably made by a dog".
He did state that none of the markings had been made by a mongoose.
Price visited the Irvings and observed double walls of wooden panelling covering the interior rooms,
(See picture of Price inspecting the walls opposite)
of the old stone farmhouse which featured considerable interior air space between stone and wood walls that "makes the whole house one great speaking-tube", with walls like soundingboards.
By speaking into one of the many apertures in the panels, it should be possible to convey the voice to various parts of the house.
According to Richard Wiseman..... "Price and Lambert were less than enthusiastic about the case, concluding that only the most credulous of individuals would be impressed with the evidence for Gef."
The diaries of James Irving, along with reports about the case, are in Harry Price's archives in the Senate House Library, University of London.
The moon was somewhat obscured by clouds that night, but otherwise the ritual went off without a hitch—save for it not actually working.
“The Press reports of this rehearsal rather stressed the point that the ‘goat remained a goat,’ as if the reporters really anticipated the appearance of the magical Adonis,” writes Price.
For the sake of science, Price and company came back the next night as well, leaving the press behind, and performed the ritual a second time.
The result was, unsurprisingly, the same.
Some news outlets reported on the experiment as if it was a joke, but generally the response was positive.
Price writes, “Most of the papers realised that the trial of such experiments is worth while, the Evening Standard remarking (June 18, 1932) that the ‘investigation of them is a step forward in the progress of science .... The true scientist inquires into the meaning of all phenomena without prejudice.’”
Today the Brocken happily plays up its witchy roots, not unlike a German version of Salem, Massachusetts.
But in at least in this instance, Price tried to bring real magic to the area, even if it didn’t work.
THEN.... so who's up for this...
The 200th anniversary of Goethe's death is only 14 years away, so who's up for an expedition and replicate Price's experiment on 17th June 2032.
Send us an email to email@example.com
Just while we are here, when I first heard of the 'Brocken' experiment I thought it was relating to the 'Brocken spirit', so just for fun heres a little about the Brocken Spirit.
Helen Duncan Pictured here with a roll of 'Cheese Cloth' emitting from her mouth as supposedly 'Ectoplasm'.
Harry Price's sketch of the room and seance layout of chairs and electrical items.
Intrigued by the further reports of psychic activity at Borley, Harry Price returned in 1937 and rented the building himself.
He advertised in The Times for trustworthy assistants and, in a prolonged psychic investigation, he attempted to get to the bottom of the hauntings.
With a team of forty-eight observers he logged an extraordinary number of psychic phenomena.
The most bizarre was perhaps the results of a seance held on 27th March 1938.
A ghostly communicant from beyond the grave claimed that the the rectory would catch fire in the hallway that night and burn down. A nun's body would be discovered amongst the ruins. An extraordinary assertion, particularly as nothing happened.
Harry Price's lease ran out later that year, and the building was taken on by one Captain Gregson. He too was subjected to continuing mysterious happenings, including the disappearance of his two dogs.
Harry Price returned again in 1943.
Digging in the cellars, he discovered the jawbone of a young woman.
Convinced that it was part of the body of the spectral nun, he attempted to end the hauntings by giving the bone a Christian burial.
(Borley Parish Church - still haunted today!)
It does not seem to have worked.
Supernatural happenings are still reported from the site of the rectory and the nearby churchyard.
And Borley has an eerie air about the place that visitors cannot help but remark upon.
You can still investigate the rectory, just because it no longer stands, doesn't mean the spirits have left, just don't go annoying the residents.
Price and Joad examining the ritual circle, prior to the experiment.
William Hope (Spirit Photographer)
On 4 February 1922, Price with James Seymour, Eric Dingwall and William Marriott had proven the spirit photographer William Hope was a fraud during tests at the British College of Psychic Science. Price wrote in his SPR report "William Hope has been found guilty of deliberately substituting his own plates for those of a sitter ... It implies that the medium brings to the sitting a duplicate slide and faked plates for fraudulent purposes."
Price secretly marked Hope's photographic plates, and provided him with a packet of additional plates that had been covertly etched with the brand image of the Imperial Dry Plate Co. Ltd. in the knowledge that the logo would be transferred to any images created with them.
Unaware that Price had tampered with his supplies, Hope then attempted to produce a number of Spirit photographs.
Although Hope produced several images of spirits, none of his materials contained the Imperial Dry Plate Co. Ltd logo, or the marks that Price had put on Hope's original equipment, showing that he had exchanged prepared materials containing fake spirit images for the provided materials.
Price later re-published the Society's experiment in a pamphlet of his own called Cold Light on Spiritualistic "Phenomena" – An Experiment with the Crewe Circle.
Due to the exposure of Hope and other fraudulent spiritualists, Arthur Conan Doyle led a mass resignation of eighty-four members of the Society for Psychical Research, as they believed the Society was opposed to spiritualism.
Doyle threatened to have Price evicted from his laboratory and claimed if he persisted to write "sewage" about spiritualists, he would meet the same fate as Houdini.
Doyle and other spiritualists attacked Price and tried for years to have Price take his pamphlet out of circulation.
Price wrote "Arthur Conan Doyle and his friends abused me for years for exposing Hope."
According to the elaborate ritual text, the he-goat must be led by a silken cord held by a “mayden pure in heart in fair white garments.” Incense must be burned, and a pine fire lit. Standing on a magical circle that has been drawn on the ground, the maiden must spin the goat three times, then pour wine over its head, while reciting some magic words (Procul O procul este profani—Begone, begone, ye profane ones). When the magic starts to work, the moon is said to go dark, and the maiden then needs to cover the goat with a white sheet. When the cloth is removed, the goat should be gone, replaced with a human boy.
Price, looking to make a true spectacle of the ritual, contacted a number of reporters to come and witness the magical experiment. Then, on June 17, 1932, Price attempted to turn a goat into a boy.
For a maiden fair, he brought along Urta Bohn, the daughter of a Bresleau attorney. She dutifully wore a pure white dress that Price felt was right at home at a magical working.
Becca's photo of the 'Brocken Spectre'
Copyright Becca Smithers.
Helen Duncan (Spirtualist Medium)
In 1931, the National Laboratory of Psychical Research took on its most illustrious case. £50 was paid to the medium Helen Duncan so that she could be examined under scientific conditions.
Prior to allowing Duncan into the seance room, she was strip searched, this was Price's normal procedure when conducting his experiments.
Price was sceptical of Duncan and had her perform a number of test séances.
She was suspected of swallowing cheesecloth which was then regurgitated as "ectoplasm".
Price had proven through analysis of a sample of ectoplasm produced by Duncan, that it was made of cheesecloth.
Duncan reacted violently at attempts to X-ray her, running from the laboratory and making a scene in the street, where her husband had to restrain her, destroying the controlled nature of the test.
Price wrote that Duncan had given her fake ectoplasm to her husband to hide.
The ectoplasm of Duncan in another test was analysed by psychical researchers and reported to be made from egg white.
According to Price:
"The sight of half-a-dozen men, each with a pair of scissors waiting for the word, was amusing.
It came and we all jumped.
One of the doctors got hold of the stuff and secured a piece.
The medium screamed and the rest of the "teleplasm" went down her throat.
This time it wasn't cheese-cloth. It proved to be paper, soaked in white of egg, and folded into a flattened tube ...
Could anything be more infantile than a group of grown-up men wasting time, money, and energy on the antics of a fat female crook."
Price wrote up the case in Leaves from a Psychist's Case Book (1933) in a chapter called "The Cheese-Cloth Worshippers".
In his report Price published photographs of Duncan in his laboratory that revealed fake ectoplasm made from cheesecloth, rubber gloves and cut-out heads from magazine covers which she pretended to her audience were spirits.
Following the report written by Price, Duncan's former maid Mary McGinlay confessed in detail to having aided Duncan in her mediumship tricks, and Duncan's husband admitted the ectoplasm materialisations to be the result of regurgitation.
Later Duncan was caught cheating again pretending to be a spirit in the séance room.
During Duncan's famous trial in 1944, Price gave his results as evidence for the prosecution.
This time Duncan and her travelling companions, Frances Brown, Ernest and Elizabeth Homer were prosecuted and convicted.
Duncan was jailed for nine months, Brown for four months and the Homers were bound over.
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A, B, C, D, E, F, seats occupied by Price, Madame Z, Miss X, Jim, Mr. X, Mrs. X, respectively, in the order named.
(1) Small table supporting radio cabinet;
(3) electric fire;
(5) occasional table;
(7) curtained window recess.
X, where 'Rosalie' appeared.
Eileen Garrett (Spiritualist Medium)
On 7 October 1930 it was claimed by spiritualists that Eileen J. Garrett made contact with the spirit of Herbert Carmichael Irwin at a séance held with Price at the National Laboratory of Psychical Research two days after the R101 disaster.
Airships were the on trend wonder at the time, so excitement on these airships was high, the same way we get excited about space flight today.
(The R101 Disaster where 48 of the 54 passengers and crew were killed. The bodies were returned to England and on Friday 10 October a memorial service took place at St Paul's Cathedral while the bodies lay in state in Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster. Nearly 90,000 people queued to pay their respects: at one time the queue was half a mile long, and the hall was kept open until 00:35 to admit them all.
The following day a funeral procession transferred the bodies to Euston station through streets crowded with mourners.
The bodies were then taken to Cardington village for burial in a common grave in the cemetery of St Mary's Church. A monument was later erected, and the scorched Royal Air Force roundel which R101 had flown on its tail is on display, along with a memorial tablet, in the church's nave.
On 1 October 1933, the Sunday before the third anniversary of the crash, a memorial to the dead near the crash site was unveiled by the side of Route nationale 1 near Allonne. There is also a memorial marker on the actual crash site).
Not surprising then mediums who use peoples grief and vulnerabilities to ply there trade and dupe you into believing everything they say about the deceased, knowing that a grieving person would accept anything said if it implied it was coming from a lost loved one.
We at GITUK believe that these mediums are the lowest forms of human beings you can ever come across.
While attempting to contact the then recently deceased Arthur Conan Doyle, and discussed possible causes of the accident. The event "attracted worldwide attention", thanks to the presence of a reporter.
Major Oliver Villiers, a friend of Brancker, Scott, Irwin, Colmore and others aboard the airship, participated in further séances with Garrett, at which he claimed to have contacted both Irwin and other victims.
Price did not come to any definite conclusion about Garrett and the séances:
It is not my intention to discuss if the medium were really controlled by the discarnate entity of Irwin, or whether the utterances emanated from her subconscious mind or those of the sitters. "Spirit" or "trance personality" would be equally interesting explanations – and equally remarkable.
There is no real evidence for either hypothesis. But it is not my intention to discuss hypotheses, but rather to put on record the detailed account of a remarkably interesting and thought-provoking experiment.
Garrett's claims have since been questioned. The magician John Booth analysed the mediumship of Garrett and the paranormal claims of R101 and considered her to be a fraud. According to Booth Garrett's notes and writings show she followed the building of the R101 and she may have been given aircraft blueprints by a technician from the airdrome.
However, the researcher Melvin Harris who studied the case wrote no secret accomplice was needed as the information described in Garrett's séances were "either commonplace, easily absorbed bits and pieces, or plain gobbledegook. The so-called secret information just doesn't exist."
Germany’s Harz mountains have historically been associated with witches, spirits, and black magic, particularly the range’s highest peak, the Brocken. Back in 1932, one brave skeptic set out to test just how mystical the Brocken truly is by performing a ritual there designed to turn a goat into a little boy.
That skeptic was Harry Price, an early paranormal investigator and debunker. Over the course of his long career, Price labored to bring reason and a scientific eye to the world of the metaphysical. By the time he decided to take a goat to the Brocken, he’d already been responsible for blowing the lid off of spiritualists, psychic photographers, and at least one talking mongoose.
Price’s attempt at a magical ritual atop the Brocken came about thanks in part to the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe famously had an interest in the occult, and visited the Brocken peak, hiking a path that is still memorialized as the Goethe Way. Inspired by the mysterious atmosphere of the Harz region, Goethe set portions of his most famous play, Faust, there, including the surreal walpurgisnacht scene where the devil Mephistopheles leads Faust around the Brocken, observing witches and even a gorgon. “Paganism died hard in the Harz country,” Price would later write.
Goethe died in 1832, but his legacy is celebrated around the Harz, and on the centennial anniversary of the author’s death, Price got in on festivities. That year, he and fellow philosopher C.E.M. Joad traveled to the Brocken to stage their own large-scale magic ritual.
According to Price’s account of the event in his book Confessions of a Ghost-Hunter, he’d come into possession of an arcane grimoire called the High German Black Book, which contained a number of spells and rituals. Apparently discovering that Price was in possession of this book of old magic, the organizers of the Goethe centennial celebration invited him to come and perform some magic.
Price jumped at the chance, thinking it a perfect opportunity “to emphasise the absolute futility of ancient magical ritual under twentieth-century conditions.”
No matter who or what you are, if you pro-claim to be Ghost Investigators, Ghost Hunters, Psychic/Spiritualist Medium or any other kind of person or group that offers there services as credible paranormal researchers, you must be open to scrutiny, and have your practices and how you conduct your investigations to get evidence of the paranormal inspected by your peers, this not only creates credibility to your group or profession, it finds out the charlatans who dupe the vulnerable at sometimes the lowest point in their lives. Good investigators will debunk there own evidence prior to publicising there findings as credible evidence, those that don't critique there evidence should be avoided as not credible.
I make no apology for the length of this article, the paranormal is a complex subject, and often needs explaining, sometimes at great length, I will keep it to the facts and try not to waffle on, as I do want you to make it to the end of this incredible story of the first celeberity ghost hunter and debunker.
We need more people to debunk the paranormal, I hope this article inspires you to be that person, so I am pleased to introduce to you.......
Harry Price (17 January 1881 – 29 March 1948) he was a British Psychic Researcher and author, who gained public prominence for his investigations into psychical phenomena and his exposing of fraudulent spiritualist mediums.
He is best known for his well-publicised investigation of the purportedly haunted Borley Rectory in Essex, England.
Harry Price spent time debunking spirit mediums and others claiming to speak to the other side, we need more Harry Price's to bring certain groups to account today.
Interest in magic and conjuring
In his autobiography, Search for Truth, Price said the "Great Sequah" in Shrewsbury was "entirely responsible for shaping much of my life's work", and led to him acquiring the first volume of what would become the Harry Price Library.
Price later became an expert amateur conjurer, he joinedThe Magic Circlein 1922 and maintained a lifelong interest in stage magic and conjuring.
His expertise in sleight-of-hand and magic tricks stood him in good stead for what would become his all consuming passion, the investigation of paranormal phenomena.
The psychical researcher Eric Dingwall and Price re-published an anonymous work written by a former medium entitled Revelations of a Spirit Medium (1922) which exposed the tricks of mediumship and the fraudulent methods of producing "spirit hands".
Originally all the copies of the book were bought up by spiritualists and were deliberately destroyed.
Price joined The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in 1920 and because of his knowledge in conjuring had debunked fraudulent mediums but in direct contrast to other magicians, Price endorsed some mediums that he believed were genuine.
Price's first major success in psychical research came in 1922 when he exposed the 'spirit' photographer William Hope.
In the same year he travelled to Germany together with Eric Dingwall and investigated Willi Schneider at the home of Baron Albert von Schrenck-Notzing in Munich.
In 1923, Price exposed the medium Jan Guzyk, according to Price the "man was clever, especially with his feet, which were almost as useful to him as his hands in producing phenomena." (Houdini was also exposing the same type of mediums who use there feet, The Trumpet Medium).
Price wrote that the photographs depicting the ectoplasm of the medium Eva Carrière taken with Schrenck-Notzing looked artificial and two-dimensional made from cardboard and newspaper portraits and that there were no scientific controls as both her hands were free.
In 1920 Carrière was investigated by psychical researchers in London.
An analysis of her ectoplasm revealed it to be made of chewed paper.
She was also investigated in 1922 and the result of the tests were negative.
In 1925, Price investigated Maria Silbert and caught her using her feet and toes to move objects in the séance room.
He also investigated the "direct voice" mediumship of George Valiantine in London. In the séance Valiantine claimed to have contacted the "spirit" of the composer Luigi Arditi , speaking in Italian.
Price wrote down every word that was attributed to Arditi and they were found to be word-for-word matches in an Italian phrase-book.
Price formed an organisation in 1926 called the National Laboratory of Psychical Research as a rival to The Society for Psychical Research (SPR).
Price had a number of disputes with the SPR, most notably over the mediumship of Rudi Schneider.
Price paid mediums to test them-the SPR criticized Price and disagreed about paying mediums for testing.
Price made a formal offer to the University of London to equip and endow a Department of Psychical Research, and to loan the equipment of the National Laboratory and its library.
The University of London Board of Studies in Psychology responded positively to this proposal.
In 1934, the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, which held Price's collection, was reconstituted as the University of London Council for Psychical Investigation with C. E. M. Joad as chairman and with Price as Honorary Secretary and editor, although it was not an official body of the University.
In the meantime, in 1927 Price joined The Ghost Club, of which he remained a member until it (temporarily) closed in 1936.
In 1927, Price claimed that he had come into possession of Joanna Southcott's box, and arranged to have it opened in the presence of one reluctant prelate (the Bishop of Grantham, not a diocesan bishop but a suffragan of the diocese of Lincoln): it was found to contain only a few oddments and unimportant papers, among them a lottery ticket and a horse-pistol.
His claims to have had the true box have been disputed by historians and by followers of Southcott.
Price exposed Frederick Tansley Munnings, who claimed to produce the independent "spirit" voices of Julius Caesar, Dan Leno, Hawley Harvey Crippen and King Henry VIII.
Price invented and used a piece of apparatus known as a voice control recorder and proved that all the voices were those of Munnings.
In 1928, Munnings admitted fraud and sold his confessions to a Sunday newspaper.
Price was friends with other debunkers of fraudulent mediums including Harry Houdini and the journalist Ernest Palmer.
In 1933, Frank Decker was investigated by Price at the National Laboratory of Psychical Research.
Under strict scientific controls that Price contrived, Decker failed to produce any phenomena at all.
Price's psychical research continued with investigations into Karachi's Indian rope trick and the fire-walking abilities of Kuda Bux in 1935.
He was also involved in the formation of the National Film Library (British Film Institute) becoming its first chairman (until 1941) and was a founding member of the Shakespeare Film Society.
In 1936, Price broadcast from a supposedly haunted manor house in Meopham, Kent for the BBC and published The Confessions of a Ghost-Hunter and The Haunting of Cashen's Gap. This year also saw the transfer of Price's library on permanent loan to the University of London, followed shortly by the laboratory and investigative equipment.
In 1937, he conducted further televised experiments into fire-walking with Ahmed Hussain at Carshalton and Alexandra Palace, and also rented Borley Rectory for one year.
The following year, Price re-established The Ghost Club, with himself as chairman, modernizing it and changing it from a spiritualist association to a group of more or less open-minded skeptics that gathered to discuss paranormal topics. He was also the first to admit women to the club.
In the same year, Price conducted experiments with Rahman Bey who was "buried alive" in Carshalton.
He also drafted a Bill for the regulation of psychic practitioners.
In 1939, he organised a national telepathic test in the periodical John O'London's Weekly.
During the 1940s, Price concentrated on writing and the works The Most Haunted House in England, Poltergeist Over England and The End of Borley Rectory were all published.
In the next part of this chapter we go into more detail of Price's methods and then in to his work in debunking the charlatans.
One of the spells in the book was the ‘Bloksberg Tryst,’ a ritual designed to transform a young male goat into a human boy.
Bloksberg was an older name for the Brocken, and the directions for performing the Bloksberg Tryst stated that it could only successfully be performed atop the peak, under the light of a winter’s full moon.
The original text but highlighted in colour to aid in deciphering the words alleging written by the spirit.
Gef (The Talking Mongoose)
The Story starts with this account....
One morning in the early 1930s, James Irving of the village of Dalby on the Isle of Man was getting ready to open his daily newspaper when a high-pitched disembodied voice called out impatiently, “Read it out, you fat-headed gnome!”.
The voice didn’t belong to Irving’s wife Margaret or his teenage daughter Voirrey—the only humans likely to be in the remote farmhouse—but though Irving may have been offended, he wasn’t surprised.
He knew the voice belonged to a strange creature called Gef, who, for some time, had been living, largely unseen, in his family’s home.
The mysterious creature first showed up in the Irving residence sometime in 1931, and, according to the accounts of James, Margaret, and Voirrey, initially lived in the walls and, not yet able to speak, imitated a range of animal noises.
Quickly, the unseen entity started to pick up human language from the Irvings, and, before long, introduced itself to the family: His name, he said, was “Gef” (pronounced “Jeff”), and he was a mongoose
So in July 1935 Price and his friend Richard Lambert went to the Isle of Man to investigate the alleged case of Gef the talking mongoose.
it was from this visit they produced the book The Haunting of Cashen's Gap (1936).
In the book they avoided saying that they believed the story but were careful to report it as though with an open mind.
The book reports how a hair from the alleged mongoose was sent to Julian Huxley who then sent it to naturalist F. Martin Duncan who identified it as a dog hair.
Price suspected the hair belonged to the Iving's sheepdog, Mona.
Are you thinking like us here at GITUK, that the SPR is really an elitest club for the boys looking after there own interests and colleagues, it was no wonder that Price started his own society.
Borley Rectory (The most haunted house in England)
Price was most famous for his investigation into the Borley Rectory, Essex.
The building became known as "the most haunted house in England" after Price published a book about it in 1940. He documented a series of alleged hauntings from the time the rectory was built in 1863. He lived in the rectory from May 1937 to May 1938 and wrote of his experiences in the book.
The psychical researcher John L. Randall wrote there was direct evidence of "dirty tricks" played upon Price by members of the SPR. On 9 October 1931, a past president of the SPR William Henry Salter visited the Borley Rectory in an attempt to persuade the Rector Lionel Foyster, to sever his links with Price and work with the SPR instead.
(We at GITUK, get the distinct impression that Price had fell out of favour with the SPR and that the SPR were out to get him and by what ever means discredit all that Price was doing). (It seems funny that after Price formed his own society, suddenly Price wasn't credible)?
After Price's death in 1948 Eric Dingwall, Kathleen M. Goldney, and Trevor H. Hall, three members of the Society for Psychical Research, two of whom had been Price's most loyal associates, investigated his claims about Borley. Their findings were published in a 1956 book, The Haunting of Borley Rectory, which concluded Price had fraudulently produced some of the phenomena.
The "Borley Report", as the SPR study has become known, stated that many of the phenomena were either faked or due to natural causes such as rats and the strange acoustics attributed to the odd shape of the house. In their conclusion, Dingwall, Goldney, and Hall wrote "when analysed, the evidence for haunting and poltergeist activity for each and every period appears to diminish in force and finally to vanish away." Terence Hines wrote "Mrs. Marianne Foyster, wife of the Rev. Lionel Foyster who lived at the rectory from 1930 to 1935, was actively engaged in fraudulently creating (haunted) phenomena. Price himself "salted the mine" and faked several phenomena while he was at the rectory."
Robert Hastings was one of the few SPR researchers to defend Price. Price's literary executor Paul Tabori and Peter Underwood have also defended Price against accusations of fraud. A similar approach was made by Ivan Banks in 1996. Michael Coleman in an SPR report in 1997 wrote Price's defenders are unable to rebut the criticisms convincingly.Price's investigation of Borley was the subject of a 2013 best selling novel by Neil Spring, titled 'The Ghost Hunters.' This novel was subsequently adapted for television as 'Harry Price: Ghost Hunter,' starring Rafe Spall, Cara Theobold and Richie Campbell
Rosalie (Seance where a child appeared)
Price claimed to have attended a private séance on 15 December 1937 in which a small six-year-old girl called Rosalie appeared.
Price wrote he controlled the room by placing starch powder over the floor, locking the door and taping the windows before the séance.
However, the identity of the sitters, or the locality where the séance was held was not revealed due to the alleged request of the mother of the child.
During the séance Price claimed a small girl emerged, she spoke and he took her pulse.
Price was suspicious that the supposed spirit of the child was no different than a human being but after the séance had finished the starch powder was undisturbed and none of the seals had been removed on the window.
Price was convinced no one had entered the room via door or window during the séance.
Price's Fifty Years of Psychical Research (1939) describes his experiences at the sitting and includes a diagram of the séance room.
Eric Dingwall and Trevor Hall wrote the Rosalie séance was fictitious and Price had lied about the whole affair but had based some of the details on the description of the house from a sitting he attended at a much earlier time in Brockley, South London where he used to live.
K. M. Goldney who had criticized Price over his investigation into Borley Rectory wrote after the morning of the Rosalie sitting she found Price "shaken to the core by his experience." Goldney believed Price had told the truth about the séance and informed the Two Worlds spiritualist weekly newspaper that she believed the Rosalie sitting to be genuine.
In 1985, Peter Underwood published a photograph of part of an anonymous letter that was sent to the SPR member David Cohen in the 1960s which claimed to be from a séance sitter who attended the séance.
The letter confessed to having impersonated the Rosalie child in the sitting by the request of the father who had owed the mother of the child money. In 2017, Paul Adams published details of the location of the Rosalie seance and identities of the family involved.
Following the preparations laid out in the book....
Price had put together a truly arcane scene, with a large magical circle set into the ground, and incense burning away.
In his account of the experiment.....
Price writes that the only thing that seemed out of place were the dozens of reporters and photographers on the periphery.
Highly charismatic personality whose energy and enthusiasm for the paranormal made him the first celebrity ghost hunter.
A skilled magician and an expert at detecting fraud.
Because of his flamboyant manner and continuous self-promotion, Price made a number of enemies within the psychical research field.
Especially within the Society of Psychical Research.
Founder of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, which later became the University of London Council for Psychical Investigation.
The article below was originally titled ''Rosalie" and was taken from Harry Price's "Fifty Years of Psychical Research"
(London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1939.)
Though the case could’ve ended there, it didn’t. Over the years Gef has faded away, but has never been fully forgotten. First, Lambert (who is probably best remembered for his incorrect predictions about the future of television, including, “Television won’t matter in your lifetime or mine”) nearly lost his job when retired colonel Sir Cecil Levita alleged that his coverage of the Gef story meant he was “off his head.” Lambert responded to the allegation by bringing a slander suit—referred to as "The Mongoose Case"—against Levita, which he eventually won.
Second, the eternal human fascination with talking animals has ensured that Gef still has a few diehard fans. In 2014, according to the Wall Street Journal, “the world’s pre-eminent authorities” on Gef gathered in The University of London’s Senate House Library to discuss the great mongoose mystery. In addition to predictable speculation about who or what Gef was (and whether he existed), some investigators took a more academic approach to the Gef mystery. Richard Espley, director of the library’s English-language collection, for instance, argued that Gef’s story was part of a larger trend of talking animals in oral histories—dating back as far as the Panchatantra, a collection of ancient Indian animal fables—which he described as “the mongoose Ur-narrative.”
Though the mystery of Gef may never be satisfyingly solved, the talking mongoose does seem to fit into a broader history of talking animal legends, which appear in everything from ancient texts like The Bible and the Panchatantra to more recent pop culture phenomena, like the spate of YouTube videos featuring “talking” dogs.
In an article on the psychological roots of the talking animal myth, Aeon notes, “Speaking animals provide us with the potential of an entirely different world—a world that is reminiscent of our own, even familiar, and yet still uncanny enough to maintain the fantasy.”
Maybe the legend of Gef the Talking Mongoose was a collective fantasy, the product of a basic human desire for other-wordly wonder and magic. But then again, maybe Gef really was what he claimed to be: an extra, extra clever mongoose.
Death and legacy
Price suffered a massive heart attack at his home in Pulborough, West Sussex and died almost instantly on 29th March 1948.
His archives were deposited with the University of London between 1976 and 1978 by his widow.
They include his correspondence, drafts of his publications, papers relating to libel cases, reports on his investigations, press cuttings and photographs.
What a great man Harry Price was, he achieved noteriety as a great paranormal investigator with a thorough understanding of the subject using subjective testing and was able to debunk the cheats and charlatans that blight our craft of Paranormal Investigating.
With the technology available to us today, and the TV shows reporting there ghost investigating cases, at some of the most haunted locations, I wager Harry would have been busy debunking there claims of some dubious claims some groups make whilst at locations they are investigating.
One other famous investigator for debunking and exposing fraudulent mediums is the Great Houdini, you can read our fantastic article about how Houdini worked for 35 years exposing the "Spirit Fakers".
A caged grave in Borley, was this to keep the grave robbers out, or the body in?
This eye witness account comes from a few miles up the road from where I grew up in Weymouth Dorset.
Maiden Castle is an ancient hill fort near Dorchester.
Becca Smithers on one very misty morning went for a walk with family up to Maiden Castle in Dorset. The sun was quite high in the sky, but the mist hung around the bottom of this Iron Age hill fort, creating a very spooky atmosphere!
When she reached the top and came out of the fog they began walking around the ridge that circles the top of the fort, and there they had a bit of a surprise. Looking down at the fog that clung to the base of the hill fort, she could see there shadows projected to look like giants, and they each had a ring of light around there heads.
They were standing in a line, but could only see there individual shadows. In the picture opposite you can see Becca's shadow, but not the shadows of the three people who were stood to her right!
The Brocken Spectre
Rudi Schneider (Medium)
In the 1920s and early 1930s Price investigated the medium Rudi Schneider in a number of experiments conducted at the National Laboratory of Psychical Research.
Schneider claimed he could levitate objects but according to Price a photograph taken on 28 April 1932 showed that Schneider had managed to free his arm to move a handkerchief from the table.
After this, many scientists considered Schneider to be exposed as a fraud.
Price wrote that the findings of the other experiments should be revised due to the evidence showing how Schneider could free himself from the controls.
After Price had exposed Schneider, various scientists such Karl Przibram and the magician Henry Evans wrote to Price telling him that they agreed that Schneider would evade control during his séances and congratulated Price on the success of unmasking the fraud.
In opposition, SPR members who were highly critical of Price, supported Schneider's mediumship and promoted a conspiracy theory that Price had hoaxed the photograph.
SPR member Anita Gregory claimed Price had deliberately faked the photograph to discredit SPR research and ruin Schneider's reputation.
However, a photographic expert testified that the photograph was genuine.
SPR member John L. Randall reviewed the Price and Schneider case and came to the conclusion that the photograph was genuine and that Price had caught Schneider in fraud.