Chiltern Society for Psychical Research - People
|Eddie Brazil (left) and Paul Adams at St. Lawrence Church, West Wycombe, 28 February 2009 (Photograph: Rebecca Brazil).|
The Chiltern SPR was founded on 18 November 2008 by Eddie Brazil and Paul Adams who have both had an interest in studying paranormal phenomena for many years. Here they talk briefly about themselves and their roles in the Society.
Eddie Brazil - Vice-President
I was born in Dublin in 1956 but in 1958 my Family relocated to London and it was my Grandmother's story telling around the fire which awakened in me a love for the supernatural and all things uncanny and ghostly. Her tales from the wild and mysterious west of Ireland had a strange fascination for me. Accounts of banshees, death coaches, evil leprechauns and haunted houses held my brothers and I in quaking awe.
In 1963 the family moved again to an 18th century house in the Stockwell district of London. It was here that I got my first taste of true paranormal phenomena when I heard the sound of disembodied footsteps descending the stairs, an experience which not only unnerved me but also opened the gates of curiosity into the supernatural. I read all I could on ghosts and hauntings. Yet it was while I was playing truant from school in my local library in 1968 that I came across the book which would ultimately direct me down a path which would lead to a serious, active and professional view of psychical research.
'The Most Haunted House in England', Harry Price's ten year study of the haunting of Borley Rectory captivated me like no other case of the Paranormal. I believe my fascination with the haunting has to do with the fact that it ticks all the right boxes when one thinks of a ghost story. A remote, gloomy old house, phantom coaches and spectral nuns, mysterious lights, unseen footsteps, the bonus of a haunted church together with strange, quirky characters, it seemed to combine all of the best of my Grandmother's eerie tales with the thought-provoking subject of a genuine haunting. Yet this was no tale coined from the best of M.R.James or William Hope Hodgson for here was a story which would not only fascinate but also outrage, and ultimately, would be regarded as one of the best authenticated cases of psychical research.
My burning desire to go to Borley was achieved in 1971 when, together with three friends, I first visited this shrine to the paranormal. Since that day I have returned to the remote Essex hamlet more times than I can remember. Sometimes with colleagues, sometimes on my own or, as recently, more often with my great friend, colleague and co-author of The Borley Rectory Companion, Paul Adams. The seeds of The Borley Rectory Companion were sown when Paul and I met at Borley in 2003. Both of us felt that there was a need to retell the Borley story in a way which was unbiased and rational, and also dispel many of the myths and half truths which have found their way into the reporting of the case over the years. The great joy for us was to have veteran ghost hunter and Borley expert Peter Underwood join us on the project. Now two and a half years on from the first tentative entries and chapters our book is to be published. I believe it will become the standard reference work on this remarkable case of the paranormal.
Even though psychical research is an continual fascination for me, other interests which keep me sane are a love of photography, music and the past. In 1983 I wrote the theme music to the film Expresso Splasho, a British comedy movie featuring many up and coming home grown talents. History, in particular that of the English parish church, and also accounts of battles in Britain has me often traipsing across remote areas of the country with camera and note pad. I am a great fan of ghost story writer M.R. James and one of my abiding memories from my youth is watching the TV adaptations of James's stories in the 'Ghost Story for Christmas' series on Christmas Eve with my family. I am also a great lover of prog rock, that bombastic, over the top style of rock music in the European symphonic tradition exemplified by bands such as Genesis, The Nice and King Crimson.
As for my dislikes; well they could fill a large library. Suffice to say that politicians, reality TV, overpaid football players, soap operas, modern High Street development, the concreting of the countryside, Monday mornings, boy bands, Strictly Come Dancing etc, etc would all find a place in my Room 101. And yet it is the paranormal which continues to intrigue me. Cases such as the Enfield Poltergeist, the Black Monk of Pontefract, the Cheltenham Haunting and the Cardiff Poltergeist are all classic accounts of the paranormal, and pose questions which still need answering. The CSPR was formed to try and answer those questions and ultimately move us closer to an understanding of what happens when 'things go bump in the night'.
Six years on from Paul and I's first meeting at Borley, and four decades on from when I first discovered 'the most haunted house in England', the best web site on Borley and Harry Price has been established, a forward thinking psychical research group has been formed and a new book on Borley Rectory is to be published. I am proud to be part of all three.
Hazlemere, Buckinghamshire, March 2009
Paul Adams - Secretary & Journal Editor
I was born in Epsom, Surrey in 1966. My interest in things outré and not of this world I think starts with a copy of Alan Frank's Movie Treasury: Horror Movies which was bought for me in 1974. From this came my great love of Hammer horror films and Frank's book was supplemented over time with Eerie magazine and several editions of the Armada Ghost Books edited by Mary Danby.
In 1977, two things took place that when looking back I feel in many ways sowed the seeds of what was to come. Through a school book club I bought a copy of Dan Farson's Beaver Book of Horror which introduced me for the first time to the famous Borley Rectory case and the work of psychical researcher Harry Price (1881-1948). It was at this point that I realised that as well as being good spooky reading and viewing material, stories of ghosts and hauntings had been, and were still being studied seriously by scientifically-minded persons willing to think outside the materialistic box. On holiday with my parents in the West Country, I visited Sandford Orcas Manor House which had a reputation as being one of the most haunted houses in the country and we were shown around by the then tenant, Colonel Francis W. Claridge. I remember seeing a photograph of the building in which he pointed out a strange white figure, unseen at the time the picture was taken, that Claridge claimed was the apparition of one of the Knoyle family complete with his Stuart hat.
I began collecting and studying books on ghosts, hauntings and the supernatural (a term that has slipped from mainstream usage these days but one that I am very fond of) by writers such as Peter Underwood and Andrew Green and family holidays from this time onwards normally had to incorporate visits to allegedly haunted stately homes or castles that I had read about and had become familiar with. These resulted in numerous photograph albums filled with Polaroid pictures of cloisters, church altars, corridors and courtyards in which I hoped to capture a ghostly figure or shape; unfortunately nothing of the sort took place. At secondary school, a rather un-nerving experience with a Ouija board provided me with either what was an incredible co-incidence (the more likely) or a stunning apparition witnessed by at least two people simultaneously in daylight.
For the past twenty-five years I have continued to study reports of paranormal phenomena from around the world. My particular interest today is in the physical phenomena of spiritualism; I have sat with several physical mediums and have been a regular sitter in a home circle working for physical phenomena since the autumn of 2007. In September 2003 I met Eddie Brazil for the first time at Borley (we were then members of the old Borley Ghost Society organised and run by Vincent O'Neil) and we became firm friends. Two years down the line we set up a website dedicated to Harry Price and in August 2006 things came full circle when we began a collaboration with Peter Underwood on a new book about the Borley Rectory haunting which will be published by The History Press in April 2009 as The Borley Rectory Companion.
I consider the spiritualistic hypothesis a valid and exciting area of paranormal study and I hope that with the CSPR it will be possible to create a good working relationship with spiritualist groups in the Chiltern area, something that in the past, organised psychical research has not been very successful in achieving. Demonstrations of mediumship including clairvoyance and psychometry will be a regular part of the Society's public programme. Anyone who is genuinely interested in researching and investigating séance room phenomena is welcome to join the Society where this area of study is actively encouraged.
Luton, Bedfordshire, March 2009
© Copyright CSPR 2008-2009.