The College’s history goes back for well over a hundred years. At a meeting on 25th October 1883, the Rev. Stainton Moses – an Anglican priest and a remarkable medium – moved for the foundation of a new society upon the dissolution of the Central Association of Spiritualists. At a meeting on 20th November 1883 the new society was named The London Spiritualist Alliance, and eventually acquired its own premises at South Kensington, London in 1925.
The purchase price of the freehold of 16 Queensberry Place, £5,000, was almost exactly the amount held in The Memorial Endowment Fund which was started at the end of the 1914-1918 war at the suggestion of Mr David Gow. Donations were invited from those who in their war bereavement had received consolation from the knowledge and experience of spiritualism. College headquarters are therefore the actual memorial donated as an expression of gratitude by the bereaved of the First World War.
A house-warming party took place on 21 January 1926 under the Presidency of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was tireless in helping the bereaved and would urge people to join the Alliance.
LIGHT , the society’s Journal goes back even farther than the College, having first appeared on 8th January 1881, as a weekly. Well-known names have always been associated with its history, as editors and contributors. In the 1940’s the Chairman was the Hon. Ralph Shirley, a director of Wm. Rider & Son, later Rider & Co. Leading publishers of occult books. Distinguished literary figures included Rosamund Lehmann, CBE (a Vice President of the College), and Kathleen Raine, the poet and Blake scholar, both as contributors and on the editorial board. The LSA continued to go from strength to strength, building up one of the finest collections of specialist books that have been used by generations of scholars. Frank Podmore wrote Modern Spiritualism from this library. Here, too, Nander Fodor compiled his Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science whilst he was assistant editor of LIGHT.
Throughout its history the College has aimed to foster mediumship at its highest level and in this it has been host to many of the greatest names in mediumship. Among the most outstanding was the Revd. Stainton Moses whose communications were voluminous and highly regarded. Published as Spirit Teachings and More Spirit Teachings, they went into several editions. His numerous notebooks of directed writings are in the Archives. He died in 1892 leaving his personal library to the Alliance, and a mahogany bookcase was purchased in 1893 for The Stainton Moses Memorial Library, which now stands in the President’s Office.
Another outstanding medium was the great D.D. Hume of levitation fame, whose well-known portrait by the younger Pickersgill hangs above the fireplace in the Lecture Hall. In the President’s Office is a bust of J.J. Vango, modelled by J.A. Stevenson and exhibited at the Royal Academy of 1921. Portraits of many well known mediums and figures associated with the College hang in our Lecture Hall and building, amongst them the Revd. Stainton Moses, G.S.R. Mead, Alfred Vout Peters, Geraldine Cummins and Etta Wreidt, an active supporter of the Alliance to whom Queen Victoria presented a gold watch in gratitude for her mediumship. The London Spiritualist Alliance changed its name in 1955 to The College of Psychic Science, then in 1970 it became The College of Psychic Studies, which is today known the world over as a beacon of light and place of spiritual development.
Throughout its history the College has attracted clergymen, some sensitives themselves, such as the Revd. Vale Owen and the Revd. Drayton Thomas. Books by both are in the Library. In recent times the College has fostered the work of mediums who, as pioneers in media work, have appeared successfully in many television and radio programmes, among them Ena Twigg, Douglas Johnson and Ivy Northage. Space limits mention to only a few of the great figures of the past. In time, undoubtedly the names of some of those now associated with the College will be seen to join the list.
From 1926 – 1930 the whole of the top floor at the College was leased to Harry Price, Psychic Investigator for his ‘National Laboratory of Psychical Research’. The society was the first of its kind in the UK, set up to prove consciousness beyond matter, and to test the abilities of psychics. The rooms were converted into six lab areas with apparatus, bunsen burners and typical recording equipment of the time. Scientific experiments were conducted here during this time in an attempt to prove consciousness beyond matter.
During the 19th and 20th centuries the use of Ouija boards, planchettes and spirit trumpets was common practice. Originals can be found on display in the College.
Psychic studies have come a long way since the College first formed over a hundred years ago. The College now runs cutting edge courses where modern methods are used, making spirit trumpets and Ouija boards things of the past. Now available are courses in Mediumship, Trance, Introductory: Personal and Spiritual Development, Psychic & Mediumship development, Working with Your Guides and Angels, Inspirational & Automatic Writing, Past Lives Exploration, Shamanism, Palmistry, Remote Viewing, Tarot, Scrying, Crystals and the College Accredited Healing Course.
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