Tweedale, Reverend Charles Lakeman
The Reverend Charles Lakeman Tweedale (died 29 June, 1944) was the Anglican Vicar of Weston, North Yorkshire, possibly most well known for his book Man’s Survival after Death (1920).
He was a convinced spiritualist and in the early 1920s founded the Society of Communion for spiritualist members of the Church of England.
The society "insisted on the acceptance of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ and existed mainly to encourage psychic study among Anglicans."
The main problem with Tweedale’s observations is that they appear to be a mixture of the genuine and – not fraud – but misinterpretation of things which can be explained in other ways. Basically the Reverend Tweedale suffered from two things – gullibility and a desperate desperate desire to want to believe in life after death. As a witness and source he is thus not a terribly good one, however, we have added him to the site [without all his observations] so that information is available on him, but also because his observations related to the site of his church are of interest.
Reverend Tweedale was a believer in ‘spirit photography’, and here we see a spirit photograph of him and his wife taken by William Hope.
‘Spirit photography’ was first used by William H. Mumler in the 1860s. Mumler discovered the technique by accident, after he discovered a second person in a photograph he took of himself, which he found was actually a double exposure. Seeing there was a market for it, Mumler started working as a ‘medium’, taking people's pictures and doctoring the negatives to add lost loved ones into them (mostly using other photographs as basis). Mumler's fraud was discovered after he put identifiable living Boston residents in the photos as spirits.
Other spirit photographers also started to sell photographs. A later spirit photographer was Fred A. Hudson, who took many spirit photographs in 1872. Through the 1880s into the early 20th century spirit photography remained popular. Some spiritualists even authored books supporting spirit photography. Georgiana Houghton wrote Chronicles of the Photographs of Spiritual Beings and Phenomena Invisible to the Material Eye (1892) and James Coates wrote Photographing the Invisible.
Despite the fact that it had long been known that the negatives were doctored and that these were simply double exposures, great numbers of spiritualists carried on believing in them because they wanted to believe in them. And one of the later spirit photographers was William Hope (1863–1933) and Tweedale was a total believer in him and his photos.
In his book Fifty Years of Psychical Research, Harry Price listed many spirit photographers whose photos were produced by double exposure. Price who had spent most of his life studying psychical phenomena wrote that "There is no good evidence that a spirit photograph has ever been produced." Which is also the view of most psychical researchers.
In amongst the easily explained and the spirit photography, however, are some observations that may well be genuine. It was alleged that Tweedale's family home, the Weston Vicarage, was haunted by their deceased aunt and her phantom dog. The "hauntings" were principally recorded between 1905-1923. The psychical researcher W. W. Baggally from the Society for Psychical Research interviewed witnesses and declared the phenomena genuine.
Needless to say there were skeptics who were unconvinced noting that "as with most investigations of hauntings, you either believe the witnesses or you don't, for there is no other evidence." Which leaves one wondering what other evidence one can provide, except numerous witnesses.
The psychical researcher Frank Podmore suggested that ‘some of the visions may have been hallucinations’, which is fine, because hallucinations are also spiritual experiences. An hallucination is simply equivalent to a double negative of the mind – an image from perceptions or the wider spiritual world super-imposed over the image from the 5 senses.
Perhaps what was not realised at the time is that Weston church and the vicarage are exceptionally potent spots spiritually. There is a stone in the churchyard for example which has been described as “a real curiosity”. It’s found in the graveyard of All Saints church, Weston, where one of the graves has several small stones on it, with this small stone with the following cup-and-ring designs upon it.
we know that there was some form of ritual or geomantic use of cup-and-rings in relation to neolithic and Bronze Age burials — that such a tradition has been performed by this particular family on this grave. …. [and] there is an occult history of some of the influential families in and around this region in relation to witchcraft, ancient kingship and esoteric practices …
and I am sure the Reverend Tweedale was not aware he was involved in this!
- Man's Survival After Death (Four editions 1909, 1920, 1925, 1931)
- Present Day Spirit Phenomena and the Churches (1917)
- News From the Next World (1940)
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