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A Brief History of the SNU

The Formation SNU...


The first Spiritualist church opened in 1853 in Keighley in Yorkshire. Spiritualism then spread throughout Britain with famous people at that time publicly endorsing the Spiritualist philosophy. Examples of those who supported Spiritualism are:-

In 1854, Robert Owen, founder of the Co-operative movement,

In 1871, Sir William Crooks, distinguished scientist, and later,

In 1918, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, famous author.


Various gifted mediums became well known and written about they helped to spread the knowledge of Spiritualism further. Significant among these was Emma Hardinge Britten who had spread the word extensively in America. In 1865, Emma returned to England and demonstrated her gift of mediumship, and gave inspired talks on the subject of the Philosophy of Spiritualism.


In 1869, an influential committee appointed by the Christian 'Dialectical Society' investigated Spiritualism and published a most positive report. Two years later Sir William Crookes reported on Spiritualism to the prestigious Royal Society and published his findings in the Quarterly Journal of Science.


The British National Association of Spiritualists (now known as the College of Psychic Science) was founded in London in 1873, and the Society for Psychical Research founded in 1882.


In 1887, the 'Two Worlds' Spiritualist weekly newspaper was founded by Mrs Emma Hardinge Britten. It was through Emma's mediumship that the Seven Principles of SNU Spiritualism were attained, which were later to be adopted by the Spiritualists’ National Union as the basis of its religious philosophy.


Attempts were made to bring together the various individuals, Spiritualist churches, groups and societies and the concept of a national federation of Spiritualist churches was discussed and written about in 1889 by Emma in the ‘Two Worlds’ magazine. Emma arranged a meeting and in July 1890 the first national conference of Spiritualists was held in Manchester. At this Conference Emma advocated her concept for the fundamental basis of Spiritualist philosophy, which later became the Seven Principles of SNU Spiritualism. Other resolutions were carried unanimously establishing the concept of a Spiritualists' National Federation.


The Spiritualists' National Federation held annual conferences where delegates from Spiritualist societies and individual Spiritualists could discuss issues of common interest. It soon became clear that obtaining the status of a limited company would be beneficial as then asset and property could be legally owned. Therefore, in October 1901 the Spiritualists’ National Union Limited was registered as a company within the UK, and in July 1902 it took over the property, rights and obligations of the Spiritualists’ National Federation. The primary object of the new company was to promote the advancement and diffusion of a knowledge of the religion and religious philosophy of Spiritualism on the basis of the Seven Principles.


In 1966, the Spiritualist educational college based at Stansted Hall, Essex, ‘The Arthur Findlay College’ was opened. Today, as well as the college on this site, there is the headquarters of the Spiritualists’ National Union.

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