Gregory Pendennis Library Of Black Sorcery

Peter Haining & A. V. Sellwood – Devil Worship In Britain

Posted by glampunk on August 25, 2007

Peter Haining & A. V. Sellwood –  Devil Worship In Britain (Corgi, 1964)

Haining & Sellwood Devil Worship In Britain

A collaboration with A. V. Sellwood, Devil Worship In Britain (Corgi, 1964) is the first of, literally, hundreds of books the phenomenon that is Peter Haining has put his name to down the decades. It is also, quite probably, the least likely to see republication.

The tract began life as a series of articles Haining contributed to an Essex newspaper which he expands here into a full-scale investigation. Written entirely in some ‘sixties strain of sexy journalism, virtually every other sentence ends on a “and what are the relevant authorities doing about this? absolutely nothing!” note of moral indignation. You can tell they just loved researching it!

Things get off to a good start with a spirited account of a woodland ceremony, or, as the authors would have it, a “perverted orgy”:

“A peep into history – to the Moloch worshippers of ancient Carthage? Unfortunately no”

No indeed, for, courtesy of a man known only as ‘Vigilant’ who’d contacted them after reading Haining’s articles and promised an evening that would give them something to think about, lucky Peter and A. V. have just witnessed a Sabbat but a few miles from where they live! Watching from a place of concealment, they began to fear a human sacrifice was about to take place, but thankfully the High Priest was only showing off with his sabre and just about the worst that occured was a naked, altar bound girl spouting indecipherable messages from the dead. Then everybody went home.

This lucky break proves to be a false dawn, however, as, hardly is the investigation proper underway than their covers are blown, interviewees mysteriously cancel and dire telephone threats are received from a North London-based coven (!). However, our intrepid pair are in no mood to let these setbacks thwart them in their unswerving mission and, as promised on the cover, they’re still able to dig the dirt on “The Nude Dancers of the North”, “Sexual Orgies!” “An obscene rite in the North Country” and all the usual Dennis Wheatley/ News of the World staples we’ve come to expect from the brethren of Beelzebub.

Is it a “good” book? I’m no judge of such matters, but I suspect probably not. Could it in any ways be described as “essential”? I very much doubt that too, but …

What is interesting about Devil Worship In Britain is the contemporary accounts of various outrages perpetuated by ‘Black Magicians’ from the late ‘fifties through to 1963. Some, like those at Clophill and, to a lesser extent, Westham, are relatively familiar, but who remembers the Bluebell Wood horror or indeed, the aforementioned nude dancers save, in the latter case, the participants – and those who purchased the secretly filmed video of their exploits via various specialist Soho outlets? It’s likewise useful to learn that a ‘Black Magic’ aggregate were operating in North London immediately prior to the formation of the shadowy Gravediggers Union.

Haining pursued the theme through his introduction to the short story collection The Satanists (Neville Spearman, 1969), but his short and altogether more restrained account of events in the passing years are nowhere near as memorable.

One Response to “Peter Haining & A. V. Sellwood – Devil Worship In Britain”

  1. […] collaberation with Peter Haining on the latter’s first published book, the much loved Devil Worship In Britain (Corgi, […]

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