Spiritualists’ National Union

Spiritualists’ National Union One of two of the largest Spiritualism organizations in the world. The Spiritualists’ National Union (SNU) was founded in Manchester, England, as the Spiritualists’ National Federation, in an effort to bring Britain’s spiritualists together under one organization. The key figure in the formation of the federation was medium Emma Hardinge Britten, a gifted orator and writer.

Spiritualism was imported from the United States to Britain in 1852 and quickly found adherents. The first spiritualist church was established in 1853 in Yorkshire, and the first spiritualist newspaper, The Yorkshire Spiritual Telegraph, was published in 1855. By the 1870s there were numerous spiritualist societies and churches throughout Britain. In 1887, Britten founded a weekly spiritualist journal, Two Worlds.

Although spiritualism won many supporters, it also had numerous detractors and critics. It became apparent to those within the movement that some sort of federation would be beneficial to unite the churches and societies, help them win religious recognition and freedom of worship, and fight persecution. In late 1889 and early 1890, Britten championed the idea of a National Federation of Spiritualist Churches in her newspaper. She helped organize a meeting of interested spiritualists on April 1, 1891, in Manchester. The Spiritualists’ National Federation was born.

Initially, the federation was only an annual conference. In 1901 it was legally incorporated as the Spiritualists’ National Union, Ltd., a charitable organization.

In 1948 the SNU merged with the British Lyceum Union, which had been founded in 1890 for the spiritualist education of children and youth. In 1970, the SNU launched the SNU Guild of Spiritualist Healers as a branch of the organization. The guild is a founding member of the Confederation of Healing Organizations, which establishes guidelines for alternative healing practitioners.

The SNU espouses seven principles that were given to Britten in 1871 by the discarnate spirit of Robert Owen, an early supporter of spiritualism and cofounder of the Co-operative movement. The Seven Principles of the SNU, which serve as guidelines for the development of a personal philosophy of life, are the fatherhood of God; the brotherhood of Man; the communion of spirits and the ministry of Angels; the continuous existence of the human SOUL; personal responsibility; compensation and retribution hereafter, for all good or evil done on earth; and eternal progress open to every human soul.

Membership consists of churches and individuals.

Among the many notable figures active in the SNU were J. Arthur Findlay, a Scottish businessman who in 1964 bequeathed his family home, Stansted Hall, to be used as a college for psychic studies; Hannen Swaffer, a journalist known as the “Pope of Fleet Street” who helped bring Spiritualism to the masses; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, named honorary president in spirit; and medium MAURICE BARBANELL, a founder of Psychic News.

Stansted Hall is the home of SNU’s Arthur Findlay College, which offers comprehensive courses in psychic science, including mediumship and healing. 472 Spiritualist Church of Canada


  • Bassett, Jean. 100 Years of National Spiritualism. London: Spiritualists’ National Union, 1990.
  • Spiritualists’ National Union. Available online. URL: https:// www.snu.org.uk.

The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007