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The Society was founded by Mabel Barltrop in 1919 at 12 Albany Road, Bedford. Its inspiration was the teachings of the Devonshire prophetess Joanna Southcott (1750–1814). Barltrop took the name Octavia and believed herself to be the Shiloh of Southcott's prophecies. She and 12 apostles founded the Society, originally called the Community of the Holy Ghost.
A central purpose of the Society was to persuade 24 Anglican bishops to open Southcott's sealed box of prophecies, and to this end, advertisements were placed in newspapers, both national and local. In the late 1920's and early 1930's the Society generated over 100,000 petitions for the box to be opened. The Society claimed that the box was secreted in England. Some have claimed that it was opened in 1927 and found to contain a broken horse pistol and a lottery ticket.
Despite this setback the group continued, placing adverts in newspapers calling for action from the Church of England. In the 1970's the Society rented billboards which proclaimed "War, disease, crime and banditry, distress of nations and perplexity will increase until the Bishops open Joanna Southcott's box."
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