Looking back on my childhood I think there are only two ways in which I may have been different from other children: I remember being born, and I believed in reincarnation from about the age of six.
The first happened on the second on May 1913 about one o'clock in the afternoon. The doctor had called to see my mother about noon and told my grandmother, who was acting as midwife, that nothing would happen for a few hours and that he would be back after lunch. He said that I was twisted and could not be born until he was there but apparently I decided that I could not wait and my grandmother was able to straighten me so that I arrived quite easily. The memory of this recurred to me quite a few times over the years in my dreams; I was in a dark place from which I had to escape by pushing myself down through a very narrow opening.
I do not remember learning to read; as far back as I can remember I always had my head in a book, a trait which I have had all my life. Soon after I started school I read a book of old Greek myths, one was about a soldier who was killed at Thermopylae. When the Greeks came to cremate the bodies several days later this soldier's body showed no signs of decomposition so he was brought back to his home where he regained consciousness. He said that he had been in the Spirit World where he had seen the souls who were returning to earth choosing the lives into which they would be born. This instantly struck a chord in my mind. It seemed to me that one life on earth could never give a soul an opportunity to grow and I felt that one would need to experience poverty and wealth, sorrow and joy, male and female in order to gain knowledge of oneself.
My family, (I was the middle of seven children), were Congregational in religion and I duly attended Sunday School and became a Church member when I was fourteen. I was born and grew up in Walthamstow on the east side of London, winning a scholarship to the Grammar School when I was eleven and a "Daily News" Business Scholarship to Clark's College when I was seventeen. From the age of five I suffered attacks of migraine, "sick headaches" as they were called in those days. These were hereditary as both my mother and grandmother had been victims, although I was the only one affected in my generation. The doctor told my mother that they were the penalty for having a brilliant brain. I said that I wished I had less brilliance and fewer headaches.
I left school when I was seventeen and started work with the Prudential Assurance Company as a clerk, attending Clark's College in the evenings learning shorthand, typing and book-keeping among other commercial subjects.
To the best of my recollection, I was not aware of any psychic abilities as a child. Spiritualism was a closed book and, if you had spoken to me about it in my teens, I would have dismissed it as complete rubbish, attributing any signs of physical mediumship as being due to hidden wires and clairvoyance as a form of telepathy.
Just before I started work, my parents decided that it would be nice if we had a holiday bungalow in the country and bought a plot of land at Billericay in Essex. It was on the outskirts of the town off a lane with green fields and woods to one side. There were no services at all to the plot and drinking water was obtained from a spring for which we had to cross a railway line and climb down a bank. Someone had already bought a plot close to ours on which they had erected a small building so we rented this for a number of weekends and holidays while we were building a four roomed wooden bungalow with a verandah on one side. My brother, Fred, some two years older than I, had been apprenticed to a carpenter and he took charge of the building while we all helped. When it was finished we spent a good many weekends there, christening it "Wondekka". Lighting was by a Primus Oil Lamp and candles while cooking was done, first on a kitchen range, then on an oil stove.
During 1933 we often found that we left Billericay early on Monday morning in brilliant sunshine only to run into fog at Romford or Ilford, so much so that, after much discussion, we decided to move permanently. My mother said at first that it was a ridiculous idea as we were living in a nine-roomed house in Walthamstow while the bungalow only had four rooms: kitchen, living room and two bedrooms. At this time the family consisted of Mum and Dad, my two younger brothers and myself. My two sisters were both in service and my two elder brothers were married and had their own homes. We compromised by building a brick garage and wash-house in which we erected a two-tier bunk for the boys and duly moved in March 1934, choosing a day for moving when it rained solidly from morning till night.
Two years later we had gas installed but, despite the promises of the estate agents, we had no other services until ten years after the 1939-45 war. Our water came from the rain which fed, via a filter, into a large underground tank and had to be pumped daily into a cistern in the roof while we had a chemical closet for a toilet. In spite of the drawbacks we were very happy at "Wondekka" and only regretted not having made the move years earlier.
I was twenty-five when I made the acquaintance of Win, some ten years older than myself. She was highly talented, very attractive in appearance and manner and, in many ways, the opposite of the rather uncouth person that I was. In fact, she says that I was very rude to her at our first meeting and in the normal course of events, she would have dismissed me as not worth knowing. However, she told me later that something seemed to urge her to pursue me and we gradually became friends.
At first I did not realise that Win was a Spiritualist but by the time that she began to talk about it I was ready to listen to her, although it was in a very sceptical frame of mind. Then she lent me several of her books (I was always an avid reader) including "Through the Mists" by R.J. Lees and "More Things in Heaven and Earth"
I began to be intrigued by the thought that it might be possible to contact spirits, if there were such things, and so, early in 1939, I suggested that we try to communicate with the Spirit World by means of the glass and letters. (I now know this means of communication can lead to trouble and is not a good thing to try.) Win and I sat opposite each other with a tumbler inverted on a polished table and the letters of the alphabet on pieces of paper in a circle around it. We each placed one finger on the glass, said a short prayer asking for protection (this is essential) and waited. Under our fingers the glass began to vibrate and then it began to move in a circle very slowly at first, then gradually getting faster and faster. Of course, we thought we must be pushing it but we found that even when our fingers were resting very lightly on the glass it continued to move. Suddenly it stopped going round in circles and started moving towards the letters. I cannot remember now what the words were but in amongst a lot of rubbish there were messages that made sense.
We were sufficiently intrigued by this that we carried on doing this once or twice a week for about six weeks. Then I found that I was getting the words in my mind before the glass spelt them out. Even when I was blindfolded and the letters were mixed randomly, I still knew what was coming. It must be emphasised that people should not try this for themselves; we were lucky. It is well known that inexperienced persons playing with the "glasses" can attract mischievous entities that they cannot get rid of.
After these initial experiments I felt that I was ready to investigate Spiritualism further so I said to Win that I would like to go to the Church with her, which was a National Spiritualist Church (SNU) at Romford. I always remember this first service. It was a hot, muggy evening and all the windows in the Church were closed. I thought that this was to make the congregation so sleepy that they would be prepared to accept uncritically anything that was said. I cannot remember what the address was about but one sentence has always remained in my mind.
The medium said "When you are talking about religion to anyone, ask if they have found God in their religion. If they say 'Yes', leave them alone. Their religion is the one for them". I was interested in the clairvoyance; all of the messages were accepted but I thought that the content of some of them was general and rather vague. Anyway, I was sufficiently impressed to want to go again.
The following Sunday, my friend could not accompany me, so I decided to go on my own. This time the windows were open so theory number one was rejected. At the end of the service, the chairman said there would be an Open Circle in the church, so I decided to stay and see what happened. There were about fifty people in the circle and three mediums. I sat there interested in what was happening, as first one person, then another, said that they could see spirit lights all around, although they were invisible to me. Then I had a peculiar sensation. My eyes were closed as I tried to relax when suddenly my arms began to rise in front of me. Feeling very conspicuous, I put them down on my lap again, only to have them pulled up again. When they were going up for the third time one of the mediums came over to me and told me to relax and let things happen as they would.
This time, my arms were lifted again and I felt myself being pulled to my feet. The medium asked me to say a prayer so, feeling the world's biggest fool (I had never prayed aloud in my life) I said a few words. Then I was told to sit down, keep my eyes open and not allow anything else to happen. After the circle finished I went home, feeling very puzzled as to what had happened.
Win and I went to the church again the following Sunday. By now I was feeling easier, knowing what the order of the service was. Afterwards the medium who had spoken to me in the circle the previous week came and spoke to us. He said that he was starting a development circle and would we like to join. We both said that we would and duly found ourselves sitting in a proper circle. The first week nothing much happened, the second week the medium said we would try some psychometry. I was given a penknife to hold and was asked to say what I felt with it. I found that I was being pulled bolt upright (I tend to be a little round shouldered myself), my right leg seemed to be raised off the ground in a surgical boot, and I felt I was waving my hands in the air as if conducting a band or choir. It turned out that the knife belonged to the medium's father, who was a short man who always carried himself upright; he had a shortened right leg and did wear a surgical boot, he also had played the bass drum in a band. The movement of my arms, which I thought was conducting, was beating a drum.
This rather staggered me. Here were three proofs of identity completely unknown to me and I realized then that there was definite evidence that I had some psychic ability. This was at the end of July 1939. The medium said that he would be going away on holiday in August and the circle would be adjourned until September.
One episode of that August that I will never forget. I had to have a tooth extracted under anesthetic and, coming round from the "gas", my first thought was that my excursion into Spiritualism was all a dream. I felt such a sense of disappointment but as I realized that it was in fact true my feelings changed to absolute bliss.
At this time I was working in London but towards the end of August I was evacuated to Torquay. The "Psychic News" carried the headline "There will be no War", so I felt sure that I would be home again in a week or so. September the 3rd came and Mr Chamberlain, the Prime Minister, broadcast to the nation that we were at war with Germany. I remember walking along the cliffs between Torquay and Babbacome trying to accept the fact that the Guides had been wrong and wondering why.
I found that there was a Spiritualist church in Paignton so I went there on the Sunday evening feeling despondent and muddled in my mind. The medium who was advertised to take the service did not arrive and the service was taken by one of the Vice-Presidents of the church. He spoke about the problem I (and doubtless most other Spiritualists) faced about the Guides' prophecy and what had happened, saying that it was a test of our faith. Later I heard that the Spirit Guides and Helpers had been unsuccessful in averting the efforts of the powers of darkness; the will of man had triumphed. The speaker's talk gave me new heart and I resolved to do my best to develop whatever psychic powers I possessed in whatever way Spirit wanted.
It was pleasing to find that several of the people at the church also worked for the Prudential, having been evacuated at the same time so, during that first autumn and winter, we met at one anothers lodgings having informal circles. I began to find that I could pick up pieces of information about the other sitters, sometimes by psychometry and sometimes by clairvoyance. Occasionally I would contact one of their relatives or friends who had died; I could often get a name as well as some facet of their personality.
It was during this period that I found I could give details of persons still alive by placing my hands on letters they had written, and I did this for a number of the girls with whom I worked. On one occasion I held a letter (still in its envelope) and at once saw in my mind's eye a lane bordered with white fencing. It curved round to the left and led to a farmyard or stables while a drive turned off it leading to a large house, which I described in some detail. I picked up the personality of a lively, active woman who was very musical and played the piano. The letter was from the girl's uncle who was the complete opposite of the person I had described, as he was a quiet, reserved man. He and his wife had recently moved house and my colleague had never seen their new home. She was going there for the weekend and when she returned on the Monday she told me that the description of the drive and house was perfectly accurate and that, although her uncle had written the letter, her aunt had posted it and the particulars I had given fitted her exactly. It was her that I had picked up from the letter.
On another occasion I was given a cup to hold. Beyond the fact that it was very old I was given no details. The first thing I saw was an old-fashioned kitchen with a black horse-hair sofa in it. A girl was carried into the room on a hurdle and laid on the sofa, she had had an accident on Dartmoor and had been so severely injured that she died there. I was able to describe the cottage to which the kitchen belonged and saw it as a typical moorland cottage with a porch. The owner of the cup then told me that the cottage had belonged to a relative and confirmed the episode of the girl dying there, but there was no porch. A short while later I went with her to Dartmoor and she showed me the cottage; it was as I had seen it minus the porch. However, talking to an elderly relative of hers, we learnt that there had been a porch but it had collapsed and had never been replaced. The lady also remembered the incident of the girl's death but it happened when she herself was quite young.
Gradually I was being given confirmation of my psychic gifts although I had no actual message myself or proof of survival of any of my relations despite going to the church every Sunday.
My friend, Win, was evacuated to Wellington, near Taunton, and I spent quite a few weekends with her, going to the church at Taunton. It was during this period that I had the opportunity of attending two seances given by the renowned Helen Duncan, the materialisation medium. On the first occasion the meeting was held in a small room as the usual venue at the church was being redecorated. There were about thirty people present, the front row of chairs being only three feet from the cabinet where Mrs Duncan was placed. The cabinet was a temporary affair made out of black curtains suspended by ropes from the ceiling, the only illumination being a red light.
The meeting opened with the singing of a hymn and a prayer and then Mrs Duncan, who was sitting on a wooden chair, was completely enclosed within the curtains. After about a minute a white band, like a ribbon, some eighteen inches wide, slid out from under the front curtain and slowly raised itself to an approximate height of four feet, thickening as it did so. It seemed as though two arms came out of the sides of the white column and pushed aside some of the white stuff, revealing the face and head of a young man whose eyes and hair were brown. A woman in the front row recognised the image as her husband, an RAF pilot, who had been killed shortly before. They started to talk together just as they would have done if they had been parted for a short while. I had no doubt that it really was a spirit form that we were seeing. The pilot said good-bye to his wife and the white column sank back onto the floor and proceeded to retreat into the cabinet.
After a few words from Mrs Duncan's guide, Albert, the ribbon emerged as before to once again reveal a figure which, after saying a few words to one of the people, disappeared in the same way. This happened ten of so times though none of them spoke to me. Some of the figures showed their faces while others revealed their head and shoulders. Each of them was distinct enough to be recognised by one of the sitters. Throughout the seance Albert spoke in between the "visits", sometimes saying who was coming next or telling a joke to lighten the atmosphere. It was a very interesting experience and a convincing display of this form of mediumship.
On the second occasion the seance was held in the main hall but this time I was too far back to see the figures distinctly. Again all of the spirit forms were accepted by members of the audience. At the beginning of this session another lady and myself were deputed to act as invigilators; we accompanied Mrs Duncan to an ante-room where we watched her strip and put on her black clothes. There was no possibility of her being able to secrete butter muslin or cheese-cloth about her person and I am convinced that she was perfectly genuine despite all that was said about her later.
During the time that I was in Devon there occurred another episode that increased my belief in psychic power. It occurred at the home of a member of the Paignton Spiritualist Church. I had lodgings with this lady and her husband, Dorothy and George, and we used to have a sitting together each week.
At one of these meetings we thought we would try table-tapping, having read about it. George and I stood opposite each other at a small, polished table putting our hands flat on the top of it. Almost at once it started tilting, first one way and then the other. Then it began to dance under our hands proceeding out of the room, out into the hall and down to the front door where it came to a halt. There was no use in our asking it questions as the movements it made were much too violent for that. So we thought we would try something bigger, the dining room table, that was large and made of mahogany. Nothing happened for about five minutes, then it lurched once; we carried on for another fifteen minutes but it did not move again. I think most of the power came through George but he was not interested enough to pursue the matter. Looking back on it I am sure that he could have developed into a physical medium, but it was not to be.
Owing to a health problem I had to leave Torquay in May 1941 and went back to work in London. I was transferred to an Auditing Department with the Prudential, taking the place of a man who had been called up and I found myself working with figures all day long. I had heard of people being able to add up pounds, shilling and pence at the same time and had always taken it with a grain of salt but, after about six month, I found it was possible to do just that. In those days it was reckoned that a good audit clerk was quicker than any machine and my work involved checking figures and adding up columns. P.A.Y.E. was introduced during this period and we had to cope with the intricacies of this.
For the first time, I came into contact with the opposite sex. The schools that I had attended had been all girls as had the department in which I worked until I came back to London from Torquay and I had no opportunity to get to know any men apart from my brothers. I know that I was very immature and awkward at this time but gradually I began to feel at ease. I have always said that I did not begin to enjoy my life until my late twenties when, for the first time, I began to lose the inferiority complex which had engulfed me from childhood.
The war years involved travelling by train to Liverpool Street Station, walking through the blitzed streets to Holborn, working in the basement of the Prudential building and sleeping in the air raid shelter at home. I became an Air Raid Warden carrying out duties one night a week in the deep shelter under Holborn Station when hundreds of troops passing through London came down to the shelter to sleep. Of course I had several near misses from bombs and guided missiles but was fortunate not to experience anything worse.
That part of my life seems like a dream now. I can honestly say that we never visualised defeat although we accepted the fact that our government might have to go abroad, probably to Canada. I do realise that, as a family we were very fortunate as, although all of my four brothers were in the forces, they came through the war with hardly a scratch.
My youngest brother, Len, joined the Royal Air Force and became a navigator in the Lancaster bombers. He married Vera Phipps, an Oxford girl, in 1944 and when he was demobilised after the war, they came to live with us at Billericay. We had added two rooms to the bungalow just before the war and my other brother, Sydney, had moved to Scotland so we had room for Len and Vera. I got on very well with her and found myself able to talk to her about Spiritualism. When my friend, Win, came back to Billericay when the war was over we started sitting in a circle together.
At the end of 1945 I saw a notice in an issue of The Psychic News saying that a Mr. George Daisley was starting a development circle at the Gateway Centre in London, so I applied to join. It was in that circle, first in London, then at George's home in Woodford that I began to develop properly. His chief guide was Joey Grimaldi, the famous clown, and under his care I began to develop clairvoyance and trance in addition to psychometry. I use the word "clairvoyance" but in fact I was receiving impressions in which I "picked-up" a description of the person, sometimes accompanied by a Christian name and some characteristic which could be identified by the person for whom they came.
I had thought that trance meant that you went to sleep and a guide would take over and speak and I found it very difficult to let Spirit have control when I could hear what they were saying through me. Gradually I came to realise that someone was using me and by relaxing completely I was able to give talks in the circle. Nearly two years later George thought that I was ready to take a service and he arranged for me to go to the Poplar S.N.U. Church in London. The memory of that is very clear. I travelled by the underground railway and remember the feeling of panic while sitting in the train. Supposing the guide did not come through? I had nothing prepared so I took out my diary and made a few notes on Spiritualism in general. When the time for the address came the guide came through easily. He began by telling the congregation (about a hundred people) what I had done on the train and went on to say that life on the earth plane was an adventure and that they had got to live it to the full to get the benefit of the progress from it that they needed.
For the clairvoyance I did psychometry and was relieved to find that all of the messages that came with the articles were accepted. One article, the seventh I believe, gave me no reaction whatsoever and although I went back to it again later I could still not get anything with it. After the service the President informed me that the article belonged to someone with an incurable disease and the reason he thought that I could get no reaction from it was that the guides who helped with the clairvoyance did not want me to get involved with the condition as I was a new worker on the platform.
After the service I felt elated as everyone said what a good demonstration I had given. I quite expected that this was the beginning of a career as a medium and, being human, could not help a feeling of pride. It did not last long though: George Daisley went to America, the circle was disbanded and I had no further contact with the Spiritualist movement for several years. I heard no more from the Poplar Church although the President had said that they hoped to book me for the following year.
The end of the war brought changes in my career at work. The audit Department was staffed entirely by men before the war and women were only brought in to take their places while they were in the forces. Now that they were being demobilised they were being given their jobs back and we were being transferred to work on calculating machines. This did not appeal to me at all so I began looking for another job and was fortunate enough to get one in Chelmsford, about eleven miles from home, with the Essex War Agricultural Committee as a wages and costing clerk. Although I quite enjoyed this, an opportunity arose for me to transfer to secretarial work for the Assistant Horticultural Officer. So, for the first time, I had the chance to use the skills I had learnt at Clark's College so many years before. I took a "refresher" course at the Chelmsford Technical College in order to polish up my shorthand and typing. I was very much a senior pupil as the rest of the class were school leavers, but I found it very stimulating.
Normally I rode a bicycle to and from work but I now decided to invest in some driving lessons and buy a car. At the beginning of the 1946-47 winter I found myself the proud owner of a 1934 "Austin Seven". Sally, as we christened the car, took two colleagues and myself to work and back every day during that winter through all the snow drifts and then the floods while many owners of newer and larger cars found the journeys impossible.
I certainly enjoyed being a private secretary and soon found myself being left entirely on my own to do the work. My boss would ring up about 9.30 am and ask what was in the post, almost invariably saying "You can do that". Then he would continue on his journeys round the country giving advice to the orchard growers and market gardeners, returning to the office about 4.30 pm to sign the letters, always saying that I was more capable of dealing with correspondence than he was!
However, he left to take up a post as manager of a large estate and his successor was also content to leave the work to me until he also left to join a horticultural firm in London. By this time work was slackening off as men were returning from the forces to resume their work on the land and private firms were springing up to offer the kind of services that the "War Ag." was providing. A new Assistant Horticultural Officer was not appointed and I found myself with very little work to do. This did not suit me at all. My boss from London phoned a number of times asking me to go and work for his firm, so I decided to accept and gave in my notice to leave in February 1949.
At the beginning of the previous year a new clerk came to work in our department, Reg Hale. To begin with neither he nor I were impressed with each other as he thought of me as "that bossy female" and I regarded him as a "funny little man". Reg was quite a few years older than I with a grown up daughter, June. His first wife had left him when June was a baby, and she was brought up by Reg's parents with whom he lived until they died.
Gradually we began to know each other and, just before I left Oxford, Reg asked me to go out with him. By this time he had become very fond of me and, as I was beginning to appreciate that, in spite of his small stature (he was like a jockey in build) he had a very strong personality, I agreed. By this time my father had died and, in a way, I suppose Reg took his place in my thoughts. At first I felt very awkward with him but slowly I began to feel at ease and we became engaged in May, 1949, arranging to get married in the September.
A Spiritualist Church had been started in Billericay and Wyn and I began attending there. We became friendly with a number of people at the church and several of them joined our home circle. Reg knew that I was a Spiritualist, although he was Church of England, and he was quite prepared to let me continue in my own way.
A strange incident happened soon after Reg and I went out together. He told me that he and his daughter, June, often heard footsteps walking round his bungalow but there was never anyone there. The first time Reg took me to his home to see June, he and Fred, June's fiance, went out for a drink leavin me alone with June. To my great surprise I found myself talking to her about her mother, telling her not to judge her too harshly as she had only heard on side of the story. From that day on the footsteps were never heard again and I am sure it was her mother who had been impressing me to speak to her.
I left my job in London when we got married in September of 1949 and had three months at home doing decorating and working in the garden. After Christmas I decided to get another job and started at Marconi's in Chelmsford as a shorthand/typist. I have never been so bored in my life; I don't think I worked a quarter of the time that I was there and, although I was able to do a lot of sewing and knitting for my home, I certainly wasn't happy. I became pregnant in the September and, because of threats of a miscarriage, I thankfully left work at the beginning of December. Alarm followed alarm and it wasn't until April that I was told the pregnancy had settled and that I could expect a normal confinement, although I would be in hospital for some time. Actually I had a very easy time and my daughter, Margaret, was born on the 22nd of June 1951, although I had to go back to the hospital during the following November for an operation.
During the next couple of years I had several part time jobs in domestic service as my mother was at home and could look after Margaret for me.
Reg and I had intended to have another child but he was told that he had very high blood pressure and could drop down dead at any moment. He had a massive stroke in October 1954 and, although he recovered to a certain extent, and even went back to work for a short time, his employment ceased at the end of the following year.
Although Reg tried to get other work he found it impossible and early in 1956 I decided that the best thing to do would be for me to get a full time job. Accordingly I studied the newspapers and applied to two hospitals, one in Chelmsford and one in my home town of Billericay. Interviews for both were arranged for the same day, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. In the morning at Chelmsford I was offered work organising a filing system for records. I said that I had another interview in the afternoon, whereupon the hospital secretary said not to take the local job without first getting in touch with him. Then I went to Billericay and was interviewed for a post as a Shorthand/Typist. I did not get that job but was asked to wait until all the applicants had left when I was offered a post as Secretary/Receptionist to the Chest Clinic.
This sounded right up my street and I accepted immediately, phoning Chelmsford to let them know. Then began a period of eight years during which I was perfectly happy in my work until the "powers that be" decided to merge the Chest Clinic into the ordinary out- patients and I found myself transferred to medical stenography (Shorthand/Typing) only.
During this time my husband had a series of minor strokes, each one making him feel more frustrated until he had another massive one on Christmas Eve, 1962, which left him paralysed on his right side. For five weeks he was nursed at home but then a further stroke rendered him unconscious and he died in hospital seven days later.
I could not be sorry for him. With the knowledge I had of the continuity of life after death, I felt thankful that he was out of this world. He died on a Saturday and I went to church as usual on Sunday. During the clairvoyance I was given a message from him and I am not ashamed to say that I sat crying my eyes out with joy that he was able to communicate so soon. Since then he has been back from time to time and I know that we shall meet again in the next life.
I had been going to the Billericay Church for about a year when, one Sunday evening the medium who was booked to take the meeting failed to turn up and I was asked to take the service. I felt nervous waiting for the proceedings to start but once the service began I calmed down and the guide, whom I now knew was called Brother Bernard, came through easily and gave the address and I managed to give a demonstration of clairvoyance that was accepted. Word spread to the other churches in the area and gradually I became used to travelling round the county on a Sunday evening to take a service.
It was at a large seaside town that an amusing incident occurred. It was my first visit there and the President of the Church told me that the congregation were quite "advanced" and expected an address of "high philosophy". Brother Bernard came through in the usual way and gave an address which was simple in the extreme, hardly using a word of more than two syllables. I should explain that I hear what is being said but I seldom remember any of the words that are given. I was aware of the complete attention of the congregation and, after the service, a number of people said how much they had enjoyed the address. The next time I took the service there Brother Bernard gave an address so advanced that most of what he said was on a level way beyond my understanding. As I was asked back to that church many times until I eventually moved away they must have been satisfied with my work, including the President.
Our home circle was still continuing regular sessions and my sister-in-law, Vera, began developing trance and clairvoyance. I always account it a great privilege to have helped her at the beginning as she went on to become a well- known medium with the Greater World Christian Spiritualist Association, travelling all over southern England. Vera and Leonard moved to Wallingford, then in the county of Berkshire, in 1958. By then Len had also become interested and they both joined the Christian Spiritualist Church at Abingdon, worshipping there when Vera was not engaged working for another church.
My mother had been living with us and when she died in 1965 I realised that there was nothing to keep me in Billericay. When we had built our bungalow it had been on the edge of town surrounded by woods and fields, now it was surrounded by houses and contractors kept approaching us to sell the property because it had a large garden of about one third of an acre.
Margaret, my daughter, and I thought that we would like to live in Hastings as we had spent several very happy holidays there with my husband and we liked the town. So in the beginning of 1967 we spent some weekends down there looking for somewhere to live but found nothing that appealed to us. We had already arranged to spend the Easter weekend with Len and Vera at Wallingford when I saw an advertisement in a daily paper for some new houses in Swindon, so we decided to go and look at them while we were in the area. As it turned out we did not get to Swindon as we looked around locally and found a house in Didcot within easy reach of a school for Margaret and fairly near to Wallingford and Abingdon.
We moved to Didcot at the end of August 1967 and I was fortunate to obtain employment in Abingdon at the Child Guidance Clinic as secretary and receptionist. This was a very interesting job and I carried on there until I was sixty in May 1973 when I thought I would retire from full time work and perhaps do something temporary for an agency. This proved quite a challenge and I enjoyed coping with various types of jobs, working in offices ranging from luxurious suites with electric typewriters, tape recorders and fitted carpets to corners of wharehouses where the only equipment was a telephone and an antiquated typewriter. The only drawback, if it can be called that, was that every other firm for which I worked wanted to keep me permanently, in spite of my age and grey hair! One company even offered to allow me to choose my own hours and not to have to come in if the weather was inclement! However, as this job involved chasing up bad debts I was not very keen.
Then in March, 1974, a vacancy occurred at the local surgery for a part-time receptionist and I started work there in April, finding it very congenial, eventually retiring completely soon after I became sixty five. After moving to Didcot I was soon booked at the Spiritualist Churches round about and I carried on taking services until I was involved in an accident with my car during 1980 which was damaged beyond repair. By now I was getting on for Seventy and had retired from work and I thought that it was a sign from Spirit that I ought to give up the Church work, so, apart from serving my home church of Abingdon, I gave up taking any services.
I kept up my Home Circle, however, although its composition and venue varied from time to time. Two of the sitters, Aline and Michael, who had moved to Cornwall in 1985 invited me to visit them which I did in the November. They attended the Spiritualist Church in Penzance and, when I telephoned to arrange things with them Aline asked me if I would be prepared to take a service in Penzance. She was sure that the church secretary would be only too pleased as they had difficulty in getting mediums. I said I would be happy to do so if they wished and left it to them to make the arrangements. Penzance church arranged a service for Saturday evening and I was pleased to find that I could still do the work. As it happened the medium booked for the Sunday evening had to cancel at the last moment as she had been taken ill, so I was asked to take that service as well!
A coach load of people from the Newquay Church attended the Saturday meeting and their secretary asked if she could book me for their church when I next visited Penzance. It was arranged that I would visit Newquay the following April going on to Penzance from there, so once more I found myself serving as a medium.
When I first retired, I found that I could not sit and do nothing. The garden occupied part of my time and I took on an allotment as well, keeping the family well supplied with vegetables. My daughter, Margaret, was married by this time and she and her husband, Ken, shared the house with me although we lived separately as I had my own bed-sitting room. Margaret suggested that I took up an Open University Course and, while waiting to be accepted for this, I applied to a correspondence college. I wanted to know more about science as I had done very little in this direction at school, so I took the "O" Level course in Chemistry and followed this with Foundation Courses in Science and Arts at the Open University. I intended to carry on to obtain a degree, but circumstances altered.
My sister-in-law, Vera, died in 1976 and Len went to live in Newbury with his son and family. Unfortunately things did not work out smoothly and, eventually, Len was asked to find alternative accommodation in November, 1987, when he had a nervous breakdown. When he recovered, he was offered a bungalow in East Ilsley by the Newbury District Council and, as it had two bedrooms, I agreed to move in with him and keep house. This we did in January 1988 and I have lived there ever since, being very happily settled.
However, I found it impossible to carry on with studying as well as house- keeping and creating a garden out of the wilderness that was at the bungalow so, reluctantly, I abandoned the Open University. I had thoroughly enjoyed the work involved and had the experience of being interviewed on Television while at summer school in the Reading University. (The program was about the older student and Lucy came over very well extolling the virtues of a late education. Lucy was possibly the oldest person there. JHH.)
Soon after my husband died I became interested in Archaeology and joined the local society in Billericay, spending weekends digging on various sites in and around the town and countryside. I found it absolutely fascinating and, when we moved to Didcot, I looked around for another society. At that time there was nothing in the area. I attended a Workers Educational Association course on ancient Greece in Abingdon during the winter months and then founded an Archaeological Society the following June. During the following ten years I spent many weekends on archaeological "digs" and several holidays an different parts of the country, working on Hadrian's Wall in addition to Iron Age and Roman sites in Lincolnshire and Essex. Unfortunately I developed arthritis in my knees and was eventually forced to give up excavating sites, although I am still keenly interested.
While I was living at Didcot I became a keen member of the Kinecroft Theatre Group in Wallingford, taking part in several Gilbert and Sullivan operas and various plays. Going through my diaries for that period I find that I was a member of the Townswoman's Guild joining their Drama and Handicraft Groups, the N.S.P.C.C. Committee and the local Liberal party, being involved in numerous festivals, fetes, conferences etc. I also held a Home Circle each week.
On my return home from Penzance one of my Circle members, John, said he would be pleased to take me in his car anywhere I wished to go if I wanted to work for the Churches. For some time he had been bringing a tape recorder to the Circle to record what the guides had to say and said it would be a privilege to be able to record the addresses that Brother Bernard gave (it is at his request that I write this story). The word got round that I was available and it wasn't long before I was going to Oxford, Banbury, Carterton, Witney and Swindon. I had several happy years once again working for Spirit as best I could.
Unfortunately in September 1989 I was taken ill and was forced to cancel all of my bookings, being completely incapacitated for over six months. At the time of writing this I am much better although still under the care of the hospital. I had been feeling that my Spiritual work is finished as I had to give up my Circle as well, but two mediums have told me that there is still more for me to do so I am leaving that to Spirit to arrange as they wish.
Reading through these pages, proof reading John's text, I realise that I have not mentioned anything about my own beliefs, apart from re-incarnation. How much is due to the philosophy of my guide, Brother Bernard, and how much is my own thoughts is difficult to say, but I definitely believe that all religions are expressions of God and, if a man is sincere, it makes no difference whether he is Christian, Buddhist, Moslem, Jew or any other; he is on a pathway to God. The golden rule of "Do unto others as you would they should do unto you" seems to me to be the basis of all religions. Incidentally, this was propounded by Confucius some five hundred before Christ. I believe that everything that has life is a part of Spirit, of God, and that it will evolve until eventually it unites with Spirit, with God.
I find that I now accept the idea of the "Group Soul" and that the present "I" is a part of a group gaining experience which will merge into the whole in the way that one drop of water can merge into a glassful and the glassful into a stream and eventually into the sea.
With regard to reincarnation, I have no definite proof of any of my former lives but I believe that I have been an Egyptian priest, a Roman soldier and a Greek girl. On one occasion I dreamt a complete lifetime where I was a boy who went to sea in a sailing ship, grew up and became a captain, married and had several children, retired from the sea and spent the rest of my life with my wife in a little cottage on a cliff overlooking the sea. I think the memory of this, although only a dream, brought home to me the truth of Brother Bernard's teaching that time is relative and does not exist in the Spirit World.
Perhaps a few words of explanation about my mediumship would be appropriate. As I mentioned earlier, my "trance" is more "control". I am fully aware of what is happening and being said by Spirit although afterwards I cannot recollect what was said. Some may say that the words come from my subconscious but with each of the Spirit helpers who come to speak I get a different feeling and I recognise the "feeling" that a speaker brings if they have spoken before. Brother Bernard is my chief helper and all of the church addresses are given by him. All I know of him is that when on the earth plane he was a monk who rebelled against his Order and was excommunicated for daring to speak his mind. He has always said that his identity is immaterial and that he is only the mouthpiece for a group in Spirit. When he takes me over I feel very calm and completely in authority however small or large the audience may be. The talks that he gives seem to be appreciated by the listeners and, upon hearing a recording or reading of what was said, I am always amazed as I only very vaguely remember what he talked about afterwards.
My feelings when Lilly comes through (she only comes and speaks in the circle) are entirely different. She was a little Italian girl who died at the beginning of this century when she was about five years old. She told the circle on one occasion that she lived in very poor circumstances in Naples and both she and her mother were victims of a plague. She has said that she is mature and grown up in the Spirit World but that when she contacts the earth plane she has to revert to the condition she was in when she left it. I am not sure of the exact reason for this but she says that she comes to lighten the atmosphere of the circle. The Sister of Mercy, Marie Therese, was a French nun who lived in the twelfth century. The Order that she belong to was not "enclosed" as she worked among the sick and poor people of Paris. When she comes through I feel very calm and peaceful, her voice is calm and gentle whereas Brother Bernard speaks in a much more authorative way.
I have never accepted any payment for my mediumship work as, apart from a few months when my daughter was born, I had a regular job from when I left school until I retired. My Spiritual work was reserved for Church and Circle as I found that it was very difficult to "link up" at any other time. I attribute this to the fact that most of my working life was involved with sick people and it would not have been good for me if I was receptive to their aches and pains.
I would like to end with a tribute to John. He has recorded many of the addresses and Circle talks and written them out. He has been invaluable in conveying me to and from the Circle and the various Churches I have served over the past few years, it would have been impossible for me to do the work for Spirit without his aid and encouragement.
I hope that the various talks will give anyone who reads them an insight into Spiritualism and that the philosophy expounded by the guides will find an echo in the minds and souls of the readers.
Written by Lucy Hale. July 1990.
Lucy went to the Higher Life on the 9th of December, 1994.
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