Memoirs of Physical Phenomena Week

The following article was given to me by the late Jean Bassett as part of my research into Gordon.  I presume it was given to Jean as background to her biography of Gordon, ‘On the Side of Angels.’  The article offers a fascinating insight into what took place on Physical Phenomena Week at the Arthur Findlay College and contains two great descriptions of Gordon’s physical seances and the evidence within them.  Given the value of the article, I feel it should be shared for all to benefit, and I do hope you enjoy it.  The author is unknown other than we know she is called Mary.  If anyone knows the identity of the author, do let me know.


In November 1992, two friends and myself booked in for a week at the Arthur Findlay College for a course on physical mediumship, organised by the late Minister Gordon Higginson assisted by several tutors.  Unfortunately, one of my friends had to cancel 2 weeks before, as her father had been admitted to hospital with terminal cancer.  Reference will be made to this nearer the end of the memoirs.

On arrival we were given our room number and asked to attend a welcome gathering in the evening to meet the tutors and discover whose groups we would be in.  The tutors were Mary Duffy, Betty Wakeling, Martin Young, and a lady medium whose name I cannot recall.

Gordon Higginson (referred to later as Gordon) did not join us until the Monday, when he arrived in the dining room to join us for lunch.  The atmosphere changed directly when Gordon put in an appearance!  Such words as charged, electric, pulsating, etc., spring to mind when trying to explain the difference his presence made in the midst of 82 students.

The curriculum had been pre-arranged by Gordon and all tutors were aware what subjects they had to teach us each day.  A programme structured to prepare us all for the Thursday evening demonstration of physical phenomena, so that we were all made aware of the part we had to play, to ensure that Gordon, as the medium, would be protected, and we could achieve a 100% success with communication with the Spirit World.  Throughout the week Gordon would join each group for a short while, giving us talks and mini workshops and we would also have combined group teachings from him.  Subjects included the basic of mediumship, understanding trance in all its various stages, the aura, which embraced colour interpretation, vibrations etc.

One morning, we were all called together and we had a workshop in which certain people were called to assist Gordon.  I was one of the “assistants” and I was asked to choose someone in the audience but not to disclose who that was.  I was asked to focus on the person and see 3 different colours in their aura.  As I don’t see colours, I rely on being told by Spirit.  Gordon then asked me to name the colours, which he wrote down and studied for a minute.  I then had to indicate the person I had chosen and Gordon linked with the lady and proceeded to explain what each colour represented and related to circumstances in her life and health.  Needless to say, Gordon was 100% correct in his reading and the recipient was delighted. This was certainly a revelation to us all and a lesson in reading the auric colours.

Direct Voice Seance

Another evening we were treated to a demonstration of direct voice. Unfortunately, Gordon was suffering from laryngitis that day, and staff were ministering to him with medication, but he really had a job to speak to us. When Gordon went into an altered state of consciousness, his guides Choo Chow, Cuckoo, and Paddy all spoke very clearly and told us they could manage without his larynx and on Gordon’s lap was placed a small “box” of ectoplasm and this was the “condenser” through which the Spirit people would speak.  Also, coming from Gordon’s mouth was a triangular “bib” of ectoplasm which went to his waist.  The guides invited both Mary Duffy and Betty Wakeling to touch the “bib” and they described it to us as feeling like pure silk. It was wavy, similar to a judge’s wig!!  Several people were blessed with a conversation with loved ones that evening.

One lunch time, Gordon announced that he was going to select a number of people who, in his estimation, were capable of reaching an altered state of consciousness. We were given an hour to prepare ourselves, and then to assemble in the Blue Room.  About 12 people were selected, myself included, and about 4 of us were entranced during that circle.  After that, Gordon gave us a most interesting talk on entrancement, together with personal stories of his own experiences.

Each morning, after breakfast, we had a 30 minute meditation time, before going to our groups, when tutors took it in turn to lead the meditation. One morning Gordon took us and it was interesting to note the difference in his approach, and the benefits obtained from it. Not that we didn’t all experience benefits from the tutors as well.

Physical Mediumship Seance

At last Thursday arrived. Gordon did not appear all day. Tutors gave their groups instructions on how to behave at the demonstration so that we did not endanger Gordon’s life. The college was buzzing with excitement.

A coach was hired for the afternoon to take all of us to Bishops Stortford, which gave the tutors a rest and enabled the staff to prepare the library. This room had to be vacuumed 3 times that day, to make sure it was spotless, clear of dirt and spent matches and even safety pins etc. As Gordon had explained to us, when the ectoplasm returns to the medium’s body at the end of the seance, it takes with it every little thing that lies in its path. He quoted a case he knew of a physical medium undergoing surgery and a spent match and a tiny safety-pin was found under the layer of skin.

When the library had been completely blacked out, the cabinet placed on platform, one chair outside the cabinet and one chair either side of the cabinet, then the library door was locked.  People started queuing sometime before 7.30pm. My friend and I were near the end of the queue and we chose to stand at the back, which gave us a better view than those who were sitting!!

All students were asked not to wear jewellery that would reflect light and if we wished it could be placed in the safe.  No cameras or tape recorders were allowed.  We had previously been told by Gordon, in one of his talks on physical mediumship that he would be wearing all black clothes and they would be old, because ectoplasm rots the fabric over a period of time.

We also knew his method of reassuring everyone that he had not secreted anything fraudulent on his body was, to come in and tap a gentleman on the shoulder and ask him to escort Gordon to the gents’ toilet, where he was “frisked” to ensure that no wires or cheesecloth or anything else had been hidden on his body.  When they returned to the library the man who had carried out the search had to make a statement to us all declaring that he had found nothing hidden on Gordon’s body.

Gordon sat on the chair provided outside the cabinet (I would mention here that Gordon was claustrophobic), Mary Duffy and Betty Wakeling sat on the chairs provided either side of the cabinet and acted as ‘bodyguards’.  We all sat quietly while Gordon attuned to the Spirit World and in a short while Choo Chow controlled Gordon, who then walked off the platform and down the aisle, talking to us as he went, until he reached the door, then turned and walked slowly back to the platform, during which time the chair had been moved inside the cabinet by one of the ‘bodyguards’. Gordon sat down and was visible to all of us inside the cabinet until one of the bodyguards pulled the curtain across.

The only light in the whole room was a small pigmy type red bulb fitted in the “roof’ of the cabinet. After another short period of silence we suddenly heard Cuckoo and Paddy’s voices welcoming us and telling us that if we were blessed with a visit from a Spirit person, we must remember to keep talking to them or else the ectoplasmic figure would disappear. The voices of the guides seemed to come from the ceiling and Paddy and Cuckoo took it in turn to introduce and link the Spirit person with their loved one.

I was one of several people who received communication from Spirit in this way. Paddy said he was looking for someone called “Mary” but not “our Mary” (meaning Mary Duffy).  As no one answered, I spoke up and Paddy told me my father wanted to talk to me.  Then the curtain moved back and a white ectoplasmic figure rested one arm on the cabinet door frame and started to talk to me.

I had such wonderful evidence and will just mention one item in particular, when my Dad said he had been to Durley and seen them all and they were all well.  I would explain my husband went to stay with my brother and his wife at Durley while I was away.  This is a village about 5 miles out of Southampton.  My Dad also said “I think Eileen makes a very good wife for Gordon”. My brother didn’t get married until after both my parents had passed to Spirit!!  He said he had been “appointed” spokesman for all 5 of them meaning my mother, my younger brother and my two daughters” Several other personal comments were made and my last question was “I hope you will keep an eye on our church please” and his answer was “I could never forget it”. (My father had been President for 4 years and actually passed to Spirit the day before the AGM when he had been nominated unopposed for yet another year).

With that he said “farewell” and the ectoplasm disappeared into the ground as quickly as snow melts when the sun shines on it.  As Gordon had told us his mediumship had never developed to produce features of the Spirit person how did I know it was my father?  Because my Dad was approximately 5 foot 4 inches tall and the cabinet we were told was 6 foot high, and I judged the position of my father’s arm and that was about right. Coupled with the very accurate evidence and mentioning my brother’s wife by name, whom Dad had never met, I really had no cause to doubt did I?

My friend was also blessed with a visit from her husband’s grandfather, who was still alive when she got married, so she knew him fairly well.  Cuckoo asked for someone in the audience with the surname of Stares, so my friend answered and was rewarded with an ectoplasmic figure of a tall man, which according to her would have been the correct height measuring against the cabinet.  He gave her husband’s name and said she had spoken to him on the telephone that morning, giving him instructions for the next day (correct) and said she made the call just in time.

At first she thought he was referring to the fact that her husband was just about to take the children to school.  The next day we were told the phones were now working again in the College!  It transpired that electricity workmen, digging on the perimeter of Stansted airport, had accidentally cut through the telephone cables to the College and only Redwoods were able to communicate with the outside world that day!!  My friend had actually made the last phone call from the College that day (unbeknown to us). Proof once again, that the Spirit world know more than we did!

The other outstanding message given to my friend was that she had been disappointed that a lady called Marion had been unable to join us at the AFC because of illness in the family (this referred to my introductory remarks).

I don’t remember how many Spirit people materialized that evening but I do know the demonstration lasted an hour and Gordon emerged from the cabinet, controlled by Choo Chow, and spoke to us for a few minutes, during which time his chair was removed from the cabinet and placed outside on the platform.

Gordon resumed his seat without assistance, and we all sat quietly while he returned to full consciousness. Someone had a tray with a glass of orange juice and a jug of water. When he had finished drinking he got up, wished us all goodnight and left the room. We didn’t see Gordon after that and were told that he had breakfast and drove straight home.

That day was such an anti climax but an impromptu concert was arranged, with some fancy dress and various people reciting or singing etc.  We all dispersed on the Saturday and it took my friend and I some time to orientate to the outside world.  We were cloistered in such a spiritual atmosphere that thoughts of housewifely chores were difficult to cope with!

It was an experience that I shall never forget and I consider myself very privileged to have witnessed such phenomena. I only wish there were more physical mediums of that calibre who could provide today’s Spiritualists with materialisation like that.


4 thoughts on “Memoirs of Physical Phenomena Week”

  1. I did enjoy your tex telling the story of Gotdon I was very lucky to see Gordon Demonstrate his wonderful Mediumship when he was in Scotland and had a chance to speak to him in a group discussion I will never forget what a wonderful man he was.Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Wat an amazing story xxx I would have loved to have met this lovley man x I have sat under Gordon’s picture in the library at Stansted x and felt so privalaged to be there xxxxb

  3. I went to Stanstead on many occasions during which time I met and sat with Gordon Higginson ,I saw his medium ship and to me it was the best in the world Betty and her husband Jack and Kitty were all there along with various other mediums ,I am 74 now but i have never forgotten Gordon and the charisma he had we all loved him he was such fun ,Stanstead hall was a wonderful place and i think back to those days often … (Charles was the manager )

  4. I feel privileged to have been able to visit Stansted for ten years, mainly on Gordon’s weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed his Physical Phenomena demonstrations. I received accurate messages and learned a lot. I am 82 years old.

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