Mystery Test For a Medium

This is a fascinating article from 1959 which gives us insight into the superb quality and also the mechanics of Gordon Higginson’s platform mediumship.  It is the verbatim transcript of a demonstration to test Gordon’s mediumship which was arranged following some accusations of fraud. The SNU deliberately chose a church Gordon had never worked at and he did not know the venue of the service until he was driven there on the day.

All of the evidence from the demonstration was recorded and is presented here.  Within contacts given to 12 recipients, he gives 38 names, of which 14 are the full names.  He also gives 20 addresses or place names, including 5 full addresses.  The audience was left gasping in amazement at the quality and depth of evidence, which fully dispelled any accusations of fraud.

What is also fascinating is that Gordon gives evidence that is not understood, but practically all of it is subsequently repeated and placed with later recipients.  Gordon had a very strong clairaudient ability, and it is likely he was hearing information from more than one communicator when this happened.

I do hope you enjoy this article, which demonstrates why Gordon was held in such high esteem as one of the finest demonstrators within Spiritualism.


This is the record of a remarkable event – the secret testing of a medium, Gordon Higginson, by the president and other officials of the Spiritualists’ National Union.

The venue was selected by C. I. Quastel, president, and Richard Ellidge, secretary, and disclosed neither to other Union officials nor to those taking part until the last moment.  Gordon Higginson was not told the destination – a church where he had never before demonstrated – until two hours before the start of the meeting.

Below a verbatim report is introduced by Charles Quastel, who also writes a postscript at the end.

Belper is a small town, tucked away between Derbyshire hills, which rarely appears in national newspapers. In the town, however, stands a Spiritualist Church with tradition, and which has retained the affection and loyalty of Spiritualists over two generations since the time when its president was the loyal mayor.

The Church was the scene, recently, of a remarkable event – perhaps unique in Spiritualist history – a test Spiritualist service, organised by the National Council of the Spiritualists National Union, as a part of its Publicity Campaign.

I, as President of the SNU attended the service, in order to explain proceedings to the local officers and congregation, in company with Mr. Henwood, Midland District Area Representative, Mr. C. Anthony. National Councillor, and Miss E. Coleman, Secretary Manchester District Council, who took shorthand notes of all ‘evidence’.

The medium was Gordon Higginson of Longton.  In my opening remarks, I explained the two-fold purposes of the meeting.  Firstly, to have on permanent record an absolutely exact record of all the evidence provided in a normal Church demonstration, complete with statements by all the recipients of messages and confirmed by them in personal interviews after the service had concluded – And secondly to ensure public confidence in the mediumship and integrity of Gordon Higginson, and other remarkable mediums who have devoted their lives to serve the Spiritualist cause.

Here then are details of our preparations:

With the approval of the National Council, several weeks ago, Mr. Ellidge, General Secretary of the SNU and I decided on Belper SNU Church as a suitable venue for the meeting.  No member of the National Council or any other person right up to that week was acquainted with our decision.

The officials of Belper Church were invited to permit us to arrange a special meeting for Saturday night November 21, at which one of a number of nationally-known mediums, who had never visited the Church, would be the demonstrator.

Higginson, who is a Minister of the SNU, and had already placed all his engagements in our hands for general publicity campaign purposes, was simply requested to be available to work with us on November 21, and was informed that he would not be told where he was going until the actual day of the meeting.

The secretary of Belper SNU Church was not informed of the name of demonstrator until a few days before the meeting, in time for the insertion of a small advertisement in the local newspaper.

Mr. Henwood, SNU Area Representative, was asked to meet Mr. Higginson at his home on the afternoon of the meeting and to travel with him by car.


I asked the party to meet me outside Derby LMS Station so that we could proceed together to the Church. Thus Mr. Higginson did not know until 5 pm where he would be going.  We arrived at the Church at 6.30 pm.  The service commenced at 7 pm. 

Immediately after the service, I called together all people who had received messages.  All details were related to them and their comments noted.  In every case, there was emphasis on the fact that the information given by Gordon Higginson could not possibly have been known by him before the meeting.

To say that the congregation was literally gasping with amazement at the wealth of evidential detail is no exaggeration.  I have shared the platform with Gordon Higginson on many occasions but never have I heard evidence provided so fluently and so accurately by him.

Clearly, all the favourable psychic conditions that are essential for success were present – sympathetic attention by a congregation of sincere Spiritualists, an experienced and kindly Church president in the form of Mr. Wheeldon in the chair, a prelude of beautifully played pipe organ music by the organist, Mr. Hawkins – and, above all, the co-operation of those who had ‘died’ and who were anxious for the success of our ‘experiment.’

Here is a report of the evidence as recorded verbatim by Mrs. E. Coleman and corroborated after the meeting by members of the congregation.  The demonstration commenced at 7.40 pm.


Demonstrator: “Gentlemen building up – Marsh Lane – something to do with football – Arthur – someone knows his wife – lived near the Lawn.  I get the name of Homelea and Neale’s Shop. Also Mycock or Mycroft and the name of Miriam.”
Recipient (a man): “Yes”
D: “Sir, are you Arthur, Arthur Varney?”
R: “Yes.”
D: “You know this gentleman’s wife?”
R: “Yes.”
D: “He was a supporter of a football team.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “He lived in Marsh Lane, you lived close by.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “98 or 96 Marsh Lane. near to Neale ‘s Shop.  This gentleman tells me that he lived in a house which stood back from the road, down a gulley.  He lived in two houses; he tells me that he was born at 96 and died at 98.  That you lived near to the new houses; in the new houses; you come up this lane and turn off across the Lane to reach your house.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “You interested him in Spiritualism.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “This gentleman thanks you. He went into hospital – Derby lnfirmary.  He was taken into hospital and passed away there.”
R: “Yes”
D: “He is very happy to have made contact and wishes to thank you for help given.  Tells me that yours was more than a friendship.  Nice to see you.  You said to him.  ‘Well, you know, that there is still coming back; you know that you can come back and therefore it will not be so hard for you’.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “You attended the service – his service.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “You sang the hymn ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’…”
R: “Yes. I sang that.”
D: “He will remember you at Christmas, as before. Remember that.”
R: “Thank you – God bless.”


Demonstrator: “John – something to do with Brookside.”
Recipient (a woman): “Yes.”
D: “John Henry.”
D: “Do you know someone named Mrs. Webster?”
R: “No.”
D: “Does Tom Key and the name Netheredge mean anything to you?”
R: “No.”


Demonstrator: “Joe – Joe Mycock or Mycroft, wishes to be remembered, Miriam.”
Recipient (man): “Yes, his wife – Joe Mycroft’s wife”
D: “Miriam is a relation, a relation of yours.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “She married someone named Mycroft.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Mrs. Hickton. You know Mr. Hickton, living.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Are you John?”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Your father is here. You must know someone by the name of John Dean.”
R.: “That’s me!”
D: “Someone wishes to be remembered to Ada”
R: “Yes, my wife.”
D: “I have someone here who says: ‘Tell him it’s Granny Smith.’  She used to live in Duff Road.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Have you at any time sold over a counter?  Are you in business?”
R: “I have been.”
D: “I do not know what you soId, but I know that I can eat it.”
R: (Laughter) “Yes, quite correct.”
D: “There is someone here named Marie or Mary.”
R: “Yes, Marie.”
D: “She sends her love. I am told that you named something after her – your house.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Do you remember Mrs Webster – Bridal Lane? Did she live at Ripley?”
R: -“Yes.”
D: “She too sends her love.”


Demonstrator (addressing lady): “Madam, do you know Tom Key, who had something to do with Netheredge?”
Recipient: “Yes.”
D: “Have you belonged to a Primitive Methodist Church?”
R: “Yes”
D: “This gentleman, Tom Key, was the choirmaster at this church when you were younger.  You know his wife.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “His wife was very old, over eighty, when she passed.”
R: “Yes”
D: “She tells me that she was actually 85”
R: “Yes.”
D: “When you attended this church, did you not give a donation towards his grave?”
R: “I may have done, but cannot remember.”
D: “His wife’s name was Elizabeth”
R: “I believe it was”
D: “He is saying something about the choir buying a bowl for his grave.  There were three of you.”
R: “Yes, my husband, daughter and myself.”
D: “Your husband has passed on. I know because he has just touched me on the shoulder.”
R: “Yes”
D: “I hear someone saying. ‘Tell her Harry’s come’.  Was he not a brother?”
R: “Yes – thank you”


Demonstrator (addressing a man): “Sir, are you, or have you been a Freemason?”
Recipient: “No.”
D: “There is a gentleman building up near you, who gives me the name of Gordon and also something that sounds like Burroughpy Lodge.  Have you ever worked at an Iron Foundry?”
R: “No.”
D: “Someone calling Mary. Wishes to he remembered to Mary.”


R (lady): “Yes.”
D: “Ah, that’s better. You were friends.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “This person has only been passed over two or three years.”
R: “Yes, that is correct.”
D: “Do you know this man named Gordon?  I know that this is my own name, but in this case it is the gentleman’s surname – Mr. Gordon?”
R: “Yes – I do.”
D: “Can your Mr. Gordon be Scottish?  I hear him saying Dougal Gordon.”
R: “Yes”
D: “He tells me that he lived in Scotland for some time and used to work in an iron foundry.”
R: “Yes”
D: “Tells me he lived in The Orchard – you will remember that.”
R: (Laughter) “Yes, that is quite true.”
D: “He was a Freemason.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “He still gives me this name that sounds like Burroughpy Lodge – could this be correct?”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Have you lived in Mill Street?”
R: “I live in Mill Street.”
D: “At number four or forty?”
R: “Number forty!”
D: “He is telling me that (turning to chairman) ‘this here is Fred’ – he knows you both – you are connected.”
R: “Quite correct.” (chairman nods in agreement.)
D: “He says that he often passed Mill Street. Gives me number 17.  Did he live there?”
R: “Can’t remember.”
D: “But you could find out?”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Please do that.”


Demonstrator (addressing lady): “Do you know Church Street?”
Recipient: “Yes.”
D: “Do you know a Mrs. Bako or Mrs. Varo?”
R: “No.”
D: “Syd – Syd Bowler – passed away.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “His wife is named Ethel”
R: “Yes”
D: “He is talking about daughter and son.”
R: “He had two daughters and one son.”
D: “His son is named Tony.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Could this man have died in the war?”
R: “Yes he did.”
D: “He was a lance-corporal.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “He is telling me so and that he was killed in the last war.  His wife is named Ethel, who you know.  He has a daughter named Norma and one named Carol.”
R: “Yes – perfectly true.”
D: “He wants you to thank Ethel for remembering him and putting flowers to his memory.  Tell her he stood by her side when she stood for the two minutes silence.  He loves her as she loves him.  With this gentleman, I feel that I want to ask you to rush and tell Ethel ‘I have been, that I have not gone’.  Will you do this?”
R: “Yes, I will.”
D: “Have you still got your mother’s ring?”
R: “No.”
D: “Someone is talking about a ring.  Have you a ring which belonged, or was given to you, by someone now passed on?”
R: “No”


Demonstrator (addressing lady): “Six Ambergate – does this mean anything to you?”
Recipient: “Yes”
D: “Some years ago you lived in Ambergate.”
R: “Yes – business”
D: “Have you known anyone who passed away in Rotterdam?”
R: “No”


Demonstrator: “Gentleman here tells me he passed away in Rotterdam.  Gives me the name of Bridges.  John.  John Morris – his mother was Mrs. Bridges.”

Recipient (woman): “Yes. John Morris.”
D: “He lived at Mill Lane Farm.  He was a stepson, who died in Rotterdam.  His name is John Morris.  You knew his mother better than him.”
R: “Yes, that is true, I did.”
D: “You used to go to the Farm.  You knew her husband called Giles.”
R: “Yes”
D: “Her name was Mary Ann.”
R: “Yes”
D: “Mary Ann Morris.”
R: “Yes”
D: “Yes, she passed away in 1937, two years before the war.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Polly is all right now.”
R: “Yes – thank you.”


Demonstrator (addressing lady in green): “The Fleet. You know Mrs. Bako or Varo.”
Recipient: “Yes”
D: “Did she go to another church other than a Spiritualist Church?  She is giving me the name of the Rev. Thomas.  She would know him quite well.”
R: “Yes, there were two churches connected.  She would know the Rev. Thomas.”
D: “Did you know Mrs. Horne with an ‘e’?”
R: “No.”
D: “Mrs. Cartwright – lived near to St. Peter’s.  Her name was Gertie.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “She is talking about the Bright Four or something like that.  Did she not live in Church Street?”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Are you Hannah or Annie.”
R: “No”
D: “She is telling me that where she used to live is all ‘poshed up’ now. Is this correct?”
R: (Laughter) “Yes.”
D: “Yes, she says that they have painted the houses where she lived green.”
R: “Yes”
D: “But they did not put a new window in. She is saying that it is still the same old shop window.  Where she lived was once a shop.”
R: “Yes”
D: “Mrs. Cartwright says she was born in number four and died in number two. Is this correct?”
R: “Quite correct.”
D: “She tells we that it was such a long way up the path to the church door.”
R: “Yes, that is true”


Demonstrator: “I have still got Hannah or Annie – a friend who knew Mrs. Cartwright”
Recipient (lady): “Yes”
D: “She tells me that she often stood at the door, and watched the people go past.  Good window for seeing what was going on.”
R: (Laughter) “Yes”
D: “She is here! She says, ‘Oh, I used to have a friend and every time I came out, she was on the doorstep.  We knew we were all right as long as she was still there!’  Tells me that they used to have a bit of garden in front of their place and she used to stand there as if she owned the lot, but she did not.  It belonged to Fourhouses.  They had michaelmas daisies in the garden.”
R: “Yes (laughter) quite true.”
D: “Harriet -passed.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “There was a butcher’s shop nearby.  During the war, she could see meat arriving.  Used to go and bang on door saying: ‘It’s no good putting it under the counter and saying you have none – I have just seen it come’.”
R: “Yes (laughter), that is correct.”


Demonstrator (addressing gentleman): “Do you remember Mrs. Wood having a fall?”
Recipient: “Yes”
D: “Did she not go into hospital, but come out again?”
R: “Yes, she broke her neck.”
D: “This lady was named Mary – Mary Wood”
R: “Correct.”


Demonstrator: “Harry Chamberlain Proctor – somebody knows his mother named Clara and father named Harry.”
Recipient (woman): “Yes”
D: “He was their son, aged about 15 years.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “You visit a grave nearby.  He tells me that you know before you get to your grave, because his grave shows the way to yours.  You cannot miss it because you go about six graves away from the angels on a pedestal.”
R: “Yes, quite correct.”
D: “He says: ‘They gave me the biggest monument in the cemetery – Angel, white on a stone, which towers over you’.”
R: “Yes, that is true.”
D: “The sudden passing of a man severely shocked you.”
R: “Yes”
D: “This man was named Bill”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Talking about someone living named Elsie.”
R: “Yes.”
D: “Says she has been very good to you lately.”
R “Yes, she has – thank you”


Demonstrator: “Young man here who was drowned. Tells me he lived in Ambergate.  There should be a gentleman and lady present who knew him.  They know someone belonging to him.  Something to do with Chatsworth Crescent and Bull Bridge.  He was in a boat with a friend.  Friend named Tony.  Boat turned over and he was drowned.”
Recipient: “Yes. I know his father.  I work with his father.”
D: “His name is Richards, Colin Michael Richards.  His friend was Tony Creswell.”
R: “Quite correct.”


A noticeable feature of modern literature relating to Spiritualist activities and Church practices is the regrettable omission of full details of evidence provided by mediums in normal Spiritualist services, by clairvoyance/clairaudience.  For reference purposes, these accounts should include not only successful and accurate “messages” but all inaccurate details.

Usually, there are reasons for the inability in good mediums to provide consistently accurate messages, apart from the obvious reason of necessity for further training in a good circle.  Thus, critics who are largely ignorant of conditions relating to the provision of psychic evidence should not rush to hasty conclusions of ‘fraudulence’ etc., when considering unsatisfactory mediumship.

If any meeting of similar nature is desired, I invite requests. The Spiritualists National Union will be glad to assist in the organisation of such meetings as a part of National Publicity Campaign.

Source: Psychic News, December 5, 1959


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