Leeds nostalgia: Medium from 1918 has mediocre day

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Dateline: December 17, 1918: On this day 100 years ago, there was a report in the Yorkshire Evening Post about the rise of spiritualism in Leeds. This had apparently been brought on, in part by the great loss of life during the European War and the subsequent grief suffered by their relatives.

Such was the interest that the YEP sent a reporter to one meeting at the Armley Spiritualist Church, Theaker Lane, where some 40 to 50 people congregated, most of them women. There was a service, after which “a matronly woman about 40 years of age” rose and after “spasmodically opening and closing her eyes several times” revealed the names of several people in the audience. The first was a woman in her 20s, who was told there was an apparition of a young men in naval uniform hovering around her. She was asked if she knew such a person and replied not. This prompted the medium to retort: “Well, you will know him before long, you will shake hands with him!”

Next, the medium picked on a man in the audience and described to him “a old gentleman” short in stature, whom she thought might be his brother. He replied not and the medium suggested it might actually be an old man from his youth, which seemed to trigger some sort of response in the affirmative.

Finally, the medium pointed out our reporter, telling him an old man was looking over him “not too small and not too tall but of... 70 or 80, with a long white beard and a moustache.” It meant nothing to him, nor did her reference to a “big thick book” which had changed his world view. However, when she enquired ‘Have you ever been on a platform?’, our reporter had to reply that he had, although when she told him he had taken part in “debates” he had to say that he had not. And so it went on.