Stella C Cranshaw. Psychic/Medium.
Stella C Cranshaw,...Dorothy Stella Cranshaw, and later....Stella Cranshaw Deacon, after her marriage.
Photo from 1923.
Dorothy Stella Cranshaw was by all a counts an average young woman or as Harry Price would later say "A typical English girl".
Stella was the 22 year old daughter of a charcoal burner (A person who's job it is to make charcoal) She was born in the year 1900 in North Woolwich, London, and she worked as a nurse at a hospital in London. One day after boarding a train she soon became bored, not long afterward she meet a man named Harry Price,...Price was a researcher who was very interested in the paranormal, though at this point in his lift he was growing tired of all the false claims and down right hoax's . It was on this day in early 1923 that he boarded a train heading for home, by mere coincidence Stella had boarded the same train. When she saw a large stack of magazines and news papers next to him, having brought nothing to read for herself during the trip, she ask if she could read his copy of "Light" a magazine dedicated the the study of psychic research and paranormal phenomena.
Afterwords during there conversation Stella seemed to show a vague curiosity in psychic and paranormal phenomena, even though she had a few unique personal psychic experience's herself. She continued to tell Price of her personal experience's, stating that on some occasion's well she was siting in a quite room, suddenly small objects like matches, matchbox's...etc would begin to move on there own, there would be a breeze even though it was a calm day and the window was closed, and sometimes she would wittiness flashes of light followed be strange raping sounds. Stella loved flowers and she stated that the breeze would almost always occur well she was near flowers, and that sometimes well seating at a desk with a vase of flowers near by there would be a gentle breeze blowing across her face and making the flowers bend in the vase.
Harry Price a psychical investigator of the early 1900's was an avid believer in the paranormal and like many researchers of the time he was on an ambitious quest to locate and study individuals claiming to possess psychic / paranormal powers. In an attempt to prove to the world that such ability's really do exist......He would later become famous for his Borley Rectory investigation..(More on that case later..)
Price being the dedicated researcher that he is, was obviously exited at the prospect of finding a genuine psychic/ medium, and he was soon able to convinced Stella to take part in a number of seance's. Up until this point Stella had only attended one seance in her life when she was eleven years old, she then had to be removed from the seance because of her incessant giggling.
Stella attended three series of sittings each consisting of several session's. ( one in 1923, 1926, and 1928.) The first sitting took place at the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, in March 1923. Price went to great lengths to guarantee that no fraud would take place during the sittings, he would have the door locked and the key removed so that no one could sneak into the room,.... the room it self was arranged in a cautious manner to prevent tampering with anything inside of it, Stella was constantly monitored and her hands and feet were controlled by the other people attending the session.
Price was also very careful when making his selection of guests that wold later take part in the session's. Some of his more well known guests where Eileen Garret, a talented medium from Ireland and Eric Dingwall, who at the time served as a research officer at the Society for Psychical Research.
Two other well known scientists who attended Stella's seance's included, R. J. Til-yard, and Julian Huxley.
During Stella's sittings over a five years course, there were many various kinds of paranormal activity witnessed. Such as odd flashes of light, strange tapping sounds, the levitation of small objects and furniture, and on some occasion's the complete destruction of the levitating furniture as well as odd temperatur fluctuation's during one or her sittings on April 19 1923 the temperature dropped from 63 to 43. and during these events there was almost always a cold breeze felt near by. Another interesting fact, is that Stella's telekinetic powers seemed to be at their strongest during these tempter changes.
Price used many different tools during his investigation most of which he designed and built himself.
One of his creations was a large hollow double table, the table was surrounded on all sides by gauze mesh and had a large shelf inside, if some one tried to tamper with the items inside the gauze would be torn. there was also a trapdoor on the table, the door had been designed so that it was easy to open from the inside of the table but not the outside making it increasingly difficult to try and cheat once the table had been sealed. In one of the sittings several small musical instruments had been placed inside of the table, and even though the table had been sealed and no one had access to what was inside, the instruments began to play on their own, first a mouth organ and then an auto harp, this happened many times, and it was always followed be strand flashes of light near Stella.
Another one of Price's tools which he referred to as a "Shadow Apparatus" was used in order to try and determine the shape or form of whatever had effected the instruments inside of the table. The apparatus consisted on a telephoto lens was inside as a projector and it was attached to a metal box with a battery and a small lamp inside, when the lamp was on a small beam of light was focused into the lens and then though a ruby filter and onto a luminescent screen it would then cast a visible shadow on the screen making and showing the form of whatever it was that had effected there instruments during an earlier siting.
They recorded some pretty interesting results with this device.
The following statement was made by Eric Dingwall after one of Stella's sittings, keep in mind that Eric was a skeptic and even he was surprised by what he had witnessed.
Eric's statement is as follows......
"When the red light was switched on under the table, I lay down on the floor and looked up through the passage towards the luminous screen. From near the mediums foot, which was invisible, I saw an egg-shaped body beginning to crawl towards the center of the floor under the table. It was white and where the light was reflected it appeared opel. To the end nearest the medium was attached a thin white neck, like a piece of macaroni. It advanced toward the center and then rapidly withdrew into the shadows"
During one of Stella's sessions on April 12, 1923, a table was again witnessed moving on it's own and at one point Stella even made contact with a being known as Palma ( Believed by some to be her spirit guide) However the most eventful part of this sitting occurred half way through the session's, When Stella entered a seemingly trance like state and told one of the participant's there a woman named Miss. Phillimore, that she could see a news paper, and the front page read "Daily Mail ,dated May, 19,1923. She then went on to describe the paper, saying that she could read the words "Andrew Salt" printed in big words, and that for some reason she keeps seeing the image of a young boy falling, followed by doctors standing over him pouring of some kind of white powder. At the time no one saw much importance in Stella's vision. However some thirty seven days later the Daily Mail ran a large add on there front page for "Andrews Liver Salt,accompanied bu a picture of a boy who had spilt salt from a plate he was holding.
When contacted by the researchers the salt company stated that they had not shown the poster to anyone until May, and the Daily Mail said they had not even received a picture for the add until April 28th ( three weeks before the add was scheduled to run. This session is still regarded as one of Stella's most successful sittings.
The first of Stella's session's/seance's began on March, 1923. The second took place on April 10, 1926 and the third started in 1928. By this point Stella's powers had weakened or she was no longer all that interested in using them anymore, either way every time she would use her ability's, it would take a lot of her energy leaving her both mentally and psychically exhausted.
The seance's in 1928 where her last, not long after she and Harry Price parted ways.
and some time later in 1928 Stella married. Leslie Deacon.
To this day the records and accounts of Stella's amazing ability's still reside in the Harry Price Library at the University of London.
Some interesting books...
The Supernatural, by Anthony North.
Harry Price - Ghost Hunter, by Paul Tabori.