Mother and son's spirit overcame the prejudice GH

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Mother and son's spirit overcame the prejudice GH

Post by Admin on Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:53 am

From The Sentinel
Mother and son's spirit overcame the prejudice
Saturday, March 21, 2009, 09:20Comment on this story
Story and pictures here http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/nostalgia/Mother-son-s-spirit-overcame-prejudice/article-786846-detail/article.html

John Abberley looks back on the lives of the mother and son with a remarkable ability to talk to 'the other side'
IN ANY conversation about Spiritualism, the names of Gordon Higginson and his mother Fanny are bound to crop up.
In the history of this controversial belief, going back more than 120 years in the Potteries, the Higginsons stand head and shoulders above everyone else and won a national reputation for their Longton Spiritualist Church.
The former church, in Lightwood Road, was known as the cathedral of Spiritualism, according to Gerard Smith, who became a member in 1972 and now travels widely as a medium.

"People came to services at Longton from all over the place," he says. "The old church was always packed to capacity when Gordon Higginson was demonstrating his psychic powers.

"Gordon was a great figure-head, which made for a thriving church with a wonderful atmosphere. Some people in the church at large called Gordon the king.
"Many members at Longton had been churchgoers somewhere else. I myself was previously a practising Catholic."
For several decades, up to Gordon's death in 1993, queues often formed outside the church when the charismatic leader was holding sessions of spiritual healing.
However, his influence was felt far beyond his native Potteries. He was president of the Spiritualists' National Union from 1970 to 1993, and for 14 years principal of the Arthur Findlay College, a training centre for mediums at Stansted in Essex.
Spiritualism is believed to have started in the Potteries at premises in Mollart Street, Hanley, in around 1887. Other early centres were established at Rathbone Street, Tunstall, and Stanley Street, Middleport.
The original Longton church was acquired from the Unitarians in 1934 and was used for 60 years until it was demolished to make way for the A50.
Retired teacher Joyce Parkes, who has compiled notes on the history of Spiritualism in North Staffordshire, believes both Gordon and his mother could have made themselves rich.
"But neither of them charged a fee for their services, even though Gordon was consulted by famous people," she says. "He made a living from his joint ownership of a grocery shop at Blurton.
"As for Fanny, far from making money she sometimes gave a sitter half-a-crown to buy some food.
"I never met her, but I gather that Fanny was a strong-minded lady. Everything had to be right for her. But she could be very caring to others.
"She trained Gordon as a medium from his early boyhood. He clearly had his mother's gift and was giving demonstrations of clairvoyance at 12.
"I knew Gordon only slightly in his final years at the church and was completely in awe of him. He was a magnet for the congregation."
Fanny Higginson died in 1978, aged 88, only a month after Gordon was cleared by a tribunal of faking clairvoyance following a complaint from a member of a church in Bristol.
The two-year wrangle was damaging, to the Higginsons and to the church at large, which for many years was a target for derision and abuse.
June Berks, who served as president at Longton for eight years, makes the point that practising Spiritualism was once illegal.
"I believe that in the early days our enemies threw stones when people were in church," she days. "I also understand that the police called to check what worshippers were doing."
J une recalls that she saw Gordon Higginson demonstrating at the former Spiritualist Church in Town Road, Hanley, now converted into a restaurant.
"We sat upstairs in the gallery while Gordon gave a woman a message and a telephone number," she says. "She was astonished because she worked for the old GPO and he quoted her personal number.
"His mother Fanny was equally gifted as a medium. If people gave her a photograph of a soldier during the war, she could tell them if he was okay.
"But Fanny was a down-to-earth Potteries woman, which was a big contrast with Gordon, who always spoke with a refined voice."
On several memorable occasions, Gordon and the choir from Longton were among the performers at Remembrance services at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Gerard Smith went there three times as a member of the choir and remembers the services as "a fantastic experience", each time with a packed congregation of 5,000 people.
It was also a night to remember for Marjorie Heath, who accompanied the choir at the Albert Hall on a grand piano.
"I felt nervous until I had played the very last note," says Marjorie, now 94, who was the Longton church treasurer for more than 50 years and also played the organ.
She says the choir sang at other venues, including the Victoria Hall, Hanley, where the speaker one year was the TV cook Fanny Craddock.
Gerard Smith believes Gordon Higginson and a few other mediums gave the Spiritualist Church an improved credence.
"Gordon's mediumship stood the test of time," he says. "I knew he would be cleared when the complaint was made that he was faking messages. He had no need to resort to cheating."
Another outstanding figure in Spiritualism was Penkhull-born Sir Oliver Lodge, a pioneer in the discovery of radio and one of the foremost scientists of his day.
Lodge risked his scientific reputation but never wavered from his belief after investigating 'psychic phenomena' with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
In his book My Philosophy, written a few years before his death in 1940, Lodge said: "I am as convinced of existence on the other side of death as I am of existence here.
"The unseen universe is a great reality. This is the region to which we really belong and to which we shall one day return."
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Re: Mother and son's spirit overcame the prejudice GH

Post by zerdini on Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:12 pm

Thanks for posting that Jim.

I knew Gordon and his mother very well and had many evidential sittings with both of them.

The original church in Lightwood Road no longer exists due to a compulsory purchase order but a new one has since been built in Longton.

Gerard Smith, who is quoted in the report, is also an excellent medium and I have received remarkable evidence through his mediumship.

Z

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