STOP PRESS!! -
He was a Spiritualist Medium for the last three decades, a former British Fleet Street
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The prosecution were determined to prove Helen Duncan was a fraud. Her trial took
place barely a few months before the famous D-
The true story of a Scottish housewife who found herself in the centre of a WWII legal battle which ended with her being convicted under the Witchcraft Act.
During the second world war Helen was in great demand from anxious relatives, especially those who had lost close family on active war service.
Two second degree burns were found across Helen's stomach. She was immediately taken back to her Scottish home and later rushed to hospital.
Helen was sent back to London's Holloway prison, that Victorian monstrosity for female prisoners still being used today.
The Prime Minister had been ordained into the Grand Ancient Order of Druids and was a client and also a keen supporter of Helen Duncan.
The Official Pardon Site
STOP PRESS -
Helen Duncan wasBorn 25th November 1897. Passed to spirit 6th December 1956.
SPIRITUALISTS are no strangers to scorn, skepticism and stupidity. We face these regularly and deal with them appropriately. But few know that one of our most gifted Mediums was charged with conspiracy and actually imprisoned for her special psychic gifts of proving survival after death.
This unsung heroine was one Helen Duncan, a simple Scottish housewife, who was forced
to serve time in London's notorious Victorian Holloway women's prison for the appalling
"crime" of holding physical phenomena seance's -
Helen was born in Callander, a small Scottish town on the 25th of November 1897, the daughter of a master cabinet maker. Her family was far from rich. Like many of her fellow Celtic lassies she struggled to earn a living even after her marriage at the age of 20. Her husband, Henry, another cabinet maker, had been injured during WW1. She had 12 pregnancies, but only six children survived. To sustain this large family and a disabled husband she worked in the local bleach factory by day and her Spiritual work and domestic duties by night.
The small amount of cash she made from her sittings, mostly token donations from friends and neighbours existing in a similar poverty to herself, would often discreetly go to their local doctor to pay for those patients who were destitute. This was in the time before Britain's national health service concept of free medicine for all had been introduced.
But her skill lay in Mediumship of a particular kind, that rare psychic gift of being a vehicle for physical phenomena whilst in trance state. A precious gift that brought comfort to thousands but one which was eventually to cost her her earthly life.
By the 1930's and 1940's she was traveling the length of wartime Britain giving regular seance's in hundreds of Spiritualist churches and home circles.
The evidence that flowed from these physical phenomena seance's was astonishing. 'Dead' loved ones appeared in physical form, spoke to and touched their earthly relatives and in this way brought both proof of survival and much comfort to thousands of traumatised and grieving wartime families.
One such sitting was attended by a man named Vincent Woodcock, who had brought his sister in law for an evening's demonstration. Those 60 minutes changed both their lives.
Vincent gave evidence in London's premier Old Bailey court room that the medium Helen Duncan slipped into trance and began producing the much scoffed 'ectoplasm'. Then his 'dead' wife materialised from this ectoplasmic matter and asked both Vincent and his sister in law to stand up.
The materialised spirit then removed her wedding ring and placed it on her sister's wedding finger, adding "It is my wish that this takes place for the sake of my little girl".
A year later the couple were married and returned for a further seance during which the dead woman appeared once more to give her renewed blessings to the happy couple.
But this touching human story, along with other similar unsolicited and genuine testimonials
to her remarkable gifts, were ignored by the law courts for Helen Duncan was destined
to 'go down' to appease an establishment terrified that she might accurately discern
the date of the D-
Medium Helen Duncan