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The magical world of Kingswells  Sue Farrow reports on her visit to a unique Scottish spiritual centre

Kingswells House
    Kingswells House

If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Where in the world could you hope to find a 17th-century spiritual haven set at the top of a long winding driveway, amidst ancient trees and a walled garden redolent with the peaceful, unhurried atmosphere of an age long past – all within a fifteen-minute drive of an airport?

And then, of course, there’s the added attraction of Phil – handsome, suave and charming. No, he’s not the manager – he’s a pheasant. And not just any old pheasant. A serious outbreak of ornithological research in my office has revealed that Phil is none other than phasianus colchicus var. tenebrosus – an obviously aristocratic example of the breed!

Aside from his devastating good looks, Phil has other talents, one of which is to knock with his beak at the kitchen door when he thinks his lunch is due. And speaking of that kitchen, it’s a haven of spiritual (and physical) refreshment in itself. But more (much more) about that later.

An act of loving kindness

Kingswells House’s website explains that the property, built in 1666 “was gifted to the Summerland Trust (a charitable trust) by the loving kindness of Clark Findlay”. He purchased the property in November 2003 and on his passing in November 2005 bequeathed it to Summerland.

The name ‘Findlay’ is  known around the world because of the great Spiritualist ambassador J. Arthur Findlay’s gift of Stansted Hall (now the Arthur Findlay College) to the Spiritualists’ National Union in the 1960s.

Clark was Arthur’s nephew and, not surprisingly, was introduced to Spiritualism as a young man. While his uncle investigated and wrote of his experiences, particularly with the outstanding direct voice medium John Campbell Sloan, Clark’s passion was for healing, and he worked as a healer for many years until his passing at the age of 84.

The King’s well

Legend has it that King Charles stopped for a drink from the well at the front door of the property, thereby giving the present Kingswells area its name. Although predominantly a family home, it was also a secret Quaker meeting house at some point during the 17th century. Thus the place is steeped in spirituality and, though it might sound fanciful (which, of course, I never am!) you can almost sense that spiritual energy in the walls.


Eileen Davies
    Eileen Davies

Embracing all spiritual traditions

Though some of Spiritualism’s most gifted mediums – evidential, trance and physical – work regularly at Kingswells, the ethos of the place is open-minded and inclusive. The website explains:

“Whilst upholding the ethics and philosophy of Spiritualism, the Summerland Trust aims to embrace ALL spiritual and religious traditions, realising an affinity to the whole.”

The Summerland Trust has lovingly and painstakingly restored the house to its former glory. The downstairs teaching room, also used as a séance room, is a warm-coloured and inviting space which exudes a peaceful and spiritual atmosphere. A carving of Silver Birch adorns the mantelpiece and tea light candles glow gently beside it.

Lunch and dinner are taken in the light and high-roofed conservatory, rebuilt in recent years. Aside from the dining chairs set at two long tables, there’s a pair of comfortable sofas and a wood-burning stove. Look out of the window as you eat, and watch the birds come and go among the trees.

A relaxing lounge area and a number of beautiful bedrooms are available for the use of visitors, each decorated in its own distinctive colour scheme and furnished in natural materials. Candles, carvings, butterfly motifs and wind chimes abound, along with paintings by the Brazilian spirit artist José Medrado.

Scott Milligan
Scott Milligan


Development of the whole person

In short, Kingswells House, inside and outside, is a place dedicated to spiritual awareness, nourishment and development. Courses and demonstrations are given by the very best of teachers, led by the greatly respected evidential medium Eileen Davies, a founding trustee. It’s a place dedicated to the holistic approach – spiritual (not just mediumistic) unfoldment on a completely individual basis.

For this reason student groups are relatively small. There’s no mass-market, one-size-fits-all tuition here. And above all (and dear to my own heart) no ‘formula’ for development. As any thinking Spiritualist knows, there’s no right or wrong way to ‘do’ mediumship. If you have the gift in the first place (and that’s a big and vital ‘if’), you must unfold and develop at your own pace, in your own way, under the guidance of experienced teachers who have no agenda as far as ‘method’ is concerned, nor in trying to create carbon copies of themselves.

My four-day visit coincided with a course entitled Phenomena of the Spirit, led by Eileen Davies and Scott Milligan. Each day began with a guided meditation, and the course included participation sessions on automatic writing, trance, sensing the blend, the criteria of trance, philosophy and healing. Talks were given on running a physical circle, the importance of trust, finding the voice, and experiences of physical mediumship.

Though Scott is best known for his physical mediumship, he also has a passion for trance healing, which he demonstrated during my visit.

Healing and the dangers of ‘diagnosing’ 

Before starting work Scott took time to emphasise that healers are not doctors, and should never enter into the business of diagnosis. He illustrated the dangers of this with a horrifying personal example.

“When I was very young, I was a dustman. A medium came to me and said I would damage my hand at work and would be taken to hospital and collapse,” Scott told the students. “The medium added that when I collapsed doctors would take blood tests to see why I was so poorly, and would find out that I had HIV. I was 17 at the time and I was scared. I was from a very strict family and I said it was absolute rubbish and wouldn’t happen.

“Two weeks later I crushed my hand at work and was taken to hospital. I felt sick and giddy, and in the back of my mind the medium’s words kept echoing. Because my skin had been broken, I asked the doctors to do an HIV test. They agreed, but explained that HIV took four months to show up in the bloodstream.

“So for four months I lived in hell. I could easily have thrown myself off Beachy Head, because this person’s predictions had so far come true. To this day I still give blood and my blood tests are fine, but you can you see the damage that can be done by mediums or healers saying these things.”

Five patients, with varying ailments, were treated. All were invited by spirit physician Dr Pinnock to describe what they were feeling as healing was administered through the hands of the entranced medium. All reported changes of temperature and a pleasant sense of relaxation.

Two patients who had been sufering from the after-effects of skeletal and muscular damage reported a noticeable improvement immediately after treatment.

As Scott’s spirit medic, Dr Pinnock, worked on his patients, he asked Eric, one of Scott’s main communicators, to speak with us and answer questions while healing was in progress. Apparently the spirit team were concerned that we observers might become bored just sitting quietly in the room.

Phi the Pheasant

Automatic writing

I’m a great fan of this now rather rare form of mediumship. So much spiritual knowledge and evidential information has been received in the past through the pens of those who were able to set their own minds aside sufficiently to enable spirit communicators to work through them with a degree of clarity.

William Stainton Moses, as Eileen pointed out during this session, was one such. “He could write with the influence of the spirit world with one hand and also be doing a crossword with the other,” she said. “So that’s really proving that the information was passing through him, it wasn’t originating with him or created by him.” That, she added, is how we differentiate between inspirational writing and automatic writing.

Sometimes automatic writing mediums are conscious and aware; at other times they’re not aware at all. “The nature of the mind is to try to make sense of things,” said Eileen. “It’s all about getting ourselves out of the way. About reaching a state of stillness and attunement.”

Students later took paper and pen and adjourned to the conservatory to experiment with automatic writing themselves. Eileen advised that writing one’s name backwards, or some other diversionary doodle might help to kick-start the process.

Gentle music was played as Eileen encouraged students to pay attention to the rhythm of the breath and allow awareness of that breath of life. To begin to awaken dormant powers, so that gently and spontaneously things could evolve. “Now, very gently invite the presence of those in the world unseen and invite them to use you as a power,” she said. “Willingly and lovingly offer yourself to be their instrument.”

The experimental half-hour in the conservatory passed, as it seemed, in the blinking of an eye. Most participants sat with pen in hand, eyes closed. All was still, save for the quiet background music and the occasional sounds of pen meeting paper. At the end of the session a number of students had produced some kind of writing, while others had not. There had been no pressure, and all enjoyed the experience, whether or not they had written.

The wooded approach to Kingswells House
The wooded approach to Kingswells House


Soul food

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that great cooking and a good glass of red are quick ways to my heart. You’ll understand, then, that the daily home-cooked meals at Kingswells were as uplifting to me as the spiritual events that filled the days and evenings.

The kitchen is the province of Ben Davies, Eileen’s son. Ben’s a trained chef and has that enviable knack of turning simple, fresh ingredients into works of culinary art while making it all seem effortless. Lunches generally consist of two large vats of different homemade soups, freshly made each morning, served with good fresh bread.

Dinner menus are full of variety. During my visit they included an excellent curry, baked salmon (beautifully moist) a fabulous lasagne (vegetarian and meat versions) and other delights. Vegans and others on a specific diet can expect the same quality. For ‘real’ coffee devotees like myself, there’s a pot of fresh ground coffee on the go throughout the day.

Demonstration – and a pre-mortem return...

The final event of this very interesting course was an evening demonstration of evidential mediumship by Eileen Davies, which was also open to the public. If you’ve been fortunate enough to see Eileen demonstrate, you’ll know that the quality of her evidence is invariably outstanding and comes through her to the recipient at great speed. I’ve frequently marvelled at the strength of her connection to the spirit world – it’s a rare and wonderful thing to behold.

For that reason, I was disappointed only to be able to stay for the first fifteen minutes, since I had to make my way to the airport to catch a return flight to London. I crept out after the first (detail-packed) communication and was driven to the airport (thanks, Michael).

Aberdeen airport is small, so I was surprised to find a massive queue at the check-in desk. I was equally surprised to find the place in semi-darkness. Half an hour later I’d not moved forward one place in the queue and I waylaid a passing member of staff to ask what was going on. Long story short – there’d been a complete power outage. No flights at all. I grabbed my bags, went out to the taxi rank and headed back to Kingswells, arriving just in time to hear the last message!

A unique experience

If you haven’t visited Kingswells yourself, take a tip from me and head to Scotland for a unique experience (no, I’m not on commission!). You’ll enjoy beautiful surroundings, a relaxed and informal atmosphere, the best of tuition, excellent demonstrations, and yes, great food. You’ll find Kingswells a feast for all your senses, spiritual and physical.

• For further details, visit: kingswells-house-aberdeen.org.uk

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