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Four mediums – sixty empty chairs
Four mediums – sixty empty chairs

Stansted Hall played host to a rare experiment on 2nd June, writes Sue Farrow.

Any good medium knows that stepping on to the platform can be nerve-wracking, no matter how experienced you are. You want to be the best you can, giving evidence that has real meaning to the person it’s intended for.

Imagine, then, how much harder it must be when you’re asked to get up there and give that evidence to an empty chair. And which empty chair, when there are 60 or so to choose from?

Pushing the boundaries

That was the challenge facing Eileen Davies, Jackie Wright, Brian Lynch and Paul Brereton when Eric Hatton, long-time former president of Stourbridge Spiritualist Church, decided it was time to push the boundaries of mediumship and recreate an experiment he’d conducted with hugely respected names such as Gordon Higginson, Mary Duffy, Robin Stevens, Gerard Smith and Stephen O’Brien in years gone by.

I was present in the lecture room at the Arthur Findlay College, Stansted, along with Eric Hatton and course organiser Marian Bishop, as these four very experienced mediums sat on the platform growing paler by the minute and joking that they’d suddenly remembered an urgent need to dash to Tesco’s/Sainsbury’s/a foreign country, and would have to leave!

Joking apart, this experiment was a big ask, but all four mediums had readily agreed to give it a go. At about 6pm, as the 60 students on the annual Senior Citizens’ Week went to the dining room for dinner, completely unaware of the experiment about to take place, Eric explained to the mediums that each of them would be required to give a contact to a chair of their choice. Those messages would be recorded and later relayed to the person who chose to sit in that chair.

Eileen Davies

Eileen Davies

All four then sat quietly, each making their link with spirit. Eileen, a resident of Aberdeen, was the first to work, designating two adjacent chairs in the fifth row from the front as her likely targets. Eric went and sat where she’d indicated, as he did for all four mediums, and she proceeded to give a detail-packed communication lasting just over eight minutes.

A father in spirit, angina and stomach problems. A man’s man. If he said something, he meant it. No argument or discussion. A connection with mining. Pain in the lungs before his passing. The end came quickly. He missed a family celebration as a result. Regretted he’d been unable to express love. Names Albert and Jack. A yappy terrier who drank out of a saucer. Lots of stories about the dog. Someone kept pigeons. The sound of a railway, connected with mining – loading up coal.

Lady with a cancerous condition, very different in nature to the man. Names of Doris, and Elizabeth or Lizzie. Derby, or Derby Road. Date of lady’s passing was significant, near a family birthday. A clock stopped. There was an engraved pocket watch bearing the number 26, a gift.

A third person (female). Problem with knee and veins. Difficulty getting feet into shoes. Kathy, an aunt. She’s come to celebrate the sitters’ achievements, hurdles overcome. They never gave up. Someone took his own life (a nephew?). Impact on whole family. Rose Cottage. A pint on the piano and playing the spoons – a good knees-up and a sing-song. Someone met General Montgomery.

Jackie Wright

Jackie Wright

Jackie, from Middlesbrough, was next up, directing her message to a chair at the very back.

A mature woman, not family. Died in a car crash at night. She’d been out enjoying herself at a restaurant or somewhere with food. An argument, shouting. She stormed out to the car. Not in a fit state to drive. Lost control of car on or near a roundabout. There was a younger man in the car, not a relative. Cause of the woman’s death was blood loss.

She has some connection with the name “Chip” – a nickname? Also a connection to the name of David. The woman was fiery, knew her own mind. She longed for death and was relieved at the point of death. Too much alcohol on the night of her death. Schooner Road or Street. She was 54 or 55, fairish-haired. Connected to the sitter through friendship, not family. June was a significant month. Surname of Morris or Morrison. The young passenger tried to stop her driving. There was a tussle. He didn’t die.

Brian Lynch

Brian Lynch

Third to give a contact was Irish medium Brian Lynch, who addressed the first chair in the fifth row.

A young man. Tragic death connected with a car. Never regained consciousness. Lost consciousness very quickly. No one particularly to blame. Name of Peter. Paul and Michael are on this side of life. In younger days the young man was skating on thin ice, but that doesn’t mean his life was reckless. Extrovert personality. His mother is still alive. She misses him so much – it’s as if the clock stopped for her. The name of Robert, or Bobby, on this side of life.

There was a time in his life when the young man didn’t keep the right company. He had a slight altercation with police but it was superficial. May be related to the sitter, or they could know his family. There’s a photo on his headstone. There was a grandfather who passed from cancer.

Main reason for communication is to get a message to the mother. She’s not too well, receiving medical care. The young man has been through before. Family would be open to mediumship or spiritual churches – they’re Spiritualist-friendly. Young man’s death had big repercussions for the family. They’re a bit divided since his passing. He’s come for the love of his mother.

Paul Brereton

Paul Brereton

Last to give a communication was Nottingham-based Paul Brereton. He believed it would be for a female sitter in the second row from the back, the seat against the wall.

A woman with a chest condition. Breathing affected. A character. Joined in parties and celebrations. Liked to play cards, especially Snap. A gentleman, father connection. Lung issues – smoker. Grandmother ruled the roost. She moved with the times.

A little dog, Cavalier size. Connections with London. Name of Charles. Memories of piano music and Christmas. Communicator played tricks with family. Someone on the earthplane is going round and round in circles. Name of Jones. Kings Avenue, possibly in London. Connections with Scotland – Aberdeen.

Problems in the family. Water not yet gone under bridge. Decisions to make. A crossroads to do with the church the sitter belongs to. Grandmother had cold legs – a circulation problem. A Singer sewing machine. Dressmaking. Made dolls’ clothes. Carnations significant. Communicator bringing a red rose and removes thorns because the sitter has been hurt.

You’ll see from the above that great detail was contained in these messages, despite their being delivered to an empty chair. The acid test, of course, would be whether the recipients occupying the designated chairs could accept any of it.

The moment of truth!

Following a break for the mediums, students were invited to make their way to the library and sit wherever they chose. They had no idea what to expect because they knew nothing of the experiment. The mediums came on to the platform and took their seats (still looking decidedly nervy) and Eric Hatton explained to the audience what had taken place while they’d been having dinner.

Eric Hatton

Eric Hatton


Eileen’s message was then read out to those sitting in her two adjacent designated chairs. Since she hadn’t been able to choose between those chairs, it was no surprise to discover that their occupants were connected. Space won’t allow me to record the recipients’ responses point by point. Suffice it to say that, with the exception of two items, the communication was accepted in its entirety. A stunning result – and a very relieved medium!

Jackie’s information was equally well received, though there was some initial confusion concerning the recipient. This was because some of the evidence given was known to others in the room, including Eric, since it related to an event that had taken place in a part of the UK from which several of those present had come. Nevertheless, as with Eileen’s message, the vast majority of detail was accepted.

Sadly, Brian was not quite so fortunate, through no fault of his own. His reference to the young man connected to a car was accepted by the recipient, but she had apparently been the driving instructor and had long since lost contact with the man’s family and knew nothing of their circumstances. She was therefore unable to confirm or deny any of the detailed information offered. Brian is highly respected for his evidential accuracy and it must have been a disappointment to him that, for whatever reason, the young man had communicated to someone who was not in a position to validate much of the evidence.

Paul’s communication did not instantly find its home, but was quickly recognised by a sitter close by. Though a few details were not recognised, the significant majority were readily accepted. Those who know Paul’s bubbly and open personality will understand when I say that the obvious relief and pleasure on his face were a sight to behold!

Stansted Hall

Stansted Hall, home of the Arthur Findlay College.

Questions, questions

This experiment was fascinating to observe and raises some very interesting questions about the mechanics of communication. Most remarkable, of course, is that these mediums were able to deliver astonishingly detailed information without any direct link to the recipient. No voice to link with, no yes or no, in fact a complete absence of feedback.

So here are my own questions:

Given that the medium feels drawn to a particular empty chair, is it possible that precognition of the eventual occupant is operating?

Alternatively, is there a possible (completely unconscious) link between medium and potential occupant, prompting the occupant to sit in that designated chair? One sitter swapped seats before the messages were read out, thus ending up in one of the designated chairs. Could this be a case of that unconscious telepathic link in action?

The young communicator (through Brian) who provided lots of evidence to a sitter who had no contact with his family and therefore couldn’t corroborate much of the information, was clearly keen to use the opportunity presented by the presence of an acquaintance. What was his purpose in doing this?

What does this experiment reveal about advance planning in the spirit world?

Let me know your thoughts, and of course, your questions!

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