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Fifty Years A Medium by Estelle Roberts

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 1889 - 1919

 

"This girl must be called Estelle, for one day she will become a star."

 

These words were uttered by my grandmother as she gazed down at her daughter’s child who had entered this world barely two hours before.

 

In later years my mother told me of this incident for which there was no apparent reason. My grandmother had no reputation in the family as a prophetess, and no doubt would have been shocked at any suggestion that she had psychic powers. However, my father had different ideas in the matter of names. For the good and sufficient reasons that I was born on May 10th 1889, and that we were then living at May Cottage in Kensington, he chose to call me May. And so, in due course, there appeared a new entry in the registry of births - May Estelle Wills, daughter of Edwin Blackstone Wills and Isobel, his wife.

 

My parents were good kindly people, typical of the Victorian age. They had a family of eight children, five girls and three boys, and we all lived in Kensington in comfortable but not affluent circumstances. In company with my brothers and sisters, I grew up a very ordinary, unremarkable child with the sole exception that from the moment of my earliest recollections I heard voices which the other members of the family could not. Though I knew nothing of Spiritualism I soon came to recognize them as the voices of the spirit people, and knowing myself to be part of them as they were part of me, I never had the slightest fear of them. My father, however, had no understanding of such things and, although he was always a just man, he nevertheless frequently felt it his duty to correct my allegedly riotous imagination by means of his leather


 

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belt! I was repeatedly told that such thing were evil, and because of this until the day of my enlightenment, I was haunted by the fear that perhaps my mind was little "touched."

 

One of my brothers, Lionel, who had dies before I was born, was among my earliest visitors. He often used to come of a morning or evening, and I would talk to him. He was then only a child, but I watched him grow through the years to maturity. He still comes to me. Other spirit children of my own age would also visit me and I would talk aloud to them. It was hearing me speaking apparently to myself on these occasions that was the main source of alarm to my parents.

 

Looking back after long experiences of psychic phenomena, I am convinced that these early visitations were a preparation for my future work, to allow me to accustom myself to their presence and to converse freely with them at all times.

 

My first major psychic experience as a child was in the form of a vision, and its impression remains as vivid today as it was then at the age of seven. It occurred at about eight o'clock on a sunny May morning when my sister Dolly and I were getting dressed, ready to set off for our daily lessons at the local school. I had a mass of thick black hair, and I was standing before a mirror in front of the window endeavoring to arrange it when I became aware of a movement beyond the window. Looking up I saw a dazzling vision of a knight in shining armor, poised in the sky. Of majestic, life-size proportions, he was encased from head to foot in armor. Each leg was sheathed in steel plate running right down to his feet and ending in points at the toes. His body was clad in chain mail, on the front of which was a blazing red cross. On his head was helmet, and though his face was covered by a visor I could see a pair of piercing eyes shining through the eye-slits.

 

At the back of his helmet he wore a crest, which I could not see sufficiently well to describe, and in front of him he held a two­handed sword pointing to the sky. His right hand grasped the hilt, which was studded with gems, while his left hand gripped his right wrist in support. On his hands were gauntlets. The whole figure, and particularly the sword, glinted dazzlingly like sunlight reflected by snow, and from that moment onward I have always thought of him as my White Knight.

 

As I watched him, he slowly lowered the blade of the sword and extended the point towards me as though in salute. This action must have released powerful vibrations towards my body, for I


 

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suddenly felt myself go weak at the knees, and my stomach seemed to turn over.

 

The vision persisted. Three times I glanced away, to find it still there when I looked back. Then I called to my sister, "Dolly, come and look!" Dolly looked, and a moment later to my horror, she had collapsed in a faint. The vision then disappeared as mysteriously as it had come.

 

Alarmed by Dolly's fainting fit, I called out to my parents, who rushed in and bore my sister away. When she had recovered sufficiently, my father questioned her, in the course of which she described the figure exactly as I had seen it. It made a great impression on me because this was the first time any member of my family had seen or heard any of the spirit people I knew so well.

 

My poor parents were most disturbed and puzzled by the occurrence, particularly as I had no opportunity of talking to my sister and exchanging impressions with her before my father questioned her.

 

I have seen my White Knight only once since then. This was years later on the occasion of my first meeting at the Queens Hall in London. Not unnaturally I was somewhat nervous at the prospect of addressing my first meeting, but as I stood up to speak, I suddenly saw him suspended above the audience. Again he lowered his sword and pointed it at me, causing me to shake violently, as though the rays of the sword were disintegrating my body by the strength of their vibrations. Shaw Desmond, the distinguished writer, was on the platform with me and, unaware of what was happening, asked anxiously if I was ill. I shook my head and stood waiting, wondering whether I should hear my Knight's voice. There came no sound, but unbidden into my mind came

words, "To serve and not to yield." I knew they had come from

him.

 

A medium, taking her place on a public platform, relies entirely upon her spirit friends, for without them she can do nothing. It is only at the ultimate moment before addressing her audience that she becomes aware whether or not her gift will manifest itself. No dress rehearsal, no prompter in the wings can help her. She stands alone save only for her spirit communicators, and this was the first time I had been called upon to take the platform at the Queen's Hall. It was the beginning of an important series of fortnightly meetings and a most significant moment in my career. There can be no other explanation than that the Knight had come


 

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to show me I was not alone in my mission to spread the truth of survival after death - that the blazing red cross on his breast was symbolical of the crusade upon which I was setting out.

 

I had an ordinary schooling in the local council school, which I left at the age of fourteen. I had continued without a break to meet my spirit people. They now started to warn me of events, which afterwards came to pass. At such moments I would receive intensely strong impressions about future happenings, accompanied by the certain knowledge of how they would work out.

 

One day, shortly after my fathers death some years later, he returned in spirit form to my mother's house. I can see him now, standing at the top of the stairs and speaking words which filled me with alarm. "My dear," he said, "I am worried about Bella."

 

Bella was my sister, and for the next two or three days I hugged my father's words secretly to myself in a fever of worry and anxiety. On the fourth day the blow fell. Bella became ill - very ill - and for a time I was certain that her last earthy hours had come. Then to my intense relief she slowly began to recover and eventually was quite well again.

 

It was natural that my father should have been concerned for Bella's well-being. It was no less natural, having regard for my tender age and the circumstances of my father's visit to me, that I should put the blackest, most dread interpretation on his words, and, as a result, I suffered needless agonies of suspense. It seemed to me that there was a moral to be drawn from this experience, and that there was a lesson to be learned. That, at least, was how I looked at it. As a consequence, from that day to this, I have always guarded carefully against the slightest tendency to read more into the words which come to me from my voices than is intended, or, indeed, is strictly there.

 

At fifteen I went to work as a nursemaid to a family in Turnham Green. I loved children and here there were three of them to look after. They occupied nearly all my time for the next three years. Then I met and married Hugh Warren Miles.

 

Hugh was born at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Park, and had received his education as a Bluecoat Boy at Christ's Hospital. His stepmother, whose maiden name was Evelyn Galt, was a sister of the wife of the President Wilson.


 

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He had a kind and sympathetic nature, and we were as happy as any two young people can be. It was a great joy to me to be with someone to whom I could talk freely about my spirit people, someone who listened and understood. One such occasion was on the morning when I woke up and told him I had seen his Aunt Mary walk through our bedroom during the night. I had never actually met this aunt, yet somehow I knew intuitively that the figure I had seen had been she. We learned later that she had died that night.

 

In due course I found that I again had three children to look after, but this time they were my own, Ivy, Evaline and Iris. They were happy days though we had little on which to live, getting by only with difficulty on my husbands meager wages as a clerk. Hugh was the most generous of men, with the softest of hearts. One day as he was walking home at the end of a week's work, he was so touched by a tale of woe told him by a poor man he gave away his entire week's wages! Imagine my feelings when I had no money with which to buy food for our own children!

 

Eight years after we were married, Hugh fell ill. It was thought at first that he was suffering from consumption. Sir William Fairbanks, physician to the Royal Family, who was a friend of my husband's family, arranged for him to be examined at Brompton Hospital. The diagnosis revealed that he was suffering from Bright's disease. He was never able to work regularly again, although he tried hard to do so.

 

I had to be the breadwinner. With an invalid husband and three children to maintain, our meager sickness allowance of ten shillings a week was woefully inadequate. I found employment doing housework from eight in the morning until two in the afternoon at a nursing home in Twickenham. The pay was small and insufficient for our needs, but it enabled us to keep going even though I had many a time to go without meals in order to feed my little ones. Clothes were an even greater difficulty, and the only solution to the shoe problem I could find was to stuff the soles with newspaper. It was not very effective in wet weather.

 

One snowy morning I set out to work without having eaten and collapsed in the snow. I was found by the police, who took me home, where I had to remain in bed for several days. The doctor who called advised me strongly to take my husband to live by the sea and I, willing to do anything to help him, readily agreed. We went to Hastings.


 

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Again Hugh tried to work, but his dropsical condition made it impossible. We rented a flat in Hastings and I began to take in paying guests, but as a result of trying to nurse my husband, look after the children, and take care of the guests as well, my health broke down and I again had to take to my bed.

 

My husband called in a doctor, a Frenchman, who examined me and made the obvious pronouncement that I needed rest. How well I knew it, but what rest could there be with four hungry mouths dependent on my efforts! I had become very thing, and Hugh anxiously pointed this out to the doctor, who replied with true Gallic gallantry: "Did you ever know a thoroughbred horse that was fat?"

 

Life was desperately hard during these years, full of worry, work and discomfort. But, looking back, I am convinced that it was all part of the pattern of things to come - indispensable training for the work I was to do. If you have not suffered, how can you understand the suffering of others? Without sympathy for those in distress, how can you help to alleviate burdens? At the time, of course, no such thoughts entered my head; I was much too busy coping with more immediate problems. Nor indeed did I understand the significance of the presence of the spirit people who continued, as ever, to share my everyday life. They were as much a part of my environment as were the ordinary people in the street; the world would have been a strange and empty place if they had suddenly ceased to be there.

 

The months passed. My husband became progressively weaker, until the day I returned home at lunch-time to find two of the children standing at his bedside. He was obviously very ill, much worse than when I had left him that morning. With an overwhelming sense of shock I knew that he was dying. Quickly I sent the children to a neighbor, who I knew would look after them. Then I sat alone in the room with him and held his hand. He was only spasmodically conscious and did not know what he was saying for much of the time. But every now and then he would have lucid moments, in one of which he said to me: "You will be alright, darling. God will take care of you."

 

I stayed with him until far into the night. He died while looking at me. At the moment of his passing I heard strange, terrifying noises coming from the kitchen. It was as though someone was rending linen and, every now and then, cracking a whip. It was an eerie, uncanny experience which, coming at that particular time,


 

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was unnerving. For some moments I sat unable to move; then the sounds ceased.

 

I looked again at dear Hugh, recalling the happiness we had enjoyed together, and while I sat there I saw his spirit leave the body. It emerged from the back of his head and gradually molded itself into an exact replica of his earthly body. It remained suspended about a foot above the body, lying in the same position, and attached to it by a cord to the head. Then the cord broke and the spirit form floated away, passing through the wall.

 

I went into the kitchen to get some water to wash his face and hands, and an astonishing sight met my eyes. All the wallpaper on one side of the twelve-foot room was hanging from the wall in strips. This, then, was the explanation of the rending noise, which I had heard as my husband died. It was the first physical manifestation of the spirit power I had experienced. I could not explain the occurrence, yet I intuitively understood its meaning. It was, I believed a symbol of the rending of the veil.

 

I had no money to buy flowers, so I took the children to the Downs, where we gathered bunches of the little purple flowers which my husband had loved so well. All of us joined in weaving them into a wreath.

 

On three consecutive nights after he died, he called to me. On the third night I heard his voice say: "I need you. I want you to come to me."

 

"But how?" I asked, distraught by grief. "By dying."

 

"But, darling, I can't do that," I said. "There are the children to care for."

 

He said no more. The stress of his passing after his long illness must have been great. It was natural that he should want me.

 

He appeared in the room once more before the burial. He said, as if in apology: "I did not understand. I do not need you now. What you have always told us is right. Here, all live on and cannot die. It is quite wonderful."

 

Deeply moved, I said; "You live, and others live. It is the message I must tell the world."

 

The Coming of Red Cloud