Fifty Years A Medium by Estelle Roberts






Hannen Swaffer, Swaff as he was affectionately called, worked with me on public platforms for many years. His connection with Fleet street is well known; his interest in all the work that I did with the press was great. During the years, my mediumship has been the subject of several series, some lasting many weeks, in the Daily Sketch, the Sunday Pictorial, as it was then known, and The People, the paper for whom Swaffer himself wrote a weekly article. As a direct result of all this he paid me a compliment which I have never forgotten; he introduced me as "Estelle, the medium who made Spiritualism respectable." I know there are many who still decry Spiritualism as fraudulent, fraught with charlatans, but generally speaking, they have never studied the subject in depth. All religions have their false prophets and those who are only too willing to gather personal gain from the sorrow of others. Spiritualism is no exception.


Over the past ten years attitudes have changed, Spiritualism is now freely discussed, and people in all walks of life are willing to express their opinion. Nevertheless, I have a great admiration for those, who having become well known, even famous, are still willing to have their conviction, which is often a very personal matter, expressed in print. Peter Sellers is one such person and in the book Peter Sellers : the Mask Behind the Mask, by Peter Evans, he leaves no doubt of his belief in Spiritualism. The author writes: "He (Peter Sellers) discusses the subject with respect that falls short of unction, with authority that is not dogmatic; he speaks with care because it is important, but the care does not become caution, for caution is the defense of the weak, the first barricade of the uncommitted."


My son Terry met Peter at the outbreak of war when they both were in Ilfracombe, and they saw each other occasionally through


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the ensuing years. My life has always been preoccupied with work, my relaxation was gardening, and I doubt if I have seen a dozen films through my entire life. Therefore, when Terry asked me if I would give an appointment to Peter Sellers I must confess that it meant very little to me, because I had never seen him either face to face or on the screen. It must be about eight years ago that he and Anne, his first wife, came to my home at Esher in Surrey. Red Cloud, as always, was ready with the evidence Peter was seeking. He had brought from the spirit world a young writer, Larry Stevens, who had died suddenly and had been writing some of the early God Shows. He was immediately recognized by Peter who told Peter Evans: "He sent messages that Estelle Roberts could not possibly have known about. He used words and whole phrases that we only used together, It was . . . convincing." Other messages and proof of a personal nature were given and Peter Sellers knew that they were true.


At a later sitting, some time after this, I told Peter of the presence of Dan Leno, the most revered comic of his age, and was able to assure him that he was guiding and helping Peter in his own career. Unknown to me, he had been personally aware for many years that he was being protected and led in his professional life by someone from the other side, and he accepted this information "with a sort of satisfied relief, not surprised because it figured somehow." Peter is convinced that Dan Leno is his guiding force. When his adored Mother, Peg, passed over, Peter again came to see me. She proved to him that she was very much alive, relating things known only to herself and Peter which I will not repeat here because all communications between my sitters and their friends and relatives from the spirit world are no concern of mine. The author, Peter Evans, likens my affection for Peter, which has developed over the years, to that of a "childless aunt." This is not entirely accurate. I recognized in Peter those two states of mind which I have often experienced, loneliness and the desire to be a perfectionist. He is psychic and he is aware of it. Indeed, he would make a fine medium, but his metier is to bring happiness to millions in other ways. Because of his psychic potentiality he has the awareness of events before they occur; the knowledge of the spirit presence with him; a glimpse of that wider vision of what life is all about. In some inexplicable way this awareness makes one feel at times a person apart, thereby creating a great sense of loneliness. To be a perfectionist in an imperfect world often causes heartbreak because one cannot compromise.


Ginette Spanier lives in Paris, where she is connected with one of the leading French fashion houses, but to English people and


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Americans she will be known for her appearances on television, her many lectures, and her articles in the Press. I asked Ginette somewhat diffidently if I might relate her story about Nancy Spain. Nancy, of course, was one of the most famous journalist and radio and television personalities of her day. Her reply was a request that she be allowed to write it herself. And here it is:


Nancy Spain was killed on March 21st, 1964, when the private aeroplane in which she had gone to report the Grand National crashed beside the course.


A week later, friends of mine who were not very intimately connected with Nancy Spain received a cryptic spirit message saying: "Spain, tell Jenny live wire still." They knew me by my name, Ginette, but as they were not acquainted with any other friend of Nancy's, they telephoned and asked tentatively if she had ever called me "Jenny." I explained that, unlike almost all my other friends, she never called me anything else. Jenny, as a matter of fact, is my real name. And, strangely enough, I almost always called Nancy, "Spain", two details my friends did not know. They then felt the message must be for me, and passed it on.


After this, Nancy constantly came to them, giving messages for me, many of which they could not understand, but which made complete sense to me. She even sometimes used journalistic terms: for instance, when stressing a point she said, "Beg, repeat beg," just as I had heard her do when dictating a story to her newspaper over the telephone. Then, on February 17th, 1965, she said to them: "Spain, tell Jenny I tried to help you on Tuesday" (they had visited Estelle Roberts), "but many calling. Polite Spain missed bus." A typical Nancy Spain quip!


At their next sitting with Estelle on May 17th 1965, one of them said to Estelle, "Could I ask about some one specific?" "So long as you give me a name only, without identifying the person," Estelle agreed. "Is there a Nancy there?" was the next query. And, smiling Estelle said, "Yes, she's been standing back and Red Cloud is bringing her forward. She died very suddenly didn't she? I am getting breathlessness and then a bang, a shock." Then, looking extremely surprised she exclaimed, "It's Nancy Spain! She says, I'm Nancy Spain."


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There followed a very characteristic Spain kind of conversation with messages for me personally - though Estelle had no idea who "Jenny" was and my friends did not enlighten her. She spoke also about the two boys she had brought up and Estelle's comment on her whole way of speaking and behaving was, "My word, she's quick on the uptake!" She added, She's saying, 'I never realized we had passed through death when we crashed in that field'." And then: "She's gone, but I think she'll come again."


On September 27th, 1965, when my friends again sat with Estelle Roberts, Nancy Spain came and said, among other things, "It's very wonderful here. That ‘plane wasn't in good order. It should have been more completely overhauled. But one accepts one's fate." She then teased Estelle about her coming "over there."


Finally, on May 6th, 1966, I myself went to Estelle. The appointment was made for me in my married name, which would be quite unknown to Estelle. She had never seen me before, or I, her. Indeed, it was the first time I had ever visited a medium, and I hardly knew what to expect, in spite of the fact that I was now deeply interested and very willingly accepted the messages which came through my friends. But there is all the difference between hearing about things and experiencing them oneself.


After Estelle had reported the presence of various members of my family she said, "Oh, Nancy Spain is here!" My friends had, of course, not mentioned a word to Estelle about my knowing Nancy. Estelle described vividly the excitement and eagerness displayed, and said, "She is so excited she has to be calmed. But she says she did not suffer at all. It was instantaneous." There followed unmistakable Nancy Spain type of talk and repartee, causing Estelle to laugh and say, "She's very quick and has great humor."


Then Estelle said, "She says you are wearing something of hers." I could not imagine what this was, thinking in terms of some article of clothing, and I answered, "No." "Oh, yes," Estelle assured me. "It's something round your neck." As I had only pearls which had no connection with Nancy I shook my head again. "Yes, yes, " Estelle insisted. "She does this," putting her hands high up round her neck. Then I understood. "Of course! It's my ear-rings! She gave me the


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ear-rings I'm wearing. It was only when your fingers reached up to your ears that I realized what she meant."


On two other occasions I visited Estelle. Each time Nancy came and gave incontrovertible proof that it was really she, giving me private messages about her life, about our friendship, about the boys. She was also anxious to show she was often with me, giving small but telling details to prove this. At one point Estelle said, "She's telling me you have a jacket of hers which is hanging in your cupboard - in your flat in Paris, but she says you have only worn it about twice." This was quite right. She also commented on the fact that I had changed the place of her photograph, also in my flat in Paris. A minor detail which could not possibly be known to anyone in England.


Each time she came there was no mistaking the characteristic - almost unique - vitality and eagerness of Nancy Spain, coupled with her warm excitement at achieving the contact she wanted. About Spiritualism itself, she said, regretfully, "I wish I had known fully about it before."


Two other sitters whom I am delighted to have known for many years are Miss Louise Cook and her sister Miss Ida Cook, better known to the public as Mary Burchell, the romantic novelist. Their visits to me commenced some ten years ago, but I shall always remember them for their great courage before the war in seeking out Jewish people in danger in Germany and managing to get them out of the country. They also smuggled out refugees' jewelry often at risk to themselves. On one occasion, a diamond brooch of great size was brought out by Ida wearing it quite openly on an inexpensive Marks & Spencer Jumper, thereby creating the impression that it was of no value, although its subsequent sale maintained its rightful owner for a difficult period before re­establishment in a new life. Eventually, they received official recognition from the Israeli Government for their work.. They had no idea they were being heroines, and disclaimed being the James Bond type. Nevertheless, such bravery calls for quickness of mind and precision of thought, and it was armed with these two attributes that they approached Spiritualism. They are the friends referred to by Ginette Spanier. Their great and absorbing passion for Opera brought about the opportunity of helping Jewish refugees; it also created some of their finest evidence of proof of survival and spirit communication. To them, who have been kind enough to contribute the following, I offer my gratitude.


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One of the most impressive of Estelle Roberts' many psychic gifts is her fantastic capacity for giving actual names of those communicating from the other side. The speed, the accuracy, the sheer brilliance of such a display can be compared to the passage work of a virtuoso violinist, as the names go out to be claimed and identified by the astonished sitter, one after the other. We particularly recall the time we took our mother, then 87, to visit Estelle.


The first name, understandably, was our father's William, but Estelle added immediately, "He says, 'Call me Will.' " - the name by which Mother called him when they were young. There followed in rapid succession Mother's own mother, her two favorite boy cousin's, an uncle, her grandmother, her great-aunt, and a cousin from the other side of her family, who gave his name as Horace, and said Ernest was with him. Mother quickly identified Horace, but it was not until later that she remembered Ernest was Horace's twin brother who died young. Then came a dazzling succession of the friends of her youth, before Estelle returned to the subject of our father and said, "I think he had a will of his own,"


This made us both smile because, in point of fact, it was Mother who was the more determined of the two. But she said at once, "Odd you should say that. It was his favorite joke when we were engaged. As his name was Will, he used to say to me, 'Now you can never say you haven't got a Will of your own.' To tell the truth," she added, looking back critically over sixty years, "he made the joke rather too often. I got a bit tired of it!"


After Mother herself passed over, two years later, she came easily and frequently to speak to us through Estelle, bringing people and proofs too numerous to detail here. She even brought our favorite cat, saying, according to Estelle, "I've brought Iggie with me."


"Iggie?" repeated Estelle. "What a queer name, but I'm sure that's what she's saying. She says, 'That wasn't his real name, but it was what we called him.' " We explained that this was our cat Igor, who was always called Iggie, and Estelle said, "Yes, she has a big cat with her. She says, look at his tail! It's beautiful!' " This was so much Mother having the last word that we both laughed. In his last years Iggie's


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lovely tail grew rather thin, but Mother never would allow anyone to say so. She used to declare indignantly, and quite incorrectly, “Nonsense! It’s a beautiful tail!”


Fascinating though it is to every sitter to receive family names, sometimes less familiar names can provide even more striking proof. Once Estelle said to us, “a woman is pushing her way through to the front, saying, ‘I am Nora Potts.’ “ We hardly had time to gasp out that this was Louise’s music teacher when we were little girls, back in Northumberland during the First World War, when Estelle added, “She is saying, ‘I am not alone. I’ve brought Miss Swann with me.’ “ And she was Ida’s music teacher, the interesting distinction being that although we later knew Miss Potts well enough to call her Nora, Miss Swann remained forever Miss Swann. “There is, “ continued Estelle, “a Mark also belonging to this group. Connected with the last lady.” Miss Swann’s brother was called Mark.


Our interest in music particularly opera, has brought many fascinating personalities to demonstrate their personal survival through Estelle, who would herself be the first to admit that she knows very little about the musical world. On one exciting occasion she sighed and said, “Oh, here’s another of those foreign names coming up! A man, speaking in a very deep voice, from a long way back, I think. It sounds something like, Lablache, La-blache.” With unhesitating delight we greeted the greatest bass singer of the nineteenth century, Luigi Labloche.


Another tremendously welcome visitor once announced himself simply as Jackson. We racked our brains for a Jackson, even back to our schooldays. But the Estelle said, “He says he was the doorkeeper at a famous theater.” “It’s JACKSON!” WE CRIED IN CHORUS. “Jackson who was the stage-door keeper at Covent Garden when we were girls in the gallery queue.” And he went on to prove his identity by naming people who had been in the queue with us, even in one case giving the nickname.


The musical friend who most frequently comes through Estelle when we are there is the famous Viennese conductor, Clemens Krauss, whom we knew well on this side. He identified himself the very first time we visited Estelle, not by name but by action. Estelle said, “He wants me to show you this gesture.” And she began to make the gestures of an


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orchestral conductor. She was puzzled herself and muttered, “Is he painting? No, he can’t be. He’s using both arms.” One of us said, “You are making the right movements, Mrs. Roberts. You just aren’t giving it the right name.” To which she replied with characteristic briskness, “Don’t tell me anything. I’m here to tell you.” And later she got what he was, and provided incontrovertible evidence of his identity.


He remained a constant visitor, and one of the most remarkable pieces of evidence he provided was during the sitting of an American friend of ours, Norman Kelley, the gifted tenor who sang the part of the Magician in Menotti opera, “The Consul,” when the American company first came to London. He was back in England a year or two ago, and we made an appointment for him with Estelle, simply saying he was a friend of ours from the States called Kelley.



She started by saying, “You have something to do with the public, but I haven’t quite got what it is. I will later.” She went on to give him evidential messages which, he says, were amazing. Unknown to Estelle, we had agreed to come and fetch our friends after his sitting and as this was ending we rang the front door bell. In his own words, “I don’t think Estelle even heard the bell, but at that moment she said to me, ‘Oh, how interesting! The conductor friend [Clemens Krauss] of the “girls” has just come in. And he tells me you are an opera singer, but you never sang under him personally, though he met you once!’ “


This was right to the finest detail. Norman had never sung under Krauss, though we once introduced them to each other backstage at Covent Garden. It has always intrigued and charmed us beyond description that, though we had to stand outside the front door and wait, Krauss could go in and give Estelle the missing piece of information about Norman Kelley.


Two weeks before my 80th birthday I was honored at a dinner given by Psychic News and Two Worlds and among the six hundred or more guests the young, middle-aged and elderly were equally represented. In his speech, Maurice Barbanell, Editor of both papers said, “I have lost count of the public platforms Estelle and I have shared during her fifty years service. Estelle is one of those rarities, a versatile medium with all psychic gifts. You mention it, she’s done it. There is no record of better evidence given in


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Spiritualism than in her direct-voice séances. We live in an age of violence when we are seeing the results of materialism raging all over the world.” I rejoice in the sure knowledge that my fifty years have been well spent serving that next world and this by establishing beyond any shadow of doubt, to those seeking to know that life continues after death, those who have gone before can return and prove their survival.