Stella C. (Cranshaw) (ca. 1950)
A London hospital nurse whose mediumship was discovered
by psychical researcher Harry Price in 1923. Price met Stella
C. by chance when they shared a compartment on a train. During
a casual conversation on psychical matters it was apparent
she had psychic gifts. She gave a series of sittings in Price’s National
Laboratory of Psychical Research in London. Telekinesis
phenomena were reportedly produced, with changes in
temperature that were recorded by a self-registering thermometer.
On many occasions, the temperature in the séance room
was found to be lower.
Price read a paper on the subject before the Third International
Congress for Psychical Research in Paris. It was entitled
‘‘Some Account of the Thermal Variations as Recorded During
the Trance State of the Psychic Stella C.’’ The physical phenomena
of raps, movements, and levitations of the table took
place under stringent conditions.
Price developed a trick table that has since became famous.
This table was a double table, the inner one fitting into a table
rim of four legs. The space under the table was barred by strips
of wood connecting the legs of the outer table. The inner table
had a shelf nearly as large as the top. This shelf was surrounded
on the sides by gauze of a fine mesh so that the only access to
the space was through a trap door in the table top that was easy
to push open from the inside but very difficult to lift from the
outside. Supposedly, various musical instruments were placed
on the shelf and operators of Stella C. got inside to play the instruments.
Price also developed the telekinetoscope. An electric telegraph
key was placed in brass cup and connected to a red light
under a hermetically sealed glass shade. A soap bubble was
blown over the cup and covered with another glass shade. The
red light would flash only by pressing the telegraph key. The
instrument was placed on the shelf inside the double table. The
telegraph key was repeatedly pressed. The soap bubble, at the
end of the séance, was found unbroken.
A shadow apparatus, consisting of a battery and lamp in a
metal box with a Zeiss telephoto lens as a projector and a Wratten
ruby filter to project a pencil of light on a luminous screen,
was employed to supposedly detect the shape of the invisible
arms that moved the bell or the trumpet. When the light was
switched on, the shadow of the arm appeared on screen.
To quote the result of this experiment in the words of Eric
J. Dingwall
‘‘When the red light was switched on under the table I lay
down on the floor and looked through the passage towards the
luminous screen. From near the medium’s foot, which was invisible,
I saw an eggshaped body beginning to crawl towards the
centre of the floor under the table. It was white and where the
light was reflected it appeared opal. To the end nearest the medium
was attached a thin white neck, like a piece of macaroni.
It advanced towards the centre, and then rapidly withdrew to
the shadow.’’
Stella C. married Leslie Deacon in 1928 and ceased to give
sittings. Her last sittings in 1926 and 1928 were attended by scientists
such as Julian Huxley, Edward Andrade, and R. J. Tillyard.
Tabori, Paul. Companions of the Unseen. London H. A. Humphrey,
Turner, James, ed. Stella C. An Account of Some Original Experiments
in Psychical Research. London Souvenir Press, 1973.

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