Stella C. (Cranshaw) (ca. 1950)

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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. Till-yard.


Tabori, Paul. Companions of the Unseen. London: H. A. Humphrey, 1968.

Turner, James, ed. Stella C. An Account of Some Original Experiments in Psychical Research. London: Souvenir Press, 1973.