The church, which first opened its doors in 1938, has suffered from severe dampness for years. With the four-storey building dating back to the late 1800’s, one room in particular was uninhabitable due to damp and was therefore disregarded and used as a storage room, until now.
Thanks to a generous £5,000 investment from the SNU, the church has been able to transform the room, which was previously covered in mould, into a fully functioning Spiritualist circle room. The investment meant that the church only needed to contribute £1150 to have the work completed, which included having the walls fitted with Newton Membrane and a full re-plaster.
A double glazed window and carpet were also kindly donated by two members of the church, helping to complete the project on an even tighter budget.
The president, Sonia Bewick, who has been at the church since 1964, commented:
“We’re thrilled to have a brand new circle room for the church and are so grateful that with help from the SNU and kind members of the church, we have finally been able to transform the room which was in such a bad state. For years, committee after committee have tried to get this work completed but have been unsuccessful and we even have a brass door plaque to prove it.
“The plaque was left to us by the previous committee and reads ‘The Helen Duncan Room’, showing their intentions to honour the famous Spiritualist who once held a séance in this room. We have now dedicated this special room to her and have put up the plaque in pride of place.”
Helen Duncan was the last women to be imprisoned under the British Witchcraft Act in 1944, and is now the subject of a national campaign which aims to get her name cleared and have her pardoned. She visited the church in 1940 and on 11th and 12th July held séances in the exact room which has now been transformed, with each sitter paying 10 shillings each to take part.
The room, now named ‘The Helen Duncan Room’, will be used to hold closed circles and will help budding Spiritualists to develop their mediumistic ability.