Herne, Frank

Herne, Frank

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In 1871, Frank Herne joined forces with Charles Williams, another medium and together they presented some notable séances, including the famous teleportation of Mrs. Guppy (see Apports). Both mediums were English.

Herne’s mediumship started in January, 1869. Initially—according to The Spiritualist of November 19, 1869—he gave clairvoyant readings and described and interpreted the sitter’s aura. Quickly, however, physical mediumship developed and in 1870, at the house of Dr. Jacob Dixon, his body was seen to elongate. Dr. Dixon was a homeopathic doctor and Mesmerist who contributed to the Spiritual Messenger and other similar publications. Herne produced direct voice, psychic music, levitations, and apports. Herne also coached Florence Cook in her early mediumship.

It was during the partnership with Williams that Herne really established himself. The two of them began demonstrating at 61 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, and worked with a spirit guide who claimed to be a deceased buccaneer named John King. In later years their protégée Florence Cook worked with King’s daughter, Katie King. Initially the pair produced rappings and table tipping but when the lights were lowered their repertoire increased to include spirit voices, the touches of spirit hands, spirit lights, flowers and musical instruments floating in the air, and movement of furniture. Their early séances were sponsored by Agnes Nichol Guppy, the very lady they were later to apport.

Frank Podmore seemed unimpressed by the performances of Herne and Williams. He stated, “The sittings were nearly always held in the dark, or under illumination so faint as to preclude any possibility of accurate observation; active investigation on the part of any too curious sitters was discouraged by the linking of hands; suspicious sounds were drowned by the noise of the musical box or by the request on the part of the ’spirits’ that all present should join in singing, so as to promote the harmony of the circle…. Finally, the phenomena presented under such conditions were as a rule palpably within the capacity of any fairly active and intelligent mortal who had acquired with practice some manual dexterity.” However, in 1875 Mr. St. George Stock attempted to expose Herne. Later in 1877, he wrote to The Spiritualist and apologized for the part he played in the attempted exposure.

Sources:

Podmore, Frank: Modern Spiritualism. London: 1902; reprinted as Mediums of the Nineteenth Century. New York: University Books, 1963
Shepard, Leslie A: Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. New York: Avon Books, 1978