Stella C. (Cranshaw) (b. 1902)(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Stella Crenshaw was a nurse and a medium discovered in 1923 by British psychical researcher Harry Price. Price met her on a train, and they conversed about psychical research. Stella was not greatly interested in her psychic powers and only reluctantly agreed to work with Price.
Known as “Stella C.,” she sat for investigations at the National Laboratory of Psychical Research in London. One of the first things Price noticed was the drop in temperature when Stella was working. Tables of temperatures were kept that showed that on every occasion of a séance the temperature would fall anywhere from 1 degree to as much as 20.5 degrees. It was presumed that the energy was absorbed by the medium to produce the effects.
Stella was able to move things psychokinetically, leading Price to invent his “telekinetoscope;” described by Stuart Holroyd in The Supernatural: Minds Without Boundaries (1975), “(It) contained two electrical contacts that normally required a two-ounce pressure to bring them together. They were protected from physical interference by a soap bubble, a glass shade, and a cage. When the electrical contact was made a red bulb would light up.” At her first attempt, Stella caused the bulb to light. Examination showed that the soap bubble and the glass shade were intact. Stella had caused the two electrical contacts to come together by the force of her mind. At another sitting, she levitated a heavy table and then allowed it to fall and be completely demolished.
Stella was subjected to a number of Price’s inventions, all designed to prevent any sort of fraud on the part of the medium. He even had a system of infrared projectors in the walls and ceiling of the séance room and he designed and had built (by H. W. Pugh) a fraudproof table. This table could hold items such as musical instruments while keeping them inaccessible to the medium. Stella caused the instruments to play and she also produced ectoplasm. Roy Stemman described, “Stella Cranshaw sat at this table with other sitters, two of whom held her hands and feet throughout the proceedings. Soon after she went into trance, sounds were heard coming from within the table, such as the ringing of a bell or the playing of a harmonica. The trapdoor in the table top was pushed up from inside and when a handkerchief was placed over it sitters felt finger-like forms moving beneath it.”
Stella worked with Price for five years but was never greatly interested in her own abilities. She never charged for any of her sittings and had no interest in any other psychic work. In 1928, she married Leslie Deacon and ceased to give séances altogether.
Stemman, Roy: The Supernatural: Spirits and Spirit Worlds. London: Aldus, 1975