On 21 March 1919, a committee including a paranormal investigator, a viscountess, a mind reader, a Scotland Yard detective, and a coroner were all assembled in a small flat in Bloomsbury, London. "I have spent years performing with fake mediums all over the world in order to disprove spiritualism," declared their host. "Now at last, I have come across a genuine medium."
The woman who entered the room was wearing a veil that concealed the lower half of her face. She began with a séance which involved a demonstration of "clairvoyance". Each member of the committee had been instructed to bring with them a small personal item or written letter. Before the medium arrived all the objects were placed into a bag, which was then locked inside a box.
The medium held the locked box in her lap, and while the committee watched carefully, she proceeded to not only name the objects within, but to describe them in vivid detail. She divined that one of the objects was a ring belonging to the deceased son of the paranormal investigator, and even read the faded inscription.
Next came a "materialisation" of a spirit. The committee members tied the medium to her chair and the lights in the room were dimmed. The medium appeared to enter into a trance, and a "luminous mist" materialised behind her. One of the committee members later asserted that the mist formed into the shape of an old woman. The form drifted about the room, appearing to pass directly through the medium, before evaporating into the opposite wall.
Was it a genuine glimpse of a world beyond our own? The committee was divided, and while you may not be familiar with most of its members, you have almost certainly heard of the paranormal investigator – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.