Pots, Principles and Rainbows: SpELS on the road in Longton…

@SpELS has been on the road in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, collecting information and materials for our forthcoming exhibition at Gladstone Pottery Museum

Longton Spiritualist Church

Longton Spiritualist Church

Longton has a rich history with the Spiritualist movement. Gordon Higginson, the longest serving President of the Spiritualists National Union, was born in Longton in 1918. His mother Fanny, also a Spiritualist medium, was already a member of Longton Church and he went on to serve there for most of his life. Today Longton Church continues as one of the leading centres for Spiritualism and is rightly proud of its heritage.

You may be more familiar with another aspect of Stoke-on-Trent’s heritage – its pottery industry. Longton Spiritualist Church is actually right next door to the Gladstone Pottery Museum where you can learn all about this aspect of Stoke’s history; and we’re delighted to say the two went hand-in-hand yesterday as we were presented by Longton Church President with one of the first objects that will feature in our exhibition at Gladstone.

The Seven Principles

The Seven Principles

This decorative plate, produced for the Church by Longton-based ‘Edwardian China’, lists the seven principles of Spiritualism. The ‘Seven Principles’ – familiar to all Spiritualists today – developed from the work of Emma Hardinge Britten, a medium, Spiritualist and inspirational public speaker who played a pivotal part in bringing Spiritualists together across the country in an organised movement.

When in 1899 Emma herself ‘passed to Spirit’, Spiritualists across the UK and America felt they had lost one of their most eloquent advocates. Nonetheless, the Spiritualist belief that the soul lives on beyond death meant mourners at her grave did not feel entirely bereft. As reflected in these words by a Mr Walter Howell in attendance that day:

“…tears will come and the darkness of earthly sorrow will hide the light, yet we know that behind the cloud the sunlight of the world of spirit shines, and that she whom we loved is there in that glory, glimpses of which pierce through the rifts and cause the rainbow of promise to shine in the mist of our tears…”

As we left Longton Church clutching our plate, the rain was pouring down over Stoke-on-Trent. But then a beautiful rainbow appeared, stretching right over the Gladstone Pottery Museum next door. Perhaps it was Emma’s rainbow of promise, shining down on her continued legacy..!

Gladstone Pottery Museum under a 'rainbow of promise'..?

Gladstone Pottery Museum under a ‘rainbow of promise’..?

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