The Unexplained: Mysteries in the Museum

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his Psychic Museum. The photograph appeared in a 1927 issue of Strand Magazine.

One of the most interesting objects in the Psychic Museum was a beautiful chalk drawing.  It had the caption, “Unbelievable But True.”

There is a strange mystery from 1868 that comes to us from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Psychic Museum.

What is this Psychic Museum?  It was founded by Doyle, himself, an avid spiritualist, in 1925, in London.

Located at 2 Victoria Street, it served as a display for his collectibles: stacks of pages of automatic writings and drawings done by mediums and clairvoyants of the day, transcripts of the dialogue of seances that had been held, there were photographs pertaining to spiritualism and images of spirits and ectoplasm, and there were even some paraffin molds–all the paraphernalia Doyle had been able to amass on his favorite subject.

In an article written by Doyle, titled The Psychic Gloves, Doyle explains how sometimes at seances, an invisible phantom enters the room of the ongoing seance and plunges his phantom hands into a pail filled with warm paraffin.

The phantom is then asked to disappear from the room and in his absence remain paraffin hands on the seance table.  The paraffin hands were marked by exceptional detail and there were several safeguards in place to prove there was no trickery.  The museum included several samples of these paraffin phantom hands.

Sara Marie Hogg

The letterhead for the museum stationery explained further that the site, located on the ground floor and basement, was several things:  a combination psychic book shop, library and museum.

The book shop-museum was behind Westminster Abbey, and not far from Arthur Conan Doyle’s London residence, a flat in Buckingham Palace Mansions.

The shop offered a large supply of psychic books for purchase, some books that could be rented for a term for a few guineas, and there was a medium available on site, and offers of free advice.

Doyle wished students of psychic matters would visit the book shop and browse, and also lend any of their own books to the library that they weren’t currently using.  He hoped the shop would be a catalyst for fascinating conversations.

The book shop had three employees, including Doyle’s daughter, Miss Mary Conan Doyle.  Beneath the book shop was the museum area, with exhibits pertaining to spirits and seances.

Leonard Crocombe did an article about the museum in The Strand Magazine.  It included an interview with Arthur Conan Doyle, May, 1827.

One of the most interesting objects in the museum was a beautiful chalk drawing.  It had the caption, “Unbelievable But True.”

The image is of a levitator, English medium,

D. D. Home.  It was when he was seen by three unshakable and upstanding witnesses as he floated horizontally out of a window of his third story apartment building, then floated horizontally back in the adjoining window.

This incident occurred on December 13, 1868.

This same levitator, Home, had once floated vertically over a seance table and over the heads of the seance participants.

The museum was eventually closed after a few months because it’s existence was not able to pay its high rent.  The contents found new, unknown, homes elsewhere.  Some items may have been placed in storage areas that were destroyed during the blitz.  That is another mystery.

The chalk drawing, itself,  may no longer  exist, but it was published in UHU Magazine in November of 1927.  We can view printed copies of the striking illustration:

“Unbelievable But True.”  I can’t help but wonder.

Please click HERE to find Sara Marie Hogg’s mystery novel, Gris Gris, on Amazon.

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