Her Trial For Being A Witch Caused Quite An Uproar In London After She Said She Summoned The Spirit of A Sailor Who Had Gone Down On A Battleship Along With Over 800 Men

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A Scottish woman named Helen Duncan is often referred to as Britain’s last witch, but the truth is that she wasn’t really a witch at all.

Instead, she was a spiritualist and medium who was among one of the most famous showwomen of the twentieth century. As part of her acts, she would slip into a trance-like state and, from her mouth, produce spirits of the dead using a slimy cloud-like substance called ectoplasm.

Her ghostly claims and witchlike activities eventually got her into trouble, and she became the last person to be imprisoned under the Witchcraft Act of 1735.

Helen Duncan was born in 1897. Even as a child, she was known for claiming to possess magical powers. When she was eighteen, she married Henry Duncan, an invalid from the First World War. They had six children together.

In order to provide for her family, Helen conducted seances with the help of her so-called spirit guides, a Scottish Australian named Albert, and Peggy, a little girl who danced, sang, and swung about. By the 1930s, she was traveling throughout Britain, shocking and entertaining audiences with her antics.

During that time period, a lot of families had suffered losses of loved ones as a result of the First World War. People were especially interested in the spirit world, which provided Helen with many opportunities to supposedly reunite families with their deceased relatives.

Helen was accused of being a fraud on several occasions. For instance, in 1928, a photographer attended one of her seances and took a series of flash photographs. The bright bulb revealed that the spirits she had conjured were nothing more than papier-mache masks draped over old sheets.

And in 1931, the London Spiritualist Alliance (LSA) examined Helen’s ectoplasm and discovered that it was a combination of cheesecloth and paper mixed with egg whites that she would swallow and then regurgitate during a seance. Despite these investigations, Helen remained popular, and they did not deter her career.

But in 1933, she was arrested for fraud after an audience member grabbed Peggy and exposed the spirit guide to be made from a cloth undervest.

Tombaky – illustrative purposes only

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