Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert attended séances as early as 1846. In 1861, the year when Prince Albert died, a thirteen-year-old medium, Robert Lees delivered a message from Albert to the Queen in which he called her by a pet name known only to her and her dead husband. Victoria was delighted and she sent her trusted servants to investigate the young medium. After impressing the royal officials with impossible-to-know details of Albert’s personal life, Lees was invited to visit the queen at Buckingham Palace. He went to the palace several times and Victoria was dazzled by his clairvoyant gift; the young medium sounded just like Albert! The Queen asked Lees to become her resident medium but the teenager declined the offer. He then suggested an alternative medium: John Brown. For more than 30 years, Brown enjoyed considerable favour with the Empress who was in thrall to his psychic powers.

Victorian Britain was an age of both profound materialism and spiritualism. Materialists are convinced that only physical stuff exists and this encourages them to mock any belief in the supernatural. Materialists contend that spiritualism is as misguided as Christian faith. There are well over 300 Spiritualist churches in Britain today. Instead of a sermon by a vicar, a medium will attempt to bring back dead people who have ‘passed to the other side’. Further to this, spiritualists are convinced that these spirits are both kindly and benign. Orthodox Christian faith is based on the biblical teaching that genuine mediums do not encounter affable spirits but rather demons that revel in deceiving and enslaving human beings. In the book of Deuteronomy chapter 18 there is a strong condemnation of all occult and spiritualist activity. In 1 Ch 10:13-14 king Saul is rebuked for consulting a medium.

Four Ways of Looking at the Story

Materialist faith: “We believe that there is no unseen spiritual realm. Everything is just physical. Spiritualists and Christians are irrational and foolish.”

Relativist faith: “We believe that spiritualism is true for those who believe in it. If it works for you go and consult mediums and clairvoyants.”

Spiritualist faith: “We believe that dead people are living in a spirit world and it is possible to contact the dead and find out how they are doing ‘on the other side’.”

Christian faith: “We believe that demons masquerade as dead spirits (1 Cor 11:14). These dark powers enslave those who participate in séances.”


1) Is it calamitous trusting in mediums?

2) Was Victoria a defender of the Christian faith?

3) Why does satan masquerade as an angel of light?

Mark Roques

Mark Roques

Mark taught Philosophy and Religious Education at Prior Park College, Bath, for many years. As Director of RealityBites he has developed a rich range of resources for youth workers and teachers. He has spoken at conferences in the UK, Holland, South Korea, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. Mark is a lively storyteller and the author of four books, including The Spy, the Rat and the Bed of Nails: Creative Ways of Talking about Christian Faith. His work is focused on storytelling and how this can help us to communicate the Christian faith. He has written many articles for the Baptist Times, RE Today, Youthscape, Direction magazine and the Christian Teachers Journal.