Friends of Stansted Hall
The Arthur Findlay College
The original Stansted Hall dates back to1420 and over the years it has had many owners, At around 1871 the Hall was allowed to fall into to a state of ruin until the Architect Robert Armstrong together with the Fuller-Maitland family ‘’resuscitated’’ the hall to its present glory, in Tudor style with nineteenth century building techniques, he included the two Adams fireplaces rescued from the old Hall and had an Italian artist to design and create the very ornate ceilings which are among the many other features we admire today, the Hall was finally completed in 1876, unfortunately Mr Fuller-Maitland died before the Hall was completed and was passed on to his Son who in 1922 sold out to a Scottish land speculator together with hundreds of acres of land, he then proceeded to break it all down into sizeable lots to resell.
So it was in 1923 when Arthur J Findlay MBE. JP. A former honorary President of the Spiritualists’ NationalUnion bought the estate upon his retirement from business in Scotland
Together with 15 acres of Land, Gardens, Lawns , Feature trees and Woodlands
In 1945 Arthur Findlay mooted the idea of a Spiritualist College at Stansted Hall to the Spiritualist National Union and a will was drawn and in 1954 the National Council accepted the proposed bequest of Stansted Hall
It was in 1964 after his wife Gertrude Findlay passed away Arthur J Findlay transferred Stansted Hall and part of the grounds to the union, and it was then in July 1965 that Arthur J Findlay passed to the higher life, and Stansted Hall then became the property of the Spiritualist National Union.
Most of the upkeep and maintenance was and still is carried by volunteers who come from far and wide to give their services.
A College Supporters Fund was started to finance this work and on the 21st February 1970 the President Gordon Higginson MSNU and team of officers created The Friends of Stansted Hall and obtained Charitable Status under the Charities Act 1960 Number 261287 in the said name which also incorporated the College Supporters Fund, Its object is to promote education in
Psychic Science, and in particular to assist in the establishment and maintenance of a College
For the Advancement of Psychic Science in memory of J Arthur Findlay
Over the last ten years ‘’Friends’’ have raised and donated over £35.000 to the College, which include building projects – donation to the Pioneer Centre, the Endowment of The Blue Room refurbishment and many other items of furniture and equipment for the benefits of the students and visitors to the Hall.
So it is to this day everyone who attends the College enjoys the gracious splendour and atmosphere to work, study and relax in the Peace and Tranquillity of our Beloved Stansted Hall.
Mr Gordon Higginson MSNU had recently become the President of the Spiritualists` National Union when he stood up as Chairman of the first Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Stansted Hall on the 1st. November 1970, and set out the Object of the charity in the statement above.
100 Friends signed the Attendance Roll for this first AGM and Mr Higginson, in welcoming them expressed a hope that foundations would be laid for the success of Stansted Hall.
Prior to this, the Inaugural Meeting of Friends had been held on the 21st. and 22nd February 1970, and at this meeting the Constitution of the Friends of Stansted Hall – The Arthur Findlay College had been adopted. But the meeting also gave power to Mr Higginson to make any necessary amendments arising from consultation with the Charity Commission, in order to get the Charity properly registered. Accordingly an amendment was signed by Mr Higginson on 13th June and appended to the original Constitution. This amendment to Clause 1 was placed before the members attending the AGM, proposed by Mr Frank Tams, seconded by Mr Gowers and approved by the meeting.
Thus from a dedicated few who started raising funds in 1969 to save Stansted Hall and honour the memory of Arthur Findlay, the many Friends of Stansted Hall have, over the ensuing years, worked tirelessly in all kinds of ways, to raise funds, to work during Volunteers Week, and undertaken committee work.
The committee elected at that first AGM were:
Mr Gordon Higginson, MSNU [Chairman];
Miss Bertha Frank [Secretary];
Mr Wilfred Potter [Treasurer];
Mr Frank Tams;
Mrs Ethel Anderson
With the committee empowered to co-opt two other persons, it was agreed that Mr. Laurie Wilson
( President of the SNU 1950-1953 ) be invited to continue as Legal Adviser to the Charity.
Early fund-raising activities included a Garden Party in the grounds of the Hall which raised £499.17.10 . This had been organised by the Friends of Stansted Hall and the Union of Spiritualist Mediums. The 1970 September Prize Draw had raised £255. 5s. Altogether a sum of £2,000 had been paid into the SNU Building Fund Pool; there was a sum of £400 in a deposit account and £146.14.2d in a current account. There was also mention of people donating full books of Green Shield stamps.
Around 100 people had donated quite large sums and were Founder Members of the Charity; each old age pensioner who had subscribed to the “Friends” had been made an Honorary Life Member and at the time of the first AGM it was reported there were around 200 Founder or Honorary Life Members. The total membership is recorded as 980.
By 1972 in a letter convening the 3rd. Annual General Meeting, Mr Gordon Higginson reported:
“The efforts to establish the Arthur Findlay College as a World Centre for Spiritual and Psychic Studies has now materialised and at last we are showing the world how our teachings can bring people of all nations together”
Sufficient money had been raised by special efforts and donations to purchase eight new chairs for the lounge, recovered ten chairs and four couches; the lounge and two passageways had been decorated, the paint provided by “Friends” some of whom with family members, had also carried out all the decorating and cleaning.
More people had stayed at the College than at any other time; and the forward bookings were the highest ever. Visitors from fifteen different countries had been welcomed.
Following the 1972 AGM, Mr Higginson had invited all the past Presidents of the Spiritualists` National Union to a forum, to answer questions on the past, present and future of the Spiritualists` National Union and the Arthur Findlay College: Mr Percy Wilson MA MSNU; Mr Harry Dawson, MSNU; Mr C I Quastel, MSNU; Mr John Winning LRCP.
Mr Higginson said he thought the minimum number of “Friends” should be 5,000! So if you are reading this, and want to join “Friends” and help him realise his `magic number` even now, then we shall be happy to welcome you to a family of Spiritualists, dedicated to the work and memory of Arthur Findlay, and his expressed hope for a College of Excellence for Psychic Science.
The current committee: Mr Keith Sangster [Chairman]; Mr Ken Smith [Treasurer]; Karen Boughton [Secretary]; Mrs Sherry V Wakeman [Membership]; Mrs Rachel Casson [Healing & Education Studies] invite you to explore the various pages to the website, and find out how we are endeavouring to follow the dreams of the original dedicated few, and to honour all the dedication and hard work so very many “Friends” have put in over the last forty years to bring us to the present day.
In setting up this web-site we aim not only to be progressive, but in doing so, dedicate it to all “Friends” ,known or unknown, who have worked so hard in so many ways to bring us to today.