Tomorrow is the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s death in 1901. “Coming events cast their shadows before them,” was a popular nineteenth-century saying and one would think that the death of the long-lived monarch would have been the stuff of legendary premonition. Such was not the case. While a few mediums (perhaps on the strength of reports of a banshee-like wail from the Tower on Christmas Eve, 1900 or of the Queen’s failing health, reported in the first week of January 1901) predicted that she would die soon, virtually the only other prophecy to be found is a unique, and apparently accurate “prevision” of the Queen’s funeral.
Sir,—One very frequently reads in the columns of ‘Light’ remarkable instances of prevision; but I have never yet read or heard of any so remarkable, I think, as one at which I was present, although merely as a listener. With your permission I will, as briefly as possible, relate it: and I endorse for reference, if necessary, the names and addresses of all present, and that of the house at which we met.
On October 13th, 1900, 1 called at a friend’s house in the country, at which Mr. J. J. Vango—who, I believe, is well- known in connection with Spiritualism—was at the time on an ordinary private visit with his wife. It was dusk, and we had been chatting on various matters when Mr. Vango, who was quite in a normal condition, expressed surprise that he could clairvoyantly see the Crown, and following on from it, as though describing very closely and clearly a succession of pictures, Mr. Vango went through, stop by step, as it were, and nearly four months before the actual occurrence, the whole of the funeral of the late Queen Victoria, just exactly as the pictures of our many illustrated papers, &c., showed to all the world four months afterwards;and from the lying-in-state to the Crossing the water,[crossing the Solent] and so on to the procession through the capital, thronged with the people and the avenues of troops, &c. To one like myself, who served for many years in the Army, such scenes would at once be interesting and understood; but I have it from Mr. Vango and his friends that to him it was all absolutely strange and new, for he had never actually witnessed anything of a State ceremonial of any kind in his life, and in the course of his description on this October 13th, 1900, he added such remarks by the way as: ‘But the horses are not black horses, but light ones!!’ and again: ‘The coffin is not on a hearse, but something very different, with heavy wheels, and they are not black either, nor is the covering of the coffin black.’ Remembering, as most of us will, what actually took place four months afterwards, and probably many of the details, I think that, although now some time ago. many of your readers will not only see the significance of these two remarks of Mr. Vango’s, but will be interested in this case of prevision.
I have added my own name and address to the others enclosed.
Light 17 May 1902: pp. 238-9
J.J. Vango [1861-post 1930] was a well-respected medium and one of the sitters at W.T. Stead’s “Julia’s Bureau” séance circle. There are few biographical details about him in the Spiritualist literature and there seemed to have been no contemporary breath of scandal about him at all. He billed himself as a clairvoyant and healing medium. His principal control was the Native American girl, “Sunflower.” Although we have it from Mr. Vango’s own lips that the details of the funeral were all “absolutely strange and new,” he must have had some sort of State funeral in mind since he commented on hearses and horses. We also have only “X.R.H.’s” word—reported a year and a half later—that the vision took place on the date stated.
Queen Victoria had requested a “white funeral,” often the perquisite of royalty, and also a military funeral, as head of the armed forces of the Empire. A gun carriage had been used to convey the coffin of the Queen’s son, Leopold, Duke of Albany, who died in 1884, aged 30, of his haemophilia. Perhaps Vango, who was based in London, witnessed the Duke’s funeral?
I’ve written before about phantom funerals, a category of premonitory apparition into which Vango’s vision seems to fall. And I’ve also posted about images of the Queen in the sky (paired incongruously with Grover Cleveland)and, strangely, appearing alternately as a shadow silhouette on a White House portico, with the profile of William McKinley, who died in September of 1901. The silhouettes or “shadowgraphs,” as they were known, particularly impressed mystified viewers as an omen of death and after the death of the Queen and the President, were said to shift to portraits of President Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary Hay, a man holding an outstretched revolver, a portion of a winged figure, and a dove with spreading wings.
Other previsions of Royal funerals? Chriswoodyard8 AT gmail
Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead.