Wednesday 13 May 2009

The Cottingley Fairies

Photo 1 Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5 (The most interesting of all for reasons I describe below)

Many thanks to Ellis Taylor (See links column) for bringing this matter to my attention.

The case of the Cottingley Fairies has become synonymous with deep, dark and persuasive mysteries which subsequently get completely neutralized and become figures of anger, embarrassment and ridicule.

In July 1917 two young girls, Frances Griffiths and her cousin Elise Wright, took Elsie’s father’s Butcher Midget No. 1 magazine-loaded camera to a patch of waste ground behind their house in Cottingley, Yorkshire, and took photographs of each other that include figures which appear to be tiny winged humanoid beings. The beings were dressed and had hairstyles that matches the popular modern Western European image of Fairies. The girls never intended the photos to be viewed by anyone other than their own family and Elsie developed them herself in her own darkroom. But her mother Polly was convinced that they were genuine. She was a Theosophist and so took them to show-and-tell at a meeting in Harrogate where they came to the attention of the famous author and paranormal investigator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle wrote to the girls and was very interested in their case. He even bought them a new camera with some free film-plates and asked them to try and get further evidence that would hopefully settle the matter once and for all. Unfortunately the press got involved and Elsie and Frances soon became the subject of unexpected and unwanted media attention. For the next 60 years supernatural researchers argued vehemently over the authenticity of the Cottingley Fairy photographs. But then just before their deaths in 1986 and 1988, Frances and Elsie confessed: “The photographs were all fakes” they were quoted as saying. The fairy figures were nothing but paper cutouts held in place with hatpins. The media had a field day and broadcast their supposed revelation around the globe. The Skeptics lapped it up (One wonders why they are so dismissive of other deathbed confessions like Walter Haut’s!) Here we see Archpriest-Militant Skeptic Knight Extraordinaire James Randi on a characteristic I-told-you-so trip, explaining how the clues were there all along: . That was the end of it; case closed thought most people, including myself.

But I’ve recently discovered that there is an additional piece of information that the original news stories on the girl’s confessions did not report, or if they reported it they did so evasively. In the above clip Randi describes Photo 1 as the most important; he is either mistaken or lying. Before she died, Frances announced that although the girls had indeed faked the first four photos, the fifth one was genuine. This astonished me; I assumed that the original deathbed confessions had been the end of the matter. Here you can see a clip from a TV programme in January 2009, The Antiques Roadshow, in which Frances’ daughter and granddaughter reveal Frances’ true statement; no doubt the editors overlooked it because this programme doesn’t normally discuss paranormal phenomena: . The fifth photo looks very different in style to the others and to her last breath Frances swore that it was genuine. I wonder why she’d do that if she and Elsie had really fabricated all of them. Another thing: Take a closer look at it. Just in front of the foreground being by the picture's right hand edge there is what looks to me like another entity. Only its head is visible because it is hidden by vegetation. I’m a bit ashamed of myself. I fell for the “Doug n’ Dave” hoax a few years ago and I should have learned my lesson by now; see here: . I wonder how many other supposedly-debunked phenomena are actually still alive and well, but we've just not heard of them yet. They’ve been glossed over by propaganda and narrow-minded investigators with homespun explanations; and now we're just waiting to pick up the true story on unrelated, and therefore uncensored, programmes like The Antiques Roadshow.

Do I believe in fairies? In a word, yes. Contrary to popular belief fairies, pixies, leprechauns etc are still spotted by 21st Century people, some of them are very credible witnesses who provide good evidence; Elsie and Frances were not the only people to capture them on film. John Pickering and Katie Hall have too; in fact they’ve become very skillful at producing images of etheric beings. Here’s their website where you can buy their book: . John has also recently written an article for Nexus magazine (see links column). Sometimes these images are produced unwittingly and the unordinary being only appears when the photo is developed. A good example is the case of the Solway Firth Spaceman.

See my previous two articles on the subject here: and . Here we see a 1964 photograph of Elizabeth Templeton, a young girl with an unearthly being behind her. The photographer did not see the being at the time he took the shot and it was only revealed on the resulting negative and print. Photoes of fairies actually don’t often resemble the typical modern Walt Disney tutu-wearing winged waif. Beings of tribal myth are usually described in forms more akin to ghosts or aliens and they have been seen in the vicinity of UFO landing sites. Some even claim that the similarities indicate that elemental beings and aliens are related phenomena. Older indigenous artwork and descriptions of fairies support this; Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Norse and pagan legends from many other cultures tell of Fairies that both look and behave just like aliens of the modern times do. Could they be the same thing, or at least something very similar?


Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Addendum: I was interested to reread this old case with the hindsight of The Solway Firth one:

Just a few weeks before the Solway Firth incident a New Mexican policeman called Lonnie Zamora had a close encounter with a pair of beings that he describes in a way that makes them seem very similar to the Solway Firth Spaceman; on this occasion they had a craft with them!

Alex Robinson said...

Hi Ben
Very interesting - didn't know that about the fifth photo - you are right, things get de-bunked (or worse?) 'answered' & all questioning stops.

Thanks for this.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Thanks Alex, (I wondered who you were until I realized you are "wise Woman".

There are some more recent fairy photoes around at the moment and they look like tiny humanoids made of a glowing material, liquid or even gaseous. It's hard to tell on a black-and-white print, but the one behind the bushes on Photo 5 looks a bit like that. I think the girls superimposed the foreground being after. Elsie was a photo expert and may have known how to do it. I speculate that the girls saw REAL fairies initially and embellished their discovery with fraud afterwards, naively unaware of how psychical research works and how this fraud would only discredit whatever truth they uncovered.

Anonymous said...

You need help.

Do you HONESTLY believe your nonsense? How VERY CONVENIENT for the fairies that they just HAPPENED to be out photographing THAT VERY DAY! And how IRONIC that SAME 'roll' of tin was scrutinized for you to even be aware of its existence, simply because these girls decided to pull a hoax with photos of....(wait for it)....FAIRIES!



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