The King’s Speech and Logue’s chair

Logue on Edward's chairThe King’s Speech is grabbing the headlines, with the nationwide release in the UK of the superb movie [click here to see trailer] about King George VI and his speech therapist Lionel Logue, about which I have already written in my recent Blog.

Ever since I first wrote about Logue and the stammering monarch in my book Spirit Communication I’ve wondered what happened to the wooden chair which Logue presented to Lilian Bailey, the London trance medium, in gratitude for the spirit messages she conveyed from his dead wife, Myrtle.
It was in this chair that George VI sat when he visited Logue’s consulting rooms at Harley Street. Lilian Bailey always used it for seances, and it was in Logue’s chair that she sat when I visited her for a sitting in the late 1960s. The chair in which Logue (Geoffrey Rush) is pictured here is not the chair I am talking about, I hasten to add, as it is meant to be King Edward’s Chair (also known as the Coronation Chair) in Westminster Abbey on which British monarchs are crowned.

Coinciding with the movie is a book of the same title, The King’s Speech, written by Mark Logue (Lionel’s grandson) and Peter Conradi. I contacted Mark to make him aware of my Blog and he responded saying, “This is interesting stuff, especially the chair. Do you know its whereabouts now?”

Colin Firth as George VIThe answer, I’m afraid, is that I don’t, but perhaps a reader of this Blog might help us shed light on where it is now.  My guess is that when Lilian Bailey died in October 1971 the chair passed to Gordon Adams, her son-in-law. In that case, it is likely that on his death the chair passed to one of his two sons, whose names, I believe, were Nicholas and Clive. I met them both when they were young but have lost touch with them, though I believe one became a clergyman.

If you know of Gordon Adams’ sons’ whereabouts, do let me know. Lionel Logue, incidentally, was their godfather. He agreed to take on that responsibility in gratitude for their grandmother’s mediumship, and participated in their naming ceremony, conducted by the spirit guide Silver Birch through the mediumship of Maurice Barbanell.

Mark Logue tells me that his grandfather “was not very effusive in his diary or correspondence about this aspect [Spiritualism] of his beliefs”. He continues to research Lionel Logue’s life and “should I be allowed to make changes in the paperback edition, it might be nice to include some of this information”.

In my previous Blog, I quoted extensively from Death Is Her Life by W.F. Neech, a rare book which Mark Logue knew existed but had not been able to obtain. Having just seen the latest, excellent edition of Spirit of PN, the online independent Spiritualist newspaper, produced by Sue Farrow, I am reminded that Maurice Barbanell also covered the story of Lionel Logue in his excellent book This Is Spiritualism.

His account contains additional information that is worth recording here. It tells us, for example, that according to Hannen Swaffer – the famous journalist who introduced Logue anonymously to Lillian Bailey – the speech therapist’s photograph had not been published in any newspapers, so Bailey would not have recognised him.

Logue’s wife Myrtle controlled the entranced medum at his second sitting with her, which also took place at Swaffer’s London flat but at which he was not present as he had to attend a Guildhall banquet. Myrtle also told her grieving husband he must not consider taking his life: that would divide them rather than bring about the reunion he longed for.

At a later sitting with Lilian Bailey, after Logue had moved from a large house into a flat, he asked his dead wife what had happened to the bed linen. She replied that she would like him to use the yellow sheets and pillowcases, describing the box in which he would find them. Barbanell also tells us:

“It was Logue who volunteered to [Lilian Bailey] that Spiritualism had enabled him to understand his work of correcting speech defects, which occupied the major part of his life. He realised, since he had received his séance proofs, that he had been guided to leave Australia, when there was no apparent reason, and to seek a new career in Britain. Without knowing why, at the time, he had sold up his home. There were no seeming prospects in England, and it appeared to be madness….

Logue, George VI, Queen Elizabeth“He told me that he made no secret of his Spiritualism. On several occasions he had described to King George VI his séances with Lillian Bailey, recounting the wonderful evidence he had received from his wife, and he had never met with hostility.”

Having now seen the movie, I am in no doubt that it will be a huge box office success and deserves awards for many of those involved, particularly actors Colin Firth (King George VI), Geoffrey Rush (Lionel Logue) and Helena Bonham Carter (Queen Elizabeth).

It’s a simple but moving account of an unlikely friendship between a man who was to become king and an unqualified therapist whose methods triumphed in helping his client overcome his speech impediment. The film, inevitably, fictionalises some events in this relationship for dramatic effect. For the full truth, I recommend the book based, in part, on Lionel Logue’s recently-discovered diaries: The King’s Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi.

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