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The Black Stream

Three dreams from before Aug. 1928, 1930/12/28, and 1938 by A.W. Fyson Calder, as reported by Dame Edith Lyttelton.

The experiences of Mrs. Calder are, I think, specially interesting, and by great good fortune her husband, Headmaster of the Grammar School at Goole, in Yorkshire, has kept a 'coincidence notebook.' Mr. Calder very kindly sent me a letter containing several of these 'coincidences'; some of them show knowledge of what was happening at the time, or soon after, to people far away and which would, therefore, be classed under Telepathy. But here are one or two instances of prevision. I give extracts from Mr. Calder's letter.

The Grammar School,
14th May, 1934

Dear Madam,

I was interested in your recent address " Premonition and Prevision" and in accordance with your request in "The Listener" for the 28th February am sending you the following information. Thumbnail of Cliffe House in Honley, Yorkshire, England c.2016.

In 1928 I was appointed headmaster of the Holmfort Secondary School, Yorks. Before leaving our home in Middlesex my wife (who had never been to Yorkshire) dreamed of an old house built of grey stone, situated in a lovely valley through which ran a shallow stream of black looking water. Our "house-hunting" led us to the very place she had seen in her dream. The house was at Honley - three miles from Holmforth. We moved into the house in August 1928. The stream was frequently discoloured from the waste products of the neighbouring dye-works.

[Here followed a very interesting case of telepathy which I omit.] ...

On December 19th 1930 I was appointed headmaster of the Goole Grammar School. My wife had never seen Goole, nor had she been in this part of Yorkshire. On the 28th December 1931 she dreamed of a dark red house vaguely square standing on a corner of two streets. There was a fence over which she could see a low flat garden. She described the house to me next morning and said she felt convinced we would have to live in it - although she was depressed at the prospect of doing so. On the 31st December we visited Goole to find a new house and after a long time we began to despair of finding anything suitable. At last the retiring headmaster Mr. C.J. Forth took us to the house Mrs. Calder had seen in her dream. Entries in Mrs. Calder's diary - which she has kept for some years - confirm these facts. I ought to add that on the 29th December Mrs. Calder told me that in her dream Mr. Forth, she and I tried a front garden gate, but failing to open it we walked down the side road and looked over a low fence into the garden. This happened exactly as described.

[Here followed two more instances of telepathy also most interesting. The letter ended:]

I have long since learned to place great reliance on my wife's premonitions and have never yet regretted having done so.

Yours faithfully,
R. B. Calder

Westfield House,
Westfield Avenue,
Goole, Yorks.
June 1st, 1934

Cliffe House in Honley, Yorkshire, England c.2016.

Dear Madam,

I have pleasure in confirming my husband's information to you concerning various experiences of telepathy and dreams. I shall be very much interested in any theory of explanation of these occurrences, which may result from research. I believe Mr. Calder described to you two instances of my having seen, most clearly and in detail while occupied in sleep, two houses - one of which we occupied for just over two years, and one in which we now live.

The details seem almost incredible even to myself but we were so impressed with the first occasion that on the second I wrote down details in my diary, every detail being subsequently confirmed.

I had no knowledge of Yorkshire at the time of my first "dream" of a definite house & surroundings, yet so clear was my memory of it that as soon as I saw the house (a rather peculiar one - in fact probably unique) it was quite familiar to me, and to my husband from my description. I had been most insistent, in my description of the house on various points - one that the roof was of various heights, also the position of the house to the road (at right-angles, presenting a blank end wall to the road) and that tree covered hills rose as a direct background (I had never been in the North in my life, nor had any friends in the Huddersfield district).

When we went to Holmforth to look for houses, I was quite conscious of expecting to see the house about which I had dreamed - and when we came upon it, almost by chance, it was with a sense of shock that it should be so familiar.

One peculiarity was that in my dream I had looked into a narrow stream which was quite clear but inky black. This seemed to me ridiculous, and I had laughed at it at the time. However, after recognising, and taking the house - we found that the narrow stream running through the garden was usually exactly according to my description - as it was used by dyeworks, chiefly using indigo dye.

Only one detail was lacking - in my dream I had seen that half the house appeared to be occupied and outside the door was a barrel being used as a dog-kennel for a black retriever. Certainly half the house was occupied, but the tenants had no dog-kennel and no dog. A year or so later, new tenants arrived and my dream was recalled to me very vividly - when they brought with them a black Labrador retriever and placed a barrel by the door for its use.

I can offer no explanation for any of these experiences. You suggest that my dream of our present house may have been telepathy, but no one here had thought of this house as being suitable for us. I spent a whole day visiting suggested houses and this was not shown to me, although, as I had "seen" it in my dream, I had asked especially about "corner" houses. This, again, is a peculiar type of house - the only one of its kind in the neighbourhood, with a number of unmistakeable features, which I had described quite clearly before ever visiting the neighbourhood.

Several of my friends at Honley had heard about my "seeing" our house there before moving - and when we knew we were to move to Goole they often asked if I had "seen" our future residence. Then when I actually did so--and was able to give details--they were sceptically interested, until they were convinced by our actually finding and occupying the actual house.

Several other minor things of the same type have occurred to me--a few when I was a child, but as I have no verification for those they would be of no value. I shall of course keep a record of any similar experiences in the future.

I must apologise for writing at such length -but perhaps exact details are a help in research of this type. I am quite willing for you to use any of this material in any way you wish, and if I could be of further help, I should be glad.

Yours sincerely,
A.W. Fyson Calder

Source: Some Cases of Prediction by Dame Edith Lyttelton (1937); p. 106-110. A follow-up letter names the house by the black stream as Cliffe House at Honley. The photo is recent, after restoration. Couldn't find an image of the stream. Not that it's likely to be polluted with dye now.


In The Personality of Man: New Facts and their Significance by G.N.M. Tyrrell (Pelican, 1947; text available online) is a later "house" dream by Mrs Calder:

In this third instance Mrs. Calder dreamt that she was moving into a very large, old-fashioned house, and was busy hanging curtains at some extremely high windows. "I then wandered out," she continues, "through wild, neglected gardens, and found a kind of courtyard bounded by walls on three sides, and all rather neglected and over-grown, quite unlike any place I knew. I described all this to my husband next morning, and wondered if it meant another move for us. Strangely enough, a few days later he was offered a new post at Crewe, in Cheshire. I naturally supposed that the old house I had seen in my dream would prove to be there as on previous occasions.

As it happened, however, a parent visiting my husband's school a few days later mentioned that she was thinking of letting half her very large, old house, six miles away from here hidden away in a park which we had never visited. Remembering my dream, my husband suggested that we should go and see it and of course it was exactly as I have described, with the courtyard easily recognisable; very high windows, etc. Yet, at that time, we supposed that we should be going to Crewe, and it is the more remarkable that circumstances have now arisen causing my husband to refuse the move to Crewe and remain here. We felt so drawn to the old house seen in my dream that we have taken half of it and expect to move into it very shortly."

This happened in 1938.*

*Source: Journal, S.P.R. [Society for Psychical Research], Vol. xxx, p. 198.

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