The History of Ayr Spiritualist Centre
Mrs Jean Morton (nee Clayton) first encountered Spiritualism during the 1914-1918 war. Her older brother was killed in France and her mother Susan Clayton went to a Spiritualist meeting in Glasgow and became interested in all that it stood for. Her husband Joseph also became interested.
In 1923 Joseph emigrated to America and was followed by his wife, daughter and two sons, who were unmarried, leaving at home another two sons and other daughter Jean. There the family became involved in the Spiritualist Church and Joseph became a Spiritualist Minister. Their daughter Betty, who had emigrated with them, sat in a development class and soon developed the gift of direct voice, a voice of speaking audibly from her solar plexus while she herself was speaking.
In the 1930’s, a Mr McKay put a notice in the Ayrshire Post, inviting anyone interested in Spiritualism to contact him. Mrs Morton was one of those who did. Her father, Joseph, now lived in Motherwell and went to the Glasgow church. He too was keen to see a church established in Ayr. They rented a hall in St Johns Lane, just off Sandgate and it created quite an interest. In 1939 when the 1939-1945 war started, the congregation increased with people seeking comfort and reassurance.
Mrs Morton had attended a developing circle in Troon, run privately by Mr & Mrs McMorland for several years, purely for her development and it was very successful. She was now groomed for public speaking. During the early years of the war, the men of the 2nd Commando were stationed in Ayr in private billets. Some of their landladies were members of the Spiritualist Church and, at first a few of the commandos came to church with them. They gradually increased in numbers coming independently and Mrs Morton, who adopted them, also kept a handful of sixpences in her pocket and handed them out at collection.
Occasionally none of them would appear and people got to know that the commandos were on manoeuvres, either a practice or the real thing. One night none of them were in when the service began and suddenly there was the thundering of heavy boots on the wooden floor of the kitchen and the door opened and several of them came creeping in, in their army boots, trying to wipe the camouflage off their faces with handkerchiefs. The banging that had been heard on the kitchen floor was their rifles being thrown in.
On another occasion when they missed a night, when they did appear one of them was missing, killed on a raid. It affected us all. They told us one raid they had made was on the Norwegian coast, and as they came off the landing craft and up the beach, the sergeant was yelling “get your heads down or Mrs Morton will be seeing you before the rest of us get back.”
There were also some sailors who came in from HMS Scotia (which became Butlins after the war). Two of the CPO’s became very close friends of Mr and Mrs Morton, and one of them was very much interested in healing at the end of the war. When they went home, he started a healing group in Bournemouth.
The church went from strength to strength but, unfortunately there was a split in the church and some members, including Mrs Morton, left, and opened another church in the Masonic Hall in Fullarton Street in Ayr. Mr Clayton proposed that it be called Ayr Church of Psychic Science, similar to the one they had attended in Buffalo, USA. In time they were able to purchase their own property; the same property which they occupy today at 10a Alloway Place.
This information was given by Mrs Elizabeth Hawthorn, nee Morton with thanks, July 2007.