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Bailey Essences History

Crafting High Quality Flower Essences for 50 years.

Bailey Flower Essences Ltd was set up formally as a company in 1992, but had been running as a small cottage industry since 1967 when Arthur Bailey discovered his first essence.

In 2016 the Bailey essences were acquired by Yorkshire Flower Essences Ltd, a new company managed by Jenny Howarth and Nicky Whitehead. Nicky and Jenny are Homeopaths in Ilkley. Jenny is an Advanced Flower Essence Practitioner. The essences continue to be made in the same way to preserve the Bailey heritage.

Becca, Arthur Bailey’s stepdaughter, tells us more about the Bailey family and the history of the Bailey essences:  

“ We have been making flower essences for many years, and it is far more than a business to us. In my family, we use flower essences pretty much daily – I can’t imagine my life without them.

We regularly take the essences when life is hard, certainly, but also because there are areas in our lives that I recognise we could handle more skilfully and we like to try to work with this proactively.

When life becomes difficult, I use energy exercises, meditation and flower essences. I instinctively know that these things together really help. 



Rebecca Hunter has worked with flower essences and dowsing for over 30 years. She did her training with the late Arthur Bailey and continued in his footsteps….

“I have been working with flower essences since around the mid 1980s. At that time, I became interested in the essences made by my step-father, Arthur Bailey. These are the Bailey essences; a wonderful and very powerful set of essences for working with personal growth.

Arthur taught me to dowse at around the same time and I had a lot of fun playing with dowsing and with the essences.

At some point around 1990, I was helping Arthur to clear his paperwork (not his strong point!). I found a pile of letters and money from people wanting to buy the flower essences. Some of these letters had been around for months! In fact, I seem to recall that some of the cheques had actually gone out of date.

At this time, Arthur was literally making up one bottle at a time as it was ordered, and typing the labels on a typewriter.

Arthur loved making and using the essences, but he really wasn’t all that interested in actually selling them! He was such a modest man that he found it genuinely baffling that people would be interested in his essences.

I offered to make up a small stock of each of the essences and helped him to create a leaflet. I started spending a little time each week answering the letters and posting off essences to people. At that time, there were 36 essences in total.

Over time, the business grew and I finally left my office job in 1993 just before I married Stephen, and started working with the flower essences full time.

It was a great experience to be involved in a small family business, and I learned a huge amount about essences and life in general through working so closely with Arthur and Christine.

I spent some time in the late 1980s working with Arthur and Chris’s meditation teacher, John Garrie. I learned a lot about myself and other people through his work and still practice some of his exercises to this day.

Both Arthur and Chris’s life was hugely shaped by their work with John Garrie, and that naturally had a knock-on effect to me.

Stephen and I started a family in 2000 and we have two boys, Jamie and Oscar. I continued to work part time with the flower essence business and found using the flower essences with family issues to be invaluable.

Stephen has been involved in the flower essence business in a supporting role for many years now, and he was instrumental in designing the Five Elements Set with Chris and Arthur.

Over time, the essences grew in number. When Arthur died in 2008, there were 101 single essences and 24 composites, not including the Five Elements Set.

After Arthur died, something shifted within me and I have felt a different, deeper connection with the essences and the flowers they are made from.

I am fascinated by the language of plants and the heart-based work of Stephen Buhner in this regard. Learning more about the science behind the flower essences has confirmed all my thoughts and feelings through the years. Plant communication is a fascinating subject and I look forward to continuing my walk along this path.

I look after myself and my family by practicing meditation, simple energy exercises, taking flower essences and laughing as much as possible.”



Chris Bailey was born in 1938 in Marple, Cheshire. She spent her early years in Peterborough, and the family moved to the North of England in 1947, and finally to Ilkley in 1951. Chris trained as a primary school teacher, specialising in art and worked in teaching until she took early retirement in 1988.

She first began to work in the area of personal development in 1979. During this highly significant year, she met her first mentors.

She worked with Bruce MacManaway, who introduced her to the healing arts. She learned from Max Cade, who taught her what was happening with the unconscious mind, and finally, she met John Garrie, who she worked with for many years. Through John, Chris learned about grounding, meditation and being fully present in mind, body and spirit.

Other significant teachers during this period of time were Caroline Sherwood, who worked with colour and auras, and Dorothy Lewis who taught Chris how to dowse.

It was during this time that Chris met Arthur, although they didn’t become involved as a couple until around 1983.

Chris and Arthur married in 1986, and just a few months before the marriage, Arthur bought the house next door to Chris on Nelson Road. Chris had recently finished her massage training, and she began her practice in the new house.

At the time of buying her house in Nelson Road in 1979, Chris also rented a delipidated barn close by. With the help of friends, she converted it into a fully functioning pottery. When Chris and Arthur came together, Arthur, with his extensive knowledge of electronics and DIY became Chris’s technician and the pottery underwent great and exciting development.

Chris worked with her ceramics again as a hobby, and would often facilitate workshops run by herself and other artists.

Art has always formed a large basis of Chris’s work. The top room of the new house was knocked into one, and Chris and Arthur ran meditation workshops, exercise classes including T’ai Chi and Qi Gong and hosted a wide variety of different art based and personal growth workshops.

Chris went on to train in Shiatsu with Sonia Moriceau, qualifying in 1993. The house on Nelson Road grew over time into the Healing Centre that is still running today.

In 1998, art again came to the fore in Chris’s life and she began to do further training in ceramics at Shipley college. In 1999, she enrolled at Harrogate College on a two year National Diploma in Design Crafts (Ceramics). She continued to enrol in courses every year thereafter and is still in attendance at the college.

In 2004 she began to take a serious interest in glasswork, and has been working since then in glass making a series of beautiful pieces with inspiration taken from nature and from her work with five elements and colour.

Chris has been involved in the flower essence business since she first met Arthur in the early 1980s. She accompanied Arthur on most of his collecting trips, and was deeply instrumental in finding the words to express the meanings of the essences.

When Arthur died in 2008, Chris became the photographer for the flower essences. She continues with her glass, pottery, flower essence work and photography while enjoying the company of six grandchildren and overseeing the Ilkley Healing Centre.


ARTHUR BAILEY - in The words of Becca

“Arthur Bailey (1933-2008) was a very special person in my life. He was my step-father and my teacher/mentor for life in general, and in particular for my work with dowsing and flower essences.

Arthur was fascinated by flowers at a young age and found a mentor in George Ringer, husband of his grandmother’s housekeeper in Cumbria, England. Grange-over-Sands held a special place in Arthur’s heart throughout his life, based on these early childhood memories of roaming the woods and fells with George.

As he grew older, he was drawn into the sciences and excelled in these subjects. He became an engineering scientist and chartered engineer. Eventually, he became a Senior Lecturer in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Bradford University in the UK.

It was while working at the University that he first became interested in the field of dowsing, healing and flower essences.

Arthur Bailey joined the British Society of Dowsers and was their President for seven years. He had the reputation of being “a rogue elephant”, being very clear about simple true facts which could be proved, rather than pseudo-scientific theories.

He belonged to a group of mystics and scientists and there he met the great healer, Bruce MacManaway. Bruce recognised the healer in Arthur and encouraged him to work in the field of healing and dowsing. His reputation grew quickly and people came to see him from far and wide.

I love the fact that Arthur was such a cynic and yet a true scientist as well (a rare combination, it seems). He tried out dowsing and in his own words, he was amazed and quite shocked that he could do it.

He spent many years studying dowsing and trying to find out how it worked.  He conducted dozens of tests, many of them double-blind tests, and had consistently good results. He worked with map dowsing, dowsing for mine shafts and looking for water and pipes, among other things.

I love his stories about these tests! Some of them are really very funny.

In his final conclusions, he said that he could not find any currently known scientific reason why dowsing worked, but it does. Before he died, he talked a lot about the new quantum physics science and said he thought there might be answers there. Unfortunately, he didn’t have time to investigate this further.

It was early on in his dowsing career that Arthur began finding flower essences. He found the first six in his garden using dowsing in 1967.

Over time, the way that Arthur found his essences changed. As he grew more in touch with his intuitive side, he found that he simply felt drawn to a particular flower and would then make an essence and sometimes he made them specifically for certain people.

He used his intuition to work out what the flower essences were for. Sometimes he would have dreams that would give him answers, and sometimes he would just sit quietly with the flower and allow it to tell him its secrets.

As Arthur opened up to the contrasting world of mystic scientists, healers and dowsers, his relationship with his then wife, Barbara became unsustainable. They finally parted in the late 1970s.

A few years later, he met John Garrie, who would be his meditation teacher for some years.

Chris was already working with John, and inevitably they grew closer over time.

In 1986, they finally decided to marry. It was at this time that Arthur bought the house next door which eventually became the Ilkley Healing Centre.

Arthur’s work with John Garrie was profound and utterly life-changing. As with many gurus of the time, the work was challenging and at times disturbing.

Eventually there was a huge personality clash with John and after a series of problems, Arthur decided that he didn’t want John to be his teacher anymore.

This was a deeply traumatic event in Arthur’s life. He had put his whole trust in his teacher and he had received what amounted to a severe zen blow which left him both angry and bereft.

It took Arthur several years to work through this and finally come to accept and understand that we are all human. He came to feel compassion for John as a human being and was able to feel gratitude to him for the incredible work that he did.

This process opened Arthur to even greater sensitivity and the essences that he made after this time were profound and of a deeply spiritual nature.

Arthur Bailey was a man of very many talents. Throughout his work with dowsing and essences, he continued to work with his electronics. He developed lighting units, pumps and various other electronic equipment . He also developed an electronic stressbuster, used for neutralising geopathic stress.

Sometimes the energy lines that run through the earth cause problems for the people who live on them. This is known as Geopathic Stress. People can suffer with a variety of problems from general stress, unhappiness, lethargy and sometimes to more serious illness.

Arthur travelled the length and breadth of the country to neutralise geopathic stress. He did this by putting metal rods in the earth. As the travelling became more taxing, he put his mind to developing the stressbuster which could be used instead of putting metal rods in the earth. This proved to be excellent and of course could be posted out rather than travelling for sometimes hundreds of miles.

He could mend anything, and he never threw anything away. We constantly teased him about that! The cellar and garage bulged with things – broken kettles, car parts, bits of wire and metal…

He loved the physical work of making things. He helped Chris to develop her pottery and did a great deal of work fixing kilns and making things work properly. He and Chris worked as a team in so many of these projects.

And he was a wonderful and very creative cook, making delicious soups, jams and marmalades.

Arthur loved the sun, and he and Chris often went on holiday together to the Mediterranean. They loved Greece and Cyprus in particular. They enjoyed walking in the hills, relaxing by the pool in the sun, eating the local food and drinking the local wine. Some of the essences in the Bailey range were collected on this holidays abroad.

I hope I have managed to convey how firmly grounded in the physical world that Arthur was. He was one of the most down-to-earth people I have known. From such a wonderfully rooted place, working with the more unusual aspects of life such as dowsing became very normal and common-place. There was no mystery involved.

That is very precious to me. Dowsing and flower essences are not esoteric and mysterious in my life. They are just there, easy and accessible to use. Like pulling a loaf of bread out to make toast, or checking for emails.

Arthur sadly died in 2008, leaving his wife Chris, two sons (Ian and Andrew), a step-son (Rob), a step-daughter (myself) and six grandchildren.”