In the 60s a group of youngsters with a growing interest in the occult began to explore Highgate Cemetery in London. One of them, David Farrant, spent a night there. He mentions this in the book he wrote on the subject in 1991.
A few months later, in February 1970, Farrant wrote to the local newspaper to describe a figure in grey he had seen while passing the cemetery. By the 13th of that month, several other people had responded to the newspaper piece, with differing accounts but tails of ghosts in the cemetery or the nearby Swains Lane. The ghosts included a tall man, a cyclist, a white lady, a white form drifting between the graves and a shadowy figure wading into the pond.
Sean Manchester, also a local, revealed that local Satanists had awoken a Wallachian vampire who had been carried from Europe to Highgate in his coffin. He cited reports of dead foxes, with no clear cause of death, in the Highgate cemetery as proof.
The two men were not friends and competed on theories and media attention. Farrant and Manchester both claimed they would lead a vampire hunt and dismiss the vampire.
On the 1st of August, 1970 a headless and burnt body was found not far from a catacomb. Police suspected the body had been used in a black magic ritual. Shortly afterwards Farrant was found by police by the churchyard carrying a crucifix and wooden stake, he was arrested but later released when court dismissed the case.
Manchester claims that a sleep walking psychic woman led him through the graveyard, to (perhaps the same) catacomb. They couldn’t open the door, so climbed down through a hole in the roof and placed garlic and holy water in the empty coffins they found there.
The story of the Highgate Vampire is now a fairly common one for in books. It is even suggested that the Hammer Horror film Dracula AD 1972 was inspired by the Highgate Vampire.
In Pure Spirit
Do you believe there was ever a vampire or a mystery in Highgate Cemetery or has the whole drama been created by the feud between Farrant and Manchester? This December will be the 43th anniversary of Farrant’s first, reported, sighting.