Monday 19 March 2012

Stalking The 'Highgate Vampire'...

I am indebted to that amusing and informative magazine The Oldie for a fascinating piece in the latest (April) issue.
(l-r: Jean-Paul Bourre and David Farrant at Highgate Cemetery)
It concerns an eccentric character called David Farrant - a multi-published paranormal investigator and President of the British Psychic and Occult Society, which he founded.

Back in the early Seventies, he achieved a certain notoriety as he was said to have stalked a vampire allegedly haunting Highgate Cemetery in London. This he vehemently denies, claiming that he was investigating the existence of an infamous and widely reported ghost, said to haunt the place. Indeed, while he is the Founding President of The Highgate Vampire Society, he denies the existence of vampires! He says the press were responsible for creating the sobriquet, 'The Highgate Vampire'.

His activities in the Cemetery did, however, lead him into serious trouble and he ended up in court, accused of 'indecent behaviour likely to offend the Church'. He was charged with two counts of desecration as a result of activities associated with a seance held in a churchyard in Barnet, where a ghost had been reported, and received a custodial sentence of two and a half years. 

In the years since, he has consistently refuted all charges of wrongdoing, save one. In 1973, he sent two police officers voodoo effigies - stabbed with pins. It was his way of trying to protect someone he cared about who, he alleged, had been the victim of physical abuse by the officers concerned. He received a further two year sentence for this.

In 1974, David Farrant was accused of nude witchcraft rituals and, while in prison, allegedly ran a thriving Coven. His cellmate was a notorious axe murderer, who eventually came to fear him.

Challenged to 'duels'  by other occultists, finding out his scary neighbour was the mass murderer Dennis Nielsen, being accused of placing a hex on musician Joe Meek (which allegedly caused him to murder his landlady and then commit suicide), Farrant has led a colourful life. So colourful, it reads like a film script.

To this day, he continues to write books, articles and conduct investigations into the paranormal. Two volumes of his autobiography (In The Shadow of the Highgate Vampire and Out of the Shadows) are already published and he hasn't retired yet. Who knows what else we might hear from (or about) him? 

If you want to find out more, he has his own fascinating website/blog

 For now, I'll leave you with one final - anecdotal - incident:

In 1974, he was accused of removing a century old corpse from Highgate Cemetery, decapitating it and placing it behind the wheel of a Ford Cortina parked nearby. 

According to The Oldie, the driver observed: 'I should have known this would happen if I left my car unlocked.'


  1. Hi Catherine. I am David Farrant's wife, and came across your blog by chance. Thanks for writing a nice piece about the article in the Oldie, and for the links.
    Just one thing - I agree, the quote by the guy who left his car unlocked is extremely droll. And yes, David was accused of putting the practically dessicated skeleton in the car. However this was just one of the many trumped up and nonsensical charges which the police threw at him in order to scapegoat him for the acts of vandalism committed by several hundred people over a period of years. In the end one of David's fellow prisoners whom he met whilst on remand confessed to the crime, and the charge was dropped. The two had never met outside of prison, so this was enormous good luck.
    Thanks again, Della

  2. Hi Della. Thank you for the clarification and I'm pleased to hear that, in this instance at least, justice was done in the end. My very best wishes to your husband

    1. Hi Catherine,

      I write a coupla blogs called, Did a wampyr walk in Highgate?. I'm also the co-admin of a Facebook group called 'The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society'.

      I think it's reasonable to believe that Farrant was 'stitched-up', as it were. Even contemporary reporters noted the stiffness of his penalties.

      Farrant is also correct in asserting the press drummed up the sobriquet - or, more specifically, 'Highgate's vampire' - however, that statement obfuscates Farrant's own role in 'creating' the legend.


      Also this (particularly from the 2:35 mark):

  3. Re: The Oldie

    It is rather a shame Duncan Campbell felt the need to include reference to Seán Manchester in his advertising and promotion of what is effectively an illicit self-publication violating illustrative material which Seán Manchester lawfully owns. The same journalist has been making a career this past thirty years out of maligning Seán Manchester on the say-so of his ex-convict friend who, despite proestations to the contrary, has a grudge against Christians in general and Seán Manchester in particular. Curiously, or not as the case may be, Mr Campbell makes no mention of the fact that Seán Manchester is the author of "The Highgate Vampire" which definitively covers the case under discussion in the article.

    This curious friend of Duncan Campbell laid claim to hunting vampires, as revealed on BBC television on 15 October 1970. In the following year he attempted to summon a vampire in a sinister ceremony, as told in an article he wrote for New Witchcraft magazine, issue 4. Twenty years later, however, he revised all this and wants everyone to now believe he did absolutely none of these things and, moreover, insists he does not believe in demons and vampires and has never claimed otherwise.

    For Seán Manchester and many other vampirologists, including myself, vampires have always been predatory demonic wraiths or entities, ie supernatural manifestations, and that belief was first aired by Seán Manchester publicly on 27 February 1970 in the Hampstead & Highgate Express.

    Contrary to Mr Campbell's claim, Seán Manchester is not an occultist nor is he in "a long-running occultist feud" with Mr Campbell's friend for whom much publicity has been provided down the years through this journalist's endeavour. This unfortunate person has waged a vendetta against Seán Manchester and and those close to him for over forty years. Indeed, he was arrested a decade ago for the harassment of Seán Manchester, his wife, family and friends. Numerous other people have made official complaints after receiving from him unsolicited through their door malicious material of the most libellous nature imaginable about Seán Manchester.

  4. Mr Campbell offered Seán Manchester's title "Bishop" inside inverted commas when identifying him in his article, as if to suggest this title is somehow less than bona fide. He also refers to Seán Manchester disparagingly as "a character" who "now describes himself as a bishop." I should point out that Seán Manchester have been legally and morally describing himself as such since the Feast of St Francis of Assisi 1991 when he was episcopally consecrated by three bishops in a neo-gothic Victorian church in South Hertfordshire.

    When in 2002 an amateur radio station unintentionally cast some doubt in their listeners minds, owing to the fact he is not a "Roman Catholic" bishop — he is a Traditional English Catholic bishop within an autocephalous jurisdiction — Seán Manchester had a complaint upheld by the Broadcasting Standards Commission (now OfCom) whose chairman for his case was a senior Anglican bishop, the Right Reverend Richard Holloway.


    The Commission noted that the intention of 101.4 Angel FM had been to clarify Seán Manchester's position and that they had not intended to suggest he is not a real bishop. The Commission further noted that the announcement was prepared only during the live transmission of an interview recorded some weeks prior, and the broadcaster’s admission that “confusion” as to his status could have been avoided had wider research been conducted. In the Commission’s view, the back announcement was unfair in that it did not reflect Seán Manchester's canonical status as a properly consecrated bishop, unjustifiably raising doubts in listeners’ minds as to his standing. In this, the Commission found unfairness to Seán Manchester and the radio station in question issued an unreserved apology which was accepted.

    So, Seán Manchester is neither a "voice of occultism," nor is he engaged in an "occultist feud" with Mr Campbell's long-standing chum.

    He is, however, someone who objects strongly to having the office he serves misrepresented with the offensive use of a pair of inverted commas.

  5. Thank you for your contributions, Vampirologist and Anthony Hogg and for the links. Most interesting

  6. And of further interest, an article I co-wrote with my colleague, Erin Chapman:

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