March 2015

THE SPECTRAL COACH OF ENFIELD

Spectral Coach of Enfield (c) David Farrant

IN ENFIELD OLD TOWN, on the northern outskirts of London, there have been reports of a spectral black coach drawn by a team of phantom horses that rushes silently down bell lane and suddenly vanishes.
If legend is to be believed, the coach belonged to the evil ‘hanging judge’, Judge Jeffreys, who rides inside – the notori¬ous 17th century Lord Chief Justice who believed in
incarcerating and hanging political rebels until his own un¬timely death in the Tower of London brought an end to his reign of terror.
These reports of the coach, however, have been forthcom¬ing for many years and it would appear sightings of it are usually at dusk or by night and that it is invariably seen trav¬elling in a southerly direction.
One of the earlier reports on record relates that in1899, three factory girls from Ponders End on their way home from work witnessed the coach ‘rising out of the ground’ where¬upon it sped off noiselessly with featureless passengers who could be seen through the windows.
In 1912. It was again reported by a lamplighter who saw it ‘passing through’ a house – presumably one that obstructed its original path.
Of course, it is obviously difficult to check the authenticity of some of the earlier sightings but a first hand report from one local resident that recently came to light gives an unique insight into this phantasm and (notwithstanding that this sighting occurred a while ago) provides new details about the Enfield mystery.
Mr David Hanchett (a pensioner who sadly died in De¬cember 1992) who lived close to Bell Lane at the time, re¬called his encounter with the phantom coach to the author in 1989 and his intriguing account is as follows:
It was an unusually hot and humid summers evening on June 28th 1944 when, at about a quarter to ten whilst he was cycling home, just as he approached the junction of Bell Lane, (that particular section of Bell Lane having since been re¬named Eastfield Road), he noticed an ominous black cloud approaching from the Southwest that was rapidly obscuring the remaining light.
He stopped temporarily to switch on his cycle lights. It began to drizzle when, to his surprise, he saw two moving lights behind a hedge which bordered some allotments to the left (now the site of council flats). These were some way off but, prompted by a sudden feeling of apprehension, he paused to watch, somewhat consoled by the fact that it was probably people walking out late. The lights got brighter and larger and it was plain that they were approaching the hedge.
The next moment, a tall black box-shaped coach drawn by a team of black horses, rocking silently from side to side with a coachman in the driver’s seat, came ‘straight through’ the hedge and sped parallel to this for some distance before veer¬ing off in a gradual curve and disappearing through the gates leading to some old garages which served some cottages standing a hundred feet or so away. The coach made no sound but an ‘electrical blue light’ surrounded its outline (in¬cluding the wheels which were a foot or so above the ground) and as it passed directly in front of him, a brilliant white light momentarily illuminated the interior to reveal several passen¬gers inside. The driver was wearing a tall black hat and a long whip was attached to a socket at his side.
But this was not quite the end of the story. Apparently, a young boy on a push-bike nearby also witnessed the incident. He fled, but David Hanchet was sure that he would not have forgotten the occurrence and that if he came forward (al¬though he would now be in his late sixties) he would be able to verify this account.
After the coach had disappeared, Mr Hanchet rode about a hundred yards to Enfield Highway and asked a pedestrian if he had noticed an ‘unusual coach’ in the vicinity. This person had seen nothing, but Mr Hanchet noticed that the trolley-bus cables overhead were vibrating wildly and he thought this un¬usual as there was virtually no wind and no trolley-buses were in sight.
Anxious to shed further light on this incident, shortly afterwards, Mr Hanchet visited nearby Forte Hall and there he noticed an old map displayed on a wall that showed an old trackway and boundary line that ran alongside a field, denot¬ing the exact route that the phantom coach had taken.
Asked about his reaction to what he had witnessed, Mr Hanchet explained that there had been more disbelief than fear, although he remained adamant that he had definitely seen the coach.
In an attempt to discover more about David Hanchest’s experience (and aided by a detailed diagram drawn by him¬self), I visited the location where he had seen the coach dis¬appear. The garages themselves were no longer there, but a resident of a house in the immediate vicinity remembered the old cottages.
85-year-old Mrs Jessie Hargreaves had resided in the house since it was built in 1952 but said that the cottages themselves had long since been demolished. She had never seen the coach although her late husband had. He had been walking home late one night and had seen a coach drawn by black horses travelling down Bell Lane; interestingly enough, in precisely the same location that Mr Hanchet had seen the ghostly coach.
Another report from a resident who lived in the immediate vicinity would appear to verify further the existence of this elusive coach. Mrs Brenda Guiver was brought up at number two Eastfield Cottages where she lived with her family from 1948 until 1967.
It was Christmas morning in 1957 (she was then nine years old). She awoke in the early hours and, looking out of the window, she saw a coach and horses which she thought was the Christmas sleigh bringing presents. Excitedly, she woke her brother and both children distinctly saw the errie outline of a coach as it passed the gates of Albany Park before disappearing from sight down Bell Lane.
Evidence for the existence of Enfield’s phantom coach might well be accumulating by virtue of previously unpub¬lished accounts such as these. In fact, there probably exist many other sightings spanning decades that may never come to light, partly due, perhaps, to the reluctance of some wit¬nesses unwilling to risk their personal esteem or credibility.
Yet another report that I followed up might be seen to give further credence to the existence of this ghostly coach; albeit that on the occasion the coach was sighted in an area some two or three miles distant from Bell Lane. It comes from Mrs C. Ellis who describes her experience with few reservations about what she had actually seen.
The year was 1951 and Mrs Ellis – who lived in Lordship Lane at the time – describes a sighting she had in February of that year when she saw a coach clearing visible against the snow gliding silently down the road before it abruptly dis¬appeared.

One evening in February 1951 about 8 o’clock when I was eleven years old and my whole family were in the living room laughing and gossiping and making the usual noise, I went over to the window to gaze at the snow which was falling heavily. It was so thick that that it came almost level to the kerb. Cars were few and far between then, and everything was so silent and so white, it was beautiful. I was only there about five minutes when this coach appeared from nowhere, but it was so plain to see. It was white with gold trimmings and the horses were slender and they were white too. There was a man sitting on top, he wore a red coat and black top-hat. That is all I saw; it was going at such a fast speed. I pressed my cheeks sideways against the window and just saw the rear wheels disappear. Even at that age I felt that something was not quite right but, although I told everyone I was not believed as there were no trackmarks the snow.

This sighting, whilst occurring about 2 miles away from the common haunt of the Enfield coach, should not nec¬essarily assumed to be an entirely different phenomenon.
Of course, the question remains open to debate, but in many of my past writings on this subject, (and as already stated) I have pointed out that a fact often overlooked when investigating psychic phenomena, is that many apparitions – be they of objects, animals or people – are subject upon certain conditions to bring about or aid their materialisation, an im¬portant one being the element of water.
But another important factor in the ‘psychic equation’ should not be overlooked here. For it is possible – in fact, highly probable – that many ghostly apparitions are dependent upon the presence of ley lines to aid their materialisation and that ‘they’ can travel along the course of these lines to appear at different locations upon them, and be subsequently witnessed by unsuspecting people.
Briefly: ley lines are invisible – yet potent – lines of energy that criss-cross the earth’s surface connecting many ancient sits and monuments; or it would be more correct to say, that many ancient monuments – such as Abbeys, churches and stone circles – were constructed directly upon them.
This is not to imply that all cases of psychic phenomena are dependent upon the presence of ley lines to aid their mate¬rialisation, but it does mean that many cases of psychic phe¬nomena (and I believe this to be the case with the spectral coach witnessed at Enfield) or ‘active apparitions’ could in¬deed prove to be no more than non-intelligent images or re¬flections of past events that have somehow become ‘caught’ in these fields of energy to be intermittently ‘replayed’ as shad¬ows of their original forms.
The mystery of Enfield’s phantom coach is, of course, an old one and in the absence of scientific fact to explain its ap¬pearances – like so many cases of unexplained phenomena – will probably remain as romantic legend, with sceptics branding potential witnesses as being over-imaginative or misguided.
That much might be true in accordance with a scientific line of reasoning. But then it should perhaps be remembered, that many cases of ghostly phenomena cannot simply be ex¬plained away as ‘unsolved fact’, when so many rational people (many of whom are not even involved in the field of psychical research) attest so frequently to their actual validity. FIN

HIGHGATE VAMPIRE HUNTER BITES BACK

The following article appeared in the North London Weekly Post. It is really self explanatory and gives a condensed view of David Farrant’s involvement in the early 1970’s with the so called Highgate Vampire . . .

HIGHGATE VAMPIRE HUNTER BITES BACK

By Russell Vaughn

David Farrant (Copyright TNT Magazine) 2006
David Farrant (Copyright TNT Magazine) 2006

HE WAS the vampire hunter turned hunted. His dabblings in the occult got him locked up and branded ‘evil’. Time may have healed a few wounds but he is still the target of a relentless hate campaign. Now David Farrant wants to “set the record straight” and has released a candid new book: The Return Of The Vampire Hunter. The Weekly Post’s Russell Vaughn went to meet him to see if he could rattle a few skeletons.

On the face of it Highgate looks like a quiet, leafy North London suburb. But 30yrs ago, it was a hotbed of ghostly goings on. Vampires? Satanists? Nude orgies? Skeletons found in cars? Surely not here?

Well, travel back three decades and you too may have found yourself caught up in a sea of scandal. The chattering classes were chattering all right. Parlour rooms and pubs were rife with sordid tales and net curtains were twitching like never before.

At the centre of it all was a young man called David Farrant. Mention his name now to some Highgate locals and they will recoil in horror. After all, he was their very own vampire hunter or ‘Psychic Investigator’ as David prefers to be known.

Problem was they didn’t call on him to slay the vampire supposedly haunting Highgate Cemetery. Nor did they take too kindly to his witchcraft antics there either. Nor did the police or the courts.

With all this in mind, I felt a little spooked as I made my way to meet the man himself. So I was rather surprised to encounter the slightly shy and retiring figure that met me on a chilly November afternoon. His manner is polite and unthreatening and I soon felt at ease that he was not going to unleash a bad spell on me – even if I was a journalist.

He is open and willing to talk about his past in detail, and of course his book, The Return of The Vampire Hunter.

Expelled from a private school at 15 for refusing to have his hair cut, rebellion seemed a path he was destined for. As did spiritualism. Two years prior to his expulsion his mother had died. But in the time he had known her she had opened the door into this mystical world. Soon after, as he told me, he felt “drawn towards it.”

In his late teens David left Weymouth for foreign fields. He worked his way around Europe by fruit picking and picking up bar work. Three years later he returned home but came back with more than just his backpack. Whilst abroad he met his first wife whom became pregnant with his child. He has since been married once more and has two children.

Luckily for the young couple money wasn’t a concern. A sizeable inheritance meant that David didn’t have to go hunting for work nor consider any graveyard shifts. It was about this time that David’s destiny with White Witchcraft (Wicca) and unexplained phenomena, ie ghosts – two different things bloomed.

But at the end of the 60s and at the start of the 70s it all started to go horribly wrong. For David, the peace and love he had enjoyed in the flower power era suddenly wilted.

His new book Return of The Vampire Hunter picks up the story from here. It begins inevitably with the story of the Highgate Vampire and nicely captures the sensationalism surrounding the arrest and subsequent court case.

David’s further brushes with the law are dug up in full too, including his time in prison and his suspicions that he was framed.

“IN RECENT YEARS, CERTAIN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ATTACKING ME… [SAYING THAT] I’M INVOLVED IN BLACK MAGIC, I’M A SATANIST, I CONDUCT NUDE ORGIES, I’M A HOMOSEXUAL…IT’S BEEN A HATE CAMPAIGN AND ITS ESCALATED.”

This in-depth discussion was conducted by author Rob Milne. Its interview format gives it a slightly more objective edge. But David insists that the book was born out of accident rather than by design. “I was approached by Rob and the book came about really spontaneously,” explained David. “He came to interview me about Highgate Cemetery because he was writing a separate book on it. So we decided let’s make a book of it.”

But a lot of those things happened decades ago, so why the book now? I asked. “In recent years, certain people have been attacking me – mainly on the internet,” he replied. “The gist of this stuff was that mainly I’m involved in black magic, I’m a Satanist, I conduct nude orgies, I’m a homosexual (all of which David categorically denies)… It’s been a hate campaign and it’s escalated in the last few years.

It’s got so bad that David called the police. An irony perhaps, but at least it seems to have suppressed some of the bile. But it’s not just his controversial past that he wants to put right. It’s his religion too . . .

Wicca is something that David insists has “nothing to do with Satanism or black magic.” “It’s a religions based on nature worship which is about powers inherent in nature but more importantly powers inherent within yourself and how to develop them, “he explained, but warned: “it’s magic that’s neither white nor black but it’s something you have to learn about before you can being to tap into it.”

David was instrumental in forming the British Psychic and Occult Society (BPOS) which is an organisation separate from Wicca. Its purpose is to “investigate unexplained phenomena.”

But he frowns on the popular use of Ouijaboards and Seances and warned: “You should definitely not do it. It’s opening a gateway… I think it’s very dangerous.”

But wasn’t this exactly what he tried to do in the past? I counter.

David becomes slightly agitated. “It’s not a contradiction,” he says”…the whole of this (Wicca) has been a learning process and I hadn’t quite come to that understanding yet (of various categories of unexplained phenomena) and I partially believed that you can make communication by calling it back.”

So were you trying to make this thing (a pirate ghost in one particular incident) appear? “That was the intention, yes. To actually make it appear at the gravestone.” It was exactly this sort of behaviour that ended up attracting the police and ended in arrests, trials and punishment.

First Highgate Cemetery in 1969. After several reported sightings of an unexplained phenomena David decided to investigate and claims to have seen it. “It was the only time in my life I saw as something as concrete as that, “ he says. “It was a definite figure and it looked as if it was suspended in air.”

But later his curiosity was to cost him dear. He returned with others on several occasions, and a year later was arrested by the police – mistakenly as he insists.

So who was to blame? “Vandals and black magicians, the Satanists were using a small mausoleum there…and they’d been there before.” But David’s first court appearance ended in an acquittal from a magistrate – the ironically named Christopher Lea.

He wasn’t to be so lucky after that however. It seemed that the police knew his every move and sure enough more arrests followed.

Finally it all came to head and David found himself in the dock at the Old Bailey in 1974. He was charged with several offences. One was a bizarre incident that resulted in a local architect finding a 130-year-old skeleton in his car. David was later let off but only after high-spirited students came forward and claimed that it was their prank.

But other charges stuck. These were thanks largely to pictures of a naked girl taken by a grave. There was also the matter of the two effigies sent to the police.

He got two-and-a-half years, which made him feel “extremely embittered” Why? “Because I knew I’d been sentenced for things I hadn’t committed,” he remarked ruefully.

So desperate was he to prove his innocence at the time he went on hunger strike. But the authorities didn’t budge and David lost twice – he wasted away to just 7st.

Those dark days may be long gone but David now wants to “set the record straight”. His new book, he hopes will “enlighten people” and “tell the truth.” It may also ruffle a few feathers, I suspect.

Nowadays David’s appetite for ghost hunting is as potent as ever and he continues his work with BPOS and Wicca. Trips to far-flung corners of Britain to track down ghosts are still “fascinating and interesting – and certainly not frightening.”

So if you suddenly start seeing strange sightings or hear things that go bump in the night forget Ghostbusters or Buffy. David Farrant is for real. FIN

Another Haunted Highgate Review … from Folklore Frontiers

Hello everyone.  Another review about Della’s new book “Haunted Highgate” just released.  Della’s book is available from Amazon  or signed via the publications area of this very site. Enjoy!

Della says thanks Paul, much appreciated!

David Farrant.

FOLKLORE FRONTIERS No. 75 Articles cover an in-depth mediawatch examination of the smut peddling which makes the Journalist of the Year so readable and is endorsed by Paul Screeton in his article ‘The Vagina Monologues of Caitlin Moran’.

Editor Paul also presides over the last rites of a great British tradition, greater than roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, Beefeaters and Jeremy Kyle put together – ‘Page 3, urban myth and bare-baiting’. And to complete a hat-trick, Paul spotlights real and fictional political assassinations, inspired by the warped mind of Hilary Mantel. Always on the look-out for fresh talent to publish, Paul has recruited Dav White to produce a series of whimsical ‘Postcards from Scarborough’, the first of which appears here. Familiar columns are also paraded: Newslines, Update, Oldie but Goodies, Proto-legends and Necrolog, plus sections on person-based apocrypha, rock ‘n’ roll rumours, putative traditions and mammary worship.

Also here are books by Della Farrant, Paul Screeton, Paul Adams and Gilly Pickup reviewed and magazines discussed.

Folklore Frontiers Review of Haunted Highgate by Della Farrant issue 75

Individual copies of Folklore Frontiers can be obtained at the price £2.50, two for £5.00 or three for £7.50. Cheques or risk cash to P Screeton [NOT Folklore Frontiers] at 5 Egton Drive, Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, TS25 2AT.

David