The final part of The Highgate Vampire Symposium2015 is now up on YouTube (length approx. 1hour). My apologies it has taken so long, but I think you will all agree it has been well worth waiting for!
For the first time in its long history of alleged hauntings, a team of paranormal experts were assembled under one roof to thoroughly explore and examine various sightings of a dark ‘cloaked figure’ that has confronted witnesses in and around Highgate’s famous old cemetery.
“Upstairs at the Gatehouse”, was the popular theatre club chosen for the venue, and by coincidence, or perhaps not, the theatre itself is reputedly haunted by a phantom figure that has been seen on the premises – an ancient coaching inn that lies in the close proximately of Highgate Cemetery.
There is no direct evidence that these two hauntings are directly connected, although when I wrote my book Beyond the Highgate Vampire back in 1991, I did point out that Highgate Cemetery was situated on a significantly powerful ley line and – as with cases of psychic manifestations in other parts of the country (the world in fact) – such energy lines are capable of transmitting psychic energy along their course. As a matter of interest, the ley that Highgate Cemetery is situated upon runs straight though several other haunted locations, including the old Gatehouse pub where last year’s Symposium was held.
One of the main purposes of the Symposium really was to get witnesses to relay their experiences of this tall, shadowy figure that has been witnessed in Highgate Cemetery over the past few years, and to have experts on hand to hear their testimonies in front of an objective audience. Questions were invited from anyone and these can be heard in particular in the audience participation in the currently released final session of the YouTube films.
We invite you all to listen to the experiences of the audience, including a shared scepticism that whatever haunted Highgate Cemetery was not– or indeed is – a ‘blood-sucking vampire’!
A ghostly unexplained apparition . . . yes. Particularly everyone was in agreement with this, but not with other ‘crank theories’ that there was any substance in the Hammer Horror film portrayals of their horror films portraying vampires, when that international film company had given this idea to thousands – if not millions – of cinema goers throughout that 1960s periods and into the early 1970s.
Many were influenced by the vampire horror movies (indeed, these attracted international audiences across the world) but many more tried to imitate this idea (especially college students) by actually trying to make their own amateur ‘vampire films’ in the cemetery itself. But these were really no match for a professional film industry such as Hammer, and such film projects were quickly forgotten, if seen by the general populace at all!
But at the end of all this, the phantom figure witnessed in and around Highgate Cemetery lives on. It has been seen by too many witnesses to dismiss its credibility out of hand, as some sceptics and those attempting to jump on the ‘occult bandwagon’, apparently try to do.
The conclusion of the 9-hour Symposium (which went on until well into the night ‘after hours’) on July 19th last year, was that this ‘phantom figure’ was still ‘there’. But that it was by no means a ‘blood-sucking vampire’!
But after all, we have only got Hammer movie films, and a few of its pale imitators to thank for all that!
David Farrant, President, British Psychic and Occult Society.
Pleased to say that the final filmed session of The Highgate Vampire Symposium 2015 has now been fully edited and will be posted here in the next couple of days. Yes . . . at last! It has taken long enough to serialise all the sessions, but then other events occurred in the interim which needed attention which made the delay of its full release unavoidable. I will not go into all these except to say that these events took ultimate priority and had to be dealt with, which they now have been. I will not bore you all again by explaining all the difficulties except perhaps to remind people that arranging the event itself took some five and a half months prior to last July, and this in itself was a formidable task regarding all the prior necessities of arranging times, dates and availability of camera crews, the Speakers themselves and a host of other things necessary to make the whole thing run to the schedule. And then of course, there was the task of editing all the film coverage which arose out of this mammoth 8-hour day, which has now been done, so no need to go on about all of that really.
But the coverage has now all been fully edited and will be published in the next couple of days. Thanks again her to John Fraser, author and committee member of the SPR; Gareth Davies, American broadcaster and founder of Mind Set Central; Andy Mercer, co- host of KTPF (“Keeping the Paranormal Friendly), and witnesses of the Highgate case who agreed to appear in the film. So, as they say, just WATCH THIS SPACE! It could be sooner than you think!
In other news, I understand a televised interview I gave on the Highgate ‘vampire’ case is to be released in March. This is an independent film and copyright of the Television company and not to do with the Symposium mentioned above. But I will keep you all informed about that as well, as a separate issue.
In other issues: well these go on as usual. Della is here but fast asleep now curled up on the bed. And we had a good dinner earlier. I am going to have to disturb her in a minute or I will end up sleeping on the floor! But she looks so restful, that I don’t really want to risk waking her up! Better not risk it on second thoughts. Might snatch a couple of hours in my favourite arm-chair and give her a ‘kiss goodnight’ instead!
Just a little update on my last Blog relating mostly to events following The Highgate Vampire Symposium 2015 which took place in Highgate last July. I said that the last filmed session of this was due for release very soon, subject to some last minute editing. (In fact, to clarify, the Symposium was filmed by three professional camera crews from different angles and as all of the Speakers had their own ‘clip-on’ microphones the audio needed to be compared, adjusted and synchronised to fit each part of the recordings).
All well and good – so far. Except (and as you can read in my last Blog here) a certain ‘bonky’ individual has attempted to give his own version of these witnessed and recorded events and sightings . . . this person being one known as a certain “Bishop Bonkers”, the same individual pretending to be a ‘bishop’ in The Old Catholic Church who claims to have ‘staked’ two vampires back in the 1970’s/early 1980’s (one of which attacked him in the form of a ‘giant spider’!) and who released a ‘Vanity publishing’ book in 1985 about the Highgate ‘vampire’ to back up his story.
But regarding the Highgate Vampire Symposium of last July (and as I stated in my last Blog), this bonky individual seems to have taken great exception to this public event held at the theatre Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate Village. During that Conference, several witnesses came forward to confirm the ghostly legends and stories which have surrounded Highgate Cemetery for many years, including the appearances of a ghostly black-clad figure which have been claimed there. The general consensus during the Symposium however was that, although still unexplained, this ghostly apparition was definitely authentic as far as ‘earthly proof’ and testimony can ever go, but was definitely not a ‘vampire’ as this ‘bonky individual’ had been trying to make the public believe.
I explained in my Blog that Bonky viewed (and views) the Highgate ghost reports of the apparition sighted at Highgate Cemetery as a serious threat to his ‘vampire tale’; a ‘vampire’ he claims to have tracked down from Highgate Cemetery after having escaped from a tomb he ‘sealed’ it up in, in 1970. He eventually found it sleeping in its coffin in the cellars of a semi-derelict mansion on the boarders of Crouch End in North London in 1973 (at least this is what he writes in his self-published book) and he, and a small group of assistants (unnamed), drag it out into the over-grown back garden (coffin and all) where he (‘bonky’) ‘staked it though its heart before incinerating the whole caboodle with the help of a can of petrol!
So the residential ghost at Highgate Cemetery, conflicting as it did with his ‘vampire sightings’ just ‘had to go’.
So Bonky thought up an ingenious plot by which he could convincingly make this happen . . .
He almost certainly remembered accompanying a group of us to a party one night on an occasion back in the bleak cold winter of 1969/70, when tales of a ghostly apparition at Highgate Cemetery were at their height. We had previously been in the Prince of Wales pub in Highgate Village and Bonky with a ‘bosom buddy’ he called the “Eggmanne” decided to join us as he realised our route went down the lane past Highgate Cemetery. We had previously been discussing this (as well as the short cut passing the cemetery) and they (that is Bonky and the Eggmanne) went along with us en route to this party.
Personally, I did not take too much notice of Bonky’s presence (or “Eggmanne’s”) as the pair of them were always drinking together in the pub – sometimes with their respective wives or girlfriends, as the case happened to be. But I was somewhat used to the pair of them by now!
Anyway, (and don’t lose interest dear readers, as we are coming to the important part which I didn’t think to be of enough importance to mention in my last blog) . . .
When we passed the North Gate of Highgate Cemetery (only 5 minutes walk or so from the Prince of Wales) Bonky made something of a ‘commotion’ by reminding the group that this was the place where the ‘ghost’ had been seen. He said that he wanted to get some photographs of the location and suggested stopping there for five minutes to enable him to do so. This ploy seemed to work and for a brief period everyone started examining the area and a few of us – including myself – climbed over the cemetery gate to explore the area inside the cemetery. The gate was quite easy to climb considering it was somewhat ‘dwarfed’ by the cemetery’s impassable high walls.
Nobody really took much notice either when Bonky suddenly produced a 35-m camera from a shoulder bag and started taking brilliant flash photographs of the darkened path inside the cemetery. Nowadays such a ‘camera break’ would go relatively unobserved, but we should remember that there were no mobile camera phones in those days (indeed, mobile phones themselves had not even been invented) and so Bonky’s short ‘photographic break’ did not exactly go unnoticed!
I stated in my recent Blog that Bonky sent one of these b/w photographs to the French paranormal magazine “L’Inconnu” in 1981, together with a signed A4 Press Release saying that this could be taken as exclusive ‘evidence’ that David Farrant, President of the British Occult Society, was really ‘mentally deranged’! The magazine published Bonky’s photograph in good faith, but apologised to myself a few weeks later in a later article which was published a few weeks later (which I referenced – with a genuine file pic
picture) in my Blog.
OK, so what’s new, you explained all this in your last Blog?, I can hear you all ask.
Well this is . . . What I did not mention in my Blog was this . . .
Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s (indeed since then and right up to the present day), the Bonky person referred to in my Blog developed an ‘unhealthy obsession’ with the work and research of the BPOS (British Psychic and Occult Society) and also with myself as its President. His main – if not only – motivation seemed to be that the BPOS members, including myself, simply did not accept his persistent claims (which led him to publish his Vanity Press book in 1985) that the ghost reported at Highgate Cemetery which we were investigating at the time was in fact, really a ‘blood-sucking’ vampire. Neither could we accept this person’s fictional account of how he later tracked down this ‘vampire’ and quite literally staked it through its heart before incinerating it (coffin and all) with a can of petrol; neither could we accept his story of how, a few years later, he also tracked down this vampire’s disciple and dispatched her in a similar fashion, but not before she had turned into a ‘giant vampire spider’!
It is perhaps not surprising that when this person’s account eventually found its way into a book and these ‘vampire stakings’ were promoted as ‘true life events’, the media were naturally interested in uncovering more facts behind this story in case more sinister motivations (such as real life murders) may have been involved.
Of course, this is precisely what this ‘bonky author’ wanted: to goad the Press and other researchers into thinking foul play may be a part of the equation but leaving its author smug in the assurance he had only been writing legally unprovable fiction!
One thing has proved itself to be fact on the part of his true motivations however . . . there was seemingly no place for his invented vampire (or vampires) to exist alongside the entity which really haunted Highgate Cemetery. Which really brings us back to where we started. But maybe not quite! . . .
In the early 1980’s when his vanity press Highgate ‘vampire’ book was in the process of being prepared, Bonky used to regularly visit me at my North London flat which was close to Highgate. We had an uneasy ‘truce’ during this period until this ended in 1985 following publication of his said ‘vampire’ book.
He obviously only used to visit me before this (maybe two or three times a week) to catch up on information with many people we knew who were still resident in the Highgate area. One of these was a person called Tony Hill who then lived close to Muswell Hill and ran a paper stall on the busy Holloway Road. Bonky no longer lived anywhere near Highgate and had fallen out with Hill at this time, although the Bonky knew I still used to see Hill on occasion and he wanted to be informed of all the latest information.
During these meetings (usually between an hour and two hours long), Bonky frequently discussed his forthcoming Highgate book, but was always very scant on details, other than to tell me that ‘my involvement’ in the Highgate scenario had been included. He told me little more, although – unbeknown to him – I secretly recorded most of his visits.
On one occasion in 1983, I remember that he produced several prints of the b/w photographs he had taken in Swains Lane of myself and “Eggmanne” inside Highgate Cemetery sharing the Victorian top hat on our way to that fancy dress party back in late 1969. He said he was intending to send some more over to France, as another French magazine wanted the ‘inside story’ on the Highgate Vampire story. But he wasn’t really happy with the photographs and remarked these seemed ‘too jocular’!
“I’ve had a very difficult time deciding on the pictures because the actual close-ups are too . . . they’re too jocular, and obviously not serious . . . although the setting might be, the expressions aren’t intent, and also, they’re obviously too posed, and the expressions are ones of obvious frivolity, whereas I had to pick those where the expressions were … something was going, something was about to happen or had just happened, and there was a look of intent on the faces . . .”, he said.
He was referring, of course, to the very same photographs he had taken himself around the top gate of Highgate Cemetery when that group of us were on our way to a local fancy dress party. The difference this time, is that this is an exact record of what he actually said as I recorded his words (quite literally) for prosperity!
[From my book series The Seangate Tapes, ISSN 1747-7077, first published in 2005, by BPOS].
Well I’ll finish this for now everyone. Just a little ‘eye-opener’ for you all to see some more of Bonky’s attempts to pervert contemporary paranormal research. There’s bound to be some more by next time! So until then . . .
David Farrant, President, British Psychic and Occult Society.