Hello again everyone. Here is the link to the 4th part of the Highgate Vampire Symposium as promised yesterday – or rather the day before yesterday! Anyway, you can watch it now although, in fact, it was released yesterday on a few other internet sites. I hope you can all be patient about any delay in getting these episodes published here or elsewhere ; it has not been an easy project – at least, in collating and editing the full 7 hour film coverage. Anyway, here it is:
Also, I mentioned in my last entry that a couple of surprise ‘Hallowe’en specials’ would be up here very soon, so here is one of them.
It is an interview I gave last month (September) about the Highgate Vampire case – or more precisely, my views on this (with which my name came to be inextricably linked) and ‘ghosts’ and other unexplained phenomena. Toby Kirkup, who is originally from Yorkshire and who interviewed me for Gaggia Caffe TV, asked some very interesting questions. It was a pleasure to converse with him about matters ‘Beyond the Highgate Vampire’!
As some of you who follow my YouTube channel may be aware, we have been uploading more filmed sessions from July’s Highgate Symposium 2015.
Here is the second part of Highgate and the Occult. Those taking part in this session are:
David Farrant, Charles Walker, Fox the Rebel, Geraldine Beskin owner of the Atlantis Bookshop, and compere and paranormal author Paul Adams.
Charles discusses his investigations into with a group known as the Friends of Hecate, who were operating at Clapham Wood, West Sussex, and into another group known as The Black Cathedral, a Black Magic sect which had been practicing their bizarre ceremonies in a house in Highgate and possibly even inside Highgate Cemetery.
Fox the Rebel defines the true motivations behind the practice of necromancy which was also taking place in Highgate Cemetery during the 1960s and 1970s (and possibly beyond), and Geraldine Beskin and David Farrant discuss the occult movement as this emerged from the ‘Flower Power era’ of ‘free love’ and mysticism as this unfolded in the throughout the 1960’s and ‘70’s.
I do hope you all enjoy it, if you haven’t already seen it.
We have a couple more interviews connected with Highgate Cemetery and its spectral entity (not connected with the Highgate Vampire Symosium) coming up in the Hallowe’en week, but we’ll keep these as a surprise for readers here – although we’ll keep you all posted, so watch this space! . . .
Oh – I almost forgot – “The Vampire Theory – Part One” will be uploaded tomorrow 😉
Just to keep you all up to date on here: Part 2 of the Highgate Vampire Symposium 2015 is now up and running on my YouTube channel as well as also being linked from my Facebook profile page. We want to keep all these parts together as and when these are released, simply for the sake of easy reference. Part 2 – Haunted Highgate : A Paranormal Chronology – is presented by Redmond McWilliams, founder of The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society over on Facebook. I am sure you will all agree that Redmond does a sterling job in condensing such a complicated sequence of events, in order to prepare members of the Symposium for things yet to come!
Part 3 is ALSO on YouTube. In this, Highgate and the Occult 1 /2, Paul Adams continues to question myself about my involvement in the ‘infamous’ case of the so-called ‘Highgate Vampire’, and the Society’s discovery that a group of dedicated Satanists were using Highgate Cemetery to perform their clandestine nightly rituals in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But I am not the only speaker! We also hear from Charles Walker of Clapham Woods notoriety, who discusses his research into a Highgate-based cult and his own intimidation by Black Magical practitioners.
We are not exactly sure at this stage how many Parts the finished film footage will contain. There are 14 Speakers to include and that, of course, does not account for comments and observations from the audience. We did, of course make provisions for this from the outset, and kept Speakers essential time down to a minimum to accompany their essential points.
Hello all. Re: the recent YouTube release of the Highgate Vampire Symposium: Introduction and Keynote Remarks. We have received feedback to the effect that my microphone was not picked up very well (this was addressed soon after!). We have therefore edited the video and re-uploaded, for the final time!
As the video record of this event is so important for posterity, we have re-recorded my audio and dropped that in.So here it is!
In the meantime, perhaps the following transcript may help people who were not there on the day get a feel for the proceedings:
Paul Adams: David, what would you like to get out of today’s event?
David Farrant: Well . . . I think it is an unique opportunity. Most people in London, or all over the world for that matter – thanks to the Internet – know about the Highgate Vampire. I’d just like to say, very quickly, right at the beginning – and I always say this at the beginning of any Talks I happen to give, and if people don’t like it I say . . . Well I won’t talk then!, but they usually say ‘go ahead’. But all I’d like to say is . . . I do not accept the existence of ‘blood-sucking vampires’. Psychic phenomena, (‘ghosts’ if we must call them that), phantoms entities, unseen apparitions . . . YES. But that is a completely different matter. I don’t deny the existence of those or I wouldn’t be running the BPOS but I do deny the existence of ‘blood-sucking vampires’. So what I’d like to get out of it really [the symposium] is for people to first try to understand, and stop associating my name with ‘staking vampires’ and all that sort of nonsense. And to try and understand that what appeared in Highgate Cemetery IS genuine, I’m not dismissing that. Its something that has been seen there for many, many decades – even generations, and I’d like people to understand that.
Paul Adams: Good, good. Now you’ve said that you don’t believe in blood-sucking vampires but we’re going to watch a clip now and some people in the audience might be confused by that statement. We’re going to watch a short clip from a BBC television programme “24 Hours” which was broadcast in August 1970. Now, this gives a real feel for the climate of Highgate in former times . . .
[Clip from BBC 24 Hours shown].
Paul Adams: David you said you don’t believe in vampires. Explain yourself in 20 words or less!
David Farrant: Well that last bit doesn’t really need a comment! I don’t accept the existence of bloodsucking vampires, no.
Paul Adams: But there was a reason for you being on that program?
David Farrant: There was a reason, but it wasn’t hunting a vampire. I went to court in 1970, the police charged me with hunting a vampire. I was acquitted of that charge. The press picked it up, branded me as a vampire hunter, which I’m not. I’m just a humble psychic investigator. That’s all. And even that film – when I was acquitted the BBC wanted me to reconstruct what the police said I was doing, which I wasn’t doing, which was vampire hunting. And so I agreed. And that – look – I’m no more a vampire hunter than the late Christopher Lee was a vampire, anymore than Peter Cushing, the late Peter Cushing, again, was a vampire hunter. That is what the BBC asked me to do for their film, which was about my court case. So that’s reason I was holding the stake and the cross, but people still think I was hunting vampires.
Paul Adams (to audience): So if you think the Highgate Vampire is basically what you have just seen on the screen – it’s not. The purpose of today is to go beyond the Highgate Vampire, and break down what this case is all about. So we move into our first slot …
All the best everyone, and part 2 will be up very soon!
Firstly, thank you to all our viewers for their patience as we upload the film clips from July 19th 2015 – the day of the first ever Highgate Vampire Symposium!
This first clip features our host, and owner of the theatre Upstairs at the Gatehouse, John Plews. We did promise that John would say a few words about the theatre’s resident ghost, Mother Marnes. He did – but you will have to wait until The Big Ghost Debate is uploaded to hear his thoughts!
This clip also features our compere, paranormal author and researcher Paul Adams, myself, and an introduction to Redmond McWilliams, founder of the Highgate Vampire Cemetery Appreciation Society – our first speaker.
We do hope you enjoy it, and watch the rest of the day as it the footage is uploaded to the web.
Well at long last, the long-awaited Highgate Vampire Symposium which shook the very foundations of sleepy old Highgate together with its ‘vampire myths’, has been and gone – and perhaps this would be a good place for me to answer a barrage of queries that have been coming in asking if there is to be another Symposium next year. Without wishing to disappoint the many people who missed this year’s event, I am afraid at this stage the answer must be ‘no’. We simply do not have the time or facilities to spare to organise another event for next year; but it is highly probable that we will be able to do so in 2017. I’ll keep you all posted on that, of course, but should point out that this year’s event in July took no less than five months of dedicated preparation to make it the success that it was.
But all is not lost! This year’s event is presently being transposed to film to be released in relevant sections, and these WILL be available very soon so people will be able to view the proceedings via the Internet. Eventually, these episodes will also be available on DVD for those who perhaps prefer a more ‘personal momentum’. But, as I said, I will keep everyone posted on the film’s progress, as all all that remains now is to immortalise its contents on film.
For Highgate old Village is deserving of some immortality. As many will know this exclusive village has an unique pedigree having long been associated with stories of witchcraft, murders and other political intrigues. And, of course, it harbours on its fringes the infamous Highgate Cemetery which, in more recent times, became the subject of somewhat more bizarre stories involving a ‘blood sucking’ vampire that was supposed to sleep within a coffin within the walls of this Victorian cemetery and which was even said to wander the surrounding area by night, infecting the living with its lethal bite so that these, in turn, became ‘blood-sucking vampires’ too! Or so the story goes . . .
Such was the effect of this story that as recently as the 1970s (at least in the course of a far wider time scale) it was taken seriously enough to be given air-space on national television channels and fill the pages of some sensationalistic newspapers. But most of these claims were theatrical stories and almost certainly influenced by Hammer Horror films who had filmed many of their popular vampire films on location in Highgate Cemetery throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.
One of the people who had followed the ‘vampire saga’ from its infancy was the American writer and radio Broadcaster Gareth Davies. Based in Los Angeles, Gareth also ran the highly popular Mind Set Central and discussion forum Para Talk which often includes cases of UK hauntings in its agenda.
Gareth spent the entire day at the Highgate Symposium in July interviewing attendees, and himself took part on a panel which hosted The Big Ghost Debate at the end of the day.
I agreed to be interviewed by Gareth at my home the following day and perhaps understandably, the events most fresh on his mind were those from the Symposium the previous day.
I have re-published Gareth’s short interview here; mainly to give everyone ‘something to go on with’ until the main filming is ready for release here.
I am pleased to announce that Gareth Davies of Mind Set Central will be speaking at the Highgate Vampire Symposium on July 19th. Gareth lives in Los Angeles but will be in the UK around mid July and has managed to put a day or two aside in order that he can attend the Symposium. Both Della and myself have appeared on fairly recent Podcasts from London but recorded in the USA, and we are both looking forward to meeting him in July when he visits London. I gather from the latest Mind Set Central podcast that contributors to and fans of the show are converging on the Symposium for a bonus meet up, which should be fun! Gareth recently answered a series of questions about his work and research, submitted to him by Della, and his answers give a fascinating insight into his views on life, and, not least, the paranormal. His interview can be found on the main Symposium Website and the link can be found here:
Della has been kept very busy in other directions on the Symposium, and has just done a new Blog on the Website, dealing with the continuing controversy about the original pedigree of the land upon which Highgate Cemetery (at least, the West Cemetery) was constructed.
Perhaps it is common knowledge that the Old cemetery itself was built upon the grounds of Ashurst House originally built in 1692 – 4, although little is known (indeed comparatively nothing) about earlier houses – yea mansions – that occupied the site. And its expansive gardens. But Della discusses much of that in her latest essay, and hopefully this will serve to enlighten some sloppy researchers who just tend to repeat a rather ridiculous myth that Ashurst House once housed a real-life vampire in its dark cellars!
But for serious historians and researchers of the paranormal, Della’s new article may shed new light on the history of Highgate Cemetery.
It is perhaps not before time that some of these historical facts were properly catalogued for scrutiny. Highgate Cemetery has, after all, become a legend in its own right. And surely some people have a right to know the true facts and thus be able to draw their own conclusions . . .
I spent a very pleasant evening last night contributing to the weekly internet radio show Keeping The Paranormal Friendly, hosted by Susanne and Steve Taggart, with their co-host Andy Mercer. The show has been running since 2007, and covers a variety of subjects ranging from the supernatural, UFOs, cryptozoology, conspiracy theories, ghosts … the lot!
Tonight’s show was focussed upon my own involvement with the affair that has become known as the Highgate ‘vampire’. I have spoken on this subject on radio shows many times. But this show was somewhat different, especially because of the interesting questions, including those contributed by Andy – and the phone in from The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society admin Felix Garnet.
I just tried to answer all the questions honestly, which is all I can really do. I must say, however, I was very impressed by the informal and friendly atmosphere which came across from the KTPF team; this maybe encouraged me to go into more detail than I normally would have done.
Unfortunately I was informed that there had been a bit of Unfriendliness towards the paranormal, and indeed the subject of the Highgate ‘vampire. The show had apparently received several Facebook messages and unwanted comments on their FB group, attempting to get it banned, simply because – wait for it – I was a scheduled guest. Rather childish really, but the team certainly recognised the sole source of this harassment and responded appropriately. By the way – if any of my readers receive similar messages, I strongly encourage you to contact me to discuss them. Don’t be embarrassed to speak out!
Anyway, The Highgate Vampire Symposium came up, but I thought it better to hand that enquiry over to Della as it is she who is organising the event. As Della explained, the event will be filmed, so the sessions will be available to view on YouTube after the event. A short article about the Symposium will be published in KTPF’s magazine next week or so, which you will be able to find here.
My interview with Keeping The Paranormal Friendly can be heard at the link below.
Well a couple of weeks have sped past since our trip to Borley, and it seems so much longer – I guess that is because so much has been taking place here in London recently. I won’t go into it all now, as there have been so many visitors to the flat in recent days, all relating to different matters.
I expect some of you will know that I was interviewed for the BBC Radio 4 programme Black Aquarius recently, as this has popped up on Facebook and so on. The radio broadcast focussed upon the Occult revival in London during the 1960s and 1970s, concentrating mainly on the young and the fads and cults which sprung up at the time. My segment was recorded in Highgate Cemetery, and you can hear it here via the BBC archives here.
One of the other big things which has been happening of course, which many readers will be aware of, is the organisation of The Highgate Vampire Symposium 2015, which is taking place on July 19th at the popular theatre Upstairs at the Gatehouse, situated – would you believe it – in the upper storeys of the haunted Gatehouse public house in
the heart of Highgate Village.
The Symposium commences at 1pm and finishes at approximately 8pm, making it the longest and most significant event ever to be convened in honour of Highgate’s local ghost. ‘Local ghost’ – sounds a bit lowbrow doesn’t it? But with scores of recorded witness statements to back up its appearances, this ‘tall menacing figure, with hypnotic red eyes soon found
itself the subject of international interest over the years, and was even claimed by some to be a genuine, blood-sucking vampire …
This latter misinterpretation was almost certainly influenced by the fact that in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s, London’s Highgate Cemetery was used on location to film some of the Hammer House of Horror’s popular vampire films, and it wasn’t such a big step to assume that the ghostly entity sighted there soon acquired fangs with a taste for human blood. Human imagination was soon to do the rest!
Along with 11 other speakers (with more to be announced shortly), I welcome the rare opportunity to debate the nature of this incredibly misrepresented apparition. Indeed, the Highgate ‘vampire’ and I have a lot in common. How so, you might ask? Well, we have both had our reputations and credibility hijacked by certain people who wanted (and still desperately wish) to “cash in” on the fictional concept of a vampiric entity which once stalked Highgate, N6.
Where our similarities end can be observed by anyone sensible via the photographs routinely published online (and taken by) by one of these fame-seekers. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the modern habit of constantly snapping away and chronicling every minor event for publication on the internet was alien (indeed, the Internet was hardly known then outside of the US military). But a couple of photographs from that time taken of myself (which with hindsight must have taken considerable planning) en route to a local party are currently being contrived as evidence that I in fact AM the Highgate ‘vampire’! I was even asked to pass my hired top hat to another person (Tony Hill) by the photographer (Sean Manchester). At least one of the photographs showing Hill standing out the top gate of Highgate Cemetery also wearing this same hat with myself in the background has been published online by Manchester himself! Thus indicating that we were all just young ‘friends’ having fun together on our way to the party having met up in the pub!
These harmless photographs of myself have been peddled by Mr. Manchester to newspapers and magazines (such as L’Inconnu, issue 68, 30/10/81) for decades, and more recently reproduced on the world wide web. Such is the desperation of one man who will clutch at any straw to deny the existence of a ghost which has been attested to by so many local people and visitors over the years. Of course this is unconnected to his self-published ‘non-fiction’ work wherein he describes staking and torching this ‘vampire’ in a back garden in Crouch End in the early 1970’s, and later (in 1982) to have tracked down its disciple (he calls “Lusia”) where he also staked her after she had turned into a ‘giant spider’!
So why am I looking forward to the Symposium so much? Not to ‘trash’ and belittle the notion of vampires. I do not accept the existence of Hammer Horror-esque vampires, no, as many know: I have explained this many times in my talks and public broadcasts. As far as I am concerned I know that the Highgate entity is not a vampire. That is my opinion as a speaker at the Symposium, but of course other people are fully welcome to suggest supportive evidence to the contrary should they wish to do so (and they no doubt will).
What I am particularly excited about, however, is the chance to discuss the true nature of the entity which has been so often witnessed both in and around London’s Highgate Cemetery. I witnessed it myself in fact, one winter’s night in December 1969. It was standing motionless inside the top gate of the cemetery, before it abruptly disappeared leaving behind an area of ‘icy coldness’. I know what I saw in 1969, or at least, I know what I saw was supernatural. I know that many other people have also seen something which seems to be the same entity, or which could be another entity with similar attributes also apparently exuding menace. With so many sensible and educated panellists lined up for The Highgate Vampire Symposium 2015 perhaps I and other witnesses to this phenomenon will get somewhere closer to an understanding of what ‘it’ is and why it is here. I can’t hope for more than that.
Anyway, the official website for The Highgate Vampire Symposium 2015 can be found here. Many more updates about speakers and sessions to follow, but now you all know that it is happening, check it out! Perhaps finally those of us who have any remotely commonsensical (yet open minded) approach to whatever the apparition that haunts Swains Lane and Highgate Cemetery is, will finally get to have our day!
It has been all work and no play for the last three weeks, because of a rather large project which some of you may already be aware of. More on that in my next post!
So Della and I were pleased to have an interesting day out on Saturday. We had arranged some time ago to travel up to Borley with some friends, and check out a couple of things in the old churchyard and indeed the surrounding area. Patsy Langley, Secretary of the BPOS, drove us up there together with her fiancé Ricky, Redmond McWilliams of the Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society, and our friend Simon.
We left Muswell Hill at about 11.30am, after everyone had convened at the flat, and reached Borley after a couple of hours on the road. Borley hadn’t changed much, in the three years or so since I last visited the place, except we noticed that the locals had chained off the usual parking space by the church, obviously with the intention of discouraging visitors. Can’t really say I blame them in a way, because tourists (including ghost hunters) tend to make their way to the site of the former rectory which was once known as the ‘most haunted house in England’, sometimes engaging in vandalism and generally making ‘a nuisance of themselves’. I suppose they, like ourselves, are always hopeful for a glimpse of one of Borley’s famous ghosts, but such people have gone about this in a manner which seems to have made the locals pretty defensive towards strangers.
We only passed one local, which is unsurprising considering how few people live in the hamlet. But we were pretty sure that more people were watching us than we observed!
The rectory was mysteriously burned to the ground one morning in 1939, and new properties have since been built on the land it once occupied. We were curious on this occasion to have a look at what might remain of the old land boundaries and the eastern extremity of the garden. And we weren’t disappointed. Although we did not spot the remains of the smaller summer house, we did park up accidentally as it happens by the gate which Paul Adams describes on his website devoted to Harry Price.
As Paul mentions, it is impossible to tell if the gate is original, but the art deco diamond patterns certainly give it an air of antiquity, as do the matching ornate pillars on either side. The gate now has substantial amounts of wicker work pushed against it from the inside, but beyond it were discernible the discarded remains of a substantial building. It would be interesting to know if this debris was indeed dumped in the copse after the fire, and we were surprised that these anonymous lumps of stone had not been removed by earlier pilgrims to the site as souvenirs (we obviously left the site as we found it).
We also enjoyed walking around the churchyard, and finding the graves of the Bull family who once occupied the rectory.
It was a glorious, warm afternoon, and the churchyard affords a timeless vista of the old rectory cottage, its roofline so reminiscent of the now vanished rectory which once stood adjacent.
Sadly the church was locked, as are so many rural and suburban churches these days when no service is being conducted. I do recall that in 1979 when I visited the area there was a small notice displayed on the church porch, which said that visitors could obtain keys to enter the church from a local house, possibly Rectory Cottage although I cannot now recall. On that occasion we did obtain the key and went inside the church, wherein I took quite a few photographs. I will post one of me below, but there are more which I will endeavour to find and post soon, one of which shows an inexplicable bright oval light in the air above my left shoulder. Borley church itself is reputedly haunted, and many people have reported strange experiences there over the years.
After leaving Borley we visited nearby Liston church, only a mile or so away, where legend has it that the bones of the nun who was said to walk the grounds of Borley Rectory were reburied. Liston has a slightly larger population than Borley, but the intense silence was the same, with not even the sound of skylarks to distract us from the paranoid sense that only we were disturbing the strange, locked in atmosphere. Yet it was so peaceful … well, I suppose devoid of the sound of London traffic anywhere would appear to be so.
Out of interest, the bones of the nun were reburied in an unmarked grave, which is very difficult to precisely locate. If anyone wishes to find it you can do so however by locating the only thistle in the graveyard, or at least on the left hand side. It seems that this hardy plant is the only one which can survive for long on this small patch of ground which is traditionally barren.
Anyway, we finally headed back for London, but not before stopping off for a late dinner at The Bull in Long Melford, a 15th century tavern which has enjoyed sensitive restoration and retains its ancient atmosphere. It was here that psychic investigator Harry Price stayed, whilst conducting his investigations at Borley Rectory, and he would certainly have been familiar with the pub, and very well have sat at the same table where we enjoyed our meal!
We finally got back to North London around 10pm, and all piled back to the flat for a chat and a drink. Oh, I should mention that Redmond had brought me a present when he first arrived, and I have finally had a chance to sit down and read through some of its pages. The book, Bloodlust in Whitby and Highgate by James J. Browne, contains a chapter which attempts to address some of the media inaccuracies presented about myself concerning the Highgate ‘vampire’ flap back in the 1970s. Unfortunately it adds a few more, in a rather humourless fashion, but Browne has done his best, and as he has given me a whole chapter of his 70 page book I suppose I shouldn’t complain. And it was refreshing for once to hear someone point out that the relationship between a ‘certain person’ and the police had become strained by August 1970, and to see an acknowledgment of this person’s ‘cyber sock puppets’ in print for the first time. What a strange way to court publicity!
Anyway, thanks Redmond. Haven’t finished reading the rest of the book yet, but I will!
Well that’s all for now, everyone. Will keep you all up to date I promise.