The Human Touch Blog

Bloxworth Manor House, from a line drawing circa 1901

A Ghost Story For May Day

I thought as it is May Day, and to perhaps get away from the sad tone of my last couple of Blogs following the passing of Jon Randall in April, you might like to read a true ghost story taken from my book Dark Journey published in 2004.  It took place in an old deserted Manor House called Bloxworth situated not far from Bere Regis in Dorset.  Members of the British Psychic and Occult Society (BPOS) first visited the area in 1979 to try and shed some fresh light  of some reputed hauntings in the Dorset area.  Bloxworth had been made a priority, because the host of ghostly stories that surrounded the place, which at that time lay forlorn and empty and invited intriguing speculation.  The problem is (and as is commonly the case with unsolved ‘ghost mysteries’) local rumour can rarely bring psychic investigators closer to obtaining first hand  accounts that are so essential in separating fiction from fact, and fact from legend.  So it was with some satisfaction that local enquiries in the area led to four people who had actually had direct experience of Bloxworth’s eerie phenomenon when they were all friends as students in 1968.  It was a striking physical manifestation; but each of them swore to its actual validity . . .

 

Bloxworth Manor House, from a line drawing circa 1901
Bloxworth Manor House, from a line drawing circa 1901

 

MIDNIGHT MANSION VIGIL

AN UNUSUAL ghost story with overtones of the macabre,  if not incredulous,  comes from a lady who recalls an event that happened in the late summer on 1968  –  an experience, in fact, that was to leave a deep impression on her memory.

Sue,  from Harefield, in Middlesex, was at the time a struggling student living in a bed-sit in Dorchester, and one evening returned there with some friends after having been to a local disco. She was with her best friend,  Susan, and their two  boyfriends, Adrian; and John, who was Sue’s fiancé.  They had all gone back for a coffee and a late night chat.

It was a miserable night, rain having fallen continuously and, after dis­cussing various topics,  the conversation some­how turned to  ‘ghosts’.  At first,  the discussion was a some­what light-hearted affair  (and was more than likely encouraged by the dismal conditions outside),  but it was really Sue’s contribution that provoked most interest when she insisted that there was an old deserted house called Bloxworth Manor near a small village where she lived, some ten miles or so away from Bere Regis.  Several sinis­ter tales were connected to Bloxworth Manor and Sue emphasised that locals would never venture near the place at night.

Whilst listening to this story with a fair amount of ‘scoffing’, Susan and the two boys  nevertheless insisted that they should pay a visit to the old manor house; if for no other reason than to satisfy their curiosity and prove such things did not really exist. Sue shrank from this proposal and argued that there could  be some  substance to  the local stories that  had given the manor –  house its fearful reputation.  But she was outvoted by the others and a little while later,  determined to explore the place,  they persuaded Sue to go and they set off in John’s car.

They arrived at Bloxworth Manor just before 2 a.m. and somehow managed to scale the wrought iron gates, which were topped by rusty barred wire and  ‘guarded’  the long tree-lined drive that led to the house.       The night was overcast and very dark, and although it had stopped rain­ing,  the ground was very muddy and intermittent splashes of water were still dripping heavily from the trees.

Cautiously,  they felt their way forward along the muddy drive, unable to see more than a few feet ahead  –  even a pair of brilliant white trousers worn by Susan were barely distinguishable in the darkness.

Eventually,  after what seemed like an eternity of stumbling down the drive, the oblique outline of the house came into view, looming menac­ingly against the dark skyline; a sky so dark,  in fact,  that no stars were visible to offer any semblance of normality.

A large lawn was scarcely visible in front of the mansion,  the darkness making it appear like some foreboding swamp that warned against the intrusion of any human foot.

Suddenly, Sue exclaimed that she had seen a flash of light in one of the darkened windows.  The others reasoned this must be a tramp sheltering in the building,  but mounting apprehension coupled by a growing sense of unease about their surroundings, persuaded them to return to the entrance.

They started back,  Sue last,  but after a few yards something compelled Sue to look back, and another flash of light from the darkened mansion caught her eye. She stood,  transfixed to the spot,  and the next moment,  a  ‘shimmering light’  glided from the mansion and, in the form of a quivering column of fluorescent light,  appeared in front of her on the lawn.

In her own words …

“I can see it to this day.  It was a tall phosphoric light that moved across the lawn from the mansion and  ‘stood’  in front of me.  It was over seven feet tall taking the shape of a man of sorts, but rippling and trembling, its head seeming to move back and forth into the shining column.

I don’t know how long I stood mesmerised with fear,  but I remember calling out … ‘John’,  ‘John’,  and he was suddenly at my side.”

In fact,  alerted by Sue’s cries,  the others  had run back to go to Sue’s aid, and although Susan and Adrian had not actually see the  ‘shimmering apparition’,  an overbearing ‘sense of  evil’  seemed to have descended on the surrounding area, and none were in any doubt that, whatever it was,  possessed some kind of  ‘demonic intelligence’ and was intent on making them quickly leave.

Without second thoughts, the group ran back up the dark driveway,  desperate to reach the relative safety of the car. As they drove off,  anx­iously glancing into the retreating darkness, any previous scepticism was replaced by a relieved sensation that they had all had a lucky escape.

But Sue was the one who was worse affected.  In fact, by this time,  she was shaking and crying,  unable to come to terms with her encounter with this unearthly spectre.  In an attempt to reassure herself that the whole thing had not been her imagination,  she said to John  …  “You  did  see it,  didn’t you?”  “Yes”,  he replied, trying to steady his voice,  “I wish I hadn’t.  What on earth was it?”

This  question,  of  course, remained  unanswered, but   the  whole episode left a vivid  impression upon  the  group,  especially upon Sue and John who slept with the light on for a long time afterwards,  unwilling or unable,  to face the dark.

But this was not quite the end of this nocturnal adventure … The next day,  under the reassuring safety of daylight, the four returned to the mansion to look for any clue that could have shed light on the previous night’s events.

The mansion still lay gloomy and foreboding, although daylight revealed that the house was securely locked and bolted,  and would not have offered easy access to any nightly visitors,  such as tramps.

But  ‘clues’,  there were none;  and although their footprints were still quite visible on the muddy drive (especially where they had  ‘ran for their lives’,) the grass where the  ‘thing’  had appeared was completely undisturbed.

It seemed that the  ‘mansion mystery’  would go unresolved;  although one further factor in the story was to add a peculiar twist, if not dimension,  to the events …

Later that day,  when they visited Sue’s home in Bloxworth, her mother said  (without even knowing about the night’s events), that a strange occurrence had taken place the previous night.  At about 2 a.m. and all the dogs in the village had started howling and barking, a cres­cendo so prolonged that it had been remarked upon by many people in the village. No explanation for the dog’s ‘mass howling’ had been forthcoming.  But it was a strange coincidence that this had occurred at virtually the same time that the intrepid group had encountered the ghostly  apparition in the grounds of Bloxworth Manor.

David Farrant.

(c) Jon Randall

Gone, but not Forgotten Jon

Jon Randall channelling Papa Legba – Hecate Rising (c) Carrie Kirkpatrick

 

 

Following the sad passing of Jon Randall less than two weeks ago, I thought it may be some sort of belated tribute to his memory to re-publish this short article which I wrote for his online magazine Pentacle in 2005.   I had been in open discussion with some of the members on the magazine for some months over such things as psychic investigations, Wiccan beliefs and its spiritual origins and the nature of Divine Consciousness, or ‘God’.  It was a long and varied discussion and went on for some months after I had started a thread on the Group named Beyond the Mental Realm.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the topic attracted many varying opinions and viewpoints from members; indeed, even a little hostility from a few who took a hardline approach to anyone who seemingly opposed traditional interpretation of things esoteric.

As the owner, Jon was writing under the pen name of “ARCHRAVEN” on some of its different threads, and it was a particular observation about that he put to myself about the relation between the subconscious mind and the conscious one, that particularly held my attention. This is my answer as it was published in Pentacle in 2005. . .

 As a psychic investigator I have often been asked to define ‘vampires’, but invariably declined by saying that such things simply do not exist..

I have stated that this does not simply negate the existence of much paranormal activity but gone on to clarify this by pointing that before trying to understand the Unknowable (‘vampires’ obviously excluded), it is first of paramount importance to understand that ‘human state of consciousness’ that is trying to understand such things.

I have always empathised  in my Talks and Writings over the years the essential importance of understanding consciousness before tying to understand aspects of the paranormal and the principles underlying spiritualism and higher realms of Being, the latter obviously including states of Being that lie beyond the confines of both these two i.e. Divine Consciousness or ‘God’.

Accordingly, I have often been asked to clarify or explain further my many statements about the true nature of consciousness; whether such questions were forthcoming from the hardened skeptics of James Randi  (where I spent many ‘volatile’ months!) to more liberal groups or sects perhaps trying to find some answer to the often tragic problem of existence.

I have always tried to answer such questions truthfully realizing that to understand the vast complexities of human life (so often tragic and full of sorrow) and its potential relationship to a Higher Existence (or ‘God’), it is first essential to understand the nature of consciousness.  Many people often do not even take such a factor into account; rather take it for granted that consciousness is confined only to their own particular mode of existence and are happy to fall back on the writings of psychologists to explain it – if they think it needs explaining at all.

But personally I think that this essential question goes far deeper than that.  Indeed, without a greater understanding of consciousness,  the human mind will remain entrapped in its usual concepts of life, death and an after-life which may bear no relation to Real Existence.

The following is a question put to me by someone on Pentacle magazine just a few years ago.  My answer I have left unedited, and just hope and pray the format translates accurately (physically that is!) from an old computer. . .

FOR ARCHRAVEN,

Thank you for making the important point about the relation between the subconscious mind and the conscious one.  I say ‘important’ because to me personally, it is an essential point and one that needs to be seen as such before any questions about the paranormal (i.e. things that are seen to exist or occur beyond the conscious mind) can even begin to be investigated seriously.  When we started this thread and called it “Beyond the Mental Realm”, it was really intended to apply to the whole field of paranormal phenomena (or the ‘supernatural’), but the point you make is essentially valid because without a conscious mind to realise that such a thing as paranormal activity might really exist, the whole thing would really be a ‘non-starter’ in the first place!  Having said that, I realise that I might be very much on my own here in that I am not attempting to speak on behalf of anybody or attempting to ‘cloud’ normal reality with issues normally regarded as ‘intangible’.

Your question of  “How do I define the Unconscious”, is really unanswerable, as such. I cannot define it, simply because it is not possible to define levels of conscious that might lie beyond the normal ‘everyday thinking’ mind with the conscious mind.  It would be rather like trying to interpret some compelling dream that has since disappeared into realms unseen leaving only some vague consciousness recollection of it.  Of course, you could get dozens of conscious interpretations (meanings) about it,  but all would basically amount to conjectures on the part of the conscious mind itself.

I sought to find some answer to this problem many years ago now (and am still trying to do so!); basically, how to interpret, or at least, begin to understand deeper levels of consciousness that lie beyond ‘normal’ or superficial consciousness. It is, of course, a vast question, and one to which no forthcoming answers can be expressed in simple form.

I can only really express a little of what I began to understand at the beginning about the whole question:

To begin with, why is it that so many people automatically accept standard definitions about consciousness.  For example, we are taught basically that there exist three basic levels of consciousness; the conscious, the subconscious and the unconscious, which can be defined by conscious theories or other interpretations (which, in turn, are subject to ‘consciousness learning processes’ or other very human theories). This is the commonly accepted view  (put very simply);  but is it necessarily true?

By this I mean, that could there not exist dozens upon dozens of levels of conscious, all maybe ‘interactive’ in a way that certainly lies beyond normal (or normal conscious) interpretation?  Further than this, could there not exist much deeper levels in human consciousness that are beyond normal ‘thought processes’ and which cannot possibly be ‘reached’ by utilizing them (active thought processes?).

Of course, this is where the esoteric (magic) comes in with all its usual deeper symbolisms, sigils, dream interpretations  and so forth (and I’m not ’knocking’ magical practices having been involved in them);  but can even this provide any real answer?

You can go much deeper, of course, but at the end of it, you are only left paddling in the shallows of an infinite ocean.

So to me, that leaves (and left) an inevitable question; how is it then possible to glimpse (let alone see clearly) deeper levels of consciousness with relying upon normal (’everyday’) consciousness to bring this about? Or even, is this possible at all whilst in our normal human state?  It is difficult to put into words. It is rather like saying; if you can somehow go beyond ‘normal consciousness’, you might be able to ‘reach’ THAT which might lie beyond it, but in doing so, you would first have to disguard the very rational mind that would be capable of recognising IT.

I can not attempt to expound this view on paper.  It is hard enough to do so in person, so normally I avoid this subject.  I touched upon this once in a talk I gave (which was originally supposed to be about the paranormal and “ghosts”) and the latter point somehow came up.  Somebody pointed out that it was all really a waste of time and there could be no answer because all you were left with was a ‘chicken and egg’ situation – one that could never really satisfactorily answered.

I could only reply that maybe that question could indeed be answered: Maybe ‘what came first’ was the consciousness or ‘life force’ that first created and then formed both of them.

Maybe we would be best devoting our energies to that, then some of the rest of it would fall into place automatically.

Anyway, I am meeting Gareth tonight so no doubt he will want to reply to the ley line query.  I would certainly be happy to talk to you if you at ‘Moot’ next time I go.  I would imagine that this would be after February now as I do not like the cold weather!

DAVID FARRANT

(Pentacle Magazine 2005)

 

 

 

Jon Randall

Jon Randall – A Good Friend Lost and a Request for Help

(c) Jon Randall
(c) Jon Randall

My good friend Jon Randall passed away at 7.06am yesterday morning (10/04/16) from an unexpected heart attack. I first met Jon at the beginning of this century through another mutual friend Gareth J Medway. Jon attended several Moot talks I gave in London on the subjects of the unexplained and the occult, and was himself a paranormal researcher and a Member of the Magic Circle. I also wrote several articles for his on-line magazine Pentacle in 2006/7 on Wicca and other unexplained mysteries. Aside from this we often met socially at gatherings and at parties. Jon was a good person, who called out bull dust when he saw it and was deeply committed to the Old Religion, largely considering arguements about origins a waste of his time – at least, that was how he expressed his feelings to me personally.  He was one of the most spiritual people I have ever met; he respected what elders within the Pagan and Wiccan communities had to bring to the table and what they had contributed to the survivial of the Craft over the centuries. Indeed, Jon himself was selfless in his magickal work, sharing along with Maria their insight and support as those under their direction grew and developed their paths.  He took his role as a High Priest very seriously indeed – not just learning the rituals and the methods but acting in a pastoral role for those he felt spiritually responsible for.

The photograph below was taken approaching Hallowe’en in 2012 and shows Jon and his wife Maria when they came for an impromptu dinner at our Highgate flat. What a fun night after a long, hard day!

(c) Della Farrant
(c) Della Farrant


From left right: Maria, my son Jamie Farrant, and myself sitting next to Jon.

Both Della and myself will miss Jon greatly, and our thoughts go out to Maria during this unhappy time. A time which has left the Pagan community and the magic community (Jon was an accomplished stage magician as well as an esoteric practitioner) shell-shocked.

The fantastic Doug Segal took it upon himself to start a crowd funding campaign yesterday, to help cover the costs of Jon’s funeral and to support Maria financially through the months ahead. 

Many of my readers here will know and love Jon and Maria, and some of you may have heard of Jon but never met him. If any of you can afford even a few pounds or Euros, your support towards his funeral fund would mean so much.

Please donate whatever you can here:

https://www.gofundme.com/86ycp9tg

We at the BPOS will all miss you Jon, more than we feel the need to spell out in public here.  Perhaps when the shock has passed a more personal memory will be posted here.

But for now, we’ll see you on the otherside. Sheep only though in the Summerlands please, as Della is terrified of goats 😉

David and Della (Farrant)

Capture Robin Hood 3

COMING SOON . . .

 

 COMING SOON . . .

I am delighted to announce that my old friend Patsy Sorenti nee Langley, Secretary of the FBritish Psychic and Occult Society, is planning the release of two new books: one is to be a new edition of her current book The Highgate Vampire Casebook due for release later this year and the other (presently in its planning stages), is a volume on Robin Hood’s alleged grave at Kirklees in West Yorkshire and its associations with a . . . vampire.  (Yes, don’t laugh . . . a vampire!!)  Patsy is determined to uncover the truth behind these vampire stories surrounding the grave, which have startled  the local populace and served to attract sensation- seekers from all across the country.  At least, such declarations of a ‘vampire’ have and certainly intrigued the provincial Press – and in the past Uri Geller – although I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Patsy believes the genuine psychic entity, or ‘ghost’,  reported at the grave-site over the years has anything to do with a vampire!

Patsy’s ‘Vampire Casebook’ hit the shelves in 2005 and caused considerable dissention then  in certain quarters from a few people declaring that the ghost reported at London’s Highgate  Cemetery was a bona fide vampire, complete with fangs and glaring eyes which had gone on a spree of the local area seducing young maidens in their beds and turning them into ‘vampires’ as well.  At least, so such claims were circulated at the time, although they caused more amusement than any desire to give them serious credibility.

This vampire story really began in the late 1960s/early 1970s following a spate of Hammer and Amicus movies which had been filmed on location in Highgate Cemetery.  The cemetery with its crumbling vaults and mausoleums provided an excellent background to obtain the required atmospheric effects.

These films (which included Taste the Blood of Dracula, Tales from the Crypt and Dracula has Risen from the Grave) would – in fact did – give visitors to the cemetery (not to mention the public at large) an easy impression that a tall ghostly figure that had been reported at Highgate Cemetery for many decades was really a ‘vampire’!

This almost certainly encouraged one particular individual who released  a vanity press publication in 1985 supporting this view.  But this person went much further . . . he claimed in this book to have actually located the ‘vampire’ in the Wace family vault in Highgate Cemetery.  Forcing open the door, there the creature lay sleeping in its coffin . . . its eyes horribly glazed and its mouth and fangs caked with congealed blood (presumably from its previous night’s feast!).         He then claims to have performed an exorcism in the tomb using garlic bulbs, crucifixes and holy water before finally sealing up the door using ‘garlic impregnated cement’.  But the vampire somehow later escaped (taking its coffin with it), and made its home in the cellars of a deserted manor house in Crouch End, a mile or so away from Highgate Cemetery.  But this person tracked it down to its new lair then, with unnamed ‘assistants’, they dragged the coffin out into the overgrown back garden and staked the vampire through its heart, before incinerating the whole caboodle with a can of petrol – or so he writes!

In her current edition of the Casebook, Patsy explains how she first located the Wace family vault to check out its history but as its incumbents apparently had no living relatives  (as they were interred at the end of the Victorian era, perhaps this is not so surprising), this was no easy task.  But undeterred, she has managed to trace modern descendants of the Wace family and entered into correspondence with them.  I have not yet seen this correspondence but I presume they would have assured her that there were never any ‘vampires’ in the family line  and  that nobody was ever authorised to enter the family vault other than the legitimate authorities and neither was permission ever sought by anyone else wishing to do so.

All these revelations – and more about Highgate Cemetery and its ‘vampire’ – are to be included in the next edition of Patsy’s book; but we will have to see exactly what these entail when the book comes out later this year.

Next on Patsy’s agenda will be the ‘vampire saga’ at Robin Hood’s Grave.  She has already accumulated a vast amount of research material for that which explodes the vampire mythos but leaves in its wake the possibility that something very sinister lurks in the secluded woodland.  Personally I can’t wait for this one.

group
Gareth J. Medway and David Farrant with two members of the YRHS during the Blessing Ritual of Robin Hood’s Grave. (c) David Farrant

David Farrant, President, BPOS.

NB  For anyone interested in more background on Robin Hoods haunted grave, you might be interested in watching a film made by the BPOS in 2013  For the record, in 2003 I was elected Patron of the Yorkshire Robin Hood Society (which is discussed  briefly in the film) who investigated this case at the time.

The link is . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3IQbA9hUoc

Have fun everyone . . .

David

 

 

 

 

Jamie Theakston

I MUST BELIEVE IN VAMPIRES!!!

 (c) Gareth Davies Mind Set Central
(c) Gareth Davies, Mind Set Central

 

Well Easter has come and gone, but seems to have left us with some nice weather.  Nothing much to report really, except I’ve had a lot of feed back after the showing of the Highgate vampire film on “Forbidden History” on their “Yesterday Channel”.  This was shown on March 11th and repeated on March 17th; although it can still be viewed online  (approx. 45 mins) in case anybody missed it.

I got the usual point put to me (from the same old person actually) asking why – if I clamed not to believe in ‘vampire’ – I appeared on the television (and newspapers and magazines) holding a cross and a stake in Highgate Cemetery in 1970 as if ‘hunting a vampire’?  The person invited me to publish his remark so I am doing this here in case any curious people may have missed my explanation on this point which has been published widely in the media, on numerous occasions.

The main point is that I DO NOT, nor ever have, accepted the existence of ‘blood-sucking vampires’.  These only exist in Hammer Horror films, or in the imaginations of some gullible people who may be influenced by such films..

What happened was, the police arrived while a group of us were in the process of preparing to conduct a ‘magical communication ceremony’ one night in Highgate Cemetery in August 1970: its purpose to try and discover the nature of the unexplained phenomenon (or ‘ghost’) that had been witnessed there.  For this purpose we had with us a psychic medium and several ceremonial implements, including charcoal and incense and small celtic crosses There was also a pointed piece of wood, engraved with Kabbalistic symbols and attached to a length of white cord. The intention  of this was to cast a protective Circle on the ground and then summon the entity to visible appearance.

But the police arrived before all this could take place, and once realising they were approaching by seeing intermittent flash lights  and the sound of loud voices echoing through the quiet night, members quickly headed for Swains Lane just outside the cemetery where two cars were parked.  I headed for the back wall as I knew a short cut through a private back garden which backed onto the cemetery.   Unfortunately,  I was arrested before I could reach this and taken to Kentish Town Police Station where I was interrogated about ‘vampires’ ended up with being charged with . . . ‘Being in an enclosed area for an unlawful purpose’.   The essence of this charge was really the part about ‘unlawful purpose’.   For the police were later to claim in Court that my real intention was to search through coffins – opening them if necessary – until I found the ‘vampire’ when I would have ‘staked it through the heart’ and then ‘run away’.  As ‘evidence’ to support this, the police officer conducting the case Det.-Sgt. Neville Brown had written out a statement on my behalf (in his own handwriting) giving his interpretation of what had been said at the interview and produced the stake and the white cord that had been intended to cast the protective Circle and said I really intended to ‘stake the vampire’!

In fact, Neville Brown had almost certainly got this impression from a television programme I had appeared in some five months previously talking about the Highgate ghost, but confused myself with another individual who had also appeared on the programme  and stated that the reported ghost was really a vampire. To this end, he  produced a large crucifix and a wooden stake for the cameras and proceeded to explain the best remedy to destroy a vampire.  He said, once found, the vampire should be staked through the heart with a wooden stake (like the one he was holding), decapitated with a grave-diggers shovel and its remains then incinerated.  Hence the interpretation that the reported ghost was really a ‘vampire’ had been firmly implanted in the minds of the police.  The other section in the charge relating to  being in an enclosed area was hardly given serious mention in the Court case – the Stipendiary Magistrate himself later admitting the cemetery may not be an enclosed area ‘in the strict legal sense’.

Perhaps not surprisingly when Neville Brown’s statement was read out on oath, some newspapers had a ‘hey day’ with all this ‘vampire sensationalism’.

The Daily Express the next day reporting . . .

 

VAMPIRE HUNTER – I won’t rest until HE does

Students of Count Dracula would recognise the scene immediately …

A man climbing over the wall of Highgate Cemetery, London.  And in his hands a crucifix and a sharpened wooden stake.

NOT GUILTY

Yesterday Farrant, founder of the British Occult Society, denied entering enclosed premises for an unlawful purpose – to cause damage to coffins. Afterwards Mr. Farrant said “I won’t rest until I catch the vampire of Highgate Cemetery. I know he is there.” After his arrest Farrant told the police about the vampire, and went on “I think he sleeps during the day in a coffin in the catacombs. Being that there is a full moon, I was certain to see him tonight when he emerges from one of the catacombs.

He has to be destroyed.  He is evil. I was going to follow when he returned.

MY STAKE!

Having established the exact catacombs the vampire would have entered, I would have got into the catacomb, and searched through the coffins until I recognised the vampire asleep in one.  And then I would have driven my wooden stake through his heart, and then run away”

[Daily Express, August 28th 1970]

Following the publication in the Express – and other National newspapers – I was contacted by BBC television who wanted to interview myself and film a reconstruction of my ‘vampire hunt’ at Highgate Cemetery.  I agreed to this; not because I was actually ‘vampire hunting’, but because I knew the police had attempted to ‘set me up’ and get me found guilty of the more serious charge of intending to break open coffins.  Yet I had been found not guilty of the charge and was assured that the BBC had obtained permission for the filming and so I didn’t have to worry about further legal consequences.

So the filming went ahead and was transmitted at peak time on the “24 Hours” news programme on October 16th 1970.

It is an ironical point, perhaps, that this programme is sometimes taken as absolute ‘proof’ by a small handful of people that I MUST believe in ‘vampires’,  when nothing could be further from the truth!!!

David Farrant.

 

Swains Lane at night

Eerie Swains Lane that runs alongside Highgate Cemetery

NLPI London Ghost Stories

London Ghosts – Some Differing Perspectives

Hello all,

My dear friend Redmond McWilliams, Founder of the Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society, was invited to appear as a guest on North London Paranormal Investigations (NLPI)’s recently revived Friday paranormal radio show, presented by Mickey Gocool.

The show was part 2 of a series based around London ghost stories, and people’s knowledge or experiences of these.

Redmond was asked, in particular, about his knowledge of the infamous ‘Highgate Vampire’, and his story is interesting to say the least.  It is the story of a man who has researched the case for many years: indeed, it is one of the main subjects debated on his HCVAS Facebook group, on an on-going basis.

Among the topics discussed were the many sightings of darkly garbed black figures around the perimeter of Highgate Cemetery West (including Swains Lane and Waterlow Park), and the eternal tension between the ghost and vampire theories which attempt to explain paranormal experiences in the area.

You can listen to the show in the archives here.

David Farrant

David Farrant Forbidden History

Forbidden History – Blood Lust!

Jamie Theakston

As some of you already know via Facebook (and perhaps from watching old fashioned ‘television’!)  I was recently asked by producer and director Bruce Burgess to take part in an episode of the popular series Forbidden History, which went out on Friday and Saturday last week on the Yesterday channel (available on Sky and Virgin).

David Farrant Forbidden History

The show was presented by Jamie Theakston, and Jamie and the crew spent several hours holed up in my front room asking me all manner of questions about – you’ve guessed it – the Highgate ‘bloody’ vampire.  It was a good interview though, I must admit.  Other contributors to the show include my old friends the Rev. Lionel Fanthorpe who I was first in contact with some years back whilst he was researching his book “The Worlds most Mysterious Places” (1999), and Andrew Gough, who has previously interviewed me for his website Arcadia (that interview generated a LOT of comments 😉 )

David Farrant Forbidden History 2

Fortunately for fans of the Highgate ‘vampire’ saga who, like me, do not own a television set, the show is available to view online at:

http://uktvplay.uktv.co.uk/shows/forbidden-history/watch-online/

The full title is:

FORBIDDEN HISTORY – SERIES 3, EPISODE 4 – BLOOD LUST: VAMPIRES

Enjoy!  And do feel free to leave feedback below.

For now,

David  (Farrant)

DF and Felix

HIGHGATE VAMPIRE – THE FINALE

DF and Felix
(c) Felix Garnet (co-admin of The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society)

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.

Vampire mystery could be solved Haringey Independent 08 08 1997 001

NOT LONG NOW EVERYONE . . .

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!

David (Farrant).

Internet pic HV Back from Grave

PARTY TIME AT THE CEMETERY – BUT NO VAMPIRES INVITED!

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.

Internet pic HV Back from Grave