The Human Touch Blog

Spectral Coach of Enfield thumbnail

THE SPECTRAL COACH OF ENFIELD

Spectral Coach of Enfield (c) David Farrant

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

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

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

David Farrant (Coyright TNT Magazine) 2006 thumbnail

HIGHGATE VAMPIRE HUNTER BITES BACK

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

HIGHGATE VAMPIRE HUNTER BITES BACK

By Russell Vaughn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haunted Highgate

Another Haunted Highgate Review … from Folklore Frontiers

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

Della says thanks Paul, much appreciated!

David Farrant.

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

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

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

Folklore Frontiers Review of Haunted Highgate by Della Farrant issue 75

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

David

Alan Compton Prince of Wales Highgate (c) David Farrant Thumbnail

‘A breed now virtually extinct’ ?

Prince of Wales icon and landlord Alan Compton circa 1970 – the heyday of Highgate publife © David Farrant
Prince of Wales icon and landlord Alan Compton circa 1970 – the heyday of Highgate publife © David Farrant

Well, I have just realised that I haven’t posted on here since before Christmas! New Year has come and gone, the dreaded time of fireworks and drunks staggering up Muswell Hill Road singing Auld Lang Syne in the dead of night. But at midnight, whilst avoiding the chiming of Big Ben (which is easy enough without a TV), we did have a nice surprise. At the other end of the line was none other than my old friend Kenny, wishing us a happy 2015. Kenny hates New Year’s Eve as much as I do, more than anything in fact – well, almost. This year it wasn’t too bad in his part of the world, he said. But what he was most animated about was the new laptop he had been given for Christmas. Well, not the laptop itself, but the windows it had opened for him regarding certain statements being made about himself and others online. By the time he telephoned he was in what can only be described as a ‘medieval’ mood, and was talking about stretching people on racks and much worse. “The F”, in a foul temper, truly is an experience in itself. Fortunately for me I have never got on the wrong side of him, quite the opposite. And I pity the poor fool who finds himself in that circumstance. But some people will insist on bringing these things on themselves …

It’s not the festive season so much which utterly enrages him, but aggressive people swaying drunkenly in the street fuelled by cans of lager. You see he is living in a quiet village in the country now, away from the busy streets of London; but even ‘country bumpkins’ can cause disturbances in quiet areas at this time of the year. However, despite all the festive rumpus, in his late night phone call Kenny still fondly remembered his days in Highgate. In fact, Kenny and I have been friends for half a century now, and our combined memories and knowledge of local people past and present could certainly lead to us being described as ‘a breed now virtually extinct’. However, like certain others of our Highgate generation, we have had the sense to commit much of what we remember from those times to paper for the record, considering our memories of those heady days to be of interest for future generations. We have salvaged what we can regarding illustrations – it wasn’t all thrown out on skips you know! Indeed this been quite a project of ours over the last year, and has involved quite a lot of travel – well, mostly to the outskirts of Greater London which was no real hardship, but sometimes further afield as we traced old friends who have moved away. We are presently working together, with others, to typeset our combined memories, and plan to publish them when possible – which we feel will be very soon. So look forward to that folks, on every level!

It will be Highgate as some people have never realised it, with all its local inhabitants – or those just visiting wanting to be witnessed mixing with its supposed elite – displaying their ‘true colours’ – under the relative ‘camouflage’ of its local pubs!

But Kenny was only too aware of this, and enjoyed joining in – sometimes just listening – to the gossip of its local populace. And, boy!, has he got some tales to tell!

So we plan to go ahead with the project of publishing the true life-styles of Highgate’s night life into an enjoyable book. It will not be too long forthcoming. But I’ll keep you all updated here.

But for just the moment,

David (Farrant)

David Farrant and Kenny Frewin December 2014 (c) Della Farrant

Phantoms, Farrant and Frewin 1969 – 2014

David Farrant and Kenny Frewin December 2014 (c) Della Farrant
David Farrant and Kenny Frewin December 2014 (c) Della Farrant

Nice surprise on Sunday. My old friend Kenny Frewin paid us a visit. It is maybe significant because it was 45 years ago to the day that I first witnessed for myself the tall dark spectre that had been reported in and around London’s Highgate Cemetery. I had gone there late one night on the Winter Solstice in 1969 to try to see if I could find any explanation that lay behind the numerous sightings. I had no idea just what I was looking for intently aware that in the late 1960s Hammer Horror Films had used Highgate Cemetery for many of their Dracula movies and maybe, just maybe, this had influenced published perception of its resident ghost. But there was a little more to it than that. Earlier in that year I had spoken to two witnesses who both claimed to have witnessed this figure in person, and they seemed to be both sincere and logical people who were merely recalling their individual experiences without any view to exaggeration, and who were just recounting what they saw.

It strikes me as phenomenal however that one particular witness’s sighting out of the myriad of others managed to put Highgate Cemetery on the paranormal ‘map’ as it were, forever more. Maybe because after I had witnessed this spectre myself, I concluded this was no figment of imagination, but some apparition that was definitely of supernatural origin, and decided to launch a full scale investigation by the British Psychic and Occult Society into its origin, was the main reason but it was this investigation that eventually caught the attention of the media; and indeed put Highgate Cemetery on the paranormal map. Books began to be written about it, films made about it; international magazines and newspapers besieged the cemetery all after a ‘piece of the action’. The main slant of this ‘action’ (at least on behalf of the media) seemed to be that maybe this ghost case was somewhat different and that the genuine ghostly figure sighted in the cemetery might in reality be a ‘genuine vampire’ as portrayed in Hammer’s vampire films.  Anyway, this was really coincidental to Kenny as was not aware of this anniversary date, although he certainly remembers the Highgate ghost, as being a regular of the Prince of Wales pub in Highgate Village he was in discussion with many people who claimed to know all the (then) on-going gossip.

There was an occasion on Friday 13th in March 1970 when this ghost (or ‘vampire’ as one local individual vehemently claimed) was the subject of an ITV programme who were interviewing myself about this sighting. Another person being thus interviewed claimed (on the television) that ‘David Farrant’ would be returning to Highgate Cemetery that same evening and intended to ‘stake the ‘vampire’ so that the Highgate community could ‘rest in peace’. Although I had never made this statement and it was made on air only to attract maximum sensationalism, hundreds of people from the surrounding area descended on Highgate Cemetery all intent on a ‘mass vampire hunting spree’. The police were there in force with dogs evicting people who had managed to scale the cemetery walls and were ‘looking for a vampire’.
Kenny remembered the incident fondly as he was just one of the many sight-seers who walked down to the cemetery from the pub approaching midnight to see what was going on. By this time the crowd had swelled into hundreds – indeed, the police had trouble containing the numbers. He went down there with a couple of people I knew locally, including one individual nicknamed the ‘Eggmanne’ who was a personal accomplice of the man talking on the television about my own intention to ‘hunt down’ and ‘stake’ this ‘vampire. Of course he (Kenny) was well aware this was all just nonsense but he was bemused by all the people and police cars surrounding the cemetery.
Talking to one police officer standing beside his Panda car, Kenny said . . . “You know there’s a vampire in there, don’t you? “Yes”, replied the officer, “And we’ll arrest him as well if we find him!

As it transpired, they didn’t, but Kenny was highly amused and didn’t need much reminding of the situation.
He stayed for the best part of the afternoon and we were glad to hear that he was in good health, apart from feeling groggy from a slight touch of flu that is going around at the moment. But he invited Della and myself around for a drink at his new place ‘sometime soon’.
In the meantime he said he might just tale a trip to the coast to get some sea air, but after that we’d be welcome any time. Hope he gets better soon anyway. A sea trip might do him good!

Good to see you again Kenny, and Della says hopes you will enjoy her Highgate book.

Your old friend

David (Farrant)

Della and Paul Adams (c) Redmond McWilliams

A walk around Haunted Highgate with Della Farrant

It’s only been a week or so now, but Della’s new pilot film “A walk around Haunted Highgate”, made to accompany her recently published book “Haunted Highgate”, has already caused huge interest on the Internet. Thanks for all the hits, everyone! The film basically depicts Della dressed in Hallowe’en costume walking around Old Highgate and being interviewed by well known supernatural author, Paul Adams – who was also dressed impressively in early Victorian costume. Earlier that day Paul and Della had been at the Muswell Hill Geisterfest with myself, so that Hallowe’en was certainly busy!

The filming begins, perhaps appropriately , at Highgate Cemetery taking in both its old Western and Eastern parts, both of which were opened to the public in 1839 and 1853 respectively and both of which have for long since been reputedly haunted, including the narrow Swains Lane (or “Swines Lane” to quote it original orientation), that still divides the two. In fact, Swains Lane has changed little in original appearance over the centuries, with tarmacking of the surface to accommodate modern traffic, being the only major difference. Ironically perhaps, it was this modern virtue, with its sporadic sound of petrol engines that served to interfere with a film that was only intent on trying to capture the tranquillity of its ancient history. Well, maybe its ancient ghosts as well – at least, to record some of their reported appearances and history . . .

But this, of course, might be an almost impossible task, when ‘ghosts’ sometimes choose not to appear ‘at will’ (certainly not to order for modern day filming projects) and stories and legends relating to their original appearances have faded over centuries leaving only comparatively ‘present-day’ locations that might provide any clue to their original validity. But through the existence of certain locations that may have been slower to fade with time, the stories and legends and might have originated from these have an almost uncanny way of living on in human memory; whether as ‘ghosts from the past’ or those that are seen to confront the physical forms of those still living.

So it was at well known Highgate Cemetery that the organisers of Della’s ‘Ghostly Walk’ first chose to begin the filming; then walking slowly up Swain’s Lane into Old Highgate Village to view some much older locations which are reputedly haunted, including Pond Square – alleged haunt of a frozen chicken, The Gatehouse which has at least three ghosts, and The Flask which can also boast at least three including that of a tragic Spanish barmaid. Della couldn’t really bring herself to take the chicken story seriously, not least because of its association with Sir Francis Bacon. The assumption that Sir Francis died of pneumonia after stuffing a chicken with snow in Pond Square is just that, as Della points out in her book – it is much more likely that he died from an accidental drug overdose, believe it or not, which leaves the ghostly chicken slightly stranded! As for the courting couple in a doorway who supposedly saw the phantom fowl in 1969, why I never heard this story at the time is perplexing and suspicious to say the least. Possibly because it never happened??

I hope you all enjoy the film, which took a lot of effort to complete, not least editing out the strange interference which occurred at certain locations (the East Cemetery gate and the West Cemetery’s North Gate) when Della was describing Martin Trent’s 2005 sighting and my own from 1969. That both cameras were affected despite being different models, and that nothing anomalous showed up on the viewfinders at the time was not just rather eerie to watch on playback, but very vexing for Della who had enough trouble editing out passing cars let alone ‘ghosts’! Still, she got there in the end, and it was certainly worth it. Of course it was impossible to cover all the supernatural stories which Della investigates in Haunted Highgate in a little under 45 minutes, but hopefully the video will be interesting for people who have never visited Highgate and yet have an interest in its paranormal legends.

Haunted Highgate is available from Amazon, or signed at http://www.davidfarrant.org/publications

Thumbnail image of Della and Paul Adams (c) Redmond McWilliams

For now,

David

Della Farrant and Paul Adams (c) Redmond McWilliams

A Walk Around Haunted Highgate – Coming Soon!

Paul Adams and Della farrant filming on location at Highgate Halloween 2014 (c) Dave Milner
Paul Adams and Della farrant filming on location at Highgate Halloween 2014 (c) Dave Milner

Well as many of you will know by now – especially if you keep tuned into the Highgate Vampire saga and BPOS investigations into the Paranormal around the UK – Muswell Hill held its first ever Geisterfest at Hallowe’en  aimed at promoting community spirit and businesses in the local community.  I gave a basic report about this in my Blog of November 9th and also gave a brief summary of my appearance on Carrie Kirkpatrick’s Oracle TV on Sunday November 2nd (and I provided a link to this 4-hour programme which touched on the case of the notorious Highgate ‘vampire’),  but what I really ‘held back’ was that after the Geisterfest itself,  there was another project to complete:  a promotional film to promote Della’s new book “Haunted Highgate”, and more importantly to give readers who have never had a chance to visit Highgate to see some of its most haunted locations for themselves – on the eeriest night of the year!  The film features Della and paranormal author Paul Adams, and was filmed entirely on location in Highgate.

I thought it best not to mention this at the time because 1) the project had not yet been completed and 2) I wanted to see the finished footage which had not then been viewed, let alone edited! So I decided to ‘err on the side of caution’ before releasing this ‘breaking news’ and attracting accusations from potential critics that we had actually filmed inside Highgate Cemetery at night and amounted to illegal trespass within the cemetery!  This in fact, did not happen, although we did go to several different Highgate locations most of which had been the sites of witnessed ‘ghost sightings’,  and such-like.

Well, I have since seen the edited footage and, apart from some technical lighting problems, it is now virtually completed, for release in about a week or two.  But I’ll let everyone know and provide the playable link.

So, everything seems to have quietened down a little now after the last couple of weeks.  Della and I really have been overworked a little  during the Hallowe’en period.  But we can relax a little now at least, and the only way to do that is with a couple of glasses of wine!

For now everyone,

David (Farrant)

Jamie Farrant in 1971 (c) David Farrant

On This Day in 1967

When I compose Blog entries, I usually pick the title last, but this Blog is an exception to the rule! You see, on this day in 1967 something happened which changed my life forever – my first born son came into the world. Jamie.

1967 was a hectic and confusing year.   I had returned from Spain with Jamie’s mother, and although we had some fun times together in Highgate, as young parents from different backgrounds and with very different interests we found it hard to integrate our lives together there. Although we cared deeply for each other, and I would never describe our relationship as simply a holiday romance, things seemed so different when we returned from our carefree existence abroad to start a new life together in London. So many rumours were flying around Highgate village about strange, seemingly paranormal goings on at The Gatehouse, and in Highgate Cemetery and Swains Lane, and I immersed myself in them. Having been away for around a year, I also had a lot of catching up to do with esoteric and magical acquaintances, and I threw myself back into my life in Highgate with less care than was perhaps fair for Jamie’s mother – who had quickly and sensibly formed her own circle of friends in the village.   Knowing that I was about to come into a large inheritance I was careless with money, and lived for the moment. How things change!

I can’t look back now and revise history; those early years of Jamie’s life were turbulent for me, and I was young and did things very differently from how I would now. I was imprisoned in 1974 as a result of my ‘Witchcraft Trial’ at The Old Bailey, and had last seen Jamie (and his brother, my second son Danny) in 1971.   But I never stopped thinking about them, despite the haze of chaos which surrounded me both in and out of prison as my life in Highgate, and my life in general, collapsed around me.

My wonderful son, Jamie Farrant, in 1971 (c) David Farrant
My wonderful son, Jamie Farrant, in 1971 (c) David Farrant

Many years later Jamie contacted me. I was suspicious at first; because of the Highgate case I get so many crank emails, including ones from people giving false hope and offering erroneous information about personal situations.   But when Jamie emailed me a scan of his passport I knew instantly that he was for real, and saw the boy I knew in the man staring back at me from my computer screen.   I also learned that I was a grandfather, of a charming and well brought up young lady who is the spitting image of Jamie, her grandmother and myself.

Well, happy birthday Jamie : 1967 seems a long time ago now, and we have had a lot of lost time to catch up on. As I say in my autobiography David Farrant : In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire:

Our first son, Jamie, was born in November. There was no shortage of visitors to the flat at this time, and inevitably he had no shortage of attention.

I am sure you have had a lot of attention tonight Jamie, as you always seem to. Like myself at your age (and younger) you are always surrounded by friends.   So have one on me tonight, and you can have your proper birthday drink next time you come and stay – and it won’t be a bottle of pop this time!

Your Dad,

David

Group shot at the Muswell Hill Geisterfest (c) Dave Milner 2014

Recovering From The Geisterfest

Group shot at the Muswell Hill Geisterfest (c) Dave Milner 2014
Group shot at the Muswell Hill Geisterfest (c) Dave Milner 2014

Well, the Muswell Geisterfest has been and gone, and a very good Halloween celebration it was as well. People turned up in their hundreds to Muswell Hill bringing (it seemed) just as many children but as the whole thing had been scheduled to coincide with the half-term weekend the kids got to enjoy an almost ‘extra holiday’.

The main gathering point was O’Neills pub in the centre of the Broadway, and it was here that Della, Paul Adams and myself were all selling our separate books. Della’s new book Haunted Highgate also attracted a lot of interest and we learned it had already sold out in nearby Muswell Hill Bookshop. They have got some more stock in now which has coincided nicely with local newspaper reports today of the Geisterfest in the “Ham and High” and “Broadway” newspapers which had mentioned the new book and the Geisterfest as well.
We managed to film a great deal of the general activity, and for this purpose we had brought along Dave Milner who has covered much of the Highgate ‘vampire’ story in the past, and Drew Hartley, a Press Officer who was formerly employed by Yorkshire Television.

About 7, Della was asked to go on the stage to say a couple of words about her book which she did admirably. I guess she was saying in essence that she did not intend to bore people with a long speech but the book was available if anyone wanted to go and see it in more detail.
We had to leave around 7.30 to venture forth on another filming assignment at Highgate Cemetery. That filming all went very well and will make the basis of another film which we will be releasing next week – maybe before; but keep watching this space (rather Blog!) for details on that.
But the endless Hallowe’en week was still not over! I had agreed to be interviewed by Oracle Television on Sunday evening by the vibrant Carrie Kirkpatrick (proprietor of the Channel) mainly about Della’s new book but also to clarify some old history about Highgate’s Queens Woods and the well known case of the Highgate Vampire.Also watch out for Gareth J. Medway, and the amazing Ken Rees.

Carrie’s 4-hour programme is now available to watch live on the Internet, and the link is here.

http://www.oracletelevision.com/watch-live/4583899940

My part was really in the last part of the show. Anyway, hope you enjoy that. Carrie kindly gave me a lift home afterwards – which was just as well as, by this time, I really was getting a little exhausted!
Yet still a lot to do in the aftermath of all that. So a couple of glasses of wine seem appropriate at this time!

See you soon everyone,

David (Farrant).

Muswell Hill Geisterfest David Farrant

“The Vampire Hunter of Muswell Hill” ???

"Trick or treat, Mister Farrant?"
“Trick or treat, Mister Farrant?”

Hello all,

I am STILL sticking to my promise of updating my Blog regularly, and I have some exciting news for you all this time.

This Hallowe’en sees the inaugural launch of the Muswell Hill Geisterfest – a unique Hallowe’en festival – cum – local celebration which is taking place on Friday October 31st 2014.

Art for Arts Sake Muswell Hill Geisterfest 2014

As a resident of Muswell Hill for many decades (and previously Highgate where, in fact, I was born), it was with great honour that I noticed my name had appeared in the Geisterfest posters plastered around Muswell Hill. Well, I say my name, but actually I have been billed as “The Highgate Vampire Hunter” – and I know which old friend on the planning committee is responsible for THAT!

Muswell Hill Geisterfest

Anyway. the real purpose of this event is to bring the local community together; and to this end organise a series of events and programmes, supported by local people, shops and traders. There are many activities planned to amuse and entertain local children as well as adults, from mask-making to pumpkin-carving competitions, as well as a full performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Activities are planned all around Muswell Hill Broadway, including the Crocodile Café which will be converted into a spooky grotto, Avenue Mews where a Scarecrow Festival is taking place and O’Neill’s public house where a spooky selection of stalls can be found upstairs in the gallery.

Della and I will be attending the latter with our friend and fellow author Paul Adams, and the event will be being filmed for those who are unable to attend. Personally dedicated copies of Paul Adam’s books Written in Blood : A Cultural History of the British Vampire and The Little Book of Ghosts will be available on the day, along with copies of Della’s new book Haunted Highgate, and copies of my own books including Beyond the Highgate Vampire and my two autobiographies.

It looks set to be a really fun community event, and all of us here in Muswell Hill are really looking forward to it. And Paul, Della and myself look forward to meeting any London-based readers on the day. We will have to wrap up around 7.30pm as we have other Hallowe’en related commitments in the evening, but if you can make it after work then we look forward to seeing you.

Directions to the Muswell Hill Geisterfest

All proceeds from the raffle at O’Neill’s – to which we will be donating prizes – go to the charity All People All Places, which supports homeless and vulnerably housed people.

More Hallowe’en events to be announced soon, but for the moment,

Yours, a little tired as usual, David!