Who is David Farrant?
David Farrant, President of the British Psychic and Occult Society, first came to national attention in 1970 as a result of his involvement with the infamous Highgate ‘vampire’ panic. Let’s get that out the way to begin with! If you came to this site looking for information about ‘that Highgate vampire guy’ – as hundreds of people do daily – then you are in the right place, and you will indeed find many references and contemporary source materials pertaining to that case. But many people also find their way here whilst researching entirely unrelated paranormal cases, as well as David’s role in the history of 20th century Occultism and the study of unexplained phenomena over the last fifty years. So who is David Farrant, does he really believe in vampires, and if not – what does he believe in?
Growing up within the oeuvre of the Spiritualist movement in post-war London, David was exposed to alternative explanations for the unexplainable from a young age. His mother in particular, played a very strong part in his early leaning towards Wicca and the paranormal and he has credited her at every opportunity. The family home in Highgate’s Shepherd’s Hill was the haunt of a peculiar entity which seemed to predate the Victorian villa, and David and his childhood friends spent many hours engrossed in local mysteries such as the ‘haunted house’ on Hampstead Lane, the hooded figure which stalked Swain’s Lane by night, and the ‘ghost train’ which passed them one afternoon in a disused tunnel at Highgate overground station. David’s mother sadly passed away when he was at the tender age of 13, and so began a quest for knowledge which this remarkable woman had ignited within him.
Fiercely independent, David travelled across Europe aged only 15, with a few pounds in his pockets and a sleeping bag in a rucksack. The adventures were enough to fill a book, Shadows In The Night, and formed the foundations of a life dedicated to unravelling the mysteries of the unknown.
As he came of age, David cut a popular albeit somewhat eccentric and misunderstood figure in Highgate Village, which was increasingly becoming the centre of intensive paranormal activity focussed around its famous cemetery. Well known locally before his face became regular front page material throughout the 1970s, with his pet macaw often perched on his shoulder, he gained the nickname ‘Birdman’. While the moniker has vanished over time, Highgate residents’ familiarity with their very own ‘vampire hunter’ that never was endures.
Wicca, Magic and Arrests
Having re-established contact with some of his mothers’ friends, in his late teens and through his early twenties David developed his interest in esoterica, the rites and tenets of the Old Religion, and Wicca which he believes to be its modern day incarnation. After progressing to Third Degree Initiation and forming his own coven, he began experimenting with forms of High Magick and incorporating some of these developmental rituals into what some might call dangerous forms of psychic research. It was this period which saw the 1967 emergence of the British Psychic and Occult Society, of which David remains Founder President. Eventually David’s unconventional methods, and the fascination of the press with his exploits, led to his notorious conviction at London’s Old Bailey in 1974 for what amounted to the practice of Witchcraft. Despite the fact that the Witchcraft Act had been repealed in 1951, a combination of the then openly corrupt Metropolitan Police and one of the most draconian and conservative judges in Britain led to combined sentencing of 4 years and 8 months. Partly as a result of this trial and David’s imprisonment, there were several significant changes to the British justice system in later years. These came far too late for David who continues to protest that although he may be guilty of youthful indiscretion (aren’t we all?) his only crime was practicing his then religion. At the centre of David’s Old Bailey Trial was a protagonist who naturally never gave evidence in court – the Highgate ‘vampire’.
The Highgate Vampire
In a nutshell – the bizarre case of the Highgate ‘vampire’ is one of the most discussed allegedly Fortean occurrences of the 20th century. From the 1970s onwards a carefully orchestrated hoax was perpetrated upon the general public to the effect that a vampire was roaming around Highgate, North London. No evidence of any merit whatsoever has been presented to support this theory, however an abundance of witness testimonies do suggest that a tall dark figure was haunting Highgate long before its transition via the media into a Hammer Horror-style ‘vampire’. It was David’s research into and attempts to make contact with this entity which would prove to be so catastrophic at his 1974 trial. Regardless, David Farrant does not believe in blood-sucking vampires, and certainly does not believe that the entity which haunts Highgate Cemetery and environs is such a creature. Other people may claim to, but that is another story entirely! You can read more about the true origins of the Highgate entity – or at least, about some genuine sightings, and some less eccentric theories – here.
Under the auspices of the B.P.O.S., David Farrant has investigated not just this case but many others, all over the UK. You can read about some of these investigations here, and also within David’s many books especially Dark Journey. In changing times when popular T.V. shows such as T.A.P.S. and Most Haunted have revolutionised the public’s perception of the role of paranormal investigators, David along with many other professionals in the field with years of experience defers to traditionalist and less sensational research and data-gathering techniques. He has always doubted the ability of science to explicate the true nature of things invisible, or to ‘prove’ the existence of occulted – or hidden entities and energies. Shunning personally – although not dismissing entirely – the use of modern equipment such as EMF readers and the Spirit Box ™, David remains more confident in the use of his traditional tool kit of thermometers, barometers, talcum powder, compasses, interviews with locals, thorough historical research and of course psychic mediums – but only those with a proven record of sincerity and tangible results.
Despite often inaccurately described by the media as Wiccan, David in fact largely ceased formal practice in 1982. Although technically retaining the rank of High Priest, his spiritual inclinations had by this time led him into other areas of study such as Eastern philosophy and gnostic scriptures. He continued to explore theories of the evolution and nature of consciousness, and of man’s relationship with divinity and the incorporeal world, but on a personal path less prescribed than the confines of Wicca as he now found them. This is an area which infuses much of his writings on the paranormal and magic, and we hope to be able to publish some of his essays and thoughts on these subjects in the near future. If any radio shows out there fancy doing an interview on these topics instead of the ‘bloody’ Highgate vampire, then they are more than welcome to suggest this!
Throughout the remainder of the 1970s and up to the present day, David continued in his role as Founder President of the British Psychic and Occult Society, amassing a vast archive of reports from the public about paranormal phenomenon and conducting hundreds of investigations with other dedicated people. This unique archive provides a fascinating insight into the hidden corners – and haunted high streets – of our mysterious isle. The work of David Farrant and the B.P.O.S. has been cited in academic publications worldwide. David has also published many books detailing his investigations into unexplained phenomenon and – where these can be drawn – his conclusions, and all his titles can be found in the Publications area of this site.
In 2009 and 2011 David added to his body of written work by publishing the first and second volumes of his autobiography, appropriately titled ‘In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire’, and ‘Out of the Shadows’ which were well received. Much of the earlier chapters were originally written on scraps of paper which were smuggled out of prison, to avoid their confiscation by prison officials, and formed the basis of his earlier and shorter autobiographical work Dark Secrets.
David still holds public talks where he invites as much audience participation as possible. One of the most common questions at such talks, should the Highgate ‘vampire’ be raised, is “Why do YOU call it a vampire if you don’t believe in them?” The answer is rather all too simple:
If the sky is blue, then who am I to argue the shade? The term vampire was coined by the media. I simply refer to it by its common name, whilst my beliefs as to what it actually is, take second place to the sensationalist headline.
David’s popularity remains high given his appearance in Hollywood blockbuster DVDs like Underworld, where he was featured in a show concerning vampires as part of the extensive special features disc; and also as a regular face on various shows on Living TV and as a ‘disembodied voice’ on many radio stations devoted to the darker mysteries of existence.
Having ditched his faithful typewriter over two decades ago, David has taken full advantage of the digital medium, establishing contact with fans, friends and foes around the world courtesy of the Internet. His YouTube channel, Facebook groups and forum contributions can easily be found linked to around this site. Since 2007 he has also written a regularly updated blog, ‘The Human Touch’, upon which comments are always welcomed.
Today, David Farrant still lives near Highgate with his third wife Della, just a short distance from the house he grew up in.
With several more books planned ahead, and currently under contract for several documentaries and another biopic film, David is still very much as enthusiastic about the paranormal and unknown as when he first started out all those years ago.
Are you talking about ‘me’?
Who am I ? … Well that’s certainly a loaded question, and one which I have always wished I had known the answer to myself. Actually, that’s not true. Of course I know who I am. It’s just that so much nonsense has been written about me, not just on the internet but in books, newspapers and magazines, and even broadcast on television documentaries, that often I feel that I do not recognise the person they are writing about as me. And if I don’t, why should anybody else be able to tell the difference? Hopefully if you have journeyed this far into my website you are interested enough to attempt to discern between a public image (often deliberately warped by others), and the real me.
That said, while it was kind of my website team to describe me the way they do in the ‘Who Am I?’ section above, it does feel rather grand. I may be well known to many people, and yes I have had my share of scandal and seem to maintain a degree of popularity in some quarters. But above all, I am just a person like everyone else. Hopefully the more you read within these pages, the more apparent that will become. Perhaps I should compose a companion piece entitled . . . “Who I am not”! Well that’s really for you all to decide, and the only real solution to that is, just read on!
I do hope you enjoy the site, and please do send feedback should you wish – all messages are read and responded to.
For the moment
Some people do say nice things about me
The Occult and the Internet both attract ‘oddballs’. This fact is hard to miss. It is also hard not to stumble upon some of the negative press about me which is continually rehashed online by some obsessive ‘anti-fans’. Well, to be fair this is mainly the work of just one sad individual using multiple aliases, and a few hangers on and assorted ‘celebrity’ stalkers. But fortunately these people are in the minority, and there are a lot of decent, normal folk out there who are prepared to look beyond this copied and pasted rubbish and find out the truth about me for themselves. Here are the kind words of a few of these ‘normal’ people!
David gives a detailed account of his trial and subsequent incarceration in the latest volume of his autobiography, David Farrant: Out of the Shadows (The British Psychic & Occult Society, 2011). It is easy to jump on a media bandwagon and engage in puerile vilification of David Farrant simply because of his unorthodox lifestyle or unconventional beliefs. It is harder to be objective and give the man credit where its due. Personally, I think the man is long overdue an apology, but I doubt it’ll becoming any time soon. ~Mike Hallowell, South Shields Gazette, Feb 2012
This is the first book of David’s I have read and I was genuinely surprised at how quickly and easily I became enthralled in past events. His conversational style of writing comes across as very personal so you get a real sense of David’s character and strong feelings towards those around him at the time […]I found ‘In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire’ an intriguing insight to the Highgate case and the man thrust into the media storm that surrounded it. ~Ian Topham, Mysterious Britain, 2009'
We all sat and the interview began, tea and coffee quenched our thirst and the nerves that we arrived with flew out of the windows of that sun filled room leaving us feeling like we had just stepped into an old friend’s house. Mr Farrant (David ). a distinguished gentleman, of slim build, tall with magnificent blue sparkling eyes and a warm and pleasant smile sat across from us, in a white muslin shirt and khaki trousers.
A warm, symbolic, gold necklace hung around his neck. If I had not have known him better already, I would agree, that at first glance, the world would assume that Mr Farrant was not of this era, but some ancient historian that just stepped out of the ‘Old Curiosity Shop itself’. Even with the eccentric style, as soon as he spoke the depth of his knowledge, wisdom as well as education shone. It is clear that this person that sat in front of us was well educated, well versed in the area of the Paranormal, culture and life itself. ~Shazz Ray,~ 'That Space Between - Serious Paranormal Research & Investigations', April 2012
It is a rare thing to find a personality within the modern Occult and Paranormal Fields that is as easily approachable and openly knowledgeable about their area of study as David Farrant. Despite the great wedge of increasingly fantastical articles written about his involvement in the Highgate Vampire case in the 1970′s, and ensuing feud with others involved, Farrant, and the British Psychic And Occult Society of which he is president, have been breaking new ground with regards to the Weird since then. Controversial and honest, the BPOS represent the Old Guard of the UK Paranormal Movement, and as such should definitely be given the chance to speak for themselves. ~The Fox - http://rebelwithoutasoul.wordpress.com