BEAUMARIS – THE ELUSIVE VAMPIRE
Highgate Cemetery in North London is by no means unique when it comes to reports of ‘vampires’. A case we investigated in 1982 concerns an old derelict Manor House which is about six miles from Beaumaris, Anglesea, in Wales. It was very isolated and the whole area was practically deserted.
Rumour had it that the mansion was haunted by a “female spectre” and locally she’d become associated with stories of “vampires”. We never found out why right at the beginning, but, in any event, this was the general story going around. We spoke to the locals – and I should add here that the Welsh are not exactly the easiest people in the world to get information out of. Maybe suspicious of strangers from outside their close-knit communities, they seemed very guarded in giving precise information, although most locals all basically told the same story: there was a terrible spectre that haunted the Manor House which was supposed to be that of a vampire and nobody would venture near the place at night. The police at Beaumaris whom we checked with before we started the investigation seemed to have no truck with the vampire rumours, but they did confirm that the place had a sinister reputation, also that Baron Hall hadn’t been lived in for many years and was now deserted. It had been the ancestral home of the Buckley family who were very high up in the community.
The first thing we did, was to visit the Manor House by day – this would have been in the late summer or early autumn of 1982. It was very difficult to find. We had to go up long winding lanes, and there was not even anyone around to ask, but we eventually located it, hidden, right in the middle of nowhere. As it loomed up in the distance, in the grounds, we discovered a short flight of steps, very overgrown but not vandalised, and at the bottom of these were two securely locked iron doors with bars in them at the top, so of course, we had to look through these to see what was inside! When we shone the torch through them – and there is a comparison to Highgate Cemetery here – there were concrete shelves on either side of a small room and at least six coffins were clearly visible. We automatically assumed that these contained the remains of people who had lived in the house and who had been interred in the family vault. At the time, I remember thinking that this seemed unusual because there were no churches in the vicinity and it was almost as if the vault lay on unconsecrated ground. It was a bit of a mystery … the point being of course, that if this was the case, it could probably have given rise, or served as a reason, for the vampire stories.
We went into the house itself and discovered that half the roof was missing at one end of the building. It was a huge building and must have been about fifty or sixty feet high, and originally it probably contained four or five floors. None of these floors were intact, but the whole of the downstairs area was. We found one other short flight of step’s on the left of the building with two massive great oak doors at the bottom, and the temptation was to go and have a look, because obviously, there would have been a dungeon or crypt, or something, underneath. But there was literally no access because lying in front of these doors were great big chunks of masonry and it would have been impossible to move it, and even if we could have done, I doubt if we’d have got the doors open. I did the usual checks … I should mention here that the temperature inside the building was decidedly cold. Now you could put this down to the building being built of stone and that sometimes when you go into a stone building it can harbour cold, rather like a refrigerator, I don’t know – but it was markedly colder than the temperature outside. We also measured the pressure, and the pressure inside the building was a lot lower than it was outside, although it was a very warm late summer’s day; which again in itself is interesting because you don’t usually get drops in pressure to that extent in such a short distance of a few feet. I say it’s interesting because you often find that cases of unexplained phenomena often occur in area’s of low pressure.
We explored the building and we explored the grounds. In fact the grounds were massive. There was a huge overgrown orchard and this must have taken up two or three acres. There were outhouses that were derelict and had long since been deserted; there was a huge ornamental fish pond which had long dried up – the bottom was all cracked. I say “huge”, it was probably bigger than an average sized room.
The other strange thing we found were huge plants which I’d never seen before. It was almost as if they were tropical. I actually got a leaf and the leaf itself was about six feet across. And I have a picture of myself holding it (so you can compare it to my height which is about six foot), and the stem would have been about the size of a small sapling tree. It was covered in spikes. I don’t know what they were, it’s as if at some time people had been experimenting with various forms of vegetation in the grounds.
We subsequently visited the building on other occasions, we got photographs of it, took other readings, including using a compass. Now, a compass is very important because it can actually react in the presence of psychic energy. It can throw the compass out of alignment so instead of pointing North, it’ll go mad and start spinning around. There was a varied reading on the compass. We got a true North reading at one end of the building, then we walked to the other end and the reading was ten degrees different. This happened two or three times around the course of the building, so there was definitely some sort of strange energy in it.
We visited the Mansion by car on several other occasions in daylight; but we became absolutely fascinated, and so we decided to hold a vigil there at night. There were five of us all together: Two psychic investigators who we were staying with across on the mainland; medium Colette Sully, and an Englishman called Geoff Jennings, who was a geologist living in the area.
Now, we went there one evening. We must have arrived about 10 0’clock and it was very, very cold inside the mansion, for we’d decided to hold the vigil inside it. I mean, I know there’d been a marked difference in temperature during the daytime but at night it was absolutely icy-cold. I do remember one thing: we kept fairly quiet, but after about an hour, there was a tremendous “slamming noise” and one of the windows at the top of the building flew open and slammed shut with tremendous force: which was unusual because there was no wind at all and it was a peaceful, passive night. But we sensed something there. It was very difficult to put into words, but it was as if some unseen presence was aware of our every move. Of course, this could have been helped by the dank chilly temperature and impenetratable black shadows that permeated the inside, but on top of this, an overwhelmingly claustrophobic atmosphere seemed to ensure we were totally ‘cut off’ from the world outside.
Then after midnight when we were facing the right end of the building inside the great front door (the left end of the building was where the stairs had collapsed which led to the entrance of the cellars or the crypt, or whatever it was), one of the girls there suddenly gasped and said she’d “seen a figure” that had come “out of the wall” and which had disappeared through a wall in the vicinity of the staircase.
We all spun around, but there was no visual sign of the figure the girl swore to seeing before it disappeared through a wall. Geoff Jennings also said he had seen the moving shadow out of the corner of his eye as he’d turned around, but this was more by way of a ‘quick glimpse’ as it had disappeared by the wall. In fact, it was quite light in there; at least away from the dark alcoves and corners of the walls. There was a bright half-moon and because there was no roof in this part of the building, it was quite possible to see without torch-light. She described the greyish figure she had seen as that of a lady wearing a floor-length dress. Again, if it was possible, the place had turned even colder.
We took photographs but that was really an afterthought because the figure had already disappeared. But the terrible atmosphere remained. I wouldn’t call it “evil”, but an intense sort of ominous force that was in there that was “watching you”.
Once outside the building, it was almost as if a great weight had been lifted from our shoulders. You could hear the odd owl again, or animals in the undergrowth. It was rather like walking back into a different world.
So although I didn’t actually witness the figure myself, I certainly heard the heavy window shutter slam open and shut in the absence of any wind and experienced the compelling atmosphere.
And seen the intact coffins lying in the family vault situated in seemingly unconcentrated ground. An important factor that may well have contributed to local stories that this ‘roaming spectre’ might be a . . . ‘vampire’!