I was contacted earlier this year by a lady called Sharon Clarke from County Antrim who was preparing a book focused on paranormal activity, ghosts and legends and paranormal investigations pertaining to Northern Ireland.
I am pleased to report that Sharon’s book is now available in bookshops and online, and am very excited about seeing the final result – “A paranormal collage of one woman’s involvement with the paranormal arena and her fight to promote parapsychology.”
Sharon is a hard-working mother of eight, who also keeps horses, but still manages to find time to conduct thorough research into the supernatural. Over the last few months we have had many involved conversations upon this subject, and I am proud to be able to promote her new book on my blog.
From the official promotion:
Voice in the Dark is available to order now from Amazon cost £15.99. It is a beautiful keepsake thanks to the images provided by obscura prints and Abandoned N.I. There are nearly 20 HD prints within the book.
Its contents features also contributions from paranormal celebs such as Jeff Belanger (Ghost Adventures writer and researcher), David Farrant (President of the British Psychic and Occult Society), Christine Hayes (Renowned medium and demonology expert and co-ordinator of ghosts n’ all things paranormal ),Greg Lawson (paranormal acclaimed author, of whom one of his novels will be soon a movie)..and Marty Stalker (Writer and Director of Hostage To The Devil, a film about the exorcist priest Malachi Martin).
This book will put Northern Ireland on the paranormal map as it has many local cases and in depth writings on local locations and investigations.
My own contribution involves an interview I recently gave to its author Sharon Clarke about the paranormal and psychic investigations.
The following article about ley lines first appeared in my book Dark Journey published in 1999.
David Farrant inside reputedly haunted Borley Church in 1979
In fact, I first visited the site of Borley Rectory with its extant church in 1979 and was immediately struck by a spiral arc of dense cloud that seemed to eclipse the immediate landscape. It was almost like looking at a rainbow, but made of clouds instead of having any transparent colour. This appeared to meet the horizon in front of Borley Church and join it again somewhere behind the church in the distance. Apart from this anomaly, the sky was almost clear apart from slight wisps of high cloud lying high above this lower mass.
I was with psychic medium Colette Sully on this particular summer’s day, but found the church locked; although a hand written notice pinned to the door gave directions for interested visitors to find the local caretaker who lived nearby in the tiny village. She was a pleasant lady in her fifties, and she trustingly reminded us to sign the visitor’s book for any opinions or comments. She said that she had not had any ‘ghostly experiences’ inside the church, but her husband had (who was out at the time) when he was leaving the church one evening. If I wanted to ask him about it when I returned the key – and if he was back by then – I’d be more than welcome. Unfortunately he wasn’t, and we had to make our way back to London, but we nevertheless managed to obtain some good interior photographs of the church . . .
LEYS – A MYSTERIOUS MYTH OR A STORY UNTOLD?
THE 20TH CENTURY might have heralded a turning point in scientific knowledge, discovery and intention, but virtually none of this ‘human knowledge’ (because humans we are, and humans we remain) seems to have one iota closer to solving or understanding the numerous cases of unexplained phenomena world-wide which just will not seem to ‘go away’.
Amongst multiple categories of these cam be included … UFO’s, crop circles, (the strange appearance of precise geometrical formations that appear in isolated fields overnight, precognition (an ability by some people to ‘see’ – through vivid dreams or visions – events that have yet to take place) and telekinesis, another faculty possessed by some that enables them to move objects without the aid of any physical contact.
There are numerous other examples of unexplained phenomena, of course, which from a material or scientific point of view can neither be understood or explained, and these include the psychic abilities of some mediums and clairvoyants whose ‘powers’ apparently enable them to make people contact with spirits and forces unseen. There are too, of course, the numerous sightings of ghostly apparitions (whether of ‘people’, animals or even scenes of places or landscapes which have long since disappeared into history) which, over the years have been witnessed and reported by so many people.
The possibility that ‘ghosts’ might exist in their quite literal sense is one, in fact, often seized upon by vehement sceptics who seem to want to ‘debunk’ the entire field of psychic research. Assuming that all witnessed cases of unexplained phenomena must automatically relate to figures in white sheets that go around ‘groaning’ or ‘clanking chains’, or even ‘carry their heads’, materialists frequently use this misguided criteria as an example of the absurd and argue, perhaps understandably, that if these portray typical examples of ghosts and the unknown; then all similar legends and reports can safely be based on nonsense.
They would be absolutely right, of course; but only if such an assumption was based upon a supposition that was correct in the first place.
Fortunately however, the workings of genuine psychic research and the opinions and conclusions of those involved in it, do not quite work that way! In fact, dedicated psychic investigators would almost certainly be in full agreement with hardened materialists in that the whole concept of spookily-clad figures ‘wailing in the night’ can be ascribed to sheer fantasy.
But it is only a brief meeting point for, leaving more frivolous types of ghosts aside, dedicated researchers are aware that there is much more to the field of psychic research; not least its quest to understand unknown Laws in the Universe than could possibly be responsible for the numerous unexplained phenomena reported world-wide which, so far, no physical laws or any amount of material theories or reasoning, have been able to explain …
The possible existence of ley lines, (which, as already explained, are ‘lines of energy’ that cross the earth’s surface and might be responsible for the occurrence of many psychic phenomena), could be cited as just one example where modern science or ‘intellectual reasoning’ has entrapped itself within material boundaries and left behind ‘jewels of knowledge’ rich in potential wisdom, but luckily, not so easy for the taking.
A discourteous statement? Perhaps not. For if the protagonists of scientific research with all its available computerised technology, ever came to dream that there might exist some nebulous energy outside the scope of their text books, they would be among the first to try and exploit it, would they not?
Ley lines are, in fact, lines of energy that run in exact form across the earth’s surface and although the secrets of this energy are now all but lost, they were known (at least, to a much higher degree) to ancient mankind who were much more dependent on natural forces in Nature and within the earth itself.
Accordingly, far more advanced in the understanding of this potent – though natural – energy, ancient man was instinctively drawn to ley lines, building his settlements and early places of worship on or around them, using them for navigation purposes when travelling or hunting game and to utilise their qualities for his spiritual well-being. Essentially, ancient man was ‘drawn’ to these invisible lines understanding that they contained great wealth and power; indeed, they were so important to his life-style that he ‘mapped’ them with stone markers and monuments over vast areas of terrain, and this, with the awareness that an understanding of Nature’s secret forces could help determine his very survival.
Ley lines usually run in precise alignment across the earth’s surface and although many have been seemingly ‘lost’ among the teaming vicissitudes of the 21st century (many of their markers having long since vanished into obscurity or lines themselves buried deep beneath the concrete jungles of modern civilisation) they are nevertheless still ‘there’ and no amount of human theories or conjecture can in any way affect their validity.
But perhaps what is not so well known about ley lines, and the mysterious forces associated with them, is that many reported cases of ‘ghosts’ – or ghostly phenomena – and other unexplained happenings, just happen to occur along the course of ley lines.
To take just one example of ley lines and their possible connection with ghostly phenomena, one only has to look at the famous case of Borley Rectory which was said to be ‘considerably haunted’; not, least by the well known psychic investigator Harry Price.
Indeed, from the 1920’s until well into the mid 1930’s, Borley Rectory acquired a fearsome reputation of being haunted by several different ghosts, in particular, by a phantom nun and a poltergeist that had a habit of immobilising physical objects in the air in direct view of witnesses; bottles of wine rising mysteriously from shelves and bricks and being suspended in mid air before suddenly crashing to the ground. ‘Phantom footsteps’ were frequently heard at night and sometimes a ‘goblin-like figure was seen inside the Rectory, whilst outside in the grounds, a ghostly nun was frequently witnessed by several different people. Events and sightings such as these continued unabated for many years, until the Rectory was eventually destroyed by a mysterious in 1939.
Whatever the truth behind all these tales (and most of these have been so well documented that further repetition would be unnecessary) is now impossible to tell. But it is an interesting fact that Borely Rectory itself was situated directly on a spot where at least two ley lines converge; indeed, still do.
Speculation or fact? Well, as its name might suggest “Borely” (a “bore” literally meaning a “tidal wave of great force”) was obviously originally named thus because of its position on a ley line and it is reasonable to assume (as is the case with many ancient monuments and sites) that the significance – if not importance – of ley lines was recognised by early architects and planners – even later architects and planners. (It is a matter of fact that when Borely Rectory was built in 1863, it was constructed upon the site on Borely Manner built in 1042, and before this, a Benedictine Abbey was said to stand on the site.) That this understanding was later lost is really academic for, like a meandering wave on a stormy sea, the energy in ley lines is never actually ‘lost’; although it can remain in a dormant state.
The Borely story is, of course, well known but, despite its destruction all these years hence, stories of ghostly phenomena still abound there. One of these is the ghostly nun who is still reported gliding along a certain walk-way which fell within the grounds of the old Rectory; while adjacent Borley Church only yards from the old Rectory site, has been plagued with stories of ghostly phenomena, even in years just gone. Back in the 1960’s (in the days when the church was still unlocked to the public), one group of aspiring ghost hunters reported hearing distinct –though unexplained – sounds and witnessing strange lights while they were keeping a vigil inside the church at night.
Yet perhaps all this is not so surprising if we remain in the context that a good number of ghostly figures might have a connection with ley lines; or rather, that such lines may be directly responsible for numerous cases of ghostly phenomena that are reported on and around them.
David Farrant, President, British Psychic and Occult Society.
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 . . .
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.
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. . .
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!
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!
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.
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 theBlood 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
Eerie Swains Lane that runs alongside Highgate Cemetery
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.
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).
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 😉 )
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:
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.