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