Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Shady Pagan Shenanigans?

On Friday, December 13, 1973, David Farrant and John Pope were arrested at an abandoned neo-gothic mansion in Crouch End locally known as the "House of Dracula." An article the week before spoke of "strange goings-on at night and mysterious noises and flickering lights in upper windows." It goes on to mention:
Later this week, Highgate Police appealed to anyone who sees anything suspicious in the deserted house or people entering, particularly at night, to call them. They promise they will act on the information immediately. (Simpson 1973)
Interestingly, Farrant mentions "a series of 'mysterious witchcraft ceremonies' that took place in a deserted gothic mansion house in Crouch End, North London" that "began to unnerve the local residents." He adds that he and another coven member [John Pope], were there "conducting a magickal ceremony", specifically, a "Ritual to summon the nature God Pan" (Farrant n.d.). Elsewhere, he explains the mysterious "flickering lights" and the reason for their arrest:
We used a biscuit tin to make a small fire for heat and light, and there was an old people’s home opposite the house. I am not sure if they saw the flickering lights, or if the police had been tipped off, but all of a sudden there was a stampede coming up the stairs and the police burst in and charged me with arson. (quoted in Gough n.d.)
The charges didn't stick, though. Farrant and Pope "were later acquitted by High Court Judge Bruce Campbell, but warned to be careful in future as they were certainly acting in a manner that could have provided unwanted police attention." (Farrant n.d.)

What Farrant doesn't mention in those passages is that someone else accompanied their summoning rites—a woman Sean Manchester identifies as "Deborah Davis - a Californian blues singer . . . high on cocaine" who "did not participate in the third ritual because she was "so petrified by the past attempt that she refused to enter the house again."" (2009a). His blog post features a photograph of the trio, captioned "Farrant (centre) with Deborah Davis and Pope at the demon-raising ritual." (Manchester 2009a)

In that shot, they're clothed, but apparently, nudity was "essential" to the ritual, according to Farrant. "Yet Pope confirms that throughout these rituals Farrant failed to disrobe. Pope was not so coy and stood completely naked throughout the ceremony." (Manchester 2009a) Indeed, other pictures of the event in Manchester's blog feature Pope in the buff and Farrant fully-clothed. (Manchester 2009b)

So with Farrant conducting the ceremony and Pope getting his kit off for the cause, why did they need Davis? And for that matter, if all three were photographed while seated who was taking the photos? Pope recently had some interesting things to say about the event, Davis' presence there and the identity of the photographer, on my Facebook group, "Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?" On June 12, 2014, 9:08pm, he said:
i was doing a rite from crowleys [sic] book to conjur [sic] up pan but I went into trance instead., I didf [sic] banish it after. but I think we had not started when Police arived [sic]. we had hyme [sic] to pan and banishing rite of the pentergram [sic]. it was all painted with crowlian [sic] symbols. I dont [sic] know for sure who did that. I never felt any thing sinnister [sic] there. but my rituals may have left something, of the pull of the other side. as gateway to other realms was opened.
I sought further clarification from Pope and decided to address a rumour I'd heard about the photographer's identity (June 12, 2014, 9:010pm):
The gist of the story seems to be that the place was already haunted and that's why you and David were there in the first place. Also, there was a lady with you too. Oh, and apparently Manchester photographed the ritual. Is that right?
Pope responded and added something that caught me off guard (June 13, 2014, 8:52pm):
yes a french women friend of davids [sic], we were hopeing [sic] for soe [sic] fun but she was not up for it, I forget here name, she looked like a famouse [sic] acrtess [sic].
it was a funny case cops in court were asked by jury for evidence, and they said look at the photos jury said we understood house was bombed in war are you saying mr pope and farrent [sic] burnt it down, cops screamed just look at flameing [sic] photo, ie [sic] burnt out house, hence we found not guilty.
I wanted John to elaborate a little on certain things, so I asked (June 14, 2014, 12:25am):
"We were hoping for some fun" - are you saying you guys had her there, not so much to play an active role in the ceremony, so much as to get a "bit" from her? The tale of the vampire there seems mainly to have come from its nickname, "The House of Dracula." The Hornsey Journal report doesn't actually mention any vampiric activity in it, but something more akin to a standard haunting.
Pope later provided the clincher (June 20, 2014, 9:17pm):

It's not the first time I've been made aware of a sordid angle to Farrant's rituals (Hogg 2012), so I can't say I'm too surprised by Pope's claim.

Pope's reference to "a french women friend of davids" in lieu of the "Californian blues singer" Manchester mentions is possibly muddled,¹ but his later reference to "a full frontal of me sqoting [sic] holding a knife and my weding [sic] tacvkle [sic] for all to see" (June 23, 2014, 10:36pm) during the event is backed up by a photograph Manchester captioned "John Pope during a demon raising ritual in which Farrant participated" on his blog (2009b)—which indeed shows a nude Pope holding a knife to his rude bits.

So what of the photographer? Manchester's blog features a picture he's captioned "Pope and Farrant summon dark forces in December 1973" (Manchester 2009b), but the telling caption comes from the picture, itself, which has actually been lifted from an issue of City Limits

The caption reads "Farrant (facing camera) in the picture"—but the rest of the caption has been conveniently blurred out. That's because the original reads: "Farrant (facing camera) in the picture sent in by his rival"; his rival, of course, being Manchester.


¹ Though I have asked him for further clarity: "So, in short - what begins as a story of summoning Pan, turns out to be a story of nookie, with Manchester happily snapping away in yet another publicity stunt. Fair assessment, John?" (June 24, 2014, 7:24am) and "Oh, and are you sure the lady was French?" (June 24, 2014, 10:44pm)


Farrant, David. n.d. "What Goes on at the ‘House of Dracula’? – Hornsey Journal, Dec 7th 1973." David Farrant - Psychic Investigator. Accessed June 24, 2014. http://davidfarrant.org/vintage-press-reports/what-goes-on-at-the-house-of-dracula-hornsey-journal-dec-7th-1973/.

Gough, Andrew. n.d. "17 Questions: David Farrant." Andrew Gough's Arcadia. Accessed June 24, 2014. http://andrewgough.co.uk/17q_farrant.html.

Hogg, Anthony. 2012. "The American Magazine." Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?, February 8. Accessed June 24, 2014. http://dawwih.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/american-magazine.html.

Manchester, Sean. [B.O.S., pseud.]. 2009a. "Hymn to Pan." In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire:  The Life of a Lack-lustre Luciferian Layabout, February 13. Accessed June 24, 2014. http://thehighgatevampire.blogspot.com.au/2009/02/one.html.

———. 2009b. "Source of Falsification." In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire:  The Life of a Lack-lustre Luciferian Layabout, February 13. Accessed June 24, 2014. http://thehighgatevampire.blogspot.com.au/2009/02/five.html.

Simpson, Roger. 1973. "What Goes on at the 'House of Dracula'?" Hornsey Journal, December 7.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Must-Read Article

Unfortunately, scholarly studies into the Highgate Vampire are far and few between—notable exceptions include Ramsey Campbell's "The Strange Case of Sean Manchester" (1992), Bill Ellis' "The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Hunt: The Anglo-American Connection in Satanic Cult Lore" (1993), Kai Roberts' Highgate Vampire chapter in Grave Concerns: The Follies and Folklore of Robin Hood's Final Resting Place (2011) and W. Scott Poole's "The Vampire that Haunts Highgate: Theological Evil, Hammer Horror, and the Highgate Vampire Panic in Britain, 1963–1974" in The Undead and Theology (2012), edited by Kim Paffenroth and John W. Morehead.

Haunted America Tours
Instead, we must largely contend with the regurgitations; buck-chasing; scattered, out-of-context referencing and dodgy parapsychological "investigations" of the case's main protagonists, Sean Manchester and David Farrant. Fortunately, an antidote's recently been published online, giving us a taste of what studies on the subject should look like. In fact, it's one of the best write-ups on the case I've ever read. 

For the sake of disclosure, I'll mention that the article's author is a friend of mine; last year, he interviewed me for a podcast about the case. He has not told me to promote the article, I am only doing so on its own merits. Now, onto the write-up.

Trystan Swale's "The Highgate Vampire – An Exercise in Deception?" was published on Mysterious Times, March 27, 2014, and pulls no punches. However, instead of the usual inflammatory commentary revelled in by the case's protagonists and their supporters, Swale presents a clean, balanced overview, highlighting flaws in Manchester and Farrant's account, also incorporating some startling claims made by John Pope, a man who's been on both sides of the Highgate Vampire fence. The article also features 50 citations, so you can double-check his sources for yourself. It's great stuff and highly recommended.

It's also something I wasn't expecting from Swale, considering the informal, though still on-the-mark tone he uses for his blog, Leaves that Wither—which I'll discuss in another post. In the meantime, be sure to read his article. I hope you'll find it as enlightening and enriching as I do. For a concise, balanced overview of the case, it's hard to go past it.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Kate Jonez
I wish a safe and Merry Christmas to my followers, subscribers, watchers and casual readers. And your loved ones, too. 

You guys are the bridge between me pissing in the wind and having a reason to keep going with this thing. Thank you.

Special wishes to the members of my Facebook group and page. Thank you for your support. To anyone who hasn't joined yet, hope to see you there.

A special Yuletide greeting to my friends, Angie Watkins, Sam, Erin Chapman, Trystan Swale and Matthew Banks. Thank you for your support. I hope Santa rewards you favourably!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Suspended from Posting to Facebook for Three Days

I've just received an announcement from Facebook telling me I'm barred from posting for three days, due to an intellectual property claim issued against me.

A few days ago, I initiated a thread in my Facebook group discussing the recent death of Sylvia Browne, comparing my plight with the one Robert S. Lancaster faced running his Stop Sylvia Browne website:
Not directly related to the Highgate Vampire, but Robert Lancaster is a man I admire and whose delvings into the claims of a paranormalist touches on things I've encountered, myself while writing about the case - the threats to dig up dirt, actual attempts, attempts at discrediting my work through negative rhetoric (Lancaster's website is called "nasty", whereas I am referred to as a "troll" and someone who doesn't ask "genuine questions", etc.) and so on. It's guys like him that inspire me.

And in case you think I'm being tasteless by posting this in the immediate aftermath of Browne's death, it also serves to highlight why we shouldn't glorify the dead who were dodgy in life. Case in point: "And she said, as she says in some of her books, that she will live until she is eighty-eight years old, which is sixteen years from now [2008]." Browne was 77.
Right beneath that post, I posted a link to Hoggwatch, a blog dedicated to stalking me, to illustrate the kind of despicable tactics used to attack me and my research. The blog's byline was formerly credited to "Vebjørn Hästehufvud", who changed his account name to "B .O.S." in the immediate aftermath of my exposé of his dodgy behaviour (which includes using a variety of sockpuppets and stealing the Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society's name).

Overlooking the irony of his action, the true author of the blog opted to report me for posting a link to Hoggwatch—not content from the link, mind you, just the link itself—and in doing so, revealed the actual person behind the sockpuppets:

That's right—Bishop Sean Manchester reported me to Facebook for posting a link to a blog he created, dedicated to stalking me. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the man whose jurisdiction English Old Catholics have placed themselves under. At least, in his own imagination.

I have also taken the liberty of e-mailing Manchester, in accordance with Facebook's request:
Dear Manchester,

Re: you reporting me to Facebook on account of me posting a link to your blog

I am writing in to ask you to restore the content to my Facebook group, i.e. a link to your blog, "Hoggwatch" accompanied by the caption "An example of an attempt at silencing my work". Facebook requests that you email them with your consent, along with the reference number.

I can not fathom why you would report my post for hosting the link, unless you desired to incriminate yourself as its author—in which case, you've succeeded. Well done.


Anthony Hogg
I've done my part. Time for Manchester to do his. I look forward to his reply.

Monday, September 9, 2013


In a recent article for The Spooky Isles, David Farrant reported:
I have been researching stories of ghosts and legends in the area for over 45 years; indeed it was my own letter to a local newspaper in which I detailed a sighting of my own in 1969 which was to inadvertently spark off the vampire hysteria. I described seeing a ghost-like figure through the cemetery gates one night, and within months this had been distorted into a full-blown bloodsucking vampire with which it would forever be confused. This media manipulation was engineered by certain people with no interest in genuine paranormal research, but a very shrewd awareness of the vampire ‘pound’ which was such a lucrative form of currency for freelance journalists and publicity seekers back then – and to the present day.
While Farrant's letter may have "inadvertently" assisted the propagation of the Highgate Vampire legend, Farrant's far from the backseat driver he makes himself out to be. As to "media manipulation", it's true many issues were misrepresented by the press—but Farrant could just as easily be talking about himself.

Firstly, if Farrant has been researching "ghosts and legends in the area for over 45 years"—which takes us just past 1968—he made no disclosure of his prior research when he wrote his original letter to the "local newspaper", actually the Hampstead & Highgate Express. It was published in the paper's 6 February 1970 issue and titled "Ghostly Walks in Highgate." Rather than present himself as a paranormal investigator, he took the tone of a layman—exemplified by his closing statement:
SOME NIGHTS I walk home past the gates of Highgate Cemetery.

On three occasions I have seen what appeared to be a ghost-like figure inside the gates at the top of Swains Lane. The first occasion was on Christmas Eve. I saw a grey figure for a few seconds before it disappeared into the darkness. The second sighting, a week later, was also brief.

Last week the figure appeared, only a few yards inside the gates. This time it was there long enough for me to see it much more clearly, and now I can think of no other explanation than this apparition being supernatural.

I have no knowledge in this field and I would be interested to hear if any other readers have seen anything of this nature.
Even the number of sightings has been distorted—"three occasions", not "one night". 

Second, it didn't take "months" for Farrant's ghost to morph into a vampire. Within three weeks of the letter's publication, Sean Manchester, representing himself as the President of the British Occult Society, proclaimed that the ghost seen about the cemetery was actually a vampire in the Count Dracula mould; a "King Vampire of the Undead, originally a nobleman who dabbled in black magic in medieval Wallachia". Manchester's theory was published as the Hampstead & Highgate Express's 27 February 1970 cover story, "Does a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?"

The vampire angle overshadowed Farrant's ghost. The following week, the paper published another front page story, "Why Do the Foxes Die?" (6 March 1970). This time, Manchester and Farrant appeared together to discuss the connection between dead foxes found in the cemetery in relation to Manchester's vampire theory:
"Several other foxes have also been found dead in the cemetery," he said at his home in Priestwood Mansions, Archway Road, Highgate. "The odd thing is there was no outward sign of how they died.

"Much remains unexplained, but what I have recently learnt all points to the vampire theory being the most likely answer.
"Should this be so, I for one am prepared to pursue it, taking whatever means might be necessary so that we can all rest."
These comments were apparently made to "humour some over-zealous reporter". If his "ghost-like figure" had been "distorted" into a vampire, Farrant was clearly a willing participant.

The events of Friday, 13 March 1970 cemented the Highgate Vampire's infamy. On that night, a large group of people invaded the cemetery in search of the vampire. Shortly before that, Farrant and Manchester were interviewed for ITV's Today program. Here's what Farrant had to say:
Sandra Harris: Did you get any feeling from it? Did you feel that it was evil?

David Farrant: Yes, I did feel it was evil because the last time I actually saw its face, and it looked like it had been dead for a long time.

Sandra Harris: What do you mean by that?

David Farrant: Well, I mean it certainly wasn’t human.
Shortly afterward, mail order clerk, Barry Edwards, 24, stepped forward saying he was the vampire people had been searching for. His role as a vampire—in an amateur film for the Hellfire Film Club—had apparently triggered the sightings (Hampstead & Highgate Express, 20 March 1970, p. 1).

After Edwards' claim—disputed by Manchester and Farrant—coverage of the case died down. That is, until 7 August 1970, when evidence of tomb desecration and Satanic ceremonies was covered in another front page story by the Hampstead & Highgate Express.

On the night of August 17, Farrant was arrested, apparently with the intent to hunt the vampire. The case was trialled at Clerkenwell, but Farrant was acquitted on September 29.

Soon afterward, on October 15, Farrant was interviewed by Laurence Picethly for BBC's 24 Hours. So what did Farrant do after his ghost had "been distorted into a full-blown bloodsucking vampire with which it would forever be confused"? He encouraged it:
David Farrant: We have been keeping watch in the cemetery for … [pauses] … since my court case ended, and we still found signs of their ceremonies.
Laurence Picethly: Have you ever seen this vampire?

David Farrant: I have seen it, yes. I saw it last February, and saw it on two occasions.
Laurence Picethly: What was it like?
David Farrant: It took the form of a tall, grey figure, and it … [pauses] … seemed to glide off the path without making any noise.
The interview was preluded by a re-enactment of what Farrant was doing on the night of his arrest. Watch it from the 2:35 minute mark onward:

The following day, the Evening News published Barry Simmons' story, "Midnight Vigil for the Highgate Vampire." Once again, Farrant romped about the cemetery, armed with cross and stake: "David, 24, was all set, kitted out with all the gear required by an self-respecting vampire hunter. Clutched under his arm, in a Sainsbury's carrier bag, he held the tools of his trade."

In light of these shenanigans, what should we make of Farrant's statement that "media manipulation was engineered by certain people with no interest in genuine paranormal research, but a very shrewd awareness of the vampire ‘pound’ which was such a lucrative form of currency for freelance journalists and publicity seekers back then – and to the present day"?

Well, let's look at a statement Farrant made in 2011:
The worst I did was to go along with another person's innane wild assertions about a 'blood-sucking vampire', but again, this was only because this was the 'angle' the Press and television wanted at the time - 'vampires' apparently selling more newspapers or attracting more interested audiences for TV.
The "vampire 'pound'" is not just a "lucrative form of currency for freelance journalists and publicity seekers"—unless he's lumping himself in that crowd, too. Take a stroll through Farrant's publications and note how many are devoted—or allude—to his involvement in the Highgate Vampire case:

David Farrant - Psychic Investigator

The Spooky Isles article, itself, was obviously written to promote an upcoming talk for London Haunts and Horrors as attested in its postscript. The talk's subject?


While Farrant might lament his association with the Highgate Vampire case, as he recently did after giving a talk at the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena's Seriously Strange Conference—"Unfortunately, the Highgate ‘vampire’ case being so complicated time seemed to slip by so quickly, and there was only time left for two questions at the end"—it's facetious and duplicitous to castigate "freelance journalists and publicity seekers" for chasing the "vampire 'pound'", when he's clearly been doing the same thing for several decades.

Don't get me wrong, though. I've got no issue with Farrant wanting to turn a quid off the thing or enhance his own publicity through it. But at least be honest about it. Don't pass the buck onto others while holding your own hand out, too. Don't bite the hand that feeds.


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