Monday, April 9, 2012

Rebutting the Nazi Room

The history guide
The latest controversy involving figures involved in the Highgate Vampire case are the Nazi Room allegations made by Sean Manchester's former friend, Kevin Chesham

Chesham alleges Manchester secretly admires Nazis and collects associated paraphernalia. There have been two primary rebuttals to Chesham's claims. The first comes from spider-blogger, Steatoda Nobilis. His blog, Kevin Chesham - Triathlete - Fascist, features doctored pictures, Nazi-related images and a letter reportedly from Chesham to an unnamed 'Brother', extolling the virtues of British fascist, Oswald Mosley (1896–1980). Interestingly, Manchester refers to 'Br. Kevin Chesham' in his 1995 book documenting the founding of his church1; despite Chesham's Buddhist beliefs.

The second rebuttal comes from Manchester, himself. It's titled, well—as of this writing, it doesn't actually have a title. Instead, it features a quote from Chesham: "The struggle can take many turns and directions", balanced off with a quote from William Shakespeare's Henry VI, part III: 'The smallest worm will turn, being trodden on.'

Manchester dismisses the contents of the 'Nazi room' with militaria from other periods. There are two allusions to the Nazi stuff, firstly: 'German militaria is by far the most popular and most expensive. There are, however, certain items from World War Two that were given me by folk I knew when I was very young (who brought them back from Europe) on the proviso that I did not sell them on. I shall honour that request.' Secondly, 'I have in the past displayed my twentieth century militaria, largely but not exclusively Second World War, in a place where they could be viewed by visitors for inspection.' Militaria is defined as 'collected or collectible military  objects, as uniforms and firearms, having historical interest.'

One must question the 'militaria' claim on closer inspection of the room's contents. For instance, a silver-framed picture of Adolf Hitler adorns the wall. Second, a newspaper article—also silver-framed—sits on the desk. It's titled, 'One in four Germans admires the Nazis'. The article does not date from World War 2: it was published in The Daily Mail's 18 October 2007 issue. Indeed, the Nazi room pictures were taken that same year. Manchester's bookshelf, also pictured, is lined with books on Nazism.

Yet Manchester alleges that Chesham—and his wife, Beverley Mason—are fascists. Not him. Manchester believes Chesham 'became drawn to me because I had met Sir Oswald and Lady Diana Mosley in the early 1960s and, like Kevin, found their incarceration without trial during the Second World War to be unjust.' Manchester also mentions his association with people of far-right—and far-left—views, but omits John Pope, who was embroiled in Manchester's 'phoney Nazis' debacle. 'Raggety Ricketts' notes Manchester has retained associated items from this period. For all this, it is Chesham's friendship with David Farrant, that has rendered him a 'Judas'.

Speaking of which, Manchester's 'archenemy', Farrant, also cops a serve, with his preferences allegedly given to the National Front during the 1978 general election. This, in turn, has been refuted elsewhere.

I am also lumped with Manchester's 'detractors'. My posts on The supernatural world forums have been reproduced, sans citation, i.e. this thread and this one. I commented on Manchester's anti-'just war' policy—which is derived from The Grail Church (1995)—and juxtaposed this stance against his pro-self-defence advocacy, 'the implication being that the Brits should've let the Nazis goose-step all over them and Europe during WW2.' Manchester said, 'I fail to follow that logic'. After defending the right to personal defence, he provided a strange amendment to Britain's involvement in World War 2:
Had Great Britain not declared war on Germany in the wake of a conveniently manufactured agreement with Poland that was designed to be violated, perhaps the sixty million people killed, which was over 2.5% of the world population, might for the most part have survived? Hitler certainly did not want a war with Great Britain on whose Empire he modelled his Third Reich. My country's action resulted in the worst and deadliest military conflict in history. It should have been avoided by every measure available.
At best, this is an incredibly naive stance; Nazi apologia, at worst. Despite Manchester's sizable collection of World War 2 books, he fails to conceive—or deliberately overlooks—that with or without Britain's involvement, Hitler's 'plans' for Europe were quite clear from the get-go. Indeed, Britain was seen as a major obstacle to their aim, despite attempts to avoid war with Germany. This, of course, culminated with Operation: Sea Lion. Rather than model his Third Reich on Britain's empire, he was inspired by the ancient Roman template. Thus the criticism Manchester levels at Britain, is stretching the bounds of credulity.

All up, it doesn't paint a pretty picture for Manchester's rebuttals. If Chesham was, indeed, pro-fascist as Manchester alleges, a similar charge could be levelled at Manchester, consistent with Chesham's own allegations. Add Manchester's pro-BNP sympathies and nationalist leanings to the mix, and you've got a heady cocktail.

What makes these tendencies especially unusual, is Manchester's support for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and criticism of the National Front. You'd think he'd know better. It just goes to show that when it comes to Highgate matters and its associates, things aren't always so clear-cut.



1. S Manchester, The Grail Church: its ancient tradition and renewed flowering, Penmachno, UK, 1995, p. 128.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Caught in the headlights

Pajiba
One notable aspect of the Highgate Vampire case is what I call the 'caught in headlights' trope. Several variants are related by David Farrant and Sean Manchester. They all share the same characteristics: a person is walking past the cemetery at night, they are attacked by a supernatural force, but 'saved' by the the headlights of an oncoming vehicle.

The earliest version I'm familiar with, appeared in the Hampstead & Highgate Express, 15 October 1971:
Mr. Farrant said that last March a girl waslking past the cemetery in Swains Lane was knocked to the ground by a tall, shadowy figure which then disappeared as a car arrived. The road was lined by 12-foot high walls at that point.
The girl reported the attack to police, who could find no trace of her attacker. She had abrasions on her arms and knees but no other marks.1
In 1975, he expanded the account in an article for New Witchcraft:
A young girl who was walking past the cemetery in the early hours of the morning was suddenly thrown to the ground with tremendous force by "a tall dark figure" which had appeared behind her from nowhere. Luckily at that moment a car came along, and the girl was taken to Highgate Police Station suffering from shock and abrasions to her legs and elbows. The police immediately made a complete search of the area (the road is bordered by 12ft high walls) but were unable to find any trace of her attacker. The figure had "vanished" in the glare of the headlights.2
In 2005, her vocation was revealed as nurse. The account is expanded, further still, on the Friends of David Farrant:
Reports were coming into the Society that a young nurse had been 'attacked' by the 'vampire' in Swains Lane which runs alongside the cemetery. Eventually, the girl's identity was discovered and I arranged a meeting with her. Although reluctant to discuss the matter at first, I assured her anonymity and she gave the following account:
She was returning home in the early hours walking down Swain's Lane. As she passed the cemetery, a little way further on, she was suddenly 'thrown to the ground' with tremendous force by a 'tall black figure' with a 'deathly white face'. At that moment, a car stopped to help her and the figure 'vanished' in the glare of the headlights. She was taken to Highgate Police Station in a state of severe shock suffering abrasions to her knees and elbows. The police immediately made a thorough search of the area but could find no trace of her attacker. More mysterious still was the fact that where the figure had vanished, the cemetery was lined by 15 foot high walls.
However, in 1973, Manchester published a similar account of his own. 'Jacqui Frances, a pretty 22- year-old blonde'—who I've previously mentioned—had been visiting friends in Highgate Village and was making her way 'down the lane past the graveyard', i.e. Swains Lane. She passed the cemetery gate, turned, and saw a 'tall figure of a man with a deathly-white face' staring at her 'from within the cemetery'. She began walking faster, only to notice that the figure had seemingly materialised from the gate and started following her a few yards behind.3

As it closed in, she noted it stood about 7 feet tall and was 'darkly clad'. It also seemed to be hypnotising her. 'Had it not been for the roar of a sports car tearing down the lane, I might have entered a hypnotic trance there and then.'4 As with Farrant's account, the spectre disappeared with the car's headlights—except, in this case, it reappeared once the car was gone. When Francis ran to get away, she inadvertently dropped a 'large silver crucifix' she wore. The last 'sign' of the spectre was a hissing sound—atypical of vampire movies—and 'a glimpse of him as he faded in the darkness of the graveyard's 12 foot high brick wall.'5

No date for this attack is mentioned, but we can pinpoint it to 1970, as it is mentioned in conjunction with media coverage given to the case that same year. Strangely, Manchester didn't include Francis' account in his contribution to Peter Underwood's 1975 vampire anthology. Instead, the victim appears to have undergone a sex-change:
In first week of February 1970, a twenty-four-year-old man was knocked to the ground and attacked by something which "seemed to glide" from the cemetery. He was much too shaken to write to the press, but it, nevertheless came to my attention via someone he confided in. The description of a "tall figure which swooped" down upon him with the countenance of a "wild animal" was somehow not altogether unfamiliar.6
He, too, was 'saved' by the headlights of an oncoming car.

On the surface, it seems Manchester's borrowed Farrant's account for his own and changed a few details. But Manchester's saved from this conclusion by the disclosure of another similar account. Last year, Farrant mentioned the following on The supernatural world forums:
The BPOS into the frequently witnessed seen in and around Highgate Cemetery had in fact been in progress since early 1969. During the course of this, many local people were interviewed that year, and indeed, I published some of these accounts in my first book on that case in 1991. During 1969, the figure repoprted [sic] at Highgate Cemetery was that of a ghost - albeit a fairly malevolent one. The local newspaper (the Ham & High) had taken a serious interest in all the local 'ghost reports', maybe helped by the fact that a similar 'tall dark figure' had been reported locally just a few years earlier. That was said to haunt the Flash [sic] public house and Ye Olde Gatehouse pub. I told that newspaper at that time, that these reports might well be connected.

Then in January a Ham & High reporter contacted me to say they'd received a Press Release to the effect that a lone student (I was only told his name was 'Richard') had been 'attacked' one night by a spectre as he was passing the gates of Highgate Cemetery. The newspaper automatically contacted myself assuming it had come from my Society, but it had not. You surely don't need three guesses to know who was really responsible! This report was never published to my knowledge, although the person responsible for it was to acknowledge this occurrence about a year later on BBC television. This begs the question, of course, as to how hw [sic] could have known about the Ham&High notification if this had never been published?
He elaborated on the Richard account on his Facebook forum, The Highgate Vampire Society:
I know of 3 incidents back from the early 1970’s of people being ‘attacked’ in – or just outside – Highgate Cemetery. The first one occurred in January 1970 and I know about this because a reporter from the local Ham & High newspaper telephoned to ask if my Society knew anything about this. In fact, we didn’t but I was given basic details by this reporter who told me that he was a young student called Richard who attended the North London Polytechnic (as it then was). He had been knocked to the ground quite violently (in Swains Lane just outside the cemetery) by a ‘tall dark figure” which then just promptly disappeared.
The 'person responsible', i.e. Manchester's appearance 'on BBC television' is our lead. Farrant is clearly referring to the 15 October 1970 episode of 24 hours. Here's what Manchester said on the matter: 'As far as we know, it has only physically attacked one male person who had passed by the gate.'

In making a making a correlation between Manchester's comment with the Richard account, Farrant acknowledges that the Richard account actually pre-dates his own with the 'young girl'/'nurse'. Therefore, what I said about the possibility of Manchester borrowing from Farrant's account, now applies to Farrant, instead. We're left with two possibilities. 

Either one of them 'borrowed' the other's account and added their own embellishments, or two separate people encountered an entity—or entities—along Swains Lane, which they were saved from, in nearly identical circumstances. What do you think happened?

I'd like to thank Redmond McWilliams for his assistance in writing this blog entry. Cheers, mate!



1. 'Nude exorcists sought vampire', Hampstead & Highgate Express, 15 October 1971, p. 3.  

2. D Farrant, 'Invoking the vampire', New Witchcraft, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 33–4.  

3. S Manchester, 'The world of the vampire', Witchcraft, vol. 2, no. 8, 1973, pp. 53–4.  

4. ibid., p. 54.  

5. ibid.  

6. S Manchester, 'The Highgate vampire', in P Underwood (ed.), The vampire’s bedside companion: the amazing world of vampires in fact and fiction, Leslie Frewin, London, 1975, pp. 105–6.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bananaskins

I recently discussed Della Farrant's comments on Kai Roberts' write-up of the Highgate vampire case. She took issue with the coverage Roberts gave to David Farrant's 1970 trial for being in an 'enclosed area for an unlawful purpose', i.e. intending on breaking into tombs [to stake a vampire] at Highgate Cemetery.

I contrasted her criticism—'. . . when referring to David Farrant’s arrest for ‘vampire hunting’ in 1970, Kai omits a crucial point. David was, as everybody will remember, acquitted of this charge. The charge itself was being [caught] in an enclosed area for an unlawful purpose'—with what he actually wrote, and quoted a relevant passage.

However, my counter was a bit short-sighted. Roberts wrote more on the case than I realised at the time of writing the blog entry. I should've paid closer attention to his text. My goof. Anyway, here's what he added:
When Farrant's case finally came to trial, he was discharged after his lawyer successfully argued that hunting a vampire was not in itself unlawful and that a cemetery did not satisfy the legal definition of an enclosed space.1
It's this particular definition Della was unsatisfied with, which is why she added:
Kai was apparently misinformed when he summarises that David was acquitted on 2 technicalities, namely the definition of an enclosed area, and the fact that it is not actually illegal to hunt a vampire. This was not in fact the case. The main indictment in that case was the element of unlawful purpose. That was the only reason David was arrested by police who attempted to persuade the court that his purpose was to break open coffins in search of the reputed vampire. The police evidence (again given under oath) was that David had later told the arresting officer that he intended to drive a wooden stake through the vampire’s heart and then ‘run away’ . . . However…David denied making this statement, in court, and the stipendary [sic] magistrate obviously did not believe the police evidence and so the unlawful purpose element was thrown out of court. The conclusion is clear: that David was not acquitted because it is not illegal to hunt vampires, but because the court did not believe that he was trying to do so in the first place. To inadvertently misguide the reader over this important point is regrettable, as it contrasts sharply with many of Kai’s other points which he has investigated thoroughly.
If Roberts was 'apparently misinformed' about this matter, the 'blame' falls squarely on his source: 'Ellis, p26'2, i.e. Bill Ellis' 'The Highgate Cemetery vampire hunt: the Anglo-American connection in satanic cult lore' (1993). Though the source isn't directly correlated with her critique, he does cop a serve—on an entirely different matter: his 'angle regarding the validity of contemporary claims that most of the damage at Highgate Cemetery during the late 1960s and early 1970s was caused by “adolescent gangs expressing rebellion to adult norms or carrying out dares or hoaxes.”'

While her criticism of the way Roberts covered Farrant's acquittal seems reasonable, one can only wonder why she sidestepped Roberts' coverage of the trial's aftermath. After focusing so much on this aspect of the case, you'd think she'd have something to say about it:
Following his acquittal, Farrant made his intention to continue hunting the vampire perfectly clear. The ensuing blaze of publicity saw him holding a nocturnal vigil in the cemetery, accompanied by a reporter [Barrie Simmons] from the Evening News. The article was published on 16th October under the headline "Midnight date with Highgate's Vampire", alongside photographs of Farrant wielding a cross and stake.3
Indeed, Farrant's 10 January 2012 comment to a recent Hampstead & Highgate Express article boasts this event as the first time the cemetery's undead denizen was explicitly labelled the 'Highgate Vampire':
As a matter of interest, the title “The Highgate Vampire” first appeared in an article published in connection with myself in the London Evening News on October 16th 1970. This headline ran “Midnight Vigil for the Highgate Vampire” [sic] and followed a BBC television transmission the evening before which featured myself and my investigation into a ‘vampire-like figure’ that had been sighted in and around Highgate Cemetery.
Roberts mentions the transmission—and Farrant's 'investigation', too:
The previous day, the BBC had broadcast a segment on events at the cemetery as part of their flagship current affairs programme, 24 Hours. It featured reconstructions of both Manchester's exorcism in the vault and Farrant's fateful vampire hunt of 17th August, in which he is once again seen brandishing a cross and stake.4
Farrant's YouTube channel features relevant 'excerpts' from this episode—with Manchester's participation cut-out:


Fortunately, Kev Demant's website provides a full transcript of the vampire segment. Instead of an 'investigation into a "vampire-like figure" that had been sighted in and around Highgate Cemetery', the clip features a much more literal rendering: 'Now, in spite of all attempts by the cemetery owners to bar him Farrant and his friends still maintain a regular vigil (of the ?) catacombs in the hope of sighting either the vampire or the Satanists.' Not the first time Farrant's commentary on contemporary coverage doesn't tally with what's represented.

That said, the Simmons article appears to be the first public source to confirm Farrant's unbelief in vampires. At least in 'the commercial sense of the word'; mainly because Farrant clearly believes in a different type of vampire. This explains why he repeatedly emphasises 'bloodsucking vampires' when ridiculing Manchester's account; to take the heat off his own vampiric allusions and publicity-seeking antics. Perhaps Della's critique should've been asking: who was 'inadvertently' misguiding who?



1. K Roberts, Grave concerns: the follies and folklore of Robin Hood's final resting place, CFZ Press, Bideford, U.K, 2011, p. 96.  
2. ibid., p. 196, n 39. 
3. ibid., p. 96. 
4. ibid.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ja, mein Bischof!

Kevin Chesham - Triathlete
There've long been rumours of a 'nazi room' in Sean Manchester's house. In a comment on his son's blog, David Farrant says: 'The mysterious 'black magic Nazi room' is of course an open secret by now and has been witnessed by many many people, the nazi paraphernalia included.'

However, little has been provided in the way of evidence—no witnesses are named; no photographs shown. Indeed, it's difficult to determine how this rumour began. 

About the best 'proof' I've seen for Manchester's Right-wing sympathies was his involvement in the 'phoney Nazi scandal'—covered by Kev Demant—and his plagiarised blog entry about US President, Barack Obama. The subsequent cover-up didn't help Manchester's case, either.

Until recently, it's been slim pickings, evidence-wise. But the ante's been raised by Kevin Chesham—a former friend of Manchester's—with the publication of the first extract from his upcoming autobiography. His allegations are startling, to say the least:
Sean was a fellow lifeguard and we became friendly. The season at Finchley ended in September and the pool closed. Sean went back to his milk round, but he was sacked and reinvented himself as Lord Manchester, attempting to take candid photographs of passers by, and accosting them for money. He was pitched up on Holloway Road next to a newspaper stall run by a friend of his, known locally as the Eggmane.1 Sean was told by the police to cease this behaviour on pain of arrest; he then came to me (I was now working at Hornsey Road Public Baths) asking if I could get him a job as a lifeguard.
And that's the tip of the iceberg. From thereon in, Chesham's recollections become decidedly more sinister:
He [Sean] was a great coach but a hard taskmaster. If I was not training hard enough he used to shout "Schnell, schnell ...dummkopfen English, eggs and bacon Englishman”, and when he really got angry..."You vill be shot at dawn"... At the time, I thought it was just his strange sense of humour, although I did find it somewhat disturbing, and it was certainly embarrassing as he often shouted this sort of thing in public (at that stage).
We're then lead to the 'phoney Nazi scandal', coverage of his Church's membership and his animosity toward Farrant. Chesham claims Manchester 'was always very reluctant to discuss the Highgate Vampire case at group dinners et cetera', but I'm aware of one notorious exception. What's particularly disturbing, however, is the kind of table talk Manchester (allegedly) would make:
but I do remember that often, just when the conversation was being diverted away, he would find some reason to slip in one of his favourite Goebbels quotes; that is: "If you tell a big enough lie and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." I never had much interest in the vampire business by which Sean made his name, but I do recall that whenever he used this phrase, even in unrelated contexts, he and Eggmanne would smile and exchange knowing looks, which made the rest of the party feel rather left out and uncomfortable through their ignorance.
Joseph Goebbels (1897–1945)—for those not-in-the-know—was the Minister for Propaganda under the Nazi regime and 'one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers'.

It gets worse from there. Chesham claims Manchester implied violent actions should be taken against Farrant, 'as long as there was no actual involvement or come back for him.' There's also a discussion on alleged 'cyber warfare':
He boasted about the list of aliases inscribed upon it, and how he used them regularly in a form of cyber warfare, in that, as he described it, he would search the internet for any forum which mentioned himself, David Farrant, or the Highgate Vampire. His modus operandi as he described it was to create an argument, then argue against it under up to 4 or 5  aliases until the conversation got so heated that the forum was closed down.
This certainly puts Craig Adams' compilation of usernames in a whole new light. In internet lingo, such 'identities' are called sockpuppets; 'online identit[ies] used for purposes of deception.'

At this point, you might be wondering why Chesham still chose to remain friends with Manchester, if these allegations hold water. According to him, the turning point came when he and his wife were visiting Manchester for Christmas dinner in 2007. While there, they were invited to a 'locked room upstairs' and—take a look at the photos in Chesham's extract. You'll see for yourself.

As of this writing, Manchester hasn't commented on Chesham's allegations, but is certainly aware of them. But a blogger named 'Steatoda Nobilis' has risen to the challenge. Previously known for their blog, Friends of David Farrant, a compilation of photographs publicly identifying many of Farrant's alleged friends—many of which have been cribbed from Facebook pages—recently created a blog called Kevin Chesham — Triathlete (not to be confused with Chesham's blog of the same name). It is frequently revised, but clearly intends to give the impression that Chesham, himself, has—or had—fascist sympathies, too.

The anonymous blogger's counter-'evidence', however, is flimsy at best. For instance, one entry states, 'Kevin Chesham paying homage to Adolf Hitler in Berlin, a place he has visited many times', but the only 'homage' shown, is Chesham standing next to a picture of Hitler.

Interestingly, the blogger suggests a personal familiarity with Chesham, even though no such thing is disclosed in their profile or in the blog. Apart from reproducing pictures not found in other online sources, Nobilis is even able to provide dates ('Kevin Chesham posing in a blackshirt alongside Third Reich militaria in 2003') and reproduces a letter allegedly written by Chesham in 1998. Unfortunately, many of the images are tainted by Nobilis's horrible 'photoshop' skills.

Interestingly, Nobilis' profile mentions spiders of their genus are 'have a reputation for biting people, although in truth, this is quite a rare occurrence', adding, 'You would need to be very unlucky, or go out of your way to be bitten. They only bite if mishandled or provoked.' What Chesham—or Farrant's friends, for that matter—have done to 'mishandle' or 'provoke' Nobilis, remains unclear.

Further counter-allegations have been made by a member of the Facebook group I co-admin, The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society. Vebjørn Hästehufvud, despite professing no affinity with Manchester, also makes tends to make claims on his behalf, like the following explanation for the prevalence of Nazi paraphernalia in Manchester's house:
He has militaria from medieval times right up to the two world wars. From what I can see, there is little space given to 20th century militaria by comparison to previous centuries of similar material. Anyone visiting would obviously know that, and pictures taken in most of the larger rooms (which he has uploaded) show the 19th century predominating.
This doesn't explain the silver frames surrounding a picture of Adolf Hitler and an article titled 'One in four Germans admires the Nazis' (Daily Mail, 18 October 2007). Nor does it explain the prevalence of Nazi paraphernalia or books. Hästehufvud's idea of a 'little space' is an entire wall and bookshelf crammed with writings about der Führer; mingled with works on vampirism, horror and the occult, no less.

Interestingly, one of the photographs features a portrait of Manchester wearing an armband representing the Christian Nationalist Movement. 'Raggety', a contributor to Chesham's blog suggests the picture was taken 'opposite the house of Br [sic] Sean’s late parents!' This, despite Manchester's claim that 'at no time owed political affiliation to any party', adding 'I have absolutely no faith in the political system and suspect I would be found unacceptable to most parties making an approach today as my allegiance is not to Caesar but to God.'

In that case, you gotta wonder why Manchester's name appears here, especially as he's also the patron of The English Society, which was 'Inspired by a love for English culture, language, history, heritage and Christian Faith with a sense of pride in all that is unique and wonderful about England and the English people', and lined with alarmist articles.

According to Raggety's comments on Chesham's extract, the final work will be 'a free E-Book', although a publication date has not been set.



1. 'Eggmanne' [sic] is mentioned several times in Chesham's extract. I'm not sure why Chesham sticks to the pseudonym, as 'Eggmanne''s identity was already established in Seán Manchester's The vampire hunter's handbook: a concise vampirological guide, Gothic Press, London, pp. 62–3: Tony Hill [Anthony Arthur Robert Hill]. The book is also cited on Manchester's Holy Grail Church website. See: http://www.holygrail-church.fsnet.co.uk/FarrantFacts.htm 

Demant also discusses the Hill-Eggman connection—see: http://plan9.150m.com/whiteghost.htm—and Farrant refers to 'The Eggmanne' as 'an old friend of mine', see: http://davidfarrant.org/TheHumanTouch/?p=645.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Diminishing responsibility

BBC
It seems Della Farrant's got an axe to grind with Barbara Green. For some reason.

Green's president of the Yorkshire Robin Hood Society and believes Robin Hood was buried at Kirklees Hall Estate.

She also has the rare distinction of being aligning with both sides of the Highgate vampire case's feuding overlords, Sean Manchester and David Farrant. They've both served as Patrons of the YRHS; the latter as part of a 'calculated snub', in Kai Roberts' opinion.

As of this writing, Della's devoted three blog entries to Green's 2001 book, Secrets of the grave (here, here and here), all of which take potshots at her; increasingly personal in attack. Indeed, the latter post makes several jibes about her mental state—'Anyway, a parting treat is presented below for any of you who can stomach it – it might help if you are a fan of the film ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’'—etc.

Della never really explains her 'beef', but perhaps the clue's in her aggrandising coverage of David's role as patron. She 'lets him off' scott-free: 'As a well known psychic investigator of some standing, and ‘considered the sane one of the bunch’ viz the YRHS, David Farrant (who was at one stage persuaded against his better judgement to act as  Patron for said ‘society’) has benefited from a mutually reciprocal relationship over the years with Dr David Hepworth, a close friend and practical and academic advisor of Lady Armytage (referred to by some as her manager).'

It's rather strange she'd give her husband 'innocent fair maiden' status, chaste as the driven snow, as 'persuaded' waylays the reader into thinking he was somehow conned into the role. Far from it, it's something he openly embraced. 

I'm sure, for instance, that no one made him take part in a 'blessing ceremony' at the gravesite on 20 April 2005 in the presence of film cameras, any more than anyone made him pen this letter to the Halifax Courier in 2008. I'm equally sure no one made him promote Green's article on the supposed Kirklees conspirary in 2009—even though he pooh-poohed the idea two years before, voicing scepticism the day after that post, yet still choosing to be the society's patron.

Della also overlooks the fact that he attempted to arrange another visit to the gravesite—in 2010 (part 1; part 2). If these were mere blips in David's 'better judgement', then let me remind you he maintained his role as the YRHS's patron over a ten year period.

Indeed, the tenth year, 2010, marked a turning point. He was replaced—David says he 'resigned'—by a new Patron: John Pope de Locksley, better-known as John Pope.

Could this all stem from a case of 'sour grapes'? If not, why did David align himself with the society for so long? Perhaps the answer's in his latest post on his involvement with the YRHS: 'There has also been renewed activity on the filmed project involving Gareth J. Medway, Barbara Green and a couple of other assistants on the subject of Robin Hood’s (reputed) grave at Kirklees. I understand this film is now near completion, and will be released publicly later this year. Maybe even at the Brighouse Gala? – and I cannot think of a more glamorous and appropriate setting for its debut.'

It's the same film for which the camera's rolled on David's blessing ceremony in 20 April 2005.

The war on chapter 6

Yesterday, I received a copy of folklorist Kai Roberts' Grave concerns (2011) in the post. It was a belated Christmas present (thanks, Jo!) ordered via Amazon.co.uk. 

The book primarily deals with the alleged gravesite of Robin Hood in Kirklees Park, Yorkshire. However, it also features a chapter on the Highgate vampire case to give the 'story' greater context; after all, Sean Manchester and David Farrant both served as patrons of the Yorkshire Robin Hood Society, both emphasising the site's supernatural 'angle' associated with the place.

While the book was still in draft form, Kai emailed me, asking if I'd look over the chapter in question. He was familiar with my writings on the subject, via this blog. I was happy to oblige.

The book's generally received positive reviews, but there've been two notable sticklers: Della Farrant née Della Vallicrus—and her hubbie, David.

Before even finishing the book, Della honed in on the Highgate chapter, in a review for her blog, The Devil's concubine. Unusually, her criticism isn't directed at the author, but the unnamed 'editor' of the chapter: 'Some of Kai’s points are remarkably similar to those which I raised myself in my May 2010 Introduction to Volume 2 of David Farrant’s autobiography, ‘David Farrant : Out of the Shadows”, which I presume the editor of the chapter has read.'

It's unfortunate she's adopted the oblique, passive-aggressive referencing usually employed by her husband (see: 'A bizarre 'reply''), as Della—a flitting member of The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society—knew that the 'editor' was me. However, considering her associations, it'd certainly explain why she'd go for my neck instead of Kai's due to my overt critical stance on the case. 

As of this writing, no, I haven't read her introduction. But I did ask her if she'd post the introduction on The supernatural world forum while the Highgate section was still active: she told me to buy the book.

Della goes on to criticise the chapter's 'tone': 'But aside from this, I can’t help but feel that its tone is slightly different to the rest of the book, and has perhaps suffered from some rather heavy-handed, subjective editing, alien to the rest of the tract', perhaps not realising that the book's chapter is largely intact from Kai's draft.

What she means by 'subjective editing', is anyone's guess. It's also redundant: aren't all editors 'subjective' by default? By 'heavy-handed', perhaps she's referring to the chapter's copious—albeit, necessarily so—footnotes, of which there's ninety-nine, all taken from various sources. Considering the tangled web of contradictions, claims and counter-claims weaved throughout the case—which Kai readily acknowledges with no 'prompting' from me1—I can only suggest she grasp the importance of citations in academic works.

At long last, she gives us something to work with, by providing an actual example from the book: '. . . when referring to David Farrant’s arrest for ‘vampire hunting’ in 1970, Kai omits a crucial point. David was, as everybody will remember, acquitted of this charge. The charge itself was being [caught] in an enclosed area for an unlawful purpose. Kai was apparently misinformed when he summarises that David was acquitted on 2 technicalities, namely the definition of an enclosed area, and the fact that it is not actually illegal to hunt a vampire.'

Let's break this down. First, here's what Kai actually said about it:
It was one such [police] patrol that, on the night of the 17th August, discovered David Farrant trying to gain access to the cemetery from the adjacent churchyard of St. Michael's, carrying a crucifix and wooden stake. He was arrested for being in an enclosed space for an unlawful purpose, and bailed at Clerkenwell Magistrates Court the following morning. National newspaper, The Sun, reported Farrant telling the magistrates "My intention was to search out the supernatural being and destroy it by plunging the stake in its heart." The case was adjourned until 30th September, and Farrant bailed.2
That's it. So, what '2 technicalities', exactly? If Kai was, indeed 'apparently misinformed', the 'blame'(?) falls on an article in The Sun's 19 August 1970 issue and Bill Ellis' essay, 'The Highgate Cemetery vampire hunt: the Anglo-American connection in cult lore' (1993), i.e. the 'informants' featured in Kai's endnotes.3

Della goes on to say,
This was not in fact the case. The main indictment in that case was the element of unlawful purpose. That was the only reason David was arrested by police who attempted to persuade the court that his purpose was to break open coffins in search of the reputed vampire. The police evidence (again given under oath) was that David had later told the arresting officer that he intended to drive a wooden stake through the vampire’s heart and then ‘run away’. The latter phrase has always struck me as somewhat bizarre, because, fait accompli, surely there would be nothing to run away from. However…David denied making this statement, in court, and the stipendary magistrate obviously did not believe the police evidence and so the unlawful purpose element was thrown out of court. The conclusion is clear: that David was not acquitted because it is not illegal to hunt vampires, but because the court did not believe that he was trying to do so in the first place. To inadvertently misguide the reader over this important point is regrettable, as it contrasts sharply with many of Kai’s other points which he has investigated thoroughly.
It's a 'conclusion', however, which Kai didn't make, thus, negating Della's 'argument'. It's a fair sticking point, though, but it's no so simple, either. Farrant was caught in the midst of a 'Black Magic probe' launched by police4, on account of increased occult-themed vandalism the cemetery was subjected to, in the wake of press coverage relating to Farrant and Manchester's respective claims. Indeed, the Hampstead & Highgate Express had earlier quoted Farrant saying,
"Much remains unexplained, but what I have recently leart all points to the vampire theory as 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."5
And he was captured in the cemetery—according to police and press reports—with a cross and stake. You do the math.

The legality of hunting vampires, however, was indeed a big part of the case. At least, as far as contemporary coverage goes. Farrant, himself, has previously acknowledged this 'angle':
But notwithstanding, the case was dismissed, the Magistrate (this time a Mr DJ Purcell) accepting a Defence submission that the Society investigation had already featured on television and in the Press and that, in any event, it was just as akin to "hunt for vampires" as it was for some people to spend vast sums of money trying to locate the Loch Ness Monster.6
The real basis of the 'unlawful purpose' was, of course, the implicit actions involved in hunting vampires, i.e. grave desecration. This is also acknowledged by Farrant: 'The Magistrate added that he was satisfied that there had been no intention to "damage coffins"' and that the Cemetery was not an enclosed area in the strict legal sense.'7

In his comment on Della's review, Farrant adds,
Very concise review Della; especially concerning the blatant inaccuracies in Chapter 6 of Kai’s book over my acquittal for ‘vampire hunting’. I am not blaming Kai for this important ommission or how he failed to mention that my ‘confession’ for ‘hunting a vampire’ and intention to ‘smash open coffins’ (the fabricated police statement which was largely reported by the Press BEFORE my acquittal), when he was only acting on information given to him in ‘good faith’ by an extremely prejudiced and misinformed party. THAT was shoddy research, but it was hardly Kai’s fault.
One can only wonder whether he'd actually read the chapter, himself. Therefore, the identity of this 'extremely prejudiced and misinformed party' is a bit of a mystery. All I know is, it can't be me, as I made no edits to Kai's paragraph.

Farrant wasn't content with restricting bile to his comments on his wife's blog: his war on Chapter 6 spilled over to Kai's Facebook page. In a posted dated January 26 at 8:41am, he wrote:
Congratulations on your new book "Grave Concerns" Kai, and I agree with my wife that it is a 'well researched academic (and yet accessible) work'. The only part I didn't agree with was your description about the result of my case for 'vampire hunting' back in September 1970. However, I have already made it clear that the only person who can really be blamed for this, is the same person who seems highly confused about the legal outcome of that case in which I was acquitted, and who has a habit of making his erroneous conclusions public. It was not dismissed over any 'technical issue', but because of deliberately fabricated evidence (namely a false statement of 'confession' that one particular police had attempted to attribute to myself) which was not accepted by the Court. That aside, I found your research into the case of Robin Hood to be very accurate: especially your apparent conclusion how sometimes historical legends can be turned in modern day 'facts' by virtue of 'legend tripping'. Professor and historian Bill Ellis came to more-or-less the same conclusion in hs own book "Raising the Devil".
That, of course, erupted into a mini flame war between myself and him after I noted, '. . . if your worst criticism of my edits to the chapter (I've yet to receive the book, so I'm not sure how many of them stayed, intact), is allusions to your court case, then that means the rest of my writings on the chapter must've held up pretty well. Cheers. :D'

Farrant added,
The point is, that if you could get the important facts of my 1970 Court case blatantly wrong, then people are entiled [sic] to ask how many of the other points in your 'editing' were also erroneous. There is no need to list them all, except to say you substituted your personal opinions in favour of events as these actually occurred.
It was getting pretty clear that Farrant thought I was more involved with the chapter than I actually was, but I pointed out: 'They're entitled to ask, but if *you* can't even say what they are, then what you're trying to imply is that the rest of my research is fallacious...without backing that up. Sounds like a 'campaign' to me! lol'

And on it went, along with contradictory amusements like this: 'I am not prepared to discuss your 'editing' here Anthony. Kai has written a well researched book - except regarding the erroneous editing in Chapter 6 regarding Highgate in the early 1970's that was supplied by yourself.'

However, since that time, Farrant's tune's changed. Perhaps he actually sat done and read through the chapter, properly, without resorting to the ad hominem hysterics. In a recent blog entry, he wrote:
I think I have already mentioned this, but Kai Roberts’ book “Grave Concerns” on Robin Hood’s grave has just been released. I did like his assessment of events surrounding the alleged grave of the legendary outlaw, and also appreciated his narrative in chapter 6 which detailed old research about my own involvement as ‘President’ (sorry I meant – or rather he meant – Patron) of the Yorkshire Robin Hood Society.  It seems Kai spent quite a few months if not years methodically researching the book; but in reality, I was only Patron of the YRHS and not its President! (I am the President of the British Psychic and Occult Society and the Highgate Vampire Society, and that is quite enough work for one day!)

But I do wish him every success with the book, and no doubt, that appreciation should be due to other people who aided him in his research as well.
That last bit almost sounds like a compliment. Perish the thought! If there's any criticism I'd personally give Kai's chapter, it's that it overplays the sincerity behind Farrant's vampire-hunting antics. Indeed, in correcting the date of an Evening News article, I added: 'To be fair on David, the 16 October [1970] article does mention (quoted by Copper), that David said he did not believe in the ‘the commercial sense of the word’. That article would be worth seeking out. Of course, that’s in late 1970, after months of brandishing crosses and stakes and all those other claims to the press and so on and so forth.'

It didn't make the cut.

However, keeping in tune with David and Della's respectively absolving Kai of responsibility for the content of his own chapter, we can't 'blame' him for the associations, either. After all, Farrant actively courted the vampire tag—and still does. The current President of the Highgate Vampire Society lists it as one of his greatest regrets. And then takes it back:
The worst I did was to go along with another person's innane [sic] 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. Even today, aome [sic] of those film clips of myself 'hunting a vampire' are still being shown or repeated. Do I regret this? NO. Because this is the way it happened. I can't change the past, but ironically there are people who would like to try and do so.
Says the revisionist. In the meantime, I look forward to reading the rest of Kai's book. I've enjoyed my correspondence with him—he's got a good head on his shoulders and shares academic sensibilities. I'm also proud to call him a friend. I wish him the best with his work.



1. K Roberts, Grave concerns: the follies and folklore of Robin Hood's final resting place, CFZ Press, Bideford, U.K, 2011, p. 91: 'It is almost impossible to present an accurate record of the Highgate Vampire drama because - in the opinion of this author, at least - the two principal players have consistently proved to be unreliable witnesses, repeatedly altering or embellishing their recollection of events, often in an attempt to undermine each other's credibility.'

2. ibid., p. 95  

3. ibid., p. 196.  

4. ''Black Magic' probe starts', Daily Express, 1 August 1970, p. 1. 

5. 'Why do the foxes die?', Hampstead & Highgate Express, 6 March 1970, p.1. 

6. D Farrant, Beyond the Highgate vampire: a true case of supernatural occurrences and "vampirism" that centred around London's Highgate Cemetery, 2nd rev. edn, British Psychic and Occult Society, London, 1992, p. 18.  

7. ibid.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A bizarre 'reply'

deviantART
After publishing yesterday's blog entry, I emailed David Farrant and asked, 'Quick question: how many articles did you submit to Penthouse?'1

Instead of an email reply, he 'responded' with a several paragraphs-long blog entry. However, I use the term 'responded' very loosely; for all its waffle, at no point does he actually answer the question.

The closest thing we get is this: 'For the record – but certainly not for his particular benefit – I have written for many magazines in the past, or given interviews if, or when, they came to visit me.  Depending on the type of magazine, would usually determine the subject matter.  That’s only common sense, but it does not mean I would give interviews on any alien subject matters.' Not the first time I've encountered his patent evasiveness.

Admittedly, my email must've seemed odd and out of the blue, as I gave no context for it—my blog entry's publication still fresh in my mind, I thought Farrant would 'get it'. If he merely expressed bewilderment, fair enough—except prior to writing his blog entry, he clearly read mine, too. The 'context' is readily apparent.

Bizarrely, he takes me to task for asking him about his contributions to it: 'It came from a person I know (of) who lives in the far-flung area of South East Australia (of all places!), and was asking me how many articles I had written for Penthouse magazine. Not, ‘have you ever written’ for that magazine but how many times, as if this was some kind of foregone conclusion!' This, despite his previous boasting of practically writing the source—which I cited in the same blog entry—from which I scored the info. A direct quote from him, no less:
I also wrote one for Penthouse, because ... they'd played up the sex angle in court and all the papers were implying ... I thought, well, it's a magazine, they could be half-serious. I mean, bloody hell, it was sold in W.H. Smiths ! So I wrote to them. As far as I can recall, it was an article about witchcraft, what really went on in Wicca and, more to the point, what didn't. That we regarded sex as a pure and natural thing, that it only became abused and corrupted by the minds of men. And they only sent the article back ...
Unfortunately, these are the sort of 'mind games' you have endure in covering this case. Despite his blog entry's warped commentary about myself—'Obviously his personal interests went far beyond his query.  How come he knows so much about it otherwise!?  A subconscious reflection of his own guilt perhaps?' and 'So I’m afraid that particular email had to go on the ‘crank file’'—I'm a good sport—I have to be, to make any headway with this thing—so I posted a comment elaborating on why I sent the email:
Hi David,

A blog entry is a really unusual way to respond to a one sentence e-mail, not to mention the oblique references to myself ('It came from a person I know (of) who lives in the far-flung area of South East Australia (of all places!))'.

My question was 'foregone', because, unless you've forgotten, you admitted to writing an article for 'Penthouse' in Kev's 'book'. Why did I ask? Well, I thought that'd be obvious, as you've clearly read my recent blog entry, 'The American magazine', as given away by saying, 'Especially after he had gone on to describe the magazine’s format as a ‘wanking magazine’' (I actually called it a 'wank mag', as many people would). Indeed, type 'wank mag' into Wikipedia, and check the list you come up with.

If you don't 'get' why I asked, allow me to explain: there are discrepencies [sic] in the description(s) you've given for your contribution. That's why I added 'That means Farrant's memory's either faulty, or he's referring to another article for the mag. I'm hoping it's the former.'

I hope that makes things clearer for you. So, how many?
Perhaps due to some glitch, the comment didn't 'come up'. I tried a few more times, with some minor alterations. No dice. So, I apologise, in advance, if it duplicates. But hopefully, this time round, we'll get a straight answer.

And yes, it's true: if you type 'wank mag' into Wikipedia, you'll be re-routed to a 'List of men's magazines', which includes Penthouse—filed under 'Pornographic magazines'. If that's not a redundant explanation for my 'wank mag' reference, I dunno what is.



1. A Hogg, email, 8 February 2012, dawwihmanager@hotmail.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The American magazine

The Highgate vampire case is spread across a wide variety of media. Newspapers, magazines, journals, books, TV, radio—you name it, it's been there. Until recently, one particular oblique source has eluded me: an American magazine.

This oblique source is surprisingly pivotal to our story, as David Farrant's contribution to it would come back to haunt him at a later time. In an interview with associate, Rob Milne, he mentions: 'I got approached by an American magazine ... they'd heard about the the stories of vampirism (this was obviously before my trial at the Old Bailey) and they were doing an article on Satanism, Highgate Cemetery being used by Satanists, nudity, exorcism ...
RM The usual ...

DF Yes. And bear in mind, this was time all of this stuff was all over magazines, the News of the World - there was really a great interest.

RM I remember that at the time. It was every other week there was an exposé of some Satanic group or some 'black magic outrage' and all that sort of thing ...

DF Well, ironically, I ended up getting - not exposed - but blamed for that.

RM I'll bet, yeah.

DF Foing back. Because what I did was, I knew that this reporter wanted a picture. I [sic] was a big American magazine and I thought, well, there's no problem, its [sic] not England and, you know, they promised quite a good payment for it.

RM Well. Needs first!
DF I took the girl [Martine de Sacy] into Highgate Cemetery one night, and I got her to pose named in front of these black magic symbols that we'd found. I took two or three pictures ... sorry, two. And that was the end of the matter. Until the police raided my flat and found the pictures in 1974. Took them to court and, of course, the judge nearly had a heart attack! Well apparently, he has had one! ... but I know he's dead, I mustn't be ... You know, it would be very tempting to use your interview to lay into the injustices of my trial and judge Argyle. But I'm not going to do that; I'm just telling you all the basic facts. If it sounds a bit frivolous at times, its not because its [sic] not true, but its [sic] because I can look back at it now ... but at the time it was taken very seriously. And he actually said at the Old Bailey, passing the photograph to the jury he said ... "Members of the jury, look at that closely " ... It was almost as if he was enjoying it! ...1
What was the mysterious 'American magazine'? At first, I thought it must've been an occult or paranormal rag. Makes sense, right? However, finding the right one would've been a needle-in-the-haystack situation. I had no references to work with, so I left it in the back of my mind. That's when serendipity stepped in. 

One night, while trawling through Google Books for references to the case, I came across an interesting snippet from a magazine entry. An American magazine, no less. It discusses Farrant and mentions they'd decided against publishing his article. It even dates 1973, contemporary with events described. Tick, tick, tick, tick. 

So, what was the name of the magazine? Was it an occult/paranormal rag? No, it wasn't, surprisingly enough. It was, well, how do I put this? A 'wank mag'. Penthouse, in fact.

I was reasonably sure I'd found the mysterious American magazine in question, because Farrant mentions sending an them an article in Kev Demant's 'book':
Apart from the legal stuff, when I had time to spare I wrote a few articles. I sent one to New Witchcraft which was used, and I mean, every single word was used. It was written on old scraps of paper, anything I could get together because obviously, they wouldn't have given me official writing paper to do that, apart from which, it would have been stopped anyway. That was smuggled out and used. I also wrote one for Penthouse, because ... they'd played up the sex angle in court and all the papers were implying ... I thought, well, it's a magazine, they could be half-serious. I mean, bloody hell, it was sold in W.H. Smiths ! So I wrote to them. As far as I can recall, it was an article about witchcraft, what really went on in Wicca and, more to the point, what didn't. That we regarded sex as a pure and natural thing, that it only became abused and corrupted by the minds of men. And they only sent the article back ... [my italics]
I had a citation, so now it was just a matter of tracking a copy of the mag. USEDmagazines.com (ok, not the best site name for selling such mags) had 1973 issues of Penthouse. Perfect! I provided the citation, and made sure the article—'Witch report'—was featured in the relevant mag. However, a stumbling block was immediately thrown my way. Try as she might, Wendy—an excellent and incredibly patient customer service rep—couldn't find the article. She even checked all issues from that year, but it simply wasn't there. How odd.

I located a copy on eBay for  £12.99 (+ £6.48 Royal Air Mail) (left). I double-checked with the seller whether the article appeared in it—it did!—but then I figured I only wanted the article, itself. Might've been cheaper. Only two pages long, after all. So, I contacted the Google Books entry's digitzer—the University of Michigan Library—to see how much it'd cost.

The request was processed fairly rapidly. They found the article, too. Then price came: US$44.00. 'This amount includes our MITS fee of US$15.00 and a copyright fee of US$29.00. Would you like us to proceed?' Hell no!

I was much more polite in my response, of course. I settled on snapping up the eBay copy, but was still mystified as to why it wasn't appearing in Wendy's searches. Then, I started paying closer attention to the citations. I figured out the problem: Penthouse, the American magazine, features month and year on the cover...but the UK version features volume and issue number. The issue I was after? Volume 8, number 8. I also learned that their content differed, too (link not safe for work or children!). Mystery solved! And see, ladies? Sometimes we do buy this stuff for the articles!

I ordered it on January 30th and it arrived yesterday. Does the article feature any startling revelations? Game-changing info? No, not really. There are a few interesting tidbits, though. According the article, Farrant's article wasn't simply refused and that-was-that: the magazine actually interviewed him. 'He was careful to stress from the outset that he was a practitioner of witchcraft, not satanism: "Satanists worship Lucifer, the supreme power of evil, whereas witchcraft is a neutral thing—it's only evil if practised for an evil purpose."'2

There's the usual emphasis on special powers derived from sex—'and Farrant acknowledged that his duties as a High Priest included having intercourse with his High Priestess at some—but not all—of his coven meetings, while his followers are also required to perform occasionally.'3

Farrant also mentions helping a man of diminutive stature—'a midget'—who was being booted out of a controlled tenancy and suffering harassment from them, too. As if that wasn't bad enough, the man's wife was preggers and not coping well with the stress. Farrant 'wrote to the landlady saying politely but bluntly that if she didn't stop we would deal with her our own way.' She was sent an amulet 'consecrated' by the coven, along with a rhyme intended to convey that 'once she'd touched it we'd have power over her, and we performed a ceremony in which we cast forces on her wishing her all she wished on the midgets.' Two days afterward, 'she went into the hospital and lost her baby.'4

The 'midget' is unnamed, but  I've a feeling it's the guy depicted in this photo and this one, too.

It also says Farrant began practising witchcraft, seriously, at 18. Interestingly, the article mentions his current age as 33, which is at odds with the 23 January 1946 birth-date he's usually given.

The last item of note's his accumulation of enemies, including his challenges to duels. One of them, from 'another witch' who challenged him 'to a duel of powers once, and the Sunday papers picked it up and quite wrongly said [he] was going to sacrifice a cat during the course of it.'5

There is, of course, a discrepancy between Farrant's account with the content of the article. His interview with Demant suggests the article was written while he was incarcerated, but the interview in Penthouse took place about a year or two beforehand, in his flat. That means Farrant's memory's either faulty, or he's referring to another article for the mag. I'm hoping it's the former.

However, what you make of Farrant's alternating rationales for composing the article(s)—

'I [sic] was a big American magazine and I thought, well, there's no problem, its [sic] not England and, you know, they promised quite a good payment for it'

or,

'they'd played up the sex angle in court and all the papers were implying ... I thought, well, it's a magazine, they could be half-serious. I mean, bloody hell, it was sold in W.H. Smiths !'

—is up to you.



1. R Milne, Return of the vampire hunter: an exclusive interview with reclusive vampire hunter, David Farrant, British Psychic and Occult Society, London, 2003, pp. 24–5.

2. 'Witch report', Penthouse (UK), vol. 8, no. 8, 1973, p. 19.  

3. ibid.  

4. ibid., p. 20.  

5. ibid.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The prevalence of secret recordings

Smoking guns are hard to come by in this case. One must duck and weave through a wave of paltry excuses, revisionism and flat-out stonewalling. That, of course, doesn't stop the claims a-rollin' on in, though.

But one of the more explosive claims, something that could hammer a nail into the coffin—and reputation—of one of the 'vampire''s leading proponents, burying the case once and for all, is also one of the most elusive pieces of 'evidence'.

Oddly enough, it originated from one of the deepest, darkest recesses of the web: the MySpace page of an undead Hungarian scholar.1 His entry discusses a dinner held at Sean Manchester's place, notable for the presence of David Farrant's former friend, Tony 'Hutchinson' Hill. 'It was in the winter of 1969/70 that Farrant suggested to Hill they attempt to hoax a ghost story to see what the public reaction might be,' so claims Arminius Vámbéry.

CBS Miami
Vámbéry goes on to assert that 'Farrant could not afford to allow Hill to come forward if he wanted to retain any semblance of credibility because, more than anyone else, Hill knows that Farrant is a fake.' While none of the content of his blog entry contains any direct quotes—nor does its author disclose his attendence, suggesting he's relying on the story 'secondhand'—it also alleges Hill 'still possesses secretly recorded tapes of their forty-year-old conversations to prove it. On these tapes, Farrant can be heard conspiring to hoax a ghost story using acquaintances' addresses to send fraudulent letters to local newspapers, and by dressing up as a "ghost" and wearing make-up for photographs.'

There's certainly a precedent for the letters and Ghost Dave is backed by photographic evidence, do the tapes actually exist? Unfortunately, the credibility of Vámbéry's claims is undermined by saying, 'It was not long before Seán Manchester was advising caution where Farrant's claims were concerned, and by the end of that year he had publicly dissociated himself from Farrant on a television programme (BBC's 24 Hours, 15 October 1970) and in both the national and local press.' Considering the 'access' he has to Manchester's personal life—or so his photos of the dinner would suggest—you'd expect him to know that Manchester and Farrant's association continued long after this time.

But where Vámbéry stumbles, the Friends of Bishop Seán Manchester pick up the slack, by regurgitating his entry for their blog. In another entry, 'Mug shot', the the allegation of Farrant and Hill's hoaxing a ghost story, rears its head again. It also makes an appearance in Vampire Research Society member, Vampirologist's blog, under 'The ghost writers', but adds further detail: 'Hill was in on the hoax and can be heard colluding with Farrant in conversations secretly recorded in December 1969, January and February 1970.'

Farrant is certainly aware of these claims: I showed them to him and asked him to comment. For the record, he said, 'The content of this document is untrue, and apparently concocted because of a disclosure I made on an American Radio broadcast recently to the effect that the above named ‘Tony Hill’ together with his ‘side-kick’ and close friend one Mr. Sean Manchester, had hoaxed their version of the infamous Highgate Vampire in the year of 1969 by making a home-made 8mm cine film (this film was in colour but had no sound) about its (The Highgate ‘Vampire) alleged activities. This film showed Mr. Manchester himself disguised as a ‘vampire’ and Mr. Tony Hill assisted in its original production.'

That is an unlikely claim, due to the timing of the postings. I would suggest, along these lines, that the 'secret recordings' were a 'comeback' to Farrant's publication, The Seangate tapes, which feature alleged transcripts of incriminating phone conversations between Farrant and Manchester. These, too, were 'secret recordings'. As far as I know, Manchester—a man keen to invoke DMCAs, as Brendan Kilmartin, owner of The supernatural world forums will also attest—has not pursued legal against against Farrant for their publication.

But, on the other hand, Farrant, who took the Daily Express to court over allegedly defamatory comments2, has not made any such injunctions, either, despite repeated insinuations that Friends of Bishop Seán Manchester, Arminius Vámbéry and Vampirologist are actually Sean Manchester in disguise.

Seeing as The Seangate tapes have remained in circulation, relatively unhindered, I think it's time Friends of Bishop Seán Manchester, Arminius Vámbéry and Vampirologist—and Hill, too, presuming he actually made such allegations—put their money where their mouth is and produce the tapes. Otherwise, they should retract their statements.



1. The real Arminius died on 15 September 1913. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arminius_Vambery.

2. ‘Occult man appeals for help after libel cases’, Daily Express, 16 February 1980, p. 4 and ‘Witch left with £20,000 libel bill’, The Guardian, 16 February 1980, p. 3.

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