Saturday, 7 November 2020

Hemlock and Hate



Hemlock Books Ltd was registered in Brighton, England, UK, on 28 June 2007 in the names of Jane Meikle (Secretary) and Denis Meikle (Publisher). The latter offers his age as seventy-four. He was born in 1947. The image shown was taken in April 1994. The image of Jane Meikle was taken circa the same time, or possibly earlier. Hemlock Books Ltd are registered as a private limited company.

The person responsible for the inclusion of a photograph of †Seán Manchester on page 70 of the first printing of Matthew Coniam's Dracula AD 1931 without the consent of the lawful copyright holder is Jane Meikle. No compensation was offered. Instead an assurance was given that the stolen item will not appear in future printings of the book, as requested by†Seán Manchester who would later add:

"The image of me alongside Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster, at a religious occasion in Westminster Cathedral can be found in the top right-hand corner of page 64, being very slightly obscured by the top of Bela Lugosi's head, which, by way of composite, hides my cassock. Further down the same page are found images of the front cover of David Farrant's sparsely paginated, stapled together, pamphlet, Beyond the Highgate Vampire, plus the front cover of the second edition, revised and enlarged, of The Highgate Vampire in hardback with dust jacket. It seems bizarre to remove the image of me on one page whilst keeping a second image of me on another. Needless to say, both images are my exclusive copyright and lawful property."

Jane Meikle would respond one final time:

"We have already stated that we have removed the image of yourself on p70 of Dracula AD1931, and a substitute page is already with the printer. The photo on p64 to which you refer is part of the reproduction of a page from a 22-year-old commercial periodical; as such, we will be making no payment to you for its use. Nor (for the last time) will we be replying to any further emails on this matter. All future response will now be blocked on our servers."

†Seán Manchester had asked for the removal of all reference to himself, or, at least, the inclusion of some balancing material. Jane Meikle did not agree to this, saying that any dispute over the text should be taken up with the book's author, Matthew Coniam, who based his Highgate content, albeit a mere three pages of Dracula AD 1931, on Jacqueline Simpson's biased and factually innaccurate Wikipedia entry that repeats the conjecture of American author Bill Ellis. In 1992, he visited David Farrant in England, and was supplied by Farrant with cuttings and material slanted to benefit Farrant. Ellis did not speak to †Seán Manchester, but possessed his book. He was a colleague of Simpson, and member of her UK based Folklore Society. In turn, Jacqueline Simpson of Worthing, Sussex, was actively supportive of Farrant whose meetings, not least his symposium in July 2015, she attended as a major contributor and guest speaker. Simpson was also well acquainted with someone who, to all intents and purposes, did not exist (online) prior to 2010, employs various nomenclatures, most recently "Della Farrant," and has made a ten-year career out of defaming †Seán Manchester. Like the others, she has never met him, is drawn to the dark arts, and has strong connections to Satanists; for example, the French Luciferian who sacrifices animals in blood rituals on camera, Jean-Paul Bourre. Notwithstanding David Farrant, who, by his own admission believed in nothing ("Firstly, can I just say, as I have said many times before, I do not really 'believe' in anything." - David Farrant, James Randi Forum, 12 April 2007), all the aforementioned hail from the political Left, are atheists, and link to fellow travellers with a history of stalking and maligning †Seán Manchester. 

Furthermore, the pulp fiction paperback writer Ramsey Campbell in Shock Xpress Vol 2, published by Titan, an imprint with which Denis Meikle is closely associated, wrote that the (childless) wife of †Seán Manchester had given birth to the Antichrist. Titan asked him to apologise, and promised to amend subsequent printings. There were no subsequent printings, and Campbell tried to make light of the grotesque libel in a half hearted excuse of a written apology. "I must of dreamt it," he explained. He would continue his ad hominem attack on †Seán Manchester, minus his disgusting and totally unsubstantiated defamation of Mrs Manchester, in Ramsey Campbell, Probably, which he later expanded in subsequent printings with the help of a certain Australian resident, Anthony Hogg, who had been stalking †Seán Manchester for a decade and a half. Hogg gets a credit in Campbell's book. Matthew Coniam, too, slipped into bed with Hogg, joining his obnoxious hate group on Facebook and quoting from it on his own timeline. Ramsey Campbell, like Hogg and the rest of them, is unapologetically a Marxist, evincing an agenda of pure malice toward †Seán Manchester who represents, as a traditionalist Christian and believer in the supernatural, the antithesis of atheistic communism. Moreover, they are all soft on individuals with a bent toward black magic and Satanism.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Mass Vampire Hunt Anniversary

Friday 13th March 2020 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the largest vampire hunt ever to take place in the British Isles. It occurred at Highgate Cemetery on the evening of 13 March 1970, following reports in local and national newspapers, plus a television interview with various witnesses earlier on a programme called Today, Thames Television. Notwithstanding many amateur vampire hunters inflicting themselves on the cemetery with home-made stakes, crosses, garlic, holy water, but very little knowledge about how to deal with the suspected undead if they encountered it, I made an appeal on the Today programme at 6.00pm requesting the public not to get involved, nor put into jeopardy an investigation already in progress. Not everyone heeded my plea. Over the following weeks and months a wide variety of independent vampire hunters descended on the graveyard — only to be frightened off by its eerie atmosphere, and what they believed might have been the supernatural entity itself. Some were promptly arrested by police patrolling the area. None, however, caused any damage. I advised the public that a full-scale investigation was already taking place, and that individual efforts by those merely seeking thrills only served to endanger all.

On the Today programme, 13 March 1970, I warned one self-styled vampire hunter in particular, who had appeared on the same programme as one of several witnesses, to leave things he did not understand alone. Apparently he had received “a horrible fright” a few weeks earlier when he allegedly caught sight of the vampire by the north gate of Highgate Cemetery and immediately wrote to his local newspaper about the experience, concluding with these words: “I have no knowledge in this field and I would be interested to hear if any other readers have seen anything of this nature.” (Letters to the Editor, Hampstead & Highgate Express, 6 February 1970). In the following month the same individual revealed to the media that he had seen something at the north gate that was “evil” and that it “looked like it had been dead for a long time” (as told by him to Sandra Harris on the Today programme). I warned on the same programme that this man’s declared intention of staking the vampire alone and without the proper knowledge went “against my explicit wish for his own safety.”

The Hampstead & Highgate Express, 13 March 1970, under the headline The Ghost Goes On TV, reported: "Cameras from Thames Television visited Highgate Cemetery this week to film a programme ... One of those who faced the cameras was Mr David Farrant, of Priestwood Mansions, Archway Road. ... 'It was tall and very dark grey. But it didn't appear to have any feet. It just glided along.' He intends to visit the cemetery again, armed with a wooden stake and a crucifix, with the aim of exorcising the spirit. He also believes that Highgate is 'rife with black magic.' ... [Seán] Manchester is opposed to [David] Farrant's plans. 'He goes against our explicit wish for his own safety,' he said. ‘We feel he does not possess sufficient knowledge to exorcise successfully something as powerful as a vampire, and may well fall victim as a result. We issue a similar warning to anyone with likewise intentions'."

The mass vampire hunt on the night itself was not attended by David Farrant who spent his time in the Prince of Wales pub before repairing home to Archway Road and the bunker of an acquaintance.

The hunt went ahead, as chronicled in The Highgate Vampire book, and what was thought to be the vampire source and its resting place was discovered, along with empty coffins, in the catacombs.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Black Magic Devotee

"On 6 February 1970, the Ham & High published his letter. Aware that entering the cemetery at night was technically illegal, Farrant carefully played down his ongoing investigation into the apparition." — "Della Farrant" (Haunted Highgate, page 39)

"They could only describe it as a tall man wearing some kind of cloak, who had disappeared whilst their attention was returned to the guide's lecture. They had assumed this 'actor' had hidden amongst the shrubs and trees which border the path in an attempt to frighten them." — "Della Farrant" (Haunted Highgate, page 45)

Friday, 13 April 2018

Meek But Not So Mild

"In 1965, Holloway-based Joe Meek approached David Farrant with some tape recordings he had made during what had become regular nocturnal visits to Highgate Cemetery West. Meek believed these tapes had captured the voices of spirits active in the cemetery, and indeed the tapes do seem to contain the sound of a female voice, speaking in distant and distorted sentences. Subsequently, Farrant and Meek visited the cemetery together one afternoon where Meek indicated that he had made the recordings on a path just above the Circle of Lebanon. ... [and] ... in February 1967 he fatally shot his landlady, before turning his single-barrelled shotgun on himself." — "Della Farrant" (Haunted Highgate, pages 34-35)

Between 1961 and 1967, 304 Holloway Road was occupied by Joe Meek who rented the floors above a shop. Born in Newent in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean in 1929, Meek’s early upbringing was rather bizarre — for the first four years of his life he was raised as a girl thanks to his mother’s intense desire to have a daughter. He first arrived in London in 1954, later moving into 304 Holloway Road where he set about creating a makeshift but innovative studio. From the stairway to the bathroom, all rooms were made available for recording sessions. Meek was homosexual — illegal in Great Britain at the time, and something which led to him being blackmailed on numerous occasions.

Meek had developed a short, volatile temper and, more worryingly, had become intensely paranoid, convinced that his Holloway Road flat had been bugged by rival companies in order to steal his ideas. So paranoid was he that he refused to leave anyone alone in the studio for fear that they’d snoop on his work. He was also becoming deeply obsessed with the occult and took to setting up recording equipment in graveyards, hoping that spirits from the other side would offer him guidance. One evening, the tape recorder picked up the sound of a cat mewing. Meek was convinced that a human spirit was trapped in the feline body and that the cat-like noises were in fact desperate calls for help.

On the morning of 3rd February 1967, Patrick Pink who was a friend and studio assistant, called in to see Meek who refused to speak and promptly stormed off upstairs. Pink mentioned the fact that Meek was in a bad mood toward Violet Shenton, the long suffering landlady of 304 Holloway Road who often took to knocking the ceiling with a broom handle when the sound levels became too much. In her typically blunt, but motherly and well-meaning manner, Mrs Shenton stubbed out a cigarette and told Patrick that she wouldd go and sort her tenant out. When she arrived upstairs, the last words Violet was heard to say were “calm down Joe”… which was suddenly followed by two loud gunshots.

Using a hunting gun which had been left in the flat by singer, Heinz Burt, Joe Meek had committed both murder and suicide within seconds, shooting his landlady before turning the weapon on himself.

He was 37-years-old.

Joe Meek’s penchant for the dark occult was revealed on the “Meeksville” website where his death is examined in great detail. This source provided the following information about David Farrant:

“There is some evidence that Joe was playing around with the 'black arts,' particularly from Margaret Blackmore, who saw a lot of Joe in his last few weeks. She claims that Joe told her that she was like Lady Harris who was, according to Joe, one of Aleister Crowley's girlfriends who painted a set of tarot cards and was alleged to be very beautiful. Although a Lady Harris indeed worked with Crowley to create their famous Thoth Tarot deck, she was in fact a lady of mature years who was also the wife of an eminent British politician. Later on, Pamela Coleman Smith and A E Waite tried to repeat the experiment and created the equally famous Rider-Waite Tarot deck. Smith, as far as can be made out, was a rather attractive and somewhat dramatic-looking woman. Joe's account sounds like an amalgam of the two; whether Joe got his facts wrong or whether Blackmore has her recollections muddled up isn't clear, but certainly someone didn't know very much about some historical facts which were very easy to check, and that may be true in general of Joe's interests in that direction. More frightening is the fact that Joe supposedly knew David Farrant. Again, the source in the book is not named; I have been in contact with someone else who knows Farrant independently of any Joe connection, and has stated that Joe met Farrant a couple of times. Having said that, I can't confirm it, as I have no way of proving whether my contact genuinely asked Farrant about it or not. Farrant was (and probably still is) a self-styled High Priest of Satan, and is still feared in some parts of North London, where he can still be seen wandering around the Archway area occasionally. He allegedly led the Highgate Cemetery desecration in the early 70's, and most people who have encountered him say that he is at first charming, but you quickly realise he's not the kind of guy you really want to hang around too long.”

In another book, Great British Eccentrics (Amberley Publishing Limited, 2015) written by someone called S D Tucker, we are yet again regaled with the apocryphal tale of Meek approaching Farrant.

The book gets so much wrong, not least what happened on the night of 13 March 1970, that the author absurdly claiming "Meek ... inadvertently started off a mass panic about vampires" leaves the reader wondering about the alleged "approach" Meek is supposed to have made toward Farrant.

The fact is that Joe Meek died in February 1967 at a time when there was no public knowledge of vampires in the vicinity of Highgate Cemetery. During 1966 and some of 1967, David Farrant was living in France and Spain where he met his wife-to-be, Mary Olden. The couple came back to England and were married at St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in the late summer of 1967. Under oath, Mary Farrant later attested that her husband and their mutual acquaintances entered Highgate Cemetery "for a bit of a laugh and to muck about after the pubs had closed." She was unaware of any occult interest Farrant much later claimed to have. As for Joe Meek, there was no mention of him by Farrant or anyone else. Like so much else, the entire story was probably dreamt up by David Farrant.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

British Occult Society

Reference to Farrant usurping the British Occult Society's name in a vampirlogical guide by Seán Manchester.

The British Occult Society was originally formed as an umbrella organisation circa 1860. Much of its activity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century is shrouded in mystery. The BOS came out of the closet, however, in the mid-twentieth century before finally disappearing in 1988. During that period it was presided over by Seán Manchester who placed emphasis on investigating the claims of the occult, plus the study and research of paranormal phenomena. Out of this history sprang the Vampire Research Society (formerly a specialist unit within the BOS) that was founded by Seán Manchester, President of the British Occult Society, on 2 February 1970.

The third revival of The Ghost Club occurred during 1954-1993 with Seán Manchester's colleague Peter Underwood as its President. Members included K E Shelley QC, Dr Christabel Nicholson, Dr Paul Tabori, Donald Campbell MBE, Peter Sellers, Dennis Wheatley, Dr George Owen, Lord Dowding, Ena Twigg and Sir Julian Huxley. Honorary Life Members included Dennis Bardens, Mrs Michael Bentine, Colonel John Blashord-Snell, Miss Sarah Miles, Miss Jilly Cooper, Dr A R G Owen, Miss Dulcie Gray, Sir Patrick Moore, Mr Uri Geller, and the Right Reverend Seán Manchester OSG. Peter Underwood was its Life President and Colin Wilson was the Vice-President.

At times there was membership cross-fertilisation between the British Occult Society and The Ghost Club (later the Ghost Club Society). For example, Seán Manchester was made a Life Member of The Ghost Club, and Peter Underwood was made a Life Member of the British Occult Society. On 8 August 1988 the British Occult Society was formally dissolved under the leadership of its final president who had been elected on 21 June 1967. He felt the Society's remit had been fulfilled, and was uncomfortable with the organisation's nomenclature, which could be misconstrued and give the wrong impression. However, this served a useful purpose during the time Seán Manchester operated covertly; something that came to a halt in the years immediately prior to the Society being disbanded.

A small remnant of ever-dwindling (due to their age) ex-members continue to use the name for specialist projects with the support of Seán Manchester. These projects are out of the public eye.

Despite a pretence during the 1970s to be associated, a member, or, more absurdly, the founder of the British Occult Society, Farrant owed no connection whatsoever to the Society, which organisation was the first to condemn his behaviour in the media. Farrant was always described in the press as "self-styled" (whatever it was he was calling himself at the time). Retractions were frequently printed.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Murdie Muddies the Waters

The Ghost Club was reactivated in 1882, holding secretive monthly meetings for people interested in the paranormal. It had strange traditions, such as keeping the names of deceased members on the membership roll, which was recited in full each year on All Souls Day (November 2nd). However, it was not well regarded by serious researchers: the physicist Oliver Lodge, an investigator of mediums, referred to it as a "superstitious body of very little importance." It was wound up in 1936. Two years later it was again relaunched, this time by the psychical investigator Harry Price. Meetings ceased again in 1948 following the death of Price, but were revived in 1953 by remaining members, of whom one was paranormal investigator Philip Paul. It now turned into an organisation that genuinely investigated as well as debated, a change that was reinforced when Peter Underwood took over the presidency in 1960. The club continued to be led by Underwood until 1993, when he resigned after a disagreement with colleagues and set up a rival organisation, the Ghost Club Society. Since then the club has had various Chairmen (the title of president having been abolished). The current Chairman is barrister Alan Murdie, who is also a member of the governing council of the Society for Psychical Research. Despite being a barrister, Murdie seems to have been completely taken in by "Della Farrant," the pretend "wife" of convicted felon David Farrant, and in 2014, at her invitation, happily wrote the Foreword to her slim volume Haunted Highgate, which has more holes in it than a colander. Curiously, Murdie takes a cynical approach where Seán Manchester is concerned, but evinces no similar scepticism over the charlatanry and shenanigans of David Farrant, the man convicted of desceration and Satanism at Highgate Cemetery, plus threatening people with black magic. This might be more to do with Seán Manchester's traditional religious approach than not, and the fact that he was a loyal friend of the president of The Ghost Club from 1960 to 1993 who made him an Honorary Life Member, and after 1993 conferred the same honour on him apropos the Ghost Club Society. Interviewed by Peta Banks, chief investigator of APPI, in 2013, Alan Murdie admitted: "We are dwarfed by what we don’t know." Yet he does not apply that axiom to vampires. Peter Underwood, on the other hand, did. He had met in his lifetime the vampirologists Montague Summers and Seán Manchester, both of whom evinced a traditional Catholic predisposition, something Murdie clearly does not empathise with. His sympathies lie elsewhere, and it is not with the likes of such clerics. 

Writing in the Fortean Times (Hallowe'en edition, November 2012) magazine about David Farrant, Murdie admitted "to entertaining a slight scintilla of unease regarding the conduct of the prosecution, based on the allegations for which he was originally arrested ... someone in authority had decided to stop Farrant's activities amid crusades against the scourge of modern vampirism, in the same way as the Witchcraft Act 1735 was brought out to suppress medium Helen Duncan in 1944."

Murdie's sympathies are crystal clear; yet, ironically, he lists as one of his sources Peter Underwood's The Vampire's Bedside Companion (giving the incorrect year of its publication) wherein the author of that anthology condemns Farrant in no uncertain terms. Seán Manchester also makes a contribution to the same work, indeed one fifth of the anthology, making no reference whatsoever to the charlatan.

"Della Maria Vallicrus" (later calling herself "Della Farrant") mysteriously emerged out of nowhere in 2010 to join a vendetta against Seán Manchester whilst espousing what you would expect to hear from someone on the Left-hand Path. On the matter of events at Highgate Cemetery a decade before she was born, “Della” had this to say on the Supernatural World forum: 

“I have my own reasons for deciding what really happened. I really have no choice but to believe them as I know them to be fact.” 

What possible reasons did she have for believing something told to her? How could she possibly know “them” to be “fact” when she was not present or even alive at the time? She was clearly under the influence of somebody or the other on the dark side. 


Oddly enough, following the death of David Farrant on 8 April 2019, the woman calling herself "Della" vanished from whence she came, like a puff of smoke. Back in 2014, she had invited Alan Murdie to write the Foreword to her only published work (Haunted Highgate), which comprises rehashed accounts from those she solicited by advertising in local newspapers and on the internet, while ripping off the odd individual who had confided their experience with view to getting some feedback on their unpublished manuscript for which advice was being sought, eg Jessica Oliver. 

Alan Murdie jumped at the chance to accommodate "Della Farrant," someone he had never met, writing at the conclusion of his 1¼ page Foreword

"She restores much-needed balance to the study of ghosts in the Highgate district, as well as providing a wealth of fascinating new stories and material for readers to analyse, ponder and enjoy." 

Can anyone really be that blinkered and naïve? Apparently so.

Alan Murdie, along with Gareth Medway, was drafted in to co-write an obituary for David Farrant in Fortean Times #383, September 2019. Both evince enmity toward myself; particularly Medway who is openly hostile and willing to take matters to the extreme. Murdie merely accepted fabrications he was told at face value. Both these individuals were sympathetic toward late David Farrant. Gareth Medway who regarded himself to be a very close friend, and was/is "vice-president" of the barely existent "British Psychic and Occult Society" founded by Farrant in the early 1980s. Medway describes himself as “a priest of The Fellowship of Isis, a historian of the occult and the author of Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism,” which is an apologia for Satanism. 

Murdie did not know Farrant in person; whereas Medway did and is transparently a traveller on the Left-hand Path of the dark occult, Murdie's personal beliefs are unknown. No amount of digging unearths anything about them. Quite why he took against Seán Manchester is also difficult to fathom. Seán Manchester has never met or had any form of contact with Murdie, a lawyer and part-time ghost-hunter, or Medway, a dabbler in the dark arts.  Medway knew Farrant rather well, collaborated in his pranks, and distributed merchandise exclusively aimed at mocking and ridiculing Seán Manchester. The image below shows Medway entering into the "satanic spirit" of Christmas with his Muswell Hill friend, plus a papier mache "decapitated head" of Seán Manchester, including biretta, on their celebratory festive table. This also appeared in a video published by Farrant on YouTube.

Notwithstanding the anticipated downpour of error in an otherwise uninspired drizzle of monotonous charges, convictions and sundry offences, this has to be the most boring obituary of an infamous figure that one could ever hope to read. It tells you absolutely nothing you did not know beforehand. The only tit-bit which came out of the blue, and was hitherto a closely guarded secret among his intimates, is that Farrant worked for a short period of time at Stormont Tennis & Squash Club, 3 Lanchester Rd, London N6 4SU, which is situated within a walk of where he lived at 142 Muswell Hill Road, N10 3JE. Driven to recounting this dreary detail does nothing to compensate for the absence of anything interesting or fresh. The co-authors of Fortean Times' Necrolog predictably trot out familiar and, of course, exploded fabrication, but what is rather more telling are the omissions.

We are told, for example, that David Farrant married Mary Olden in September 1967 at "St Stephen's Church on Highgate Hill," and that he is survived by his son, Jamie, granddaughter, Lauryn, and "three wives." What about Danny whom Mary gave birth to in August 1969 while living with her husband at their flat on the corner of Southwood Avenue and Archway Road from where he was soon to be evicted, ending up in a coal cellar? Mary thence repaired to her parents in Southampton, taking both Jamie and Danny with her. The next time she saw Farrant was at The Old Bailey in 1974.

Danny Farrant has been completely air-brushed out of the picture.

The marriage between Mary Olden and David Farrant took place at St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church on Highgate Hill; not St Stephen's Church situated on Rosslyn Hill. The couple had a full-blown Roman Catholic Nuptial Mass despite the fact that Farrant himself was not Catholic.

David Farrant had two wives whom he married twelve years apart. The first, Mary, summoned by her husband when he was in custody and standing trial at the Old Bailey, attested that he was not an occultist, played no part in the occult, and was certainly nothing to do with the British Occult Society. Murdie and Medway nonetheless state in their obituary that Farrant founded the British Occult Society in 1967. The BOS was founded significantly prior to that year, but it was in that year that Seán Manchester was elected its president. Farrant was courting his wife in France and Spain at the time, returning to England to marry her in September 1967.

One fact emerges at the obituary's conclusion as the name is spelled out in full:

David Robert Donovan Farrant.

The inclusion of "Donovan" by Seán Manchester in books, articles and sundry comments had always been disputed; indeed, dismissed as false. However, the death certificate reveals it to be genuine; just as the records will show he had two wives only: Mary whom he married in 1967, and Colette in 1979.

Hemlock and Hate

    Hemlock Books Ltd was registered in Brighton, England, UK, on 28 June 2007 in the names of Jane Meikle (Secretary) and Denis Meikle (Pub...