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 take 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.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Whose Ripping Off Whom?

Never mind that Anthony Hogg, Redmond McWilliams and the rest of the Farrant clique frequently troll Seán Manchester on the internet, this blog is titled "Haunted Highgate" with good reason. It is a detailed and continuing critique of the book Haunted Highgate by a person using the pseudonym "Della Farrant" who, along with David Farrant, Redmond McWilliams and Anthony Hogg has been ripping off Seán Manchester's bestselling book The Highgate Vampire for years. Indeed, they have virtually made an industry out of their blatant exploitation of the investigations of  Seán Manchester.

Bear also is mind that when Seán Manchester was personally involved in the case in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, apart from David Farrant, none of these people were born, much less around. Without the writings and public broadcasts on radio and television by Seán Manchester they would have nothing to prey upon, and absolutely nobody would have heard of any of them. That includes David Farrant who was merely a one-man imitator who turned toxic and became something sinister.

As for Farrant's scrapbook of vanity press cuttings, which Redmond McWilliams laughingly refers to as a "newspaper archive," does he really imagine that the BOS/VRS comprehensive library (comprising photographs, videos and printed matter) of archived material actually lacks anything?

Seán Manchester came to notice in February 1970 with the front page headline: Does a Wampyr Walk in Highgate? The title of a blog created by the Vampire Research Society (founded by Seán Manchester) is Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate? That title has been ruthlessly exploited and ripped off by Anthony Hogg who colludes with Redmond McWilliams who, in turn, colludes with David Farrant. "Della Farrant," authoress of Haunted Highgate, colludes with them all except Anthony Hogg.

None of the above, apart from Seán Manchester and his associates, investigated the case of the Highgate Vampire at the time when the supernatural presence was active. His first published record of those investigations was in an anthology edited by Peter Underwood in 1975. The full and unexpurgated account was given ten years later in Seán Manchester's The Highgate Vampire, shortly after the case had been closed. The authoress of Haunted Highgate came on the scene less than a decade ago, and saw the notoriety of David Farrant as her springboard to bring attention to herself. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Something Rotten in Highgate Cemetery

"Johnny Rotten recalls in his 1993 autobiography No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs: 'So many people were doing it ... loonies mostly, running around with wooden stakes, crucifixes and cloves of garlic ... it was almost a social club down there." — "Della Farrant" (Haunted Highgate, page 44)

Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, to give the book its full title, is a 1993 autobiography by John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols), co-authored by Keith Zimmerman and Kent Zimmerman. 

In the book, John Lydon expresses condemnation toward former members of the Sex Pistols band, Malcolm McLaren, their manager, hippies, rich people, racists, sexists and the English political system. Unsurprisingly, he also shares his deep hatred for religion. Lydon says: that "A lot of people feel the Sex Pistols were just negative. I agree, and what the fuck is wrong with that? Sometimes the absolute most positive thing you can be in a boring society is completely negative."

That "Della Farrant" feels him worthy of appraising what was going on at Highgate Cemetery half a century ago is revealing in itself. She leaves out something crucial about Lydon, however, ie where he says: “So we go in there with stakes and hammers and you would hear all this rustling and it would be another bunch of vampire hunters.” John Lydon claims to have hunted the Highgate Vampire himself.

The same gentleman also partook in a 1980 British mockumentary film, directed by Julien Temple and produced by Don Boyd and Jeremy Thomas, that was partially shot at Highgate Cemetery. Click on the image at the top and fast forward two minutes to see some stills from that stylised fictional account of the formation, rise and subsequent breakup of the Sex Pistols. Their then-manager Malcolm McLaren can also be seen in the video clip viewed when clicking on the image below.

What would John Lydon know about the goings-on at Highgate Cemetery where a malign supernatural phenomenon was being witnessed (and, of course, pursued in order to exorcise it) by local people? The answer is: about as much as "Della Farrant." 

John Lydon married a publishing heiress from Germany in 1979, lives the multi-millionaire lifestyle in Los Angeles, California, where he has resided since the early 1980s while also keeping a residence in London. He supported the United Kingdom remaining in the European Union during the referendum in June 2016, stating that being outside of the European Union would be "insane and suicidal." What is insane is anyone taking the slightest notice of what John Lydon says about what went on at Highgate Cemetery in the 1960s and 1970s. 

He is someone who constantly revises his position on everything, and now claims that he is not an anarchist despite writing and singing the punk anthem "Anarchy in the UK" back in 1976. The constantly repeated lines from the song, which later featured on the album Never Mind the Bollocks: Here's the Sex Pistols, are:

I am an anti-Christ 
I am an anarchist

We get a far better idea of what John Lydon was really saying about Highgate Cemetery from this article that was published in the Hampstead & Highgate Express two years before Haunted Highgate:

Nothing is out of bounds for Lydon. He recalls the early Pistol years when he would squat in Hampstead, behind the station. “Oh lovely. Squats we have loved,” he laughs. “I had to squat for a long period. Me and Sid, we found this wonderful old block of flats and all manner of people in that period. We were in run-down old derelict buildings really that were viewed by the council as unliveable and they put boards up. But, hello, we had nowhere to live so what we would do was move in and clean the place up and sort out the plumbing and make the toilets work and the council would then come in and take it off you and rent it out.

“It’s a different world now. It’s a lot of upper class toffy kids practising at being slummy. Having a bit of rough. This was a necessity. I couldn’t live at home at that point. I didn’t have any money and yet I was in a band that was notorious. I had to find some hole to crawl into at night – poor old little ratty. So Hampstead, that was where we squatted, we covered the area well. We were just behind the tube station there for about two years.”

“I like the pubs round there too. I ran into many of the Monty Python lot, who were borderline insane, but great fun. And people like Peter Cook, who I really, really respect. Although that was not my class or upbringing, I found that we could get on well with each other. If you are honest about what it is you are in life you will find that you can form very good friendships with all manner of people.”

They also used to go vampire hunting in Highgate cemetery. “There was books out saying a vampire rested there. What a thrill to a young lad. So we go in there with stakes and hammers and you would hear all this rustling and it would be another bunch of vampire hunters.” He laughs before playing with a spot on his face. “I like festering them,” he says. “Sid was fantastic for that. It was his favourite hobby. In fact, his only hobby. Big volcanoes and build up til the final yellowhead eruption in the mirror,” he laughs. “Oh I miss my friend. Stupid rock deaths, too many of them. They don’t understand that drugs are for fun and recreation and you should never take a daily dose.”

At 56 years young (as he puts it), he’s lost a few of those close to him too early. Still, his life goes on, being Johnny on TV, Johnny in the pub, recording in a field in the Cotswolds or performing among the egos of the music crowd. “At festivals, if you have seven acts, it is like the seven deadly sins backstage, all the egos.” He still likes a party, having even got “blindingly drunk” just last night. Will he ever give up and retire? “I’ll work until I’m 100 and think about it. I love what I do and I don’t want to stop.”

— Rhiannon Edwards (Hampstead & Highgate Express, 2 August 2012)

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

A Man Called Welch

"An informal group of vampire researchers, including M J Welch [...] a sprinkling of others and myself had informally organised into a research group at the beginning of the Sixties. [...] The group grew and became a specialist unit within the British Occult Society in 1967 — the year I accepted presidency of that organisation. [...] The unit concerned with vampirology became autonomous in February 1970. It is known as the Vampire Research Society. [...] I remained oresident of the British Occult Society until its formal dissolution on 8 August 1988. It did not engage in the practice of occultism, but existed for the purpose of examing occult and paranormal phenomena. Dr Devendra P Varma and Peter Underwood were both life members. Many other notable authors and scholars were among the esteemed membership. Unfortunately, the nomeclature of the Society was usurped in the early Seventies by a curious individual, known as David Farrant, who was to gain considerable notoriety through his unashamed publicity-seeking and court appearances which culminated in an almost five year prison sentence in 1974." — Seán Manchester (Introduction, The Vampire Hunter's Handbook, Gothic Press, 1997)

"Acclaimed war photographer Don McCullin and his younger brother Michael were pupils at the [Tollington Park] school, and in 1962 Don composed a very bizarre character portrait of an acquaintance of theirs who lived in Mercers Road, Upper Holloway. The photograph, titled 'The Headhunter of Highgate' or 'Collector of Death,' depicts a man perhaps in his late twenties, holding a bamboo cane in each hand surmounted by a human skull. This man, who strongly resembles a young Charles Manson, had been known to the McCullins since their schooldays. In the early years of their friendship he confessed fairly openly to the boys not only that he was 'heavily into black magic,' but that with a group of similarly inclined deviants he regularly obtained skulls and even whole skeletons in their coffins from Highgate and Kensal Green Cemeteries. According to an interview given in 1980, McCullin and his brother were fascinated by the bones, human hair, bottles of formaldehyde and coffin-opening toolkits which littered the rank-smelling basement flat." — "Della Farrant" (Haunted Highgate, page 29, The History Press, 2014).

"Della" is careful not to name the person referred to by her as "a modern-day body-snatcher" in her written account of 2014, but the following year she not only saw to it that he was identified by name, she had McCullin's portrait of him from the early 1960s projected onto a large screen in front of a paying audience. This leaves her wide open for a libel suit should Welch ever gain knowledge of what she has published in her book, and what she organised to happen at her symposium in 2015. 

Yet "Della Farrant" was not alive when any of these alleged occurrences were supposed to have taken place, and she has certainly not spoken to Welch himself. Indeed, it is in serious doubt that she has spoken to anybody remotely connected to the fabrications told to her by David Farrant. Where did he get the stories from? The man in whose cellar he was living from August 1969 until August 1970.

Welch did not live in "a basement flat," In fact, he has never lived in any kind of flat. In the 1960s he lived with his parents who owned a substantial Victorian house in Mercers Road, which they left in its entirety to their son. Welch was an only child. The man who allowed Farrant to occupy his coal bunker was constantly winding-up his tenant with wild stories of all sorts. They were not true, however, and it should be made abundantly clear that neither this man nor Farrant ever met Welch. Tony Hill, the person whose ground-floor flat's cellar in Archway Road provided a temporary habitat for Farrant, almost certainly learned of the name from an acquaintance of Seán Manchester who would talk about the history of the Vampire Research Society openly with anyone who showed an interest.

Don McCullin did not take his photograph of Welch until two years after Seán Manchester had already made a portrait showing him between two skulls. This was plagiarised by McCullin whom Seán Manchester has tried to contact on numerous occasions down the years to question the defamatory captions used by McCullen. Following the symposium in July 2015, he sent McCullin messages regarding the libellous attributions made by Paul Adams before an audience. Don McCullen did not respond. The simple truth of the matter is that McCullen, Adams and "Della" have all defamed Welch.

Eight minutes and twenty seconds into the video (click on the image to view), Paul Adams, a lackey of "Della Farrant" who organised "The Highgate Vampire Symposium," makes the following allegation:

"What we do know in the 1960s is that Highgate Cemetery was being utilised as a source for occult supplies in the form of stolen skulls and other body parts during the period of 1962 at the latest. In that year famous war photographer Don McCullin composed this astonishing photograph [a black and white image of a bearded man between two skulls is shown on the screen] of a local character, a man he knew by the name of Welch. Now according to interviews he's given over the years, Welch was heavily into black magic, and other contemporary sources confirmed that he was also involved in a small and highly secretive body-snatching ring operating in both Highgate and Kensal Green cemeteries."

The image attributed to Don McCullin emulates a photograph Seán Manchester took of Welch prior to McCullin. Our concern, however, is the appalling libel committed by Paul Adams' allegation, which is known to be completely false. Moreover, Welch did not give interviews, being someone who valued his privacy. Seán Manchester found Welch an introverted and unusual person, but he was most certainly not "a source for occult supplies" and most definitely not "heavily into black magic." Welch would have treated such a thing and anyone involved in it with contempt. He became aware of David Farrant when the latter fed a false story about Welch, a name learned from another party, to a Hornsey Journal newspaper reporter by the name of Roger Simpson. This is where the "occult supplies" and "black magic" fabrications have their origin. The journalist realised he had been led up the garden path by Farrant and no story was ever published. Indeed, it is from this point, partly due to the manufactured nonsense fed to them, that the Hornsey Journal started to gather incriminating evidence against Farrant.

It should be added that Paul Adams is a close friend and supporter of David Farrant who is seated to Adams' left on the stage in the video. This is the context of the defamation. Farrant, of course, was found guilty of graveyard vandalism, tomb desecration and black magic at Highgate Cemetery in 1974 and, together with other offences, was sentenced to four years and eight months imprisonment.

M J Welch is a name that crops up in The Vampire Hunter's Handbook (Gothic Press, 1997) as someone involved at the outset in an informal group researching strange phenomena in the early 1960s. Welch himself was a sceptic who held no beliefs and dismissed all practices, whether black magic or religious, in equal measure. In other words, he was an atheist who had no time for supernaturalism. He was, however, a student of taxidermy who also studied anatomy and osteology. His collection of preserved animals and bones of all sorts was considerable. His knowledge helped determine whether something was human, animal or other when certain discoveries were made. 

Being such a sceptic, and therefore unlikely to be impressionable, was also a useful control to have present when examining alleged haunted areas. Seán Manchester was introduced to him by a mutual friend who was an an enthusiastic researcher with an open mind and part of the same group.

Fifteen and a half minutes into the video, Paul Adams mentions the British Occult Society and falsely attributes its formation to David Farrant. In fact, the British Occult Society were among the first to expose Farrant as a publicity-seeking nuisance from 1970 onward. When Farrant fraudulently usurped the British Occult Society's name in the media the B.O.S. were equally quick to have retractions published. Adams alleges that this "involvement" of Farrant's led to him investigating the remains of a black magic ritualism at Highgate Cemetery. A picture is then screened of a Highgate mausoleum containing strange symbols. This was one of a number of photographs successfully used by the Crown in the summer of 1974 to find David Farrant guilty of tomb desecration and black magic. Farrant is then heard describing the picture as "proof of Satanists using Highgate Cemetery." 

It was David Farrant who was jailed after the charge was proved to the satisfaction of a jury that he was responsible for this very satanic outrage. A series of further images from the inside of the mausoleum are shown in the video which carefully omits a photograph taken at the same time by Farrant of a completely naked Martine de Sacy in a ceremonial pose before satanic symbols.


In the conclusion of the so-called occult section, Paul Adams wraps it up quickly following a brief interaction with the audience who are barely audible and invariably comprise satanic apologists.

This video is even more tedious than the first part of the session, if that can be imagined; until, that is, someone in the audience asks a question about Welch who had already been libelled by Adams.

Forty-one minutes and thirteen seconds into the video (click on the image to view) the audience were once again treated to Don McCullen's misdescribed photo of Welch on a screen behind the panel.

Forty-two minutes and forty-four seconds into the video, David Farrant states:

"It appeared in a book called The Highgate Vampire which was written by Mr ... [Farrant is suddenly overcome by a fit of seemingly uncontrollable coughing at this point in the proceedings and takes quite a while to recover, sipping from a glass] ... Seán Manchester. Yes, they knew each other."

This time Seán Manchester's name has not been bleeped out on the video. Farrant obviously had what's left of his feathers ruffled by comments made about its censorship in the first session.

Someone unseen in the audience asked something about Don McCullen, but it is so muffled as to be totally inaudible. Indeed, the sound quality throughout is very poor, given the controlled situation. 

Then we hear a discarnate voice ask whether Welch was prosecuted. Paul Adams turns to Farrant:

"Was he prosecuted, David?"

Farrant tersely responds:


Seán Manchester, of course, knew M J Welch, as, apparently, did Don McCullen whose back-story to the picture captioned "The Head Hunter of Highgate" was inspired by the fabricated nonsense Farrant was disseminating at the time to journalists such as Roger Simpson, plus all and sundry. 

McCullen's photograph of Welch had various captions down the years. McCullen and Seán Manchester are photographers, and the latter had already photographed Welch in the exact same pose. Welch must have shown Seán Manchester's photographic portrait to McMullen who, more or less, copied it when he posed his subject between two human skulls in precisely the same manner.

Does the picture appear in The Highgate Vampire?

Well, yes and no.

It does not appear in the 1991 Gothic Press edition, but is a minuscule part of a composite of cuttings and images in the 1985 British Occult Society edition. Welch can barely be seen; less than one inch by almost half an inch in the bottom left-hand corner of a picture which fills the entire page.

The Vampire Hunter's Handbookpublished a dozen years later, acknowledges at the top of page 10 that Seán Manchester knew M J Welch; so Farrant is hardly the master of revelation he likes to pretend to be. 

Farrant had to admit, when asked by the audience, that Welch has not been prosecuted. How could he have been? Tales about Welch originated entirely with Farrant who acted out the very things he falsely attributed to this associate of Seán Manchester. As we know, David Farrant was prosecuted and found guilty of interfering with and offering indignity to corpses at London's Highgate Cemetery.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

What Happened on the Night of Friday 13th March 1970

It began like most days when the cold winter won't go away. The bitterness of former weeks not only intensified as the unseasonal snow refused to melt away, but somehow seemed to be growing worse.

Today is the forty-fifth anniversary of a Friday the 13th that would go down in the annals of history as the largest vampire hunt of the twentieth century. How did it arise? What led up to it happening?

Gerald Isaaman, editor of the Hampstead & Highgate Express in those far off distant days, recently recounted his meeting with Seán Manchester in February 1970: "Manchester arrived at the office wearing a black cloak lined with scarlet silk and carrying a cane." Isaaman forgot to mention the top hat and tails that were included with the opera cloak and cane. There was also an accompanying young lady, also not mentioned, who was equally formally-attired. It was late in the afternoon and Seán Manchester had no idea how long the interview that had been requested of him would take. 

He and his lady friend were dressed ready to go on to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, from the Hampstead offices of the Hampstead & Highgate Express. He frequently attended the opera in those days and continued to do so whilst in London, always preferring the correct dress code. 

The elderly and now ex-editor reminisced in Jauary 2009:

"The story of the Highgate Vampire [in a recently published book about London's folklore] is attributed to 1970 reports in the Ham & High, where I was then the editor. It recalled the fantastic events of a few months that year and the following one, which culminated in a TV programme inviting people to decide for themselves what was going on. That resulted in three hundred people, allegedly armed with home-made stakes and Christian crosses, storming the cemetery that night to kill the demon vampire lurking among the decaying tombs."

In fact, there was considerably more than three hundred people on the hunt that night for Highgate's vampire. They were there because of a broadcast earlier that evening which brought the case to a much wider audience. There was no announcement by the team officially investigating the mysterious happenings at the cemetery that they would be embarking upon a vampire hunt that night even though that was the case. The official hunt had been planned in private for some time.

The night of Friday 13 March 1970 witnessed in England the largest vampire hunt of the twentieth century by members of the public. It bordered on hysteria and led to local police having their leave cancelled to contain it. Just how many were involved would be difficult to estimate, but certainly hundreds. In the preceding weeks, the Hampstead & Highgate Express (a local newspaper) told of unearthly goings-on at Highgate Cemetery. Its February 27th issue ran the headline "Does A Wampyr Walk in Highgate?" The front-page headline of the following fateful week's edition told of the matter being discussed on television that very evening by Seán Manchester who recounts the event in his bestselling book The Highgate Vampire.

"... attempts to shoot the interview by the north gate were abandoned and the actual filming took place outside the main gate further down Swains Lane. Some independent witnessed, including several children who had seen a ghostly manifestation, were also interviewed for the programme. One person said: ' Yes, I did feel it was evil because the last time I actually saw its face and it looked like it had been dead for a long time.' Another witness commented: 'It seemed to float along the ground.' One of those interviewed who claimed to have seen the vampire was a certain David Farrant, a pathetic figure whose infatuation with the Highgate haunting was to earn him an undeserved notoriety and send him on a helter-skelter into the abyss of the dark occult. The programme was transmitted at 6.00pm on Friday 13 March 1970: the eve of the proposed vampire hunt. Eamonn Andrews introduced the viewing audience to a report on the Highgate Vampire. Within two hours Highgate was the scene of utter pandemonium as crowds of onlookers flocked to Swains Lane. The number multiplied as the evening progressed. Police on foot and in cars were unable to control the swarming mass of those who had arrived to witness the discovery of a modern-day vampire infestation in their midst. And its eradication! While chaos and frenzy continued to erupt in Swains Lane, a group of hand-picked researchers led by myself, constituting the official vampire hunt, made their way to the catacombs in the inky darkness of the cemetery." ― Seán Manchester (The Highgate Vampire, pages 76-77). 

Seán Manchester appeared on the Today programme (Thames Television) at 6.00pm on Friday 13 March 1970:

The night of 13 March 1970 witnessed scenes of utter pandemonium as people gathered in large numbers along the steep lane running alongside London’s Highgate Cemetery. At 6.00pm a television programme had confirmed that a vampire contagion was evident in the graveyard, and that a vampire hunt was imminent. The crowds multiplied in hopeful anticipation of locating the resting-place of the undead entity. Police were present to control those arriving, but it was an almost impossible task. By 10.00pm an assortment of independent amateur vampire hunters had joined the onlookers. Principal among the freelance brigade was a schoolteacher, fortuitously named Alan Blood, whom Matthew Bunson, as recorded in his The Vampire Encyclopedia (1993), deemed to be an important player in the unravelling case. Bunson, an American who had no contact with Blood, or indeed anyone else contemporaneous to the events at Highgate in the 1970s, relied on yet another American, Jeanne Keyes Youngson of the New York Count Dracula Fan Club aka Vampire Empire who, in turn, depended on second-hand reports amounting to personal speculation from people who were not present and played no part in the investigation.

Youngson’s influence on Bunson initiated the error in his and thereby subsequent accounts. The primary source, however, is the London Evening News, 14 March 1970, front page report “Mr Blood Hunts Cemetery Vampire.” The brief quotes attributed to Blood in this sensationalist report are notably rebutted by Blood himself in a longer interview given to the Hampstead & Highgate Express, 20 March 1970. This latter interview, reproduced in Seán Manchester’s account about the case, has been totally ignored by commentators such as Bunson who seem to have scant regard for the facts in public archives.

An authentic account of Alan Blood’s part, such as it was, in the affair is given in Seán Manchester’s The Highgate Vampire (pages 77-79) from which the following is revealed: “By 10.00pm [on the night of 13 March 1970] the hundreds of onlookers were to include several freelance vampire hunters, including a history teacher, Alan Blood, who had journeyed from Billericay to seek out the undead being.” Blood had seen a report on television some hours earlier that evening and immediately set off for Highgate. On his arrival in Highgate Village, he entered the Prince of Wales pub on the High Street, where he remained until joining the crowd outside the north gate. However, Seán Manchester, featured earlier on the Today programme as the principal investigator, was nowhere to be seen because he was already inside the cemetery with his research team.

Alan Blood in Swains Lane on 13 March 1970. 

Blood eventually left the pub and joined a steadily growing crowd of several hundred people in Swains Lane. It was while in Swains Lane that Blood, wearing a Russian-style hat with his beard, was noticed by an Evening News photographer and a reporter. They spoke to Blood, and also to a 27-year-old Hampstead resident, Anthony Robinson, who had ventured to the cemetery gate “after hearing of the torchlight hunt.” Robinson is alleged to have told the reporter: “I walked past the place and heard a high-pitched noise, then I saw something grey moving slowly across the road. It terrified me. First time I couldn’t make it out, it looked eerie. I’ve never believed in anything like this, but now I’m sure there is something evil lurking in Highgate.” Yet it was Blood, who saw and did nothing, whose photograph was to appear on the front page of next day’s Evening News. He is described at the head of the report as “a vampire expert named Mr Blood who journeyed forty miles to investigate the legend of an ‘undead Satan-like being’ said to lurk in the area.” Alan Blood had not claimed to be a “vampire expert,” and would readily confirm in a more soberly conducted interview with the Hampstead & Highgate Express, that he was “by no means an expert on vampires.”

None of which would stop American author Matthew Bunson publishing some twenty-three years later: “The focus of the media attention turned to … Allan [sic] Blood, vampire expert who led the search. [He was] convinced that a vampire was sleeping in one of the vaults and were determined to find it and kill it. … As is typical of such incidents, stories based on rumour and on unconfirmed sightings soon spread, and the tabloids and newspapers ran exploitative reports. No vampire was ever publicly discovered.” (The Vampire Encyclopedia, page 121).

Apart from his reference to press exploitation, not a single statement in Bunson’s entry for the Highgate Vampire case is accurate. The focus of the media did not turn to Alan Blood. After 13 March 1970, he completely disappeared off the scene. Blood never stated that he was “determined to find and kill” the vampire. Seán Manchester would add in The Vampire Hunter’s Handbook (pages 66-67): “Interestingly, Jeanne Youngson’s name crops up in Bunson’s acknowledgements as having assisted with this book [The Vampire Encyclopedia]. Why does that come as no surprise? Peter Hough follows in Bunson’s errant footsteps in Supernatural Britain (1995) and repeats the misinformation … whilst ignoring the actual investigation. When contacted through their respective publishers, neither deigned to reply. Their publishers also refused to answer any correspondence on the matter.” This refusal to address significant error placed on record is a matter of concern.

Bunson and Hough are followed by the journalist Tom Slemen whose latter-day paperback Strange But True (1998) claimed that “Alan Blood organized a mass vampire hunt that would take place on Friday 13 March, 1970. Mr Blood was interviewed on television. … The schoolteacher’s plan was to wait until dawn, when the first rays of the rising sun would force the vampire to return to his subterranean den in the catacombs, then he would kill the Satanic creature in the time-honoured tradition; by driving a wooden stake through its heart. … In an orgy of desecration [the crowd] had exhumed the remains of a woman from a tomb, stolen lead from coffins, and defaced sepulchres with mindless graffiti.”

None of which is true. Blood did not “organize a mass vampire hunt.” Indeed, Blood organised nothing. He was an interested onlooker. It was not the “schoolteacher’s plan to wait until dawn.” There was no “orgy of desecration” etc. No damage whatsoever occurred on the night of 13 March 1970. What Slemen is probably alluding to is an entirely different incident that took place five months later, as recorded on the front page of the Hampstead & Highgate Express, 7 August 1970, where the discovery of the headless body of a female and signs of a satanic ceremony were made by two fifteen-year-old schoolgirls as they walked through the graveyard on a sunny August afternoon. Police viewed it to be the work of Satanists and investigated it as such. Some weeks later a man was arrested prowling around the graveyard at night.

These misleading accounts by Bunson, Hough and Slemen contaminated some others that have found their way onto the internet. Sadly, some sites are simply too lazy to do anything more than copy extant error from elsewhere with scant regard for accuracy. Others have an entirely different agenda, which is to distort what really happened. Bunson’s claim that no vampire was found is patently untrue, as originally recorded in Peter Underwood’s The Vampire’s Bedside Companion (Frewin Books, 1975) and The Highgate Vampire (British Occult Society, 1985; Gothic Press, 1991).

Author and exorcist, Seán Manchester, president of the Vampire Research Society.

The tomb of the Highgate Vampire was located by the Vampire Research Society in 1970, as revealed by Seán Manchester in the 24 Hours programme, a  BBC television film documentary, transmitted on 15 October 1970, and later confirmed in Peter Underwood's anthology The Vampire's Bedside Companion (1975) and Exorcism! (1990), plus J Gordon Melton's The Vampire Book: Encyclopedia of the Undead (1994), and Seán Manchester's The Highgate Vampire (1975, 1976, 1985, 1991). Three years and three months after the BBC 24 Hours television documentary, the Highgate Vampire itself was properly exorcised by Seán Manchester with an assistant named Arthur. Several 35mm photographs, some of which are reproduced in The Highgate Vampire book, were taken of the vampire in its final moments of dissolution. These pictures were later transmitted and discussed on various television programmes in the UK.

These are the known and recorded facts about the then 25-year-old schoolteacher Alan Blood who, on 13 March 1970 travelled from Billericay to Highgate in London, having seen a report on television earlier that evening, to satisfy his curiosity. He was not a vampirologist, nor did he ever claim to be. He was one of hundreds who had turned up to see what was happening. After talking to the press he was not heard of again in this or any related context. Yet his name, perhaps understandably given the subject matter and the overwhelming interest it generated, entered a legend all of its own.

The full story of the case can be read in Seán Manchester’s bestselling book, a reliable account by a first-hand witness, participant and investigative researcher with expertise in both vampirology and exorcism. For ordering information, click on the book’s cover:

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