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.

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)

David Farrant Death