Dec. 23rd, 2007

squamous: (Harris)
The Highgate Vampire was a media sensation surrounding reports of supposed supernatural activity at Highgate Cemetery in London.

The publicity was initiated by a group of young people interested in the occult who began roaming the overgrown and dilapidated cemetery in the late 1960s, a time when it was being much vandalised by intruders. On 21 December 1969 one of their members, David Farrant, spent the night there, according to his account written in 1991. In a letter to the Hampstead and Highgate Express on 6 February 1970, he wrote that when passing the cemetery on 24 December 1969 he had glimpsed "a grey figure", which he considered to be supernatural, and asked if others had seen anything similar.

...

A second local man, Seán Manchester, was just as keen as Farrant to identify and eliminate what he and Farrant believed was a supernatural entity in the cemetery. The Hampstead and Highgate Express reported him on 27 February 1970 as saying that he believed that 'a King Vampire of the Undead', a medieval nobleman who had practised black magic in medieval Wallachia, had been brought to England in a coffin in the early eighteenth century, by followers who bought a house for him in the West End. He was buried on the site that later became Highgate Cemetery, and Manchester claimed that modern Satanists had roused him.

...

The ensuing publicity was enhanced by a growing rivalry between Farrant and Manchester, each claiming that he could and would expel or destroy the spectre. Manchester declared to his associates that he would hold an 'official' vampire hunt on Friday 13 March. ITV then set up interviews with both Manchester and Farrant, and with others who claimed to have seen supernatural figures in the cemetery. These were broadcast on ITV early on the evening of the 13th; within two hours a mob of 'hunters' from all over London and beyond swarmed over gates and walls into the locked cemetery, despite police efforts to control them.

...

There was more publicity about Farrant and Manchester when rumours spread that they would meet in a 'magicians' duel' on Parliament Hill on Friday 13 April 1973, which never came off. Farrant was jailed in 1974 for damaging memorials and interfering with dead remains in Highgate Cemetery -- vandalism and desecration which he insisted had been caused by Satanists, not him.

The feud between Manchester and Farrant remains vigorous to this day; each claims to be a competent exorcist and researcher of the paranormal; each pours scorn on the other's alleged expertise.

___
(the above savagely excerpted from wikipedia; some additional gruesome anecdotes here, a favorite being "Swain's Lane continued to be the scene of some very strange events. A dog walker returned to his car, parked in the lane, in 1974. To his horror and disgust, he discovered a newly disinterred corpse inside his car, even though the doors were locked, just as he had left them.")

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