Thursday, 13 March 2014

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Ghost Writers


These published letters to the editor of the Hampstead & Highgate Express followed immediately in the wake of David Farrant's own letter claiming three sightings of a ghost-like figure at London's Highgate Cemetery. The first is written by Kenny Frewin, complete with Frewins genuine address at the time. He was a close personal friend of David Farrant and often acted as his "minder" throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The second is also written by a close friend of Farrant. He knew both Audrey and her husband Michael Connely, the latter joining him and his wife, Mary Farrant, on drunken forays with others to the graveyard after the pubs closed in the late 1960s. The only alteration is her married status from "Mrs" to "Miss". The third letter is written by someone by the name of R Docherty who was an acquaintance of Farrant. The fourth counterfeit letter to the local newspaper is attributed to "Nava Arieli" but, in fact, was written by Nava Grunberg (later to become Nava Jehans) who was undoubtedly Farrant's closest friend (and occasional girlfriend) at the time. The address is not hers. She lived in Hampstead Lane in 1970, and still does. The next couple of fake letters are no less interesting. Yossell Baker often drank in the Prince of Wales pub with Farrant and their mutual friends. He was drawn into the ghost hoax by Farrant. His real name and address was used on this fake correspondence. Finally, we come to a bogus letter written by a certain J McKennar of 142 Muswell Hill Road, N10. By a curious coincidence that is David Farrant's current address where he has resided for decades; indeed, ever since his parole release from prison in 1976. When David Farrant wrote his original hoax letter of 6 February 1970 (reproduced below) he resided at Tony Hill's coal bunker in a communal cellar belonging to 9 Priestwood Mansions, 294 Archway Road, N6. Hill was in on the hoax and can be heard colluding with Farrant in conversations secretly recorded in December 1969, January and February 1970.


Sunday, 13 December 2009

One, Two or Three Vampire Sightings?

"For a start, my letter to the Ham and High in 1970 badly misquoted myself (not deliberately I concede). I did not say that I had seen the figure (ghost) ‘on three occassions’: I was describing a figure that I said ‘had been seen on at least three occasions’. This is true – it had. But on these occasions, the witnesses were other people whom I had witnessed by this time." - David Farrant (Arcadia, 12 December 2009)

Is it really plausible that Farrant's letter was so monstrously altered by the editor of a highly respectable newspaper to mean something quite different to what he had actually written? Is it likely that Farrant would not have insisted on having such a tampered version corrected in the following week's issue if this had really happened? There is no record of him having asked for any such correction. There is no record of an amendment appearing even though his contact with that newspaper remained ongoing for the next few weeks. There are records of Farrant sticking with his personal "three sightings" account until October of that year when it suddenly reduced to "two sightings." Now it has become "one sighting." One is bound to wonder whether a further passing of time will establish "no sighting"?

What certainly exists as evidence from early 1970 is what Farrant wrote in the Hampstead & Highgate Express, 6 February 1970:

"On three occasions I have seen what appeared to be a ghost-like figure inside the gates at the top of Swains Lane. The first occasion was on Christmas Eve. The second sighting, a week later, was also brief. Last week, the figure appeared, only a few yards inside the gate. This time it was there long enough for me to see it much more clearly."

The next month Farrant stated to Today interviewer Sandra Harris on British television: "The last time I actually saw its face." Does this not suggest there was a time previous to the one he is referring to in that interview? I sense it does. But there is more. There is the BBC's 24 Hours interview broadcast on 15 October 1970.

Laurence Picethly’s interview with Farrant for BBC television was sandwiched between footage of the President of the British Occult Society that had been filmed at the society’s north London headquarters and on location at Highgate Cemetery. The man representing the British Occult Society was obviously not Farrant even though the latter would fraudulently adopt that title two years later. In fact, the British Occult Society had distanced itself from what Farrant was doing as far back as March 1970. The interview Farrant gave in late 1970 is important, however, because there are no editors for him to blame for altering what he had written in published correspondence to a newspaper. In the BBC programme he is seen speaking to the interviewer and the viewing public. The words can be heard from his own mouth and there is no escaping what he said.

Here is the 24 Hours television interview Farrant gave in October 1970:

Laurence Picethly: “On August the seventeenth, Allan [known locally as ‘Allan’ - his correct name being ‘David’] Farrant decided to pay a midnight visit to the cemetery to combat the vampire once and for all. At the cemetery, Farrant was forced to enter by the back wall [footage shows Farrant entering via the rear of the cemetery], as he still does today. He armed himself with a cross and stake, and crouched between the tombstones, waiting. But that night police, on the prowl for vandals, discovered him. He was charged with being in an enclosed space for an unlawful purpose, but later the Clerkenwell magistrate acquitted him. Now, in spite of attempts by the cemetery owners to bar him, Farrant and his friends [no friends were discovered by the police or subsequently identified by Farrant] still maintain a regular vigil around the catacombs in hope of sighting either the vampire or a meeting of Satanists.”

David Farrant: “We have been keeping watch in the cemetery for … [pauses] … since my court case ended, and we still found signs of their ceremonies.”

Laurence Picethly: “Have you ever seen this vampire?”

David Farrant: “I have seen it, yes. I saw it last February, and saw it on two occasions.”

Laurence Picethly: “What was it like?”

David Farrant: “It took the form of a tall, grey figure, and it … [pauses] … seemed to glide off the path without making any noise.”

Farrant's interview ends at this point. It is reproduced above in its entirety.

Farrant was acquitted of the charge that had led to his arrest, it being that he was found in an enclosed area for an unlawful purpose. Highgate Cemetery is obviously not “an enclosed area” and that is all he was charged with in August 1970. The BBC report now returns to the President of the British Occult Society.

Three things are of significance in that BBC television interview from October 1970.

The reconstructed footage of what Farrant was doing on the night of 17 August 1970 clearly shows him hunting a vampire with a rosary around his neck, a large cross in one hand and a sharpened wooden stake in the other hand. There is no ambiguity about what led to his arrest in this report where he is featured reconstructing what he was doing at the time of his arrest at midnight in Highgate Cemetery. The image above is taken from the 24 Hours programme as Farrant reconstructs the actions which led to his arrest.

The second thing of significance is that when Laurence Picethly asks whether Farrant had ever seen the vampire, Farrant dis not attempt to correct the person interviewing him by saying it was something other than a vampire. Nor did Farrant make clear that he did not believe in vampires, or that what he witnessed was not a vampire. Indeed, this section of 24 Hours was titled Vampires.

The third thing of significance is that when asked if he had seen the vampire Farrant responded: “I have seen it, yes. I saw it last February, and saw it on two occasions.” He can be heard saying that he had two sightings of the vampire in early 1970, but in the interview he gave Andrew Gough for Arcadia Farrant states that he had only one sighting and this was in December 1969, not February 1970 as stated by him in his BBC television appearance some four decades ago.

So was it one, two or three sightings Farrant had in 1970 of the infamous Highgate Vampire? He nowadays tries to disingenuously convince everyone that he never claimed any belief in vampires and did not attempt to hunt one in Highgate Cemetery with a cross and stake. Images of him from newspaper articles at the time tell an entirely different story. A small sample appear below:


Sunday, 6 September 2009

He Avoids Ugly Ones

In this 1994 News of the World report about David Farrant are claims about his prowess as a "High Priest" of witchcraft. Yet today Farrant states he abandoned wiccan beliefs and ceased to be a witch as far back as 1982. He is also described as "a High Priest of the British Occult Society." The British Occult Society had no "High Priests" and existed purely to examine hidden phenomena. Furthermore, David Farrant owed absolutely no association with the British Occult Society who were quick to refute his fraudulent claims wherever they appeared. (Click on these press cuttings to read them more easily).


Friday, 28 August 2009

Prison Correspondence from Lone Vampire Hunter

Prison correspondence (with the envelope in which it arrived that was sent care of an address where David Farrant had been ensconced in a coal bunker belonging to its occupant, Tony Hill, in Archway Road) from "A D Farrow" (a pseudonym given to police by Farrant when he was arrested in Highgate Cemetery on the night of 17 August 1970) to Seán Manchester, president of the British Occult Society, an organisation for the study and research of hidden phenomena.

"speak for me. I don't know if they have" [missing words from top line]

Below is a signed note written a week prior to the prison correspondence that was hand-delivered by David Farrant to the north London office of the British Occult Society for the attention of its president.

And below is a much later sample of David Farrant's still very recognisable handwriting in 2005 as it appears on the label of unsolicited mail sent to Keith Maclean care of the "Holy Grail Church."


Monday, 1 December 2008

Why Hunt The Wampyr?

The person who was at the epicentre of the Highgate Vampire investigation from start to finish was Seán Manchester. He was president of an occult investigation team within the British Occult Society who, probably as a consequence of the quickly unravelling Highgate case, founded the Vampire Research Society on 2 February 1970. The VRS has always maintained its integrity with high quality membership comprising clergy, scholars, academics, professional researchers and authors of the paranormal, which he purposely kept to a relatively small number, as with most specialist organisations, despite the incredible public fascination the topic still holds to this day. The VRS at no time sought to be a subscription club and membership over the last two decades has been only by invitation. Nobody, therefore, is better placed to comment on the wampyr believed to have once walked in Highgate. Seán Manchester was recently asked (on the internet) why he ever hunted vampires in the first place and continues to exorcise them when found to this day. His answer (edited for reasons of space) follows. In it he speculates about the supernature of the wampyr ...

"First, I am a Christian and therefore commanded to drive out demons (see Mark 16: 17) of which the vampire is a variant.

"Second, I am an exorcist who specialises in vampirology, a sub-branch of demonolatry, whose task is to cast out demons.

"Third, there is a dearth of exorcists willing to engage in this particular ministry. The only true exorcists I know are Christian. There are those I would not classify as true exorcists whose employment of the word 'exorcism' is unrecognisable to a Christian exorcist. This looser application can embrace activities such as banishment rituals using ceremonial magic which efficacy I cannot vouchsafe to have practical effect. For a Christian the authority to cast out demons requires at least baptism into the Christian faith. Catholics, and some other major denominations, require priests to perform major exorcisms and only then with the permission of the diocesan bishop.

"We are each limited within the constraints of our particular discipline. A Catholic priest, for example, must have permission from his bishop in order to carry out a major exorcism. Minor exorcisms in certain circumstances may be carried out by priests and laity alike without consent. Though the sacraments are not corrupted by a tainted priest, and are still valid despite the medium through which they are provided, the exorcism rite will probably not meet with much success when a corrupt person attempts the traditional formula. Indeed, it might prove extremely dangerous for someone thus tainted to attempt an exorcism. Though exorcism is not a sacrament itself, the use of the Blessed Sacrament (the Host) might be applied in certain situations. The efficacy of the Host will not be lessened by the priest's degree of corruption provided the intent of the exorcist is genuine. The bishop does not select priests for exorcism. Those who are called to the exorcism ministry already exist. If, however, they are under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, permission must be sought by any priest who is an exorcist to execute the major rite, but not the minor or smaller exorcism ritual.

"The vampire of history is a contradiction in itself, an oxymoron, a non sequitur, or as the French would say je ne sais quoi, meaning the subject matter is indefinable; it cannot be described or conveyed in a manner readily understood. Today's secular mind finds no apparent reason for the vampire's existence. The exorcist, however, must remember that although the vampire is supernatural and originates from the ranks of fallen angels, it is simultaneously a physical entity which is capable of death and destruction. It is this unearthly combination of the corporeal and the demonic which instils such dread where the vampire is concerned. The term 'undead' is certainly applicable, but what does that mean? If the vampire is sentient then why use 'undead'? What a curious word to describe a revenant. Yet we know these vampires are not living people, but neither are they God's true dead. The Devil's undead is perhaps a term more apt than we might at first imagine. Certainly no other description can come as close to conveying the meaning of this phenomenon. Perhaps the vampire's ingestion of blood into the living cadaver is similar to the manner by which the vampire bat is able to ingest blood and obtain nourishment from it? No doubt there is some level of nourishment to be obtained from blood, but most people if they ingest more than a mouthful will vomit. There are proteins and iron to be found in blood and perhaps that is what nourishes the physical aspect and enables the wraith to remain as a corporeal manifestation? The biological aspects of vampirism notwithstanding, how does one explain the immediate and rapid deterioration of the corpse once exorcism has taken place? It will fall apart and decay as do other corpses, from a few days to many years according to its true age, once the stake has impaled the undead heart. It collapses into a pile of dusty bones where centuries have elapsed. As I attempted to explain in interviews with the American broadcasters Art Bell and George Noory a few years back, it would seem that time catches up with the vampiric wraith at the moment of its destruction. It returns into what it always was and ought to have been. Impaling the heart is sufficient in and of itself to end the pollutions of the vampire, more so if cremation follows, but the real danger with these undead is that they are totally evil and, of course, biocidal. They should not be compared with vampire bats who take a few drops and move on. Vampires are evil and a potential threat to human life. They are a form of Antichrist and should be dealt with accordingly."

Why Do The Foxes Die?

Why Do The Foxes Die?

The above banner headline appeared across the front page of the Hampstead & Highgate Express, the areas most prestigious newspaper, on 6 March 1970. Their report follows:

"The mysterious death of foxes in Highgate Cemetery was this week linked with the theory that a ghost seen in the area might be a vampire. Tobacconist Mr David Farrant, 24, who reported seeing the ghost [as he had previously described the phenomenon] last month, returned to the spot last weekend and disovered a dead fox. 'Several other foxes have also been found dead in the cemetery,' he said at his home in Priestwood Mansions, Archway Road, Highgate. 'The odd thing is there was no outward sign of how they died. Much remains unexplained, but what I have recently learnt all points to the vampire theory being the most likely answer. Should this be so, I for one am prepared to pursue it, taking whatever means might be necessary so that we can all rest.' The vampire theory was suggested last week by Mr Seán Manchester, president of the British Occult Society, who believes that 'the King Vampire of the Undead' [a phrase, not used by Seán Manchester, which had been coined by the newspaper itself a week earlier] walks again. Mr Farrant and Mr Manchester met in the cemetery at the weekend. ... Mr Farrant pointed out the spot where he saw the spectre and Mr Manchester with prayer book in hand [compared the location with that of other sightings made in the graveyard]. Mr Manchester, when told of the dead foxes, said: 'These incidents are just more inexplicable events that seem to complement my theory about a vampire.' ... Would-be ghost hunters were warned this week to keep out of the cemetery. 'Anyone coming in here after closing time will cop it,' said a spokesman."

Five months later, David Farrant carried out his threat to "pursue it, taking whatever means might be necessary."

The Daily Express, 19 August 1970, reported that Farrant told the court: "My intention was to search out the supernatural being and destroy it by plunging the stake [found in his possession when arrested in Highgate Cemetery by police] in its heart."

The newspaper's report continued: "David Farrant pleaded guilty at Clerkenwell, London, to entering St Michael's churchyard, Highgate Cemetery, for an unlawful purpose. Farrant told police he had just moved to London when he heard people talking about the vampire in Highgate Cemetery. In a statement he said that he heard the vampire rises out of a grave and wanders about the cemetery on the look-out for human beings on whose blood it thrives. Police keeping watch for followers of a black magic cult arrested him. He was remaded in custody for reports. Last night, Mr Seán Manchester, leader of the British Occult Society, said: 'I am convinced that a vampire exists in Highgate Cemetery. Local residents and passers-by have reported seeing a ghostlike figure of massive proportions near the north gate'."

The British Occult Society, prior to its dissolution on O8.O8.88, was presided over by Seán Manchester. The BOS made its television debut on 13 March 1970 when its president featured on Today (Thames Television) to represent the Society’s investigation into reported happenings in and around Highgate Cemetery, London, that had been accumulating since early 1967. A number of witnesses to an alleged vampire spectre were also interviewed by Sandra Harris for Today. These consisted largely of children and a young man. When asked what he had seen by Sandra Harris, the young man, David Farrant, described what he alleged to have encountered a few weeks earlier as looking as though it had been dead for a long time, insisting that it was evil. Farrant's description would alter radically in later years. It eventually became mist with two red eyes when he described it a quarter of a century later. Throughout 1970, at least, David Farrant made no pretence of any association or membership within the British Occult Society. Needless to say, he was not then, or at any time, a member of the British Occult Society. Seán Manchester, then as now, held fast to traditional Christianity, having studied the occult. During the 1970s and 1980s he sometimes operated covertly within occult circles to gain first-hand intelligence. This much became apparent in 1988 with the publication of From Satan To Christ and again in 1997 would be confirmed in The Vampire Hunter's Handbook.

From 1971, David Farrant began to describe himself as a wiccan high priest and occultist, who was also involved in spiritism. In August 1995, however, he revealed in an amateur Dutch magazine home-produced by vampire enthusiast Rob Brautigam that he was "in fact no longer a wiccan as such" and was "no longer dependent on any man-made creeds or inflicted doctrines." That notwithstanding, prior to the autumn of 1970, he was neither wiccan nor occultist, and seemed closer to something more resembling Roman Catholicism; wearing, as he did, a Catholic rosary with crucifix around his neck for press and television interviews.

Seán Manchester and David Farrant have only appeared on the same television transmission twice, both times in 1970, when Seán Manchester represented the British Occult Society on the Today programme, 13 March 1970, and, some months later, on the BBC’s 24 Hours programme, 15 October 1970. Farrant’s appearance on Today was as one of a number of witnesses who claimed to have seen a vampire, and on 24 Hours as someone who had been arrested in Highgate Cemetery whilst attempting to stalk and impale the rumoured vampire. In the second of these television interviews, filmed by the BBC on location at Highgate Cemetery, Farrant demonstrated his stalking technique with a home-made cross and wooden stake, whilst adorned with a Roman Catholic rosary around his neck. This film report was reshown by the BBC in May 1999 and clips have subsequently been transmitted this century on various independent television channels. There was no mention of his being involved in wicca or the occult. He did, however, echo the fact that Satanists had used the cemetery for clandestine ceremonies. This view was also held by the British Occult Society, the police, the media, and many members of the public.
The turning point in the Highgate Vampire case was August 1970 when discovery was made of the tomb and its unearthly contents. A spoken exorcism was carried out by Seán Manchester with the consent of the private cemetery owners. It was to prove ineffective. This exorcism was later reconstructed in a film documentary for BBC television that was transmitted on 15 October 1970.

Something else happened in August of that year. Lone vampire hunter David Farrant was arrested by police in Highgate Cemetery and held on remand at Brixton Prison. He, too, was interviewed by the BBC and he faithfully reconstructed what he was doing on the night of his arrest. The BBC filmed him prowling around the graveyard, wearing a white rosary with a crucifix, and holding a wooden stake in one hand and a large cross in the other. Farrant claims to have returned in the following year to Highgate Cemetery to summon the vampire using a sinister necromantic formula which included sex magic with a naked girl smeared with fresh blood. He also claims to have been "temporarily possessed by the satanic entity" in an article he submitted to New Witchcraft magazine from his jail cell. Within three years of this diabolical evocation he was arrested and tried at London's Old Bailey for crimes relating to Highgate Cemetery and for threatening people with black magic. Farrant received a prison sentence of four years and eight months in June 1974.