Monday, 1 December 2008

When The Wampyr First Went Public

"On Friday, 27 February 1970, the front page headline of the Hampstead and Highgate Express asked does a vampire walk in Highgate? There would be no going back. The die had been cast." (Seán Manchester, The Highgate Vampire, page 70)

Does A Wampyr Walk In Highgate?

The above banner headline appeared across the front page of Hampstead and Highgate's most prestigious newspaper in February 1970. The editor himself had written the piece after meeting privately with the president of the British Occult Society and founder of the then fledgling Vampire Research Society. He allowed himself to get slightly carried away by introducing the journalistic embellishment "King Vampire of the Undead" - a term that Seán Manchester apparently did not employ, as stated by him on page 72 of The Vampire Hunter's Handbook. On page 48 of the same work, Seán Manchester states:

"I do not give newspaper interviews and have only released statements in the far distant past when these were in the public interest (ie balancing comment, disclaimers and warnings of malefic goings-on)."

The vampire revelations of 27 February 1970 clearly fell into the latter category.

The Hampstead & Highgate Express introduced their readers to "Seán Manchester, president of the British Occult Society ... [who] ... claims to have carried out 'extensive research and investigation into the matter.' Mr Manchester, a photographer, said: 'The phenomenon reported by Highgate people in letters to the Ham and High is not merely the apparition of an earth-bound spirit, which is relatively harmless, but much worse - that of a wampyr or, as it is more popularly known, a vampire'."

The newspaper continued to quote the BOS president:

"We would like to exorcise the vampire by the traditional and approved manner ..."

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