Monday, 1 December 2008

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.

No comments: