See, because of my writing preferences, I get some weird emails. I get people asking me how to ghosts out of their houses. I get people asking me if there’s such things as werewolves because they think they have one living across the street. I get people who think I am actually Vlad the Impaler who is communicating with “mortals” under a pseudonym to hide my vampiric nature. I wish I could make these kinds of emails up, but they’re true.
The thing is Nyogtha is read by professors, scholars, historians, other folklorists and so on. People print it off or cut and paste it and email it to groups, much like the VC. But the problem is that Nyogtha is also read by every crackpot out there who expects me to reveal some magnanimous secret of the universe. And this includes…vampire hunters.
Back in Issue IX, I covered The Highgate Vampire, a creature that was supposedly encountered and destroyed back in the late 1960’s/Early 1970’s. Yes, there are people out there that believe in vampires and also claim their occupation is to destroy them. Look, it’s not my job to tell you what is real and what isn’t. If you want to believe in the Undead, you knock yourself out. But I will say if you’re going to run around and dig up corpses and drive stakes through their heart, you will get arrested and be considered a total whacko by most of humanity.
Enter Sean Manchester and David Farrant, the two vampire hunters from the Highgate Vampire case. Guess what? Thirty-five or so years later, they are STILL feuding. Yes, that’s right. But now they’ve taken it to the INTERNET!
On April 10th I work up to a bizarre email that I found in my inbox. I responded to it and about 30 seconds later, I realized this was Sean Manchester himself emailing me.
What now follows is a conversation that I find truly and utterly bizarre…
Sean’s First letter to me
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 09:25:52 AM CDT
From: “Vampire Research Society”
Subject: Some Old Facts Clarified
SOME OLD FACTS CLARIFIED
“For many years now since the emergence of the so-called Highgate Vampire Case (that is in the late 1960’s to be exact) David Farrant has been accused by many misguided people, of being a ‘vampire hunter’. This title has almost invariably arisen as a result of television appearances, David made back in the early 1970’s, when he was asked (by the tv) to reconstruct a general public imagery seen to be associated with ‘vampires’ and the like. The programmes were very successful, but they are still a few misguided people, who take these distant programmes far too seriously and who, in their ignorance, presume – or rather, would like to presume – that television entertainment can be analysed, or scrutinised, to portray meanings that they (tv) never intended to convey in the first place! There are many such people around today, whose somewhat befuddled memories of distant past events they now attempt to portray as non-fiction; not least (perhaps amusingly), that one of these very people went on tv himself in 1970 and went to great pains to emphasize how David Farrant would be ‘returning to Highgate Cemetery that very same evening, to stake the vampire’. More amusingly still, perhaps, was that this very same person appeared on BBC TV later that year, and suddenly produced a home made wooden stake that he had concealed down his ‘pin-stripped [sic] trousers’ and explained to a somewhat disbelieving interviewer, that the only way to destroy a vampire was to take a stake (such as the one he had produced from his trousers), stake it through the heart ‘cut off its head with a grave diggers shovel’, and ‘incinerate its remains![‘]. Well I ask you!, who is supposed to be taking who seriously here? After all, David himself never made claims such as these; claims, of course, which were all designed to attract publicity to the very person who was making them! My case rests folks! But don’t go away, there is really some more serious stuff waiting to be told about The Highgate Vampire Case “Catherine Fearnley”
The above was published by Catherine Fearnley at 6.34pm on 10 March 2005 on a proboard message forum at the following link:
She has also reproduced it on several further message boards of her own and a number belonging to other people and groups.
Who is Catherine Fearnley? By what authority does she span (some might say spam) the internet with her statements as though they are fact (the above she gave the title “Some Old Facts Clarified”)? She is a resident of Heckmondwike in Yorkshire, England, who was not even alive when the matters about which she opines took place. Indeed, she was born three years after those events had occurred. Her sole resource is a certain David Farrant of London, England, whom she met for the very first time in June 2004, having exchanged written correspondence, e-mail messages and conversed with him on the telephone in the months prior. Who is David Farrant, one might equally enquire? He is described on page 107 in a chapter titled “Amateur Vampire Hunters” in Sean Manchester’s bestselling book The Highgate Vampire as “so much an amateur as to be comic, but his dabblings in things which he did not understand was to have a tragic outcome.” This might be something of an understatement in view of the “outcome” itself of a four years and eights months prison sentence meted out to David Farrant in June 1974 for crimes at Highgate Cemetery.
Let us examine what this young Heckmondwike resident claims in her much copied and pasted clarification of “some old facts”:
“David Farrant has been accused by many misguided people, of being a ‘vampire hunter’. This title has almost invariably arisen as a result of television appearances, David made back in the early 1970’s, when he was asked (by the tv) to reconstruct a general public imagery seen to be associated with ‘vampires’ and the like.”
Farrant, in fact, was describing himself as a “vampire hunter” at the time and his presence on a BBC television programme was entirely due to his arrest in Highgate Cemetery on 17 August 1970 when he was found by police to be in possession of a wooden stake and a Christian cross. The BBC asked him to reconstruct the events of that night. They did not provide him with any props. The footage of him entering the graveyard and prowling around adorned in a rosary with a cross in one hand and a stake in the other for the purpose of stalking a vampire was specifically aimed to show what he was doing on the night of 17 August 1970. The narration stated as much as the viewer watched the reconstruction. David Farrant met television journalist Lawrence Picethly of the BBC with the cross, stake and rosary already in his possession. Furthermore, photographs of David Farrant had already appeared in newspapers prior to the BBC transmission of 15 October 1970 where he was pictured in possession of the same vampire hunting accoutrements. Even on the day following the transmission, Londoners read of journalist Barrie Simmons joining Farrant for a “midnight date with Highgate’s Vampire.” This is what was reported by Barrie Simmons, accompanied by pictures showing Farrant stalking the Highgate Vampire with cross in one hand and a stake in the other, in the the London Evening News, 16 October 1970:
“I joined a macabre hunt among the desecrated graves and tombs for the vampire of Highgate Cemetery. .. David, 24, was all set, kitted out with all the gear required by any self-respecting vampire hunter. Clutched under his arm, in a Sainsbury’s carrie bag, he held the tools of his trade. There was a cross made out of two bits of wood tied together with a shoelace and a stake to plunge through the heart of the beast. Vampire hunting is a great art. There is no point in just standing around waiting for the monster to appear. It must be stalked. So we stalked. Cross in one hand to ward off the evil spirits, stake in the other, held at the ready. David stalked among the vaults, past the graves, in the bushes and by the walls. When we had finished he started stalking all over again.”
Next our “expert” up in Heckmondwike alludes to Sean Manchester, organiser of the official investigation and author of The Highgate Vampire, offering words that she attributes to a Thames Television programme, 13 March 1970. Fearnley claims:
“… one of these very people went on tv himself in 1970 and went to great pains to emphasize how David Farrant would be returning to Highgate Cemetery that very same evening, to ‘stake the vampire'[“].
Sean Manchester had been asked by the interviewer Sandra Harris whether he would employ the traditional remedy, ie impalation etc, if the vampire was located in Highgate Cemetery. Sean Manchester’s verbatim reply on the programme actually states: “I would not do this because it would be illegal and against the wishes of the authorities which I respect. However, Mr Farrant has told me that he is going to do it this Friday against my explicit wish for his own safety.” Farrant confirmed this to the case in a privately recorded interview with Sean Manchester and in public interviews given to various members of the press where he was accurately quoted. We now know, of course, that Farrant did not attempt to hunt the vampire “next Friday” and waited until August before equipping himself with a home-made stake and Christian cross to hunt the vampire. The court case was reported in all the press:
“A man armed with a wooden stake and a cross went on a vampire hunt in a cemetery. But all he found were police. And they arrested him. Alan [sic] Farrant, aged 24, told magistrates at Clerkenwell, London, yesterday: ‘My intention was to search out the supernatural being and destroy it by plunging the stake in its heart.’ Farrant, unemployed and of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to entering enclosed premises – Highgate Cemetery – for unlawful purposes. Detective-Sergeant Neville Brown – who showed the court a large wooden crucifix attached to a piece of rope and a wooden stake – said Farrant had heard talk of the vampire of Highgate Cemetery. He heard that it rose from a grave and wandered the cemetery ‘on the lookout for human beings on whose blood it thrives.’ Farrant was remanded in custody for reports until September 8. Sean Manchester, leader of the British Occult Society, said: ‘I am convinced a vampire exists in Highgate Cemetery. Local residents and passers-by have reported seeing a ghost-like figure of massive proportions near the North Gate’.’
The above report appeared in The Sun, 19 August 1970. Similar reports appeared in the Evening Standard, 18 August 1970, and the Evening News, 18 August 1970. A photograph of David Farrant with wooden stake raised and clasped in both his hands, wearing a Catholic rosary plus a large crucifix around his neck, was published in the Evening News, 29 September 1970.
Our Heckmondwike “clarifier of facts” Catherine Fearnley continues:
“More amusingly still, perhaps, was that this very same person [SSean Manchester] appeared on BBC TV later that year, and suddenly produced a home made wooden stake that he had concealed down his ‘pin-stripped trousers’ and explained to a somewhat disbelieving interviewer … etc.”
It was David Farrant, in actual fact, who had a home-made wooden stake concealed in the top of his trousers which he promptly produced along with a large Christian cross as he commenced to reconstruct the night of his arrest in August for the BBC transmission of 15 October 1970. Catherine Fearnley, who did not arrive into the world for another three years, has almost certainly seen this footage which has been shown more than once in recent years on British television and elsewhere. Images from the BBC reconstrcution showing Farrant producing the wooden stake from his trousers will be forwarded via e-mail upon request.
“After all, David himself never made claims such as these; claims, of course, which were all designed to attract publicity to the very person who was making them!”
If there was one thing David Farrant was constantly accused of being throughout the last three decades it is a publicity-seeker. A sample of quotes should suffice, though dozens more could be offered. Farrant’s next brush with the law was in November 1972 at Barnet Magistrates Court. It was revealed by the Crown Prosecution that Farrant was someone who had colluded with a journalist (who just happened to be related to Farrant’s co-defendant) to orchestrate his arrest in a churchyard with a girl for the sole purpose of self-publicity in newspapers. This was confirmed by one of the more reputable newspapers in their coverage of the court proceedings where Farrant and his co-defendant, Victoria Jervis, were both found guilty of indecency. Jervis afterwards had a nervous breakdown and severed her relationship with him. The Hampstead & Highgate Express, 24 November 1972, revealed:
“Mr P J Bucknell, prosecuting, said Mr Farant had painted circles on the ground, lit with candles, and had told reporters and possibly the police of what he was doing. ‘This appears to be a sordid attempt to obtain publicity,’ he said.”
David Farrant’s girlfriend, Martine de Sacy, a female who posed nude in Highgate Cemetery for Farrant’s camera, admitted to the News of the World, 30 June 1974:
“I don’t think David’s occultism was serious. He was just dabbling in it for the sense of self-importance.”
Editor and journalist Peter Hounan wrote in an article for the Hornsey Journal, 19 July 1974, following Farrant’s prison sentence:
“As a lad, David Farrant was ‘a little devil’ some of the time. As a teenager, he was ‘a bit of a terror’. But as a man he caused the most trouble – because of his wicked witchcraft activities. Farrant, aged 28, of Archway Road, Highgate – a former Highgate public schoolboy – paid the penalty for his weird pastimes at the Old Bailey on Wednesday. He was jailed for four years and eight months at the end of three separate trials.”
Three days earlier, Peter Hounan, who knew Farrant better than most in the press, wrote in the Hornsey Journal, 16 July 1974:
“Farrant was a fool. Fascinated by witchcraft, which he learnt from his mother, he couldn’t keep his interests to himself. He was a blatant publicist. He told this newspaper of his activities, sent photographs and articles describing his bizarre activities.”
Regarding Fearnley’s allegation that Sean Manchester did things “designed to attract publicity,” this is what he has stated in print:
“For the record, 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 Hunter’s Handbook, page 48).
We rest OUR case.
Ummm…why did I get this exactly? It’s all very interesting, especially to see Farrant resurface after all this time, and the Highgate case is a
particular favorite of mine, but it’s what, nearly 40 years old now? No offense Sean, but you guys are like near nursing home age. Do you really need to be spatting like teenagers over the Internet? And why to me of all people?
It might be thirty-five years old, but that hasn’t stopped David Farrant and Catherine Fearnley posting ad infinitum articles on fallingskies.com about those events. The trouble is that they are posting revisionism that serves only to whitewash his past.
Well yes, but Farrant is considered a kook by just about everyone. The Media,
most folklorists, vampirologists and researchers and so on. His credibility
has been shot for decades and has his criminal records and newspapers and the
BBC conversations with him to clearly show “Hey, this guy is a whacko.”
It’s Like the Amityville Horror. it was exposed as a get rich scheme by the
people who bought the house and they were sued a few dozen times. The truth
came out about them trying to create a paranormal hoax and it died down for
what, twenty years or so, and now they’re trying it again what with the
re-release of their book and the new movie. But anyone who becomes even
remotely interested in the case and does research will encounter the truth and
the web of lies they made. Truth will out after all. Especially when there’s
tons of recorded documents.
And the same holds true for Farrant. Anyone who even starts to believe what he
says and becomes interested will find for every 1 thing he writes, there will
be about fifty things saying “Woah. He’s kinda messed in the cranium.”
He’s posting on one website, and there’s literally THOUSANDS out there about
the Highgate Vampire. He’s going to affect, at most, a percent of a percent of
You guys are more than double my age. Please act like it.
And that’s the last I have heard from him.
And like I told some friends of mine, this is common for me. I had to deal with Anne Rice when she went nutso to Amazon readers, I have to deal with Vampire Hunters, I have to deal with people who think they are in fact vampires, and on and on. About 85% of the emails I get will never go into a Nyogtha column because they are the equivalent of what you just read above.
But here’s what I really want to show you. Sean Manchester’s webpage. AKA the English Gothic Website. I want you to look at how outright AWFUL the website site. And now I want you to hear this. On Alexa.com, this website is ranked the 2,186th most visited website on the Internet. They also have two MSN groups devoted to this. The first is the The Cross and the Stake. Inside Pulse is ranked 27,531.
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HUMANITY?
Sorry. I just had to get that out. It just boggles my mind that a large group of people think this way.
Anyway, that’s it for the folklore part of Nyogtha this week. I’ve done a lot of video games for IP this week, and so I decided it would be more a kick for you to have to sit through the madness that ends up in my inbox every day.
Last week there was my Wrestlemania XXI first impressiona along with my Jade Empire Review, my Stella Dues preview, and my Flatout Preview. Busy busy week, no? This week look for my reviews of WM XXI and Raze’s Hell (both bad games) and my preview of Forza Motorsport (good game!)
In TV, I guess the stars of “The Simple Life” are now feuding? Weird.
This week I thought I’d do a rather interesting combination for you. It’s Pork and Clams. Although this might not be something immediately appetizing to the American Palate, this meal is quite popular in Portugal, and it’s slowly but surely becoming popular in Massachusetts, where they slather the dish in Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.
I think you’ll find it to be a great summer treat. The only downside is you need to marinade for 48 hours.
Carne De Porco a Alentajana
Marinade and Pork:
1 and one-fourth cups dry white wine
One-half cup Tabasco, Frank’s, or whatever liquid pepper sauce you prefer.
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
3 pounds boneless pork, preferably butt or shoulder, cut into 1 and one-half inch cubes.
To Cook and Finish:
Two-thirds cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup water
7 cups diced unpeeled russet potatoes
24 littleneck clams, SCRUBBED
Lemon wedges to taste
1. For the marinade, in a large bowl, stir together the wine, hot pepper sauce, garlic, paprika and salt. Add the Prk. Toss to coat and refrigerate for at least 2 days.
2. In a large, heavy pot, heat one-third cup of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for one minute. Add the now marinated pork and the water. Bring to a boil while stirring, and reduce the heat to low. Then cook, covered, until the pork is tender, which will take 75 to 90 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. On a large, rimmed baking sheet, toss the cubed potatoes with the remaining one-third of the olive oil. Roast in the preheated oven until the potatoes are tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
4. Scrape the potatoes into a large earthenware casserole or baking dish. Pour the pork and juices over the potatoes and arrange the clams in a single layer on the top. Bake, uncovered, in the pre-heated over just until the clams pop open, which will be about 10 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve directly from the baking dish.
Not much more to say. I’ll see you next week. Unless I wake up with a stake in my heart.