Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Last Mass Vampire Hunt in England


The night of Friday 13 March 1970 witnessed in England the largest vampire hunt of the twentieth century by members of the public. It bordered on hysteria and led to local police having their leave cancelled to contain it. Just how many were involved would be difficult to estimate, but certainly hundreds. In the preceding weeks, the Hampstead & Highgate Express (a local newspaper) told of unearthly goings-on at Highgate Cemetery. Its February 27th issue ran the headline "Does A Wampyr Walk in Highgate?" The front-page headline of the following fateful week's edition told of the matter being discussed on television that very evening by Seán Manchester who recounts the event in his bestselling book The Highgate Vampire:
"... attempts to shoot the interview by the north gate were abandoned and the actual filming took place outside the main gate further down Swains Lane. Some independent witnessed, including several children who had seen a ghostly manifestation, were also interviewed for the programme. One person said: ' Yes, I did feel it was evil because the last time I actually saw its face and it looked like it had been dead for a long time.' Another witness commented: 'It seemed to float along the ground.' One of those interviewed who claimed to have seen the vampire was a certain David Farrant, a pathetic figure whose infatuation with the Highgate haunting was to earn him an undeserved notoriety and send him on a helter-skelter into the abyss of the dark occult. The programme was transmitted at 6.00pm on Friday 13 March 1970: the eve of the proposed vampire hunt. Eamonn Andrews introduced the viewing audience to a report on the Highgate Vampire. Within two hours Highgate was the scene of utter pandemonium as crowds of onlookers flocked to Swains Lane. The number multiplied as the evening progressed. Police on foot and in cars were unable to control the swarming mass of those who had arrived to witness the discovery of a modern-day vampire infestation in their midst. And its eradication! While chaos and frenzy continued to erupt in Swains Lane, a group of hand-picked researchers led by myself, constituting the official vampire hunt, made their way to the catacombs in the inky darkness of the cemetery." ― Seán Manchester (The Highgate Vampire, pp. 76-77). 

What followed would confirm the investigating hunters' worst fears.

Yet people still ask the question ...


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Does A Wampyr Still Walk In Highgate?


The demonic presence in corporeal form (at first known locally and eventually worldwide as the Highgate Vampire) was successfully exorcised in early 1974. While accepting there have been anomalous sightings of apparition-like phenomena down the decades for generations - certainly as far back as Victorian times - none of these in recent years are remotely similar to sightings of what became known as the Highgate Vampire four and a half decades ago. Unfortunately, all the recent claims to a ghostly presence wafting about in the vicinity of the graveyard stem either directly or indirectly from a hoaxer who contacts his local newspapers regularly to such an end when not winding up naïve, local paranormal groups in the area comprising people not even born when events occurred in the 1960s and turn of the 1970s, who are clearly in awe of anything which might connect tangentially to the original case.

The Vampire Research Society would not dismiss the possibility of other manifestations elsewhere having a demonic/vampiric source, but no convincing evidence of the same phenomenon as before returning to Highgate Cemetery or indeed its environs has been provided by anyone.

The answer, therefore, to the question as to whether a wampyr still walks in Highgate is a resounding no.
Source: Seán Manchester


Does A Wampyr Walk In Highgate?

"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, Gothic Press, p. 70)

The banner headline "Does a wampyr walk in Highgate?" 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 did not employ, as stated by him on page 72 of The Vampire Hunter's Handbook, but what else did the editor get wrong that day? Apparently more than you might imagine!

After warning that a vampire might be active in Highgate Cemetery, the article goes on to correctly describe Seán Manchester as a photographer (he had run his own photographic studio throughout the previous decade) and the president of the British Occult Society (a position he held from 21 June 1967 to 8 August 1988 when the BOS was dissolved). He is then quoted accurately enough before reference is made to a King Vampire of the Undead which is not attributed to him in actual quotes but attributed nonetheless.

A very important residence in Highgate somehow manages to transform into a different house in London's West End. For house "in the West End" one should actually substitute Ashurst House, which once stood at the western end of the site now occupied by Highgate Cemetery, as would have been explained by Seán Manchester who told the editor at the time that Ashurst House was sold and leased to a succession of tenants of whom one was a mysterious gentleman from the Continent who arrived in the wake of the vampire epidemic that had its origins in south-east Europe. This is not quite the same as what was reported and, of course, does not have anything like the same sensationalist impact as "King Vampire from Wallachia" which Draculesque adornment the newspaper clearly preferred.

There then follows reference to a group of Satanists attempting to "resurrect the King Vampire." This time the reference to a King Vampire is included in quotes even though the term was not uttered.

Next we are misinformed that the British Occult Society had "no formal membership" but instead corresponded with "50 to 100 interested people." Completely untrue. The BOS had a formal membership of over three hundred people with at least one hundred actively involved in ongoing research and investigation.

Then we learn that the British Occult Society "believes in countering magic by magic" when all that was said is that the supernatural will not submit to scientific methods to measure and prove its existence.

The newspaper correctly states that some BOS members had "spent nights in Highgate Cemetery" which was obviously for the purpose of observing the strange nocturnal goings-on in the place as had been reported by people in the previous decade and was still being reported up to the time of the article.

Readers are then offered in quotes "the traditional and approved manner" by which folk must rid themselves of this hideous pestilence without it being properly clarified that this is how clergy dealt with the problem in centuries past and was not on the agenda as far as the British Occult Society/Vampire Research Society was concerned with regard to Highgate Cemetery.

That Montague Summers' books bore some influence on Seán Manchester's understanding of vampirism is mentioned in tandem with  the suggestion that Bram Stoker's novel is based on fact. That Stoker was influenced by genuine cases and read about real vampires before writing Dracula is not in doubt, but the clumsy journalism of the Hampstead and Highgate Express clouds what is trying to be conveyed by the man they are interviewing in the pursuit (presumably) of economising on words for the sake of space.

Finally we come to a quote attributed to "one of Britain's busiest exorcists, the Rev John Neil-Smith" (they couldn't even get his name right - it was actually Christopher Neil-Smith) by attributing to him the following: "I believe the whole idea of vampires is probably a novelistic embellishment." He said nothing of the sort.

The Reverend Christopher Neil-Smith (1920-1995) was an Anglican priest, originally from Hampstead, most celebrated for his practice of exorcism and his paranormal interests.[1] Like Seán Manchester, whom he knew, Reverend Neil-Smith believed that evil is an external reality and should be treated as such rather than as an abstract concept.

A vicar at St Saviour's Anglican Church at Eton Road in Hampstead, London, he performed more than three thousand exorcisms in Britain since 1949. In 1972, the Bishop of London authorised him to exorcise demons according to his own judgement.[2] Two years earlier, he was misquoted in the Hampstead and Highgate Express, 27 February 1970, saying that vampires are "probably a novelistic embellishment," but, as Seán Manchester subsequently pointed out, Reverend Neil-Smith claimed to have actually exorcised vampires, as confirmed in a book written by Daniel Farson and Angus Hall which records:

"Yet not far from Highgate Cemetery lives a man who takes reports of vampirism seriously. The Reverend Christopher Neil-Smith is a leading British exorcist and writer on exorcism. He can cite several examples of people who have come to him for help in connection with vampirism. 'The one that particularly strikes me is that of a woman who showed me the marks on her wrists which appeared at night, where blood had definitely been taken. And there was no apparent reason why this should have occurred. They were marks like those of an animal. Something like scratching.' He denies this might have been done by the woman herself. She came to him when she felt her blood was being sucked away, and after he performed an exorcism the marks disappeared. Another person who came from South America 'had a similar phenomenon, as if an animal had sucked away his blood and attacked him at night.' Again, the Reverend Neil-Smith could find no obvious explanation. There is a third case of a man who, after his brother died, had the strange feeling that his lifeblood was being slowly sucked away from him. 'There seems to be evidence this was so,' says Neil-Smith. 'He was a perfectly normal person before, but after the brother's death he felt his life was being sucked away from him as if the spirit of his brother was feeding on him. When the exorcism was performed he felt a release and new life, as if new blood ran in his veins.' Neil-Smith rules out the possibility of a simple psychological explanation for this, such as a feeling of guilt by the survivor toward his brother. 'There was no disharmony between them. In fact he wasn't clear for some time that it (the vampire) was his brother.' The clergyman describes a vampire as 'half animal, half human,' and firmly refutes the suggestion that such things are all in the mind. 'I think that's a very naive interpretation,' he says. 'All the evidence points to the contrary'." [6]

The Reverend Christopher Neil-Smith, contrary to editor Gerald Isaaman's false attribution of 27 February 1970 in a local Hampstead newspaper, concluded that there really are such a things as vampires.


1. a b Beeson, Trevor (2006). "The Reverend Christopher Neil-Smith". Priests And Prelates: The Daily Telegraph Clerical Obituaries. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0826481000.

2. Sands, Kathleen R. Demon possession in Elizabethan England. Praeger Publishers. "At around the same time, Father Christopher Neil-Smith, an Anglican priest, received a standing license from the Bishop of London authorizing him to exorcise freely according to his own judgment."

3. Neil-Smith, Christopher. Praying for daylight: God through modern eyes. P. Smith.

4. Cramer, Marc. The devil within. W.H. Allen. "with the noted exorcist, the Rev. Christopher Neil-Smith, author of an anecdotal book entitled The Exorcist and the Possessed."

5. Spence, Lewis. Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. Kessinger Publishing.

6. Mysterious Monsters (Aldus Books, 1978) by Daniel Farson and Angus Hall.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013



by Seán Manchester

It is not correct, in my experience, to understand that the corporeal form "never leaves its resting place," though I am aware of this theory being postulated by some. It can indeed stray beyond its earthly confines and might even do so by way of metamorphosis. Salt, a substance used in Christian ceremonial for the blessing of holy water and much else besides when attempting to present a barrier to demonic intrusion, can be applied around the afflicted area to deter this from happening, but other items ought to be included, eg holy water, white candles, silver crucifixes and, most powerful of all, the Host (the Body of God).

The corporeal form, through its demonic agency, does have the supernatural ability to dematerialise and rematerialise outside the parameters of its tomb. This is extended to all manner of metamorphosis, as described in my book. So it can "assume other likenesses," and retain more than just the spectral appearance of an apparition when it returns to the corporeal from something else, whatever that something else might be.
Due to the words I uttered during a lengthy evocation and exorcism ceremony at the Great Northern London Cemetery some three decades ago, the vampire took the form of what I at first thought to be "a misty vapour stealing towards me." The ritual continued for almost an hour before "an uncanny change" in my environment occurred that led to "the outline of a figure on the grave before me." Whether or not it was metamorphosing into what I was about to behold, the next manifestation was indeed a diabolical abomination "the size of a large cat" which "scurried back and forth in the most terrifying manner around the perimeter" of salt interspersed with cups of holy water. This form was impaled as the exorcism reached its climax. It straight away began to metamorphosise back to a corporeal state, albeit now God's true dead, requiring reinterrment and the prayers for the dead. The formula I used is found in the pre-Vatican II Rituali Romano. 

I thoroughly recommend the works of Montague Summers; particularly The Vampire: His Kith & Kin and The Vampire in Europe. There will be much found within these volumes to satisfy most people's curiousity. My own The Vampire Hunter's Handbook contains sections on antidotes and exorcisms, exhuming and invoking, tradition and blood lust. This, too, might prove helpful and go some way to addressing the nature of deterrents.


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Identifying the Highgate Vampire


The identity of the Highgate Vampire is dealt with on pages 50-51 of the Gothic Press edition of The Highgate Vampire book.

The text speaks of "a mysterious nobleman from the Continent who arrived in the wake of the vampire epidemic which had its origins in south-east Europe."

The conjecture that he might be Eastern European is therefore most probable.

Above is a circa 1870s photograph of the Russian immigrant known variously as Mikhail Oleg Ostrog, Bertrand Ashley, Claude Clayton (Cayton), Dr Grant, Max Grief Gosslar, Ashley Nabokoff, Orloff, Count Sobieski, Max Sobiekski etc, possibly from the Kiev region of Russia, but by no means a nobleman, who settled in the East End area of London in the 1860s. His name has been put forward by some searching for the identity of the Highgate Vampire. It is rumoured without any clear evidence that Mikhail Ostrog moved to the Highgate area of London in the 1890s, but there is no mention made of him after 1904. Mikhail Ostrog was under investigation by the Russian authorites for what we would describe today as a series of vampiric murders. Mikhail Ostrog was also investigated by the fledgling Metropolitan Police service over a series of murders that bore all the hallmarks of vampiric attack in the Greater London Area. Mikhail Ostrog was introduced to the public in Donald McCormick's The Identity of Jack the Ripper (1962). From that time little was known until recent research by D S Goffee revealed a wealth of information on his criminal career. This information was published in the October 1994 issue of Ripperana, "The Search for Michael Ostrog." Phil Sugden also covers him as a suspect in The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (1995). Numerous people have drawn a comparison between the Highgate Vampire and "Jack the Ripper" in the past, which, while worthy of investigation, simply does not pan out.

Physical Description of Mikhail Oleg Ostrog:

Five foot, eleven inches in height.

Dark brown hair.

Grey eyes.

Often dressed in a "semi-clerical" suit.

Had a scar on right thumb and right shin

Had numerous flogging marks on his back.

Two large moles on right shoulder, one on the back of his neck.

Described as a Russian, Russian Pole, and a Polish Jew at various times.
The name Tamás Ország was presented as a much more likely candidate by those researching the matter in the previous century. The similarity between the surnames Ország and Ostrog is striking, but Ország originated from Hungary, not Russia, and I personally remain unconvinced that Mikhail Ostrog is a potential candidate. The identity, history and origin of the Highgate Vampire is considerably more intriguing and mysterious than a common criminal and homicidal maniac who some have tried to link to the "Ripper" murders.

The last moments, some of which were captured by a 35mm camera, reveal the same "burning, fierce eyes beneath black furrowed brows staring with hellish reflection. Yellow at the edges with blood-red centres, unlike anything imaginable. Flared nostrils connected to a thin, high-bridged nose. The mouth still set in its cruel expression with lips drawn far back as if unable to contain the sharp, white teeth." (The Highgate Vampire, pages 85, 86 & 142.)

A vampire is generally described as being exceedingly gaunt and lean with a hideous countenance and eyes wherein are glinting the red fire of perdition. When, however, he has satiated his lust for warm human blood his body becomes horribly puffed and bloated, as though he were some great leech gorged and replete to bursting. Cold as ice, or it may be fevered and burning as a hot coal, the skin is deathly pale, but the lips are very full and rich, blub and red; the teeth white and gleaming, and the canine teeth wherewith he bites deep into the neck of his prey to suck thence the vital streams which re-animate his body and invigorate all his forces appear notably sharp and pointed. Often his mouth curls back in a vulpine snarl which bares these fangs, "a gaping mouth and gleaming teeth," says Leone Allacci, and so in many districts the hare-lipped are avoided as being certainly vampires. In Bulgaria, it is thought that the vampire who returns from the tomb has only one nostril; and in certain districts of Poland he is supposed to have a sharp point at the end of his tongue, like the sting of a bee. It is said that the palms of a vampire's hands are downy with hair, and the nails are always curved and crooked, often well-nigh the length of a great bird's claw, the quicks dirty and foul with clots and gouts of black blood. His breath is unbearably fetid and rank with corruption, the stench of the charnel. Dr Henry More in his An Antidote against Atheism, III, ix, tells us that when Johannes Cuntius, an alderman of Pentsch in Silesia and a witch returned as a vampire he much tormented the Parson of the Parish. One evening, "when this Theologer was sitting with his wife and Children about him, exercising himself in Musick, according to his usual manner, a most grievous stink arose suddenly, which by degrees spread itself to every corner of the room. Here upon he commends himself and his family to God by Prayer. The smell nevertheless encreased, and became above all measure pestilently noisom, insomuch that he was forced to go up to his chamber. He and his Wife had not been in bed a quarter of an hour, but they find the same stink in the bedchamber; of which, while they are complaining one to another out steps the Spectre from the Wall, and creeping to his bedside, breathes upon him an exceeding cold breath, of so intolerable stinking and malignant a scent, as is beyond all imagination and expression. Here upon the Theologer, good soul, grew very ill, and was fain to keep his bed, his face, belly, and guts swelling as if he had been poysoned; whence he was also troubled with a difficulty of breathing, and with a putrid inflamation of his eyes, so that he could not well use them of a long time after."

The vampire is one who has led a life of more than ordinary immorality and unbridled wickedness; a man of foul, gross and selfish passions, of evil ambitions, delighting in cruelty and blood. Arthur Machen has very shrewdly pointed out that "Sorcery and sanctity are the only realities. Each is an ecstasy, a withdrawal from the common life." The spiritual world cannot be confined to the supremely good, "but the supremely wicked, necessarily, have their portion in it. The ordinary man can no more be a great sinner than he can be a great saint. Most of us are just indifferent, mixed-up creatures; we muddle through the world without realizing the meaning and the inner sense of things, and, consequently our wickedness and our goodness are alike second-rate unimportant . . . the saint endeavours to recover a gift which he has lost; the sinner tries to obtain something which was never his. In brief, he repeats the Fall . . . it is not the mere liar who is excluded by those words; it is, above all, the 'sorcerers' who use the material life, who use the failings incidental to material life as instruments to obtain their infinitely wicked ends. And let me tell you this; our higher senses are so blunted, we are so drenched with materialism, that we should probably fail to recognize real wickedness if we encountered it.)"

It has been said that a saint is a person who always chooses the better of the two courses open to him at every step. And so the man who is truly wicked is he who deliberately always chooses the worse of the two courses. Even when he does things which would be considered right he always does them for some bad reason. To identify oneself in this way with any given course requires intense concentration and an iron strength of will, and it is such persons who become vampires.

The vampire is believed to be one who has devoted himself during his life to the practice of black magic, and it is hardly to be supposed that such persons would rest undisturbed, while it is easy to believe that their malevolence had set in action forces which might prove powerful for terror and destruction even when they were in their graves. It was sometimes said, but the belief is rare, that the vampire was the offspring of a witch and the Devil.


Seán Manchester (The Highgate Vampire)

Montague Summers (The Vampire: His Kith & Kin)

Monday, 11 February 2013

Encountering the Highgate Vampire


In his book The Highgate Vampire, Seán Manchester states that the vampiric source of the Highgate infestation first showed up shortly after the infamous vampire plague of the early 1700's, the same era as Arnold Paole and Peter Plogojowitz. He further states that an Eastern European nobleman rented Ashurst House in the early 18th century. This all seems to make sense, and it suggests that Tamás Orszag of Hungary is the most likely candidate for the identity of the Highgate Vampire.

A composite of the Highgate Vampire's appearance can be gleaned from various statements in the Vampire Research Society's archive and, of course, on public record in Seán Manchester's The Highgate Vampire (published by Gothic Press).*

Accounts provided by witnesses in the Hampstead & Highgate Express, 13 February 1970 & 20 February 1970, describe "a most unusual form [that] just seemed to glide across the path ... a pale figure ..."; "Many tales are told about a tall man who walks across Swains Lane and just disappears through a wall into the cemetery ..."; " ... a 'form' moving behind some gravestones ... the thing made no sound and seemed to disappear into nowhere ..." *

Jacqueline Beckwith, a teenager living in North Hill, awoke one night with something icy cold clutching her hand which soon went numb. The next morning revealed "deep tears in the flesh where she had forced [her hand] free." *

A ghost hunter by the name of Thomas told of "a dark shape [which] moved across the path directly in front of us." On an earlier occasion he had started to walk home with his fiancee down the lane running alongside and eventually between Highgate Cemetery. "Something was standing behind the iron railings of the gate ... upon its face was an expression of basilisk horror." *

Once again, "the thing behind the gate appeared to dissolve into the shadows of the night." *

Only when discovered in the putrid chamber of its tomb at Highgate Cemetery in August 1970 do we start to gain an idea of the full extent of the Highgate Vampire's horrific countenance. At its extirpation in the grounds of the neo-gothic derelict mansion in early 1974 the appearance is one of a heavy form, gorged and stinking with blood with eyes glazed and staring horribly, glinting with the red fire of perdition. This great leech possessed sallow, parchment-like skin beneath which a faint bluish tinge could be discerned; the colour of a three-day old corpse. It had black hair and eyebrows that were especially heavy and joined across the bridge of an aquiline nose. The mouth betrayed thin, cruel lips which drew back, almost in a snarl, to reveal sharp teeth where lodged congealed gouts of discolouring blood, the offal of the previous night's feast. Some witnesses describe a tall figure with a hideous countenance. All remark upon the eyes which burned like hot coals in a face so frightening it paralysed them in their tracks. There was also the unbearably fetid stench that accompanied this presence, rank with corruption and the stench of the charnel, which indicated an undead rather than an apparition. The last moments, some of which were captured by a 35mm camera, reveal the same "burning, fierce eyes beneath black furrowed brows staring with hellish reflection. Yellow at the edges with blood-red centres, unlike anything imaginable. Flared nostrils connected to a thin, high-bridged nose. The mouth still set in its cruel expression with lips drawn far back as if unable to contain the sharp, white teeth." *

“A pyre was built in the centre of the large garden … We looked, but saw none of its awful contents before everything was consumed. At last it was hidden from our view ― its dark pestilence swallowed in the bright flames which leaped skyward while all beneath crackled and hissed. Several hours later all that remained was a great scorch-mark on the ground … We stood staring at the charred spot, not daring to believe it was finally over. I took a handful of grey dust from the blackened earth and scattered it to the four winds.” *

* (The Highgate Vampire, pages 49, 54, 65, 66, 67, 68, 85, 86 & 142, 144, 145, Gothic Press edition)

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Dennis Wheatley


Dennis Wheatley

Dennis Yates Wheatley (8 January 1897 – 10 November 1977) was an English author, born in the year of Dracula's publication, whose prolific output of stylish thrillers and occult novels made him one of the world's best-selling writers from the 1930s through to the 1960s. During the Second World War, he was a member of the London Controlling Section, which secretly co-ordinated strategic military deception and cover plans. His literary talents gained him employment with planning staffs for the War Office. The most famous of his submissions to the Joint Planning Staff of the war cabinet was on "Total War." He was given a commission directly into the JP Service as Wing Commander, RAFVR and took part in advance planning for the Normandy invasions. In 1946, he was awarded the U.S. Bronze Star for his part in the war effort.

David Farrant outside Highgate Cemetery's North Gate.

Dennis Wheatley was an Honorary Life Member of both The Ghost Club and the British Occult Society. In the Daily Express, 26 June 1974, Dennis Wheatley said of David Farrant: "I cannot believe for one moment that he is a serious student of the occult. In fact I believe [Farrant] to be evil and entirely to be deplored." In the same article, Canon Pearce Higgins said of Farrant: "I think he's crazy." David Farrant sued the Daily Express, Canon Pearce Higgins and Dennis Wheatley but lost his action, receiving a bill of £20,000 court costs that was left for taxpayers to cover in its entirety. Dennis Wheatley died in November 1977 before making his appearance in the High Court charged with libel. In the event, however, his published statement about Farrant was not found to be libellous and therefore still stands.

Dennis Wheatley's novels' main characters are all supporters of Royalty, Empire and the class system, and many of his villains are villainous because they attack these ideas. During the winter of 1947, Wheatley penned "A Letter to Posterity" which he buried in an urn at his country home. The letter was intended to be discovered some time in the future (it was found in 1969 when that home was demolished for redevelopment of the property). In it he predicted that the socialist reforms introduced by the post-war government would result inevitably in an unjust state, and he advised both passive and active resistance to it.

Two weeks before his death, Dennis Wheatley received conditional absolution from his old friend Cyril "Bobby" Eastaugh, the Bishop of Peterborough. He was cremated at Tooting and his ashes interred at Brookwood Cemetery. He is commemorated on the Baker/Yeats monument and tomb of William Yeats Baker (1836-1916) at West Norwood Cemetery. There is something vaguely poetic that the man who invented "The Man Who Never Was" is not interred where he is remembered on the family tomb.

Dennis Wheatley sharing a joke with actor Christopher Lee.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Draculesque Inspirations


Bram Stoker had learned a valuable lesson from Dr John Polidori: the importance of tapping into popular opinion; of using his own associations in his favour, and suggesting links between his creations and certain controversial public figures of his acquaintance. There is nothing most people like more than prurient gossip about a celebrity.

The role model for Dracula is usually said to have been Stoker’s sometime employer, Sir Henry Irving, and it is certainly the case that Stoker derived certain of the Count’s physical characteristics and mannerisms from Irving. But this, I think, is all. The main inspiration lay elsewhere. On its initial publication, Dracula was dedicated to Stoker’s close friend, the Manx writer Hall Caine. This dedication is not simply an act of friendship, but the acknowledgement of a literary debt.

A best-selling novelist in his day, Caine is now best remembered as a friend and early biographer of one of the more outlandish and controversial figures of his age, the painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

At heart a gentle, generous, outgoing man, Rossetti was transformed by neurosis, paranoia, and hypersensitivity to criticism, into an isolated, insomniac recluse, about whom increasingly bizarre and baroque rumours flourished. In earlier years, he had consciously encouraged such rumours, playing up to the role of eccentric artist, filling his home with exotic trinkets and artworks from all over the world and giving free reign to a menagerie of exotic animals, from armadillos to wombats, Brahma bulls to boxing kangaroos.

But in later years, Rossetti’s life really did begin to resemble the plot of a gothic horror novel. When his young wife, Elizabeth Siddal, died of a (possibly deliberate) drug overdose in 1862, he was so overwhelmed by grief and guilt that he buried the only existing manuscript of his as yet unpublished poems with her [in Highgate Cemetery].

Seven years later, fearing that his eyesight was failing, and he would no longer be able to paint, he was persuaded to have the poems exhumed from the coffin, so he could revise and publish them. The grisly facts of the exhumation were largely kept a secret during his lifetime, although dark rumours persisted, but Rossetti was haunted by what he had done, claiming that Siddal visited him every night for the rest of his life.
Hall Caine was the first person to make this story public. His Recollections of Rossetti, published only months after Rossetti’s death in 1882, contains a lurid account of the exhumation, including the somewhat improbable claim that:

“… the body was apparently quite perfect on coming to the light of the fire on the surface and … when the [manuscript] book was lifted, there came away some of the beautiful golden hair in which Rossetti had entwined it.”

An exhumation, a body untouched by death, a dead woman who is nevertheless seen every night by the man she loved. Stoker must surely have had this story in mind when creating the narrative of Lucy Westenra in Dracula.

More about Stoker and Polidori:  

More about Elizabeth Siddal:


Friday, 8 February 2013



Carmel is the title character and primary subject of Seán Manchester's Gothic horror novel Carmel (published in the year 2000). Some aspects of the character are inspired by a person known to the author in the 1960s, while other aspects of the story are transparently inspired by the case of the Highgate Vampire at which centre the author found himself. The remainder, as intended, is a faithful sequel to Dracula.

In Bram Stoker's novel, Count Dracula's characteristics, powers, abilities and weaknesses are narrated in a piecemeal way by various narrators from different perspectives. The most informative of these narrators are Jonathan Harker, John Seward, and Mina Harker. Likewise, in Carmel the story unfolds through the eyes of different narrators with James Harker and Lord Mamucium being principal among these. Correspondence and newspaper stories, in a style commensurate with Stoker's own, also find inclusion.

"Yet there is much more to Carmel than walking in the eerie footsteps of Stoker’s Dracula," one reviewer observed, "Yes, we are transported into that fearful realm of supernatural evil peculiar to vampires as the author skillfully restores those near-extinct elements from yestercentury, but at the centre is a story painfully real. ... This is a novel and how much is based on reality is less important to the reader than its effect as a vampire tale; for here is a terrifying exploration into the nether world of the undead where the reader is found wandering betwixt Victorian tombstones as the original contagion spreads its venom in 20th century England."

Sylvaine Charlet, another reviewer, commented: "Seán Manchester’s style, imagination and sensibility makes Carmel quite a jewel. Stoker has, at last, a literary heir worthy of writing a sequel.”

Carmel depicted in oils by Seán Manchester. 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Elizabeth Wojdyla


Elizabeth depicted in oils by Seán Manchester.

Elizabeth Wojdyla and Barbara Moriarty, two sixteen-year-old students of La Sainte Union Convent (near Highgate, London), were walking home late at night after visiting friends in Highgate Village. Their journey took them down Swains Lane which intersects Highgate Cemetery, a Victorian graveyard in two halves on a steep hill. These intelligent students could not believe their eyes as they passed the cemetery's north gate at the beginning of their downward path between the two graveyards. For there before them, amongst the jutting tombstones and stone vaults, the dead seemed to be emerging from their graves.

The two schoolgirls walked in eerie silence until they reached the bottom of the lane. Here they spoke for the first time, having finally found their voice, and confirmed they had both experienced the same terrifying scene. So frightening was it that Barbara Moriarty would not talk about it again.

Elizabeth Wojdyla, however, gave Seán Manchester an account of her experience some months later. It was tape-recorded by him and was heard during a televised film documentary about the Highgate Vampire case (True Horror: Vampires).

Elizabeth recounted: "We both saw this scene of graves directly in front of us. And the graves were opening up; and the people were rising. We were not conscious of walking down the lane. We were only conscious of this graveyard scene."

A series of nightmares then began to plague Elizabeth; all with one thing in common: something was trying to enter her bedroom window at night. A deathly-pale face identical to the corpses leaving their graves appeared behind the glass pane on some occasions.

During the summer of 1969, Seán Manchester had a chance meeting with Elizabeth Wojdyla who now appeared anaemic and listless. She was nevertheless anxious to get something off her chest. Now resident in an area not too far from the cemetery, she told Seán Manchester that her nightmares had returned with a vengeance. This time she was able to give a better description of the unwelcome spectre that haunted her nights, and, once again, Seán Manchester tape-recorded her words:

"[It has] the face of a wild animal with glaring eyes and sharp teeth, but it is a man with the expression of an animal. The face is gaunt and grey."

Two weeks later, Elizabeth's boyfriend, Keith, contacted Seán Manchester and reported on further deterioration:

"[Her] condition has grown worse. ... She is withering away at such a rate that she is only just barely alive. ... She is being overcome by something."

This time Seán Manchester noted the discovery on Elizabeth's neck marks which Keith had already mentioned in his preamble:

"I noticed for the first time the marks on the side of her neck. ... They were two inflamed mounds on the skin, the centre of each bearing a tiny hole."

On another occasion it was found that specks of blood had appeared on Elizabeth's pillow. Seán Manchester at this point began to apply traditional vampire antidotes and repellents; especially when it was confirmed that she was more and more attracted to Highgate Cemetery and that her anaemic condition was worsening. The small cross she had always worn as a schoolgirl had been absent for some time. Seán Manchester provided a larger crucifix made of silver and sprinkled her environment liberally with holy water. He repeated the Creed in a loud voice, applied salt, garlic and more crosses; during which procedure prayers were recited to shield Elizabeth from the innumerable crafts of Satan and all pestilence.

Elizabeth attempted to remove the impediments and further demonic assaults occurred as nightmare incidents multiplied before this feverish struggle against the predatory vampire ceased altogether.

Her appetite restored and the unhealthy, anaemic condition vanished. The punctures on her neck, bathed with holy water throughout the conflict, eventually faded. By Christmas all was well and the hideous manifestation of the Highgate Cemetery vampire did not return to haunt Elizabeth again. Soon afterwards she relocated elsewhere.


Seán Manchester

The Vampire's Bedside Companion (1975, 1976)

The Highgate Vampire (1985, 1991)

True Horror: Vampires (Discovery Channel, 2004)

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Exploring the Highgate Vampire Case


VAMPIRES: Exploring the Highgate Vampire Case by Demetrius (Co-Founder of the CPRS)

Do Vampires exist? The answer to this question largely depends on how people understand what a Vampire is. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people are only familiar with the Vampire of popular culture. Only fragments of what a Vampire truly is, is ever promoted through popular culture. Here are two dictionary examples defining what a Vampire is according to contemporary standards:

Vampire – a corpse supposed, in European folklore, to leave its grave at night to drink the blood of the living by biting their necks with long pointed canine teeth. (Oxford Dictionary)

Vampire – (folklore) a corpse that rises at night to drink the blood of the living; a blood-sucking ghost; a soul of a dead person superstitiously believed to come from the grave and wander about by night sucking the blood of persons asleep, thus causing their death. (Webster’s Dictionary)

Such definitions are not entirely incorrect, but they only describe something based on contemporary and secular standards, and not the actual folklore itself. It should be noted that such standards also dismiss the existence of Vampires, especially in those definitions making use of terms such as “folklore” and “superstitiously.” Overall, the Vampire is defined according to a set of myths or legends, rather than to reality.

Vampire phenomenon includes other characteristics and circumstances of which the contemporary definitions lack. More importantly, these other details are excluded from popular culture. Certainly, there is much more that can be said to help answer the question whether such creatures exist or not. The Catholic Paranormal Research Society’s interest in this particular subject is owed to the fact that a variety of paranormal phenomena occur due to demonic activity. The Church believes in the existence of demons, and has noted demonic manifestations occurring in various ways. Knowing this, demonic manifestations may include Vampirism. This may be demonstrated by means of comparing cases of Vampirism to the experiences and wisdom of the Church.

Why should Vampirism be any different from any other paranormal occurrence owed to demons? Some examples of ghost phenomena do include revenants (ghosts of a corporeal nature). The Patristic evidence reveals that ghost phenomena does not regularly occur as a result of the spirits of the dead, but as a result of demons imitating the dead. It becomes easy to recognize how demons use a persona other than their own in order to achieve their evil intentions. The Vampire can be easily recognized to yet another persona utilized by demons. Unfortunately, contemporary definitions do not define the Vampire as a demonic manifestation.

Moving beyond dictionaries and their brief definitions, there are numerous books exploring Vampirism. Such texts only provide a secular perspective. Some books even explore Vampirism through occult philosophies and theories. Some even describe the Vampire strictly as a mythical creature, while promoting the belief in “psychic vampires.” These books do not satisfy what a Vampire is. Most contemporary texts on the subject of Vampires serve to promote disbelief.

Definitions alone do not validate the existence of Vampires, but such definitions are owed to human experiences. Despite this aspect of language, modern day society attempts to set certain experiences aside as superstition. Today, there are practically no well known experiences that can attest to how a society defines Vampires as a reality. At various times throughout human history, the Vampire was defined through very real experiences. How something like the Vampire has been reduced to primitive superstition is owed to how contemporary definitions fail to include the broader range of details provided through humanities experiences. At one time, Vampirism was defined as a demonic manifestation. Today such a definition is at best an ambivalent implication to any modern day definition provided. Therefore, to answer the question presented at the outset of the article it becomes necessary to define Vampirism in a relevant way – namely, through some contemporary experiences, which do not reduce the Vampire to myth and legend.

The Highgate Vampire & The Vampire Hunters Handbook

There are two books worth exploring in order to satisfy the question in a relevant and worthwhile way. These two books are The Highgate Vampire, and The Vampire Hunter's Handbook, written by Bishop Sean Manchester. Both books are particularly dense in subject matter, which unfortunately cannot be fully explored here. Having examined some aspects of Bishop Manchester’s books, it is the hope of the CPRS to have people re-consider what it is they think they know about Vampires.

Bishop Manchester was chosen by the CPRS for various reasons. He is among the very few people who have publicly shared his experiences with real cases of Vampirism. Not only is Bishop Manchester a Vampire researcher, but was at one time a Vampire Hunter. The latter point makes his writings particularly intriguing. Also, he is a Christian; a Bishop of the [Traditional] Old Catholic Church. Although apart from the Roman Catholic Church, no one can doubt or refute his faith in Christ. This article is not concerned with denominational differences, or questioning the validity of his Church or anyone else’s. Instead, the CPRS is much more concerned with Bishop Manchester’s attention to Vampirism and the Christian perspectives he provides; a perspective that is far removed from today’s contemporary standards.

What should be stressed is that Bishop Manchester makes it very clear that the Vampire is not something which can be easily defined. In his book, The Highgate Vampire, Bishop Manchester presents various definitions in order to help describe what a Vampire is, based on his experiences. The problem, it seems, is how he attempted to reconcile his own personal experiences with what has been traditionally understood to Vampirism. Despite this, in one such definition he writes,

“The Vampire, then, is not strictly an evil spirit alone; nor is it an apparition. It has a body: its own body. A pariah, even among demons; a bloodsucking androgyne with foul appetites.” (The Vampire Hunter's Handbook)

The characteristics of a Vampire include qualities describing both a dichotomy of spirit and matter. He identifies a Vampire as much more than just an evil spirit. The Vampire “has a body: its own body.” In regards to the physical manifestation of evil, he also uses the word “androgyne.” He is not identifying the Vampire as both male and female, but as comprised of both body and spirit; corpse and demon, connected to one another in some strange way. What all this amounts to is what a Vampire truly is – the Vampire is a demonic manifestation. How so? In another section, he explains,

“A demon has no physical body of its own, yet nevertheless can possess a living person and, under certain circumstances, a dead body.” (The Vampire Hunter's Handbook)

This is not as outrages as it sounds. Of course, there are some individuals and groups who have held the opinion that the demonic possession of the dead is beyond the display of power of the devil. Bishop Manchester notes such objections he has studied, but through his experiences he leans towards the traditional explanations in order to show how Vampirism is indeed a demonic manifestation. The CPRS would like to include some considerations to Bishop Manchester’s views in order to help demonstrate how such defining qualities can be compared to what is known within the history of the Church.

There is hardly an incident of the paranormal which does not describe a “spiritual” influence on the material – physical – world. What is thought to be paranormal is owed to the spiritual world intruding on the material world in an unnatural way. Demonic transgressions against the living have been well documented in cases of poltergeist activity, haunted locations, possession, etc. All such paranormal phenomena occurs as a result of the interaction between the spiritual and material world; the invisible and visible worlds. In the case of Vampirism, a corpse is still only a physical thing. Any demonic influence against the physical world can indeed include a corpse. Yet, Bishop Manchester mentions another quality of the Vampire in regards to the dead being possessed. In turn, what he describes can be compared to various experiences and records found in the Church. He writes,

“The cause of vampirism […] is a life of more than ordinary immorality […] The vampire is believed to be one who has delighted in blood and devoted himself during his life to the practice of diabolism…” (The Vampire Hunter's Handbook)

Here, it becomes obvious that a Vampire is a consequence of extreme immorality; a sinful life without repentance. The corporeal persona chosen by evil spirits are not as random as those found in ghost phenomena. Instead, when demons possess the dead there are specific circumstances which must be met in order for the condition of Vampirism to occur.

The corporeal persona – the corpse – is one which is akin to the evil of demons. Unlike the relics of saints through which the Holy Spirit sanctifies such earthly remains, demons gravitate to those closer in spiritual orientation to themselves. St. John Chrysostom’s homily on Lazarus the beggar can help clarify what is being stressed here.

“…it is the soul of those who live in sin that become demons! Not because the soul’s substance is altered, but because their disposition and will is the same as those of demons’ wickedness…”

Identifying the souls of sinners who are likened to demons, this one Patristic example lends itself to the possibility that demons not only gravitate to sinful souls, but to the corpses of damned souls. Again it must be stressed that if the Holy Spirit sanctifies the relics of saints, it is not entirely improbable for demons to utilize the physical remains of sinners; of those “of more than ordinary immorality.” In fact, Bishop Manchester notes this possibility where he stated:

“[…] if God can provide powers to make some of us saints, do you doubt that Satan also gives power to those he claims as his own?” (The Highgate Vampire)

Although he does not elaborate on this matter, there is even stronger evidence for this possibility in certain documents found in the Greek Orthodox Church. A nomocanon – a text of ecclesiastical laws – found at the Church of St. Sophia in Thessalonica Greece, describes various conditions of corpses which remain incorrupt. The text explains that certain sins can affect the condition of the dead. In all such examples provided by the nomocanon, the body exhibits an incorrupt state. Unlike the similar condition known to saints, the incorrupt state of these bodies is polluted both physically and spiritually. The corpse fails to be received by the earth. Even in death sin stains both the body and soul. Although separated from the soul, the body does not simply turn to dust. Sometimes what occurs is that the body remains in some unholy incorrupt state.

There have been cases known in a handful of hagiographies of saints who have encountered such corpses. St. Dionysius of Zakynthos was one such saint known to the Greek Orthodox Church. In one of his miracles, a concerned family approached him about their daughter who had died in a state of excommunication. Many years had passed but her body failed to decompose. They begged St. Dionysius to help their daughter, especially since the condition of her corpse caused them great anguish to know that she was a damned soul. The good saint told them to bring her body into the Church, and hold her upright. St. Dionysius prayed for the forgiveness of her sins. When the prayers for forgiveness were completed, the corpse dissolved to bones and dust.

Bishop Manchester describes something about the Vampire which can be compared to the examples of the nomocanon of the Church of St. Sophia, and the miracle of St. Dionysius of Zakynthos. From his book The Highgate Vampire, he describes the physical appearance of a Vampire, both before and after driving a wooden stake through its heart. Bishop Manchester writes,

“…the years of decay which had been eluded by her vampire sleep were returning almost instantaneously…” (The Highgate Vampire)

This was the description of a young woman named Lusia who became a victim of Vampirism. There is also another description noted among his experiences having some differences but owed to the same affliction recognized to Vampirism. He writes,

“I drove the sharpened point through the creature’s heart […] the body-shell caved in and quickly turned filthy brown which soon became a sluggish flow of inhuman slime and viscera.” (The Highgate Vampire)

The corporeal persona of the demon(s) exhibits an incorrupt condition. Following the impalement with a stake – a traditional form of exorcism for Vampires – the incorrupt condition of the body is restored to the natural state of death. The incorrupt quality recognized to Vampirism can be easily compared to the nomocanon, and especially to the miracle of St. Dionysius. In cases of Vampirism, the cause is owed to those who conduct “a life of more than ordinary immorality.” Such souls are likened to demons, as understood from the words of St. John Chrysostom’s homily. In turn, there is a condition which afflicts the body even in death. Following a form of exorcism, this condition has been known to be cured. However, Vampirism differs from the previous examples whereby the Vampire persona – the corpse – is possessed, and not merely afflicted by a sinful condition. Obviously the dead girl’s condition in the example of St. Dionysius is not a demonic manifestation, but it is an example of how sin turns people over to demons, both in body and soul. What Bishop Manchester describes is not only similar to these other experiences of the Church, but has a very strong and clear relationship. These relationships are important to keep in mind.
Much of what Bishop Manchester reveals about his experiences with Vampirism do indeed define the Vampire as a demonic manifestation. Unlike other demonic manifestations the Vampire is much more distinct thereby setting it apart from other forms of ghost phenomena. On this particular matter Bishop Manchester writes,

“The Vampire, then, partakes the dark nature and mysterious qualities of both revenant and demon, yet is distinct from each of these by a third trait which is a terrible lust for blood.” (The Vampire Hunters Handbook)

The essential defining quality of a Vampire is centered on its dreaded consumption of blood. Certainly, there are living creatures which draw sustenance from the blood of other living creatures, but do Vampires? There are no records in the history of the Church which describe fallen angels – demons – as requiring the blood of men or women to sustain themselves. The corporeal persona of the demon(s) is not a living thing in need of sustenance. Of course, the Vampire is undead. There is no absolute certainty about the biological qualities of such manifestations, except of course the spiritual forces compelling the dead to imitate the living. It may seem as though Bishop Manchester is suggesting a biological quality rather than a spiritual quality concerning blood, but this is not an accurate interpretation of his experiences. Elsewhere in his book, The Vampire Hunter's Handbook, he describes the impalement of a Vampire with a word of caution: “Blood might jet forth in every direction and it is advised that contamination is avoided at all costs.” Once again, a reader examining such a detail through the perspectives of popular culture may misunderstand what the warning actually speaks of. The biological quality is evident, but the caution he provides concerns something altogether spiritual. Consider what Bishop Manchester recommends as a treatment to any such contamination.

“Holy water should afterwards be used to wash away any splashes of blood. All antidotes like holy water and chrism, that have been blessed, will have a powerful effect against this malign supernatural entity.” (The Vampire Hunter's Handbook)

Ordinary water is not recommended to wash away any contaminated blood belonging to the Vampire. If the contamination were strictly biological Bishop Manchester would not have identified holy water, especially since soap and water would suffice. Having stressed the importance of washing away the contaminated blood with holy water it becomes obvious that he is identifying a spiritual pollutant – not something strictly biological. Of course, the blood is the physical transmission of the spiritual contamination. His experiences do not ignore this dualistic characteristic. However, the spiritual implications of Vampire blood and holy water reveal a very strong and clear indication that Vampirism is a demonic manifestation. For now it is important to also keep this detail in mind.

Thus far, the experiences belonging to Bishop Manchester have been very brief, but in the brevity of these examples, the details help to draw attention to the reality of Vampirism. Some of the most compelling examples demonstrating Vampirism as a form of demonic manifestation can be identified through each of the victims Bishop Manchester helped. Furthermore, the evidence shedding light on the question – do vampires exist? – can be realized through these victims. For the sake of brevity, three individuals will be presented here – Elizabeth Wodjyla, a woman known only as Lusia, and Jacqueline Beckwith. The incidents experienced by these three women were owed to certain unnatural disturbances in the Highgate cemetery, located in London, England.

Elizabeth Wodjyla- Elizabeth Wodjyla suffered from the effects of Vampirism on various occasions and in various ways. In the year 1967 A.D., the then 16 year old Elizabeth, along with her friend Barabara were walking by the north gate of the Highgate cemetery. It was late in the evening and according to Elizabeth, they witnessed what can only be described as the dead rising from their graves. Whether or not what Elizabeth and her friend beheld was owed to apparitions or revenants is not made known. To continue, not long after witnessing such a strange scene, Elizabeth began to be troubled by strange dreams or what she described as, “not a dream, but something higher than that […] I cannot awake because I feel I am awake” (The Highgate Vampire). Here, her consciousness has experienced something dream-like, but as she states, “not a dream.” Elizabeth’s wakeful nightmares consisted of a cold presence, which she believed was trying to enter through her bedroom window. In her own words she explained, “Something outside my window […] At first I think I see the face of a wild animal with glaring eyes and sharp teeth, but it is a man” (The Highgate Vampire). These dream-like disturbances eventually subsided, but returned in 1969. By this time Elizabeth was no longer living at home with her parents. Why would such a nightmare return? After questioning Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Keith Maclean, Bishop Manchester discovered that while she was living with her parents, the home contained many crosses and other religious objects. Now living on her own, Elizabeth kept no crosses in her home. In his wisdom, Bishop Manchester theorized, “It might well be that a cross, the symbol of the triumph of good over evil, afforded her the necessary protection to keep the intruding malevolent force at bay” (The Highgate Vampire). Bishop Manchester tested his theory by having Keith place various Christian symbols and other Vampire repellents around Elizabeth’s bedroom. He also instructed Keith to sprinkle holy water. According to Bishop Manchester, “Should she show signs of distress or anguish while she sleeps, it could well mean the force is nearby and trying to dominate her mind so that she will remove the impediments” (The Highgate Vampire). Keith discovered that Elizabeth would disturb the Christian symbols and other Vampire repellents during the day. He also recalled Elizabeth’s aversion to wearing the cross around her neck. Keith explained, “The cross around her neck definitely caused some consternation” (The Highgate Vampire). In particular, the aversion to Christian symbols help to identify her experiences as a demonic manifestation. His theories were correct, and Elizabeth did react to the Christian symbols whenever the evil force attempted to afflict her.

The nightmarish face at her bedroom window attempted to dominate her mind and body. Elizabeth was also troubled by what may be considered sleep-walking. However, Keith’s descriptions of Elizabeth’s sleep-walking episodes suggest something closer to demonic possession. He describes Elizabeth’s condition in a letter to Bishop Manchester: “some force of which her conscious mind is not aware, is controlling her […] I followed her outside the gate of the cemetery […] she was staring through the iron rails as if in a trance” (The Highgate Vampire). Once again, such behaviour is known in cases of demonic possession. The aversion to Christian symbols, her altered state of consciousness both are symptoms of demonic influences. What ultimately gives Elizabeth’s afflictions the distinction of being labelled “Vampirism,” were two enflamed puncture marks on her neck; her anaemic-like condition, along with other symptoms associated to Vampirism.

The similarities between demonic activity and Vampirism are not coincidental. Another example involved Elizabeth suffering from what Keith described as suffocation. During one of her wakeful nightmares, Keith found Elizabeth “gasping for breath, as if she had been almost suffocated” (The Highgate Vampire). During the Dark Ages the Church believed in demons identified as the Succubus and Incubus. One of the common traits belonging to such demonic manifestations is the act of laying on top of the victim, who in turn experiences a heavy suffocating weight. This experience has also been identified in cases of demonic possession. Collectively, what Elizabeth experienced has strong similarities to various forms of demonic activity. What this suggests is that Vampirism is a type of demonic manifestation.

Lusia - Another victim of the Highgate Vampire case was a young woman identified only by her first name, Lusia. Much like Elizabeth, she suffered from various disturbances in her daily life. Lusia’s sister, Anne, contacted Bishop Manchester in 1970 A.D. Anne explained that her sister had begun sleep-walking, among other strange problems. During one evening when Bishop Manchester was present, he found Lusia “with a vacant expression – staring out of her bedroom window […] Half an hour passed before she returned to her bed, totally unaware of our presence” (The Highgate Vampire). In one of Lusia’s sleep-walking episodes she went to the Highgate cemetery. Unlike Elizabeth who merely went as far as the north gate, Lusia entered the cemetery and into the catacombs. Anne explained that Lusia never had such problems like sleep-walking in the past. This suggested that she was being compelled by something other than her own free will.

The similarities between Lusia and Elizabeth were many. Lusia also had an aversion to crosses. During her sleep-walk into the cemetery, Lusia tore the cross from around her neck. There were also the “complaints of being suffocated while she slept” (The Highgate Vampire). Lusia also had two marks on her neck, like those found on Elizabeth. Here, two women suffering from similar conditions – conditions comparable to demonic activity – demonstrate that their experiences were not isolated incidents. It would be easy to rationalize the experiences through psychology had there only been one victim. However, two women who did not know each other, fell victim to similar circumstances, and somehow the Highgate cemetery was connected.

Jacqueline Beckwith – Unlike Elizabeth or Lusia, Jacqueline Beckwith did not suffer from aversion to crosses or suffocation during her sleep. Her testimony, although different, has some similarities to the previous victims. In her testimony provided to Bishop Manchester, Jacqueline recalls how she “was drawn into the old graveyard [Highgate cemetery] alone on some occasion and experienced the sensation of being mentally directed by unseen eyes” (The Highgate Vampire). The trance-like sleep-walk experienced by Elizabeth and Lusia was similar to Jacqueline’s strange compulsion to enter the cemetery.

During one particular night Jacqueline recalls being awakened by an icy cold grip. She described being “paralysed with sheer terror” (The Highgate Vampire). The unseen intruder had left her with a wound on her hand, which left her bleeding. The wound looked as though it may have been caused by “long fingernails or sharp teeth” (The Highgate Vampire). The previous two victims differ from Jacqueline. She could recall her unexplained allure into the cemetery, and the attack in the night. She was conscious of her experiences.

The phenomena surrounding the Highgate Vampire truly fall in line with what is known about demons. In their book The Dark Sacrament: True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism, co-authors David M. Kiely and Christina McKenna record various forms of demonic activity. By comparing some of the phenomena between Bishop Manchester’s collection of testimonies to those compiled by Kiely and McKenna, Vampirism is easily recognized as demonic to its core.

The aversion to Christian symbols and objects conditions were experienced by Elizabeth and Lusia. In one chapter from The Dark Sacrament known as The Pit Beneath The Heathstone, the demonic manifestation directed its hatred towards Christian symbols and objects: “The repeated hurling of the Bible onto the floor, the broken crucifix […] the Sacred Heart being dashed to the floor. All these things pointed to the likelihood that an evil spirit [demon] was at work.” The aversion and hostility towards Christian symbols and objects is perhaps the clearest expression of demonic activity.

The trance-like conditions experienced by Elizabeth, Lusia, and Jacqueline can also be compared to the demonic assaults described in The Dark Sacrament. In the chapter Heather: A Case of Ancestral Evil, the young woman, Heather, was struggling to overcome powerful demonic assaults. During one incident her boyfriend Joe noted, “She seemed in some kind of trance.” The trance-like condition experienced during demonic molestations is closely associated to cases of possession. Here, the victim loses part or all of their bodily and conscious control.

Elizabeth and Lusia also experienced suffocation. Not surprisingly, The Dark Sacrament identifies this same phenomenon in the chapter entitled, The House Wife And The Demon Dubois. The victim of this particular case was a woman named Julie. During the night she was violated in various ways. During one episode “she felt a man’s body pressing down on her […] almost suffocating her.” Elsewhere, Julie was attacked by an unseen hand, similar to the assault experienced by Jacqueline in The Highgate Vampire. In this case, Julie experienced a hand “tightening about her throat; she could barely breathe.”

Regardless of how demonic manifestations occur, the phenomena are strikingly similar. What makes the experiences of Elizabeth and Lusia distinct from other forms of demonic manifestations are the bite marks on their necks, followed by loss of blood. Vampirism is made distinct by this one circumstance thereby distinguishing itself from other forms of demonic manifestations. What should be kept in mind is that although other varieties of demonic activity do not include the distinctive bite wounds on the neck, Vampirism is still demonic to its core.

Some determined and stubborn individuals may argue that Vampirism was not a factor, and may even concede to the fact that the Highgate Vampire case was owed to demonic activity. It should be stated that Bishop Manchester’s books provide numerous examples of evidence which are not included here. Vampirism is distinct in its peculiar traits, but ultimately owed to demons. All the CPRS is attempting here in this article is to point out how Vampirism is indeed demonic, and therefore real. How a Vampire is defined is essential to accepting the reality of such paranormal activity.

The examples explored here in this article are by no means complete. There are many other incidents accounted for by Bishop Manchester. The examples presented here leave no doubt that Vampirism is a demonic manifestation, although very distinct from other varieties of demonic activity.


Having made use of various Christian symbols and objects Bishop Manchester was able to recognize the circumstances as cases of Vampirism. More importantly, he was able to recognize Vampirism as demonic.

“The true vampire is, and always has been, a demonic entity identified by its ability to manifest as a cadaveribus sanguisugis – a bloodsucking corpse.” (The Vampire Hunter's Handbook)

If Vampirism is not a demonic manifestation – as popular culture suggests – holy water, crucifixes, and so forth would have been ineffective. Bishop Manchester placed his faith in those things belonging to Christ’s Church. Consider his words where he states: “The blessing ‘charges’ the antidote [e.g. holy water] and this essence, identified by the form of the blessing, is infused into the elements of the item being employed” (The Vampire Hunter's Handbook). The “essence” identified here is the Holy Spirit. What this reveals is that the Holy Spirit was active through such Christian symbols and other materials. In other words, the reality in the existence of God presents itself, but this is implicit throughout his experiences. These same Christian materials were used to help identify and treat the victims of the Highgate Vampire. It was these Christian materials, which exposed Vampirism as demonic. Vampires do not exist as spirits or corporeal manifestations distinct from demons. As stated elsewhere, the Vampire is a demonic persona.

Some people may argue that demons do not exist. The very same people may also argue that Bishop Manchester’s experiences were defined according to his Eurocentric and Christian perspective. Therefore, his definition is considered biased by his detractors. Most certainly he acquired a foundation of knowledge through various texts and records directly or indirectly associated to the Church. At the very least, the literature he explored does have Christian points of view. He does not fail to mention such literature in his books, and nor does he exclude the fact that these sources helped him understand his experiences. In terms of Bishop Manchester’s experiences, what is abundantly clear is how he put the information to the test. In turn, he could only concede to the truth.

Disbelievers may also argue that humanities experiences dictate that Vampires – or demons – are not real. Therefore, the inclusion of terms, such as, “folklore” and “myth” do define Vampires as superstitious occurrences in humanities experiences. This also suggests that Bishop Manchester and his experiences are not real, and that he is not telling the truth! The CPRS’s response to such charges is based on a few considerations. First, he has endured decades of ridicule and contempt from numerous groups and individuals. Secondly, he is constantly misrepresented and misquoted. Thirdly, he is intentionally suppressed by so-called expert "Vampirologists." Bishop Manchester remained firm in his testimony despite the adversity he has faced. Keeping these considerations in mind, most certainly he would have been exposed by such diverse and hostile groups and individuals. Yet, he has never been exposed as a fake for one simple reason; he is telling the truth.

His experiences only strengthened his faith, whereby he entered holy orders. His calling was not motivated as a gimmick to promote his views. The fact that he became a priest later in life demonstrates this point. Otherwise if his calling to Holy Orders was a gimmick, why did he not become a priest during the Highgate Vampire incident? His calling was a consequence of having discovered spiritual truth in Christ. The CPRS believes this is the underlying issue explaining why people refuse to accept his experiences, and definition of Vampirism. It is not the reality of Vampires that disturbs people. The disbelief in Bishop Manchester’s experiences and definition of Vampirism occurs solely because it illuminates the truth; God does exist!

Demonic manifestations occur in a variety of ways, and can be identified to most genuine cases of the paranormal. While popular culture may not be concerned in promoting the possibilities found in the Christian faith, the Church is always concerned and aware. Consider the words of Fr. Ignatius who questions the variety of demonic manifestations:

“The incubus and succubus – are they simply myths? You know, there is the great danger in this enlightened age of ours to relegate all such ideas to the ignorance of the Middle Ages. Satan has managed to get himself out of the picture very well in these modern times of ours […] He can take on many implausible forms, so why not that of the incubus?” (The Dark Sacrament)

In the truth of Fr. Ignatius’ words no Christian can simply exclude the possibilities under which demonic manifestations can – and do – occur. No one can ignore the evidence presented in Bishop Manchester’s books concerning Vampires. Both The Highgate Vampire and The Vampire Hunter's Handbook are highly recommended by the CPRS. The article could have been limited to a simple book review, but such a review would have failed to stress the importance of his works. Essentially the CPRS could not ignore what Bishop Manchester wished to share with others: Vampires do exist!