The Highgate Vampire

Pick up your stakes, grab your garlic garland, and fill in your holy water bottle because we’re going for a vampire hunt in Highgate Cemetery.


The Story Begins

Highgate Cemetery

Photo: Urban Adventurer


In the 1960s interest in vampires was high thanks to movies and TV shows dealing with horror stories about supernatural creatures sucking human blood.

As a result, when Evening Standard published a report about vandalism in Tottenham Park Cemetery, many Londoners quickly jumped into the conclusion that the culprit must had had a vampire.

According to the article, unknown persons entered the cemetery and dug out a newly buried body to drove a sharpened iron bar through the lid straight into the corps’ heart. The report also said that flowers were arranged around other graves in bizarre formation.

14 months after this incident a series of newspaper articles and two vampire hunters started a hysteria around vampires.


The Vampire Hunters

Image Source: David Farrant


Hampstead and Highgate Express published a letter written by a local enthusiast of the paranormal, David Farrant, claiming that he had seen a mysterious tall dark man standing in Highgate Cemetery on Christmas Eve 1969. Farrant claimed he had spoken to two people who had had similar experiences.


The Highgate Cemetery West

Photo: Urban Adventurer


Farrant decided to investigate this by spending a whole night in the cemetery. He later said, he had thought the mysterious figure might have just been an animal, but around midnight he glimpsed a tall dark figure with red eyes floating above the ground. Farrant reported he had felt like losing control of his body and mind and the air suddenly turned icy. To escape from the terrifying situation, he had repeated some Kabbalistic incantation. Shortly after the phantom disappeared.

In February 1970 Farrant asked the local newspaper readers in another article if they had similar encounters.

A number of people responded; however, they gave slightly different descriptions of the mysterious entity. One had seen a tall man wearing a hat, another person depicted a lady dressed in white, while someone else claimed they had witnessed a ghostly cyclist.


Image Source: Highgate Vampire Blogspot


Meanwhile, another man with interest in the supernatural published his ideas in Ham and High newspaper. In the article entitled “Does a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?” Sean Manchester shared his theory about the paranormal events.

According to Manchester ‘a King of Vampire of the undead’ was buried in Highgate Cemetery. That vampire was originally a Romanian aristocrat who was a black magic practitioner and had been transported to England by his followers in a coffin in the 18th century. His followers had even purchased a house for him in the elegant West End area.

According to Manchester, Satanists recently carried out rituals to reawaken the evil, that’s why the vampire appeared again. Manchester claimed he had spoken to local people who had experienced vampire activity, such as anaemia, nightmares about the evil, and there were people with two small round shaped wounds on the neck.


The Vampire Hunt 

Vampire in Highgate Cemetery

Photo: Urban Adventurer


On the evening of Friday 13th March 1970, the two vampire hunters, Farrant and Manchester went to Highgate Cemetery to search for and kill the vampire. ITV aired a program on that day that included a live report from the cemetery.

Within two hours, a mass of people started gathering around the cemetery, and many of them climbed over the walls to help the vampire hunters find and kill the evil. There were so many people that the police were unable to stop them.


Image Source: David Farrant


It is said that Manchester and his companions penetrated into a catacomb and found a sinister-looking black coffin that didn’t seem to fit to the others laying down there. Manchester performed an exorcism using garlic and holy water and sprinkled salt around the coffin. A few months later remains of a woman were found in the catacomb showing signs of black magic ritual.

Later Manchester found similar black coffins in the cemetery and did the same rituals.

Meanwhile Farrant attempted to communicate with the Highgate Vampire using two circles, candles, incense and a medium. His first attempt was interrupted by the police, but the second attempt was successful. An entity appeared and grabbed him by the throat. Farrand had to break the circle to escape.

After that Farrant came up with a new theory. He claimed the entity was malignant and was not a vampire at all, but an evil presence.


Highgate Cemetery Purged

Highgate Cemetery Purged

Photo: Urban Adventurer


 In 1974 Manchester and his team went back to the cemetery to find another black coffin. They removed the lid and found and evil creature with fierce eyes and drawn-back lips. Manchester drove a stake into the “vampire’s” heart and then he and his followers burnt the coffin with the body. After this Manchester claimed, “Highgate Cemetery is purged.


Even Discovery Channel created a report around the Highgate vampire and story of the vampire hunters.


The Highgate Vampire Returned?


In 1991 Declan Walsh claimed he had witnessed a tall very thin man dressed in Victorian style as walking through a locked gate.

Another witness took a glimpse of a figure floating from the east site to the west site of the cemetery in 2005.


The Highgate Vampire in Pop Culture

Dracula AD 1972 Movie Poster

Image Source: Vintage Movie Posters


Many popular horror stories were inspired by the Highgate vampire and even filmed within the cemetery, such as “Tales from the Crypt”, “Taste the Blood of Dracula” and “Dracula A.D. 1972” starring Christopher Lee. The latter was directly inspired by David Farrant’s vampire hunting activity.

The Highgate vampire appears as a villain in television series, such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (season 9) and in comics, such as the “Dark Horse”.


Do you believe in vampires?


Ready for your next adventure? Why not book a spine-chilling experience in one of the oldest prisons in England, The Clink Prison Museum this October?