Friday, 13 March 2020

The Last Adieu

This book outsells all others I have written by at least one hundredfold; yet I refuse to be defined by it. Half a century ago on Friday 13th March seems permanently etched onto the nation's psyche, and to some degree the sensational nature of that historic occasion will have obvious and lasting public appeal. It marked, of course, my television debut, and events later that night at Highgate Cemetery.

A more meaningful and pivotal Friday 13th for me would occur three years later in April at Easter. This was my first ascent of Parliament Hill. It was attended by a crowd of hundreds, not unlike the crowd spontaneously triggered by my television transmission on 13 March 1970. I was not expecting such a vast number to assemble all over the hill on Hampstead Heath on Good Friday 1973, but it was nevertheless a pleasing sight. Before a makeshift altar with candles on a bench at the very top, I inaugurated the founding of Ordo Sancti Graal. Tapers, incense and food were handed out. This began a pilgrimage, concentrating on London and its environs over the Easter period, and eventually spreading further afield. A lay order of twelve was instituted from those who attended and followed.

There came a second ascent of Parliament Hill in 1984 which, while attracting a good few people, plus a radio station wanting to cover the occasion live, had also come to the attention of the self-proclaimed (since the age of eleven) atheist Leader of the Greater London Council, Ken Livingstone who ordered my arrest due to an obscure piece of legislation that forbade the utterance of religious words after dusk. I was thus arrested at nine minutes before nine o'clock, taken to Hampstead Police Station under police escort, and made to feel comfortable by all concerned. When I prepared to leave without charge some time later, after a cup of tea and a pleasant chat with the Chief Superintendent, the officers all lined up to shake my hand. The date was Friday the 13th of July. It was a full moon.

A third ascent of Parliament Hill occurred on Good Friday 1993 in a heavy downfall of rain and the odd rumble of thunder. We were soaked to the skin in our white robes, but spiritually vibrant. Bemused onlookers caught sight of us, as we made the procession for the final time up the rain-soaked hill, having begun this final pilgrimage in Hertfordshire on foot. My mother had slipped into God's safekeeping months earlier. I decided to depart from London, which I did the following year.

On the forty-first anniversary of a headline on 27 February 1970 that would catapult me into the limelight for an uncomfortably long period of time, I agreed to give my final television interview at home. It was recorded using three cameras for a Canadian production company. The edited film was first broadcast on 1 April 2011. Thereafter it was repeated in many countries throughout the world.

On Friday the 13th of December 2013, a statement containing a plea for privacy was published by me on social media where it was widely viewed, and occasionally paraphrased. I reiterate it with mild adjustment because seven years later some of the time periods would not make sense for 2020.

I find today's world, particularly the cyber-world, all too frenetic and reactive. This jars with my own desire for creative contemplation instead of the tumult I see around me which being a public figure only serves to exacerbate. This reflective approach to everyday existence is at odds with being under public scrutiny, somewhere I have found myself for the past half a century. What most brought me to public attention were the television and radio programmes I regularly appeared on, and also the books and documentary films associated with topics which hold the public imagination in thrall. It is for that reason I have not submitted a book for publication since the beginning of the 21st century. Likewise, I scaled back my broadcasts in the media to a point where I no longer make them. I ceased giving interviews to the print media decades ago and only then in quality magazines. Moreover, it is quite some time since I declared I am no longer prepared to provide interviews on matters relating to Highgate et al. What there was to say has been said many times over. I found myself answering the same questions over and over again; questions which invariably are already answered in my published accounts. One of the problems, I quickly came to realise many years ago, is that interviewers, regardless of the subject, simply do not know the right questions, and the questions are every bit as important as the answers. Another problem in the new century has been one of trust. Seldom have I encountered an interviewer in recent years who keeps his or her word. Consequently, any condition I might have set for providing a contribution was frequently and almost inevitably compromised. Without trust and a sense of honour there is nothing. I cannot interact in that way and would rather stay silent than witness yet another contract broken. I am still having to regularly turn down television and radio interview requests, along with a plethora of other invitations to partake in projects that would maintain a perception of me remaining on the public stage, which, I accept, is exactly what I have been for most of my life. What made me so, however, is very much in the past. The memoir I began to write some time back will not now see the light of day. This is for the best if I wish my privacy to be respected. The concomitants of being a public figure have slowly eroded over the last couple of decades to a point where I stand on the threshold of finally achieving meaningful privacy. Hence, I have now stepped over that threshold and become a private individual. This will not affect my episcopal duties, sacerdotal ministry, art and music etc, but involvement in secular preoccupations and the expression of views on same in the public hemisphere is now at an end.    

†Seán Manchester

Highgate Cemetery Vampire Hunt Anniversary

Friday 13th March 2020 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the largest vampire hunt ever to take place in the British Isles. It occurred at Highgate Cemetery on the evening of 13 March 1970, following reports in local and national newspapers, plus a television interview with various witnesses earlier on a programme called Today, Thames Television. Notwithstanding many amateur vampire hunters inflicting themselves on the cemetery with home-made stakes, crosses, garlic, holy water, but very little knowledge about how to deal with the suspected undead if they encountered it, I made an appeal on the Today programme at 6.00pm requesting the public not to get involved, nor put into jeopardy an investigation already in progress. Not everyone heeded my plea. Over the following weeks and months a wide variety of independent vampire hunters descended on the graveyard — only to be frightened off by its eerie atmosphere, and what they believed might have been the supernatural entity itself. Some were promptly arrested by police patrolling the area. None, however, caused any damage. I advised the public that a full-scale investigation was already taking place, and that individual efforts by those merely seeking thrills only served to endanger all.

On the Today programme, 13 March 1970, I warned one self-styled vampire hunter in particular, who had appeared on the same programme as one of several witnesses, to leave things he did not understand alone. Apparently he had received “a horrible fright” a few weeks earlier when he allegedly caught sight of the vampire by the north gate of Highgate Cemetery and immediately wrote to his local newspaper about the experience, concluding with these words: “I have no knowledge in this field and I would be interested to hear if any other readers have seen anything of this nature.” (Letters to the Editor, Hampstead & Highgate Express, 6 February 1970). In the following month the same individual revealed to the media that he had seen something at the north gate that was “evil” and that it “looked like it had been dead for a long time” (as told by him to Sandra Harris on the Today programme). I warned on the same programme that this man’s declared intention of staking the vampire alone and without the proper knowledge went “against my explicit wish for his own safety.”

The Hampstead & Highgate Express, 13 March 1970, under the headline The Ghost Goes On TV, reported: "Cameras from Thames Television visited Highgate Cemetery this week to film a programme ... One of those who faced the cameras was Mr David Farrant, of Priestwood Mansions, Archway Road. ... 'It was tall and very dark grey. But it didn't appear to have any feet. It just glided along.' He intends to visit the cemetery again, armed with a wooden stake and a crucifix, with the aim of exorcising the spirit. He also believes that Highgate is 'rife with black magic.' ... [Seán] Manchester is opposed to [David] Farrant's plans. 'He goes against our explicit wish for his own safety,' he said. ‘We feel he does not possess sufficient knowledge to exorcise successfully something as powerful as a vampire, and may well fall victim as a result. We issue a similar warning to anyone with likewise intentions'."

The mass vampire hunt on the night itself was not attended by David Farrant who spent his time in the Prince of Wales pub before repairing home to Archway Road and the bunker of an acquaintance.

The hunt went ahead, as chronicled in The Highgate Vampire book, and what was thought to be the vampire source and its resting place was discovered, along with empty coffins, in the catacombs.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

"Does a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?"

Most everyone has a story to tell, and mine, up to that point, became public on 27 February 1970 when, albeit reluctantly, I revealed some of that story in a front page feature article. From that moment, I ceased to have a private life, especially following the Reuters News Agency getting hold of it, and my being interviewed by a television programme, transmitted on Friday 13 March 1970, a short time later. I quite literally woke up and found myself famous. Yet it was a wholly unwanted celebrity.

Up until the end of the last century, notwithstanding one or two attempts to treat me in a lighthearted manner, I was received with impartiality and respect by film production companies, television and radio programmes, quality glossy magazines, including an appearance on the cover of The Sunday Times magazine, and others besides. As we entered the new century it became abundantly clear that people's beliefs, particularly belief in the supernatural, had fast begun to erode and become eclipsed by an aggressive form of atheism, often dressed up as something else, eg humanism etc. Interest in me did not lessen, however, but suddenly I was now, according to a new generation, see RationalWiki, and others of that ilk, "an unhinged British author." I was being painted as "unhinged" for one reason only: I was continuing to tell my story, but it no longer chimed with the atheistic, anti-everything considered supernatural, clique who dismiss all such things as fairy tales. My story now earned their opprobrium on a grand scale, and they were not slow to make their displeasure known.

“Ever since I became aware that Highgate Cemetery was the reputed haunt of a vampire, the investigations and activities of Seán Manchester commanded my attention. I became convinced that, more than anyone else, he knew the full story of the Highgate Vampire.”

~ Peter Underwood, ghost hunter & author, The Ghost Club Society, London, England

“I am very impressed by the body of scholarship you have created. Seán Manchester is undoubtedly the father of modern vampirological research.”

~ John Godl, paranormal researcher and writer, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

“Seán Manchester is to be congratulated on this fine piece of research work which I confess to enjoying to the extreme.”

~ Professor Devendra P Varma, vampirologist & author, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

“Fascinating in its subject matter and magnificent in the quality of its prose. Seán Manchester’s literary style is refreshingly reminiscent of the Gothic genre.”

~ Paul Spencer Vickers, Dept of English Literature, University College, London, England

“Seán Manchester is the most celebrated vampirologist of the twentieth century.”

~ Shaun Marin, reviewer and sub-editor, Uri Geller’s Encounters magazine, England

“A most interesting and useful addition to the literature of the subject.”

~ Reverend Basil Youdell, Literary Editor, Orthodox News, Christ the Saviour, Woolwich, England

“This book will certainly be read in a hundred years time, two hundred years time, three hundred years time ~ in short, for as long as mankind is interested in the supernatural. It has the most genuine power to grip. Once you have started to read it, it is virtually impossible to put it down.”

~ Lyndall Mack, Udolpho magazine, Chislehurst, England

Saturday, 15 June 2019

An Early Recollection of Highgate Cemetery

An early recollection of Highgate Cemetery by Seán Manchester:

It was a very long time ago that I first came across the sloping field of crumbling masonry. I took the right-hand path. It swept steeply upward - towards, from my perspective, uncharted territory.

What brought me to this eerie landscape still escapes me; other than to say I was drawn for some inexplicable reason. I was struck on that day by the odd fact that no birds sang and there were no other people in the vicinity. Indeed, I met not a solitary soul on that first visit. Continuing along the silent, tree-shrouded route, I slowly stopped, sensing something strange and sinister in my midst.

It was the sombre pathway to an iron door, the inner circle and beating heart of the steep hill sewn with corpses that had a mystery and atmosphere like no other. The path led darkly to the portal.

This is an artistic impression of my first encounter. It shows me facing away from the portal and yet eerily drawn back to it - as if something unnatural was pulling me into a metaphysical realm.

These are my last artistic impressions, showing the figure further along the path, but still facing away from the door; inwardly sensing the untold horrors that lay behind it; yet unable to resist.

The view in the opposite direction, ie down the leaf-strewn pathway from the portal's perspective.

Returning for the last time to the lane where the unearthly had been experienced many years prior, I cast a lingering glance through the bars of the now permanently closed cemetery's north gate.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Open Graves, Closed Minds

Today the majority of folk not only dismiss the existence of vampires, but also most anything else remotely belonging to the supernatural. Montague Summers and Seán Manchester, however, tend to subscribe to the view that cases of vampirism have been stifled and covered up by those in authority. So has much else, of course, and the recent inaccurate portrayals of the vampire and vampirism in films and literature only serve to assist this endeavour of disinformation. Furthermore, most people have built in “slides” that short circuit the mind’s critical examination process when it comes to certain sensitive topics. “Slides” is a CIA term for a condition type of response which dead ends a person’s thinking and terminates debate or examination of the topic at hand. Any mention of the word “vampire,” for example, often solicits a “slide” response with most people.

Owing to the incredible bombardment of information (and thereby also misinformation) via the media, television, radio and, not least, the new information technology, people are probably far less open-minded than they were hitherto. Hence they dismiss the existence of the vampire phenomenon without prior examination. This principle of prior contempt cannot fail to keep people in everlasting ignorance of the undead. Notwithstanding the natural predilection nowadays to dismiss any notion of vampires, when a BBC poll was conducted to coincide with an online discussion with Seán Manchester on the subject the result was interesting. The question put to those who visited the BBC website was: “Do you believe in vampires?” 47.4% said they did not believe, but an encouraging 52.6% said that they did believe in the existence of vampires.

The vampire is a predatory entity that feeds on the life-force of others. It is but one of many types of demon. However, in all the darkest pages of the malign supernatural there is no more terrible tradition than that of the vampire, a pariah even among demons. When the undead is exorcised by impalement the corporeal shell returns to earthly time instantaneously; the demonic presence is expelled as the accompanying rite of exorcism is uttered followed by a prayer for the dead.


"You  have abused your membership by making malicious comments about me and  my colleagues on other sites."  —  Bill Hughes 

As with his "vampire hoax" allegation, no example to support this claim has been provided by Bill Hughes, Sam George, or indeed anyone else.

"You have stolen and reposted copyrighted material (which  will be dealt with appropriately)." —  Bill Hughes

Links to websites and Facebook pages can cause images to appear. All he had to do was send a message that he objected to such links. He instead contacted Facebook to complain. They removed the links.

"I'm sure you'll be happier confined  to your own space away from the company of those who want to conduct  authentic scholarly discussions. He's [Robert Darnley's] blocked now." —  Bill Hughes

This said by someone who is a member of a "Free Speech" group on Facebook. Yet he shies-away-from a sober conversation from someone making the point that if one uses such emotive language as "hoax" it is incumbent upon the user to back that statement up. Bill Hughes did not. 

"But don't go calling it a hoax where he [Robert Darnley] or Sean Manchester can see —  they are deranged and actually very nasty."  —  Bill Hughes

Publishing that two individuals are "deranged," one of them in Holy Orders and a public figure for approximately half a century, is libellous.

There is only one nasty person in all this, and that is Bill Hughes who has been unable to provide a shred of evidence for his malicious allegations, hiding away the moment any challenge is made, making him a coward, as well as a liar and hypocrite. Better that he had never opened his mouth in the first place than repeatedly place his foot in it. 

Click on the above image to view the video narrated by Samantha George.