Sunday, 29 November 2020

The Last Interview II


The reason this video is titled "The Last Interview II" is because the actual final interview has been blocked by YouTube. This footage from another television documentary was filmed prior to the last.

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