On Friday The 13th, 1970, A Mass Of Londoners Hunted A ‘King Vampire’ In Highgate Cemetery

May 29, 2023 People's Tonight 302 views

April A Taylor

London has been the site of many creepy historical events, ranging from Jack the Ripper’s serial murders to the Great Plague of London. So perhaps it’s not surprising that tales swirl of things stalking its winding streets – things that aren’t quite human. One beautiful, yet macabre London cemetery, Highgate, is rumored to house a very special resident: the Highgate Vampire. Stories about this creature go way beyond the typical urban legend. In fact, many residents became so wrapped up in the tale that they joined the mass vampire hunt of 1970.

Yes, that’s right: this bizarre tale isn’t from the distant, superstitious past, but rather the supposedly enlightened 20th century. The London vampire hunt shows that, no matter how much science and technology advance, people are still frightened by the things that go bump in the night. Did the Highgate Vampire truly haunt the cemetery, and could it still be there?


• Locals Reported Strange Sightings Amongst The Graves

Graves1Photo: Talltanic / YouTube

An occultist named David Farrant supposedly first encountered the Highgate Vampire on December 21, 1969. Farrant claims he spotted a “grey figure” that evening and knew instantly it was supernatural.

The next year, Farrant asked other Londoners to report any similar experiences. A local paper collected multiple stories, which related sightings of a tall man wearing a hat and a gliding spectral form. Perhaps the most interesting report came from a couple who said they came face-to-face with the vampire in 1963.

There were very few similarities between the eyewitness accounts. This didn’t dissuade Farrant, though, whose belief in the supernatural entity at Highgate continued.

• The King Vampire Of The Undead

VampirePhoto: Graham C99 / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

On February 27, 1970, the Hampstead and Highgate Express published an attention-grabbing article about the Highgate Vampire. In it, a priest named Seán Manchester from an obscure religious sect said there was a mysterious presence in Highgate Cemetery, “a King Vampire of the Undead.” He claimed that the body of a medieval Romanian nobleman and practitioner of the black arts was brought to London in the 18th century. The body was eventually buried in the area that became Highgate Cemetery.

Manchester alleged the vampire was once again stalking London because modern day Satanists had revived him. To halt its nighttime hunts, the priest suggested digging up the body, driving a stake through its heart, and removing and burning its head.

• The Vampire Supposedly Bit And Possessed Victims

VictimsPhoto: mclcbooks / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

According to Seán Manchester, numerous London residents reached out to him with stories of vampire visitations. Elizabeth Vordewa allowed Manchester to make an audio recording of her, in which she claimed she had two red lumps on her neck.

Vordewa’s boyfriend at that time, Keith McLain, swore she had what he’s dubbed “an Exorcist moment.” McLain alleged that a deep, male voice came out of Vordewa one night, and said, “I’m going to bring both of you down.”

McLain and Manchester performed a series of rituals to save Vordewa’s soul. These rituals apparently worked, because she made a full recovery and didn’t report any further nighttime visitations.

As for what was responsible, McLain thinks he has the answer: “I believe it was a vampire, yes. I don’t have any doubt about that.”

• The Mass Vampire Hunt Took Place On Friday The 13th

MassPhoto: Varbage / YouTube

On Friday, March 13, 1970, vampire hunters David Farrant and Seán Manchester set out to expose and destroy the Highgate Vampire once and for all. But they weren’t exactly comrades in arms. Farrant and Manchester were at least partly fueled by a growing rivalry to see who could save London from the undead bloodsucker.

A local television channel interviewed the two men live, along with several people who claimed to have had supernatural encounters. Between all of the media attention and the superstitions attached to Friday the 13th, Highgate Cemetery was soon swarming with around a hundred local residents who wanted to join the hunt.

• A Psychic Sleepwalker May Have Revealed The Vampire’s Den

PsychicPhoto: seanbjack / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0

During the March 13 hunt, Seán Manchester claims he broke into a catacomb with the intention of stopping the vampire. How did he know which tomb to enter? Because a psychic sleepwalker, a beautiful blonde woman, led him to it.

The catacomb in question was, of course, locked up tight, but that didn’t stop Manchester and his allies. Instead, they found a hole on the roof and actually climbed down with a rope. Once they were inside, they sprinkled holy water everywhere and put garlic inside of empty coffins.

• A Charred Corpse Was Discovered Near The Cemetery

CemeteryPhoto: World 5 List / YouTube

Several months after the mass vampire hunt, police found a headless and charred body. The female victim appeared to have died before she was decapitated and burned. Some believed the body had been used as part of a black magic ritual by a coven of witches attempting to raise the vampire.

Interestingly, the charred corpse was discovered close to the Highgate catacomb Seán Manchester had broken into on March 13. Shortly thereafter, David Farrant began prowling the cemetery grounds with a wooden stake and a crucifix. Police arrested him at least once, but he wasn’t charged with anything.

• Dead Foxes Were Supposedly Found Drained Of Blood

FoxesPhoto: Varbage / YouTube

David Farrant told local media he found dead foxes in Highgate Cemetery. Initially, he said their deaths were a mystery. But after Seán Manchester claimed the foxes were almost certainly the prey of the vampire, the story changed.

Over time, what had once been a few dead foxes became several foxes that were completely drained of blood. These unfortunate animals were also rumored to have been found riddled with bite marks.

• The Highgate Vampire May Have Reappeared In 1973

HighgatePhoto: slynkycat / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Seán Manchester wrote a book about his vampire hunting tales, entitled The Highgate Vampire: The Infernal World of the Undead Unearthed at London’s Highgate Cemetery and Environs. In it, he claims he gained access to a tomb in Highgate Cemetery a few months after the 1970 vampire hunt. After prying the lid off of a coffin, he discovered a female vampire – though his friend talked him out of driving a wooden stake through the vampire’s heart.

In 1973, Manchester found the same corpse in a nearby cellar. This time, he took care of the problem for good by staking and burning the vampire’s body.

• The Rival Vampire Hunters Reportedly Scheduled A Magicians’ Duel

MagicianPhoto: Mesq / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

David Farrant and Seán Manchester’s rivalry led to rumors of a so-called magicians’ duel. Flyers advertising the duel even began popping up in London. On April 13, 1973, which was once again Friday the 13th, people gathered at Parliament Hill to see the two face off – but the duel never happened.

It’s unclear if the duel was just a publicity stunt or if the two changed their minds at the last minute. Some stories claimed Farrant ran afoul of the public after planning to sacrifice a cat, though he denies it. Instead, he says he stayed away because he was afraid of a violent reaction from the crowd.

• A Vampire Hunter Was Arrested For Desecrating Graves

Graves2Photo: April A. Taylor

David Farrant’s obsession with the supernatural and Highgate Cemetery eventually put him behind bars. In 1974, officers charged him with “offering indignity to the dead,” along with desecration and vandalism. Farrant still maintains that he’s innocent of these charges, and blames the cemetery damage on Satanists.

• The Vampire May Be Back

Vampire1Photo: Sandy Hale / Pinterest

Was the Highgate Vampire truly slain? If you believe stories that began swirling around London in 2016, the evil creature survived.

People reported seeing a “floating man” in a suit and top hat, gliding through Highgate Cemetery’s locked gates with ease. One man even claimed to have snapped a photograph of the eerie figure.

Look to the left of the photograph above – is someone looking back at you?