Welcome to part two of the third session of The Highgate Vampire Symposium 2015. Titled “The Vampire Theory”, this session addresses the much popularised claim that the entity which haunts Highgate Cemetery was a bona fide vampire, which was supposedly staked circa 1974.
There is no way of ignoring the fact that, to the detriment of what many consider to be a paranormal case of great merit, the last 40 years have seen the term ‘Highgate vampire’ become almost inextricably linked with an entity which may be something entirely different – and remains unexplained.
It was the Evening News which first coined that infamous phrase, in October 1970, and the media frenzy of the time, along with the continuing interest of the popular press (especially around Hallowe’en!) has helped cement this nomenclature.
Subsequently, in the interest of fairness, and in order to not disappoint attendees attracted by the title of the event, it was felt by the symposium organisers that a full session should be devoted to this bizarre claim.
It was not the intention of the symposium organisers to promote this myth – quite the opposite. Our aim was to promote sensible debate and record subsequent speculation and conclusions. And in that regard we certainly succeeded!
In this part we hear the conclusion of a continuing discussion between compere Paul Adams and David Farrant about the authenticity of a series of widely published photographs that supposedly depicted ‘real-life’ vampires and/or their intended victims. Some of these photographs were shown to the audience and they were asked to decide if these established that a ‘blood-sucking vampire’ really did exist in the grounds of London’s Highgate Cemetery.
Further guests include Patsy Langley, author of the Highgate Vampire Casebook published in 2007 [ISBN 978-0017466402] and Haunted Hounslow and Feltham published in 2014 [ISBN 978 – 9931110-1-3] and Jacqueline Simpson, former president of the Folklore Society and author of The Lore of the Land, first published in 2006 by Penguin with her late co-author Jennifer Westwood [ISBN 0-14-102103-9].
Patsy Langley invites attendees to consider the history of the land upon which Highgate Cemetery was built. Whilst contextualising claims that an Eastern European nobleman-cum-vampire once inhabited the basement of the mansion house which stood upon the site of St. Michael’s Church to the north of the cemetery, Patsy demonstrates her vast knowledge of the real history of the owners and lessees of the premises.
We were also honoured with the presence of Dr. Jacqueline Simpson. Dr. Simpson first became aware of the case of the Highgate ‘vampire’ through the work of her American colleague, Professor Bill Ellis. The ostension approach posited by Ellis is postulated by Dr. Simpson, with consideration of the Highgate ‘vampire’ flap, and also with relevant regard to other contemporary cases of monster hunting during the 20th century.
Keep an eye out for the video of our fourth session – “Why Highgate? Liminal Space and Environmental Influences” featuring local resident, Priestess of Hecate and founder of Oracle Television Carrie Kirkpatrick, and former Highgate Cemetery tour guide Sam Perrin. This session was originally intended to address the subject of ley lines which allegedly run through Highgate. However as the symposium was over-running by late afternoon (so much to debate, such little time!) our scheduled speaker, Patricia Langley, covered this topic during the questions and answers session of The Vampire Theory.