The organisers of The Highgate Vampire Symposium are delighted to welcome Miss Sam Perrin – or “Spamosphere” as she may be better known to some of you under her blogging nomenclature – to our event.
Having recently decided to move on to pastures new, after 12 years of guiding and voluntarily maintaining plots on behalf of grave owners at Highgate Cemetery, Sam is currently supporting the volunteers of Kensal Green and Abney Park cemeteries. Sam’s vast knowledge of nineteenth century burial customs, and of many of the notable and forgotten characters who rest in these overgrown enclaves, are a regular weekend treat for Londoners and tourists alike.
Sam is not representing Highgate Cemetery in an official capacity at The Highgate Vampire Symposium, and to reprise that old, hackneyed phrase – all opinions expressed are entirely her own.
The management of Highgate Cemetery until recently published a zero-tolerance policy with regard to written enquiries pertaining to paranormal subject matter (Rollerblading and jogging are also forbidden, more understandably). Indeed, over the last four decades paying visitors to Highgate Cemetery West have been strongly discouraged from asking questions of this nature, and have even been ejected for doing so, although such incidences are much rarer than gossip suggests. .
This approach has, however, inspired many conspiracy theories and much resentment among tourists with an interest in the paranormal and the cemetery’s associated legends. Day trippers with an interest in the Hammer Horror films which were filmed on location at the cemetery have also been given similarly short shrift on occasion. Highgate does remain a working cemetery, and this occasional tension is palpable, especially when reference is made the bad old days of the 1970s and the associated vandalism.
Health and safety requirements and related internal policies stipulate that the once free to roam necropolis is now only accessible upon payment entitling one to a strictly timebound guided tour with no deviation from the paths. Many of us who grew up after the pre-1975 days, when one could wander the cemetery at leisure, no doubt envy the ‘luxury’ experienced by Highgate Cemetery volunteers who, in the relatively recent past at least, were free to wander this ancient landscape, and absorb its atmosphere with no restrictions.
Like many of Highgate’s mysteries, the peculiar relationship between Highgate Cemetery’s haunted reputation, its volunteers and its visitors is certainly not black and white. We are therefore very excited to welcome Sam to the Symposium, and look forward to any clarifications and insights which, with reference to her personal experience, she may be able to offer.