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The Highgate Vampire

“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, the president of the Vampire Research Society knew the full story of the Highgate Vampire which is probably the most remarkable contemporary account of vampiric activity and infestation ~ and cure. Can such things as vampires really exist? The evidence seems to be overwhelming and the author [of The Highgate Vampire] is to be congratulated on his knowledgeable and lucid account of the case which is likely to become one of the classic works on this interesting and mystifying subject.”

~ Peter Underwood, President, The Ghost Club Society, UK.

Two seemingly unconnected incidents occurred within weeks of one another in early 1967. The first involved two 16-year-old convent girls who were walking home at night after having visited friends in Highgate Village. Their return journey took them down Swains Lane past the cemetery. They could not believe their eyes as they passed the graveyard’s north gate at the top of the lane, for in front of them bodies appeared to be emerging from their tombs. One of these schoolgirls later suffered nightly visitations and blood loss. The second incident, some weeks later, involved an engaged couple who were walking down the same lane. Suddenly the female shrieked as she glimpsed something hideous hovering behind the gate’s iron railings. Then her fiancé saw it. They both stood frozen to the ground as the spectre held them in thrall. Its face bore an expression of basilisk horror. Soon others sighted the same phenomenon as it hovered along the path behind the gate where gravestones are visible either side until consumed in darkness. Before long people were talking in hushed tones about the rumoured haunting in local pubs. Some who actually witnessed the spectral figure wrote to their local newspaper to share their experience. Discovery was made of animal carcasses drained of blood. They had been so exsanguinated that a forensic sample could not be found. It was only a matter of time before a person was found in the cemetery in a pool of blood. This victim died of wounds to the throat. The police made every attempt to cover-up the vampiristic nature of the death. Seán Manchester informed the public on 27 February 1970 that the cause was most probably a vampire. He appeared on television on 13 March 1970 and repeated his theory. The VRS, whose specialist unit within a larger investigatory organisation (now defunct) had opened the case twelve months earlier, established a history of similar hauntings that went back to before the graveyard existed. A suspected tomb was located and a spoken exorcism performed. This proved to be ineffective.

The hauntings and animal deaths continued. Indeed, they multiplied. By now all sorts of people were jumping on the vampire bandwagon; including film-makers and rock musicians. Most were frightened off. Some who interloped became fascinated by the black arts with disastrous consequences. Meanwhile, serious researchers considered the possibility that a nest of vampires might be active in the area. Yet there seemed to be one principal source which the media had already dubbed a “King Vampire of the Undead.”

Seán Manchester led the thirteen year investigation from beginning to end. There was indeed more than one vampire for the VRS to confront. However, in early 1974 he tracked the principal source of the contamination, known as the Highgate Vampire, to a neo-Gothic mansion on the Highgate borders. Here he employed the ancient and approved remedy. No vampire has been sighted in or near Highgate Cemetery and its environs since that time. The exorcised remains of the Highgate Vampire appear on the next page.

A full account ~ with photographs from the case file ~ is uniquely provided in The Highgate Vampire written by the VRS president. This is a quality hardcover edition with illustrations throughout. Another book, though presented as a novel, but based on some real incidents, is Carmel. A generously illustrated large format paperback, this book offers the wider picture as actual experience mingles with a familiar history. Much can be revealed in the guise of a novel, of course, that could not otherwise be told. The Vampire Hunter’s Handbook also revisits Highgate in some of its chapters; while exposing many of the false attributions made by certain journalists, authors and even academics ~ some of whom were too young to remember the events at the time, much less have any part in them. Archive recordings that include the voices of very early witnesses include The Highgate Vampire cassette. Details plus ordering information for books and cassettes may be obtained by clicking on each of the titles.

“There is no doubt that … The Highgate Vampire is an A1 classic. 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 (aka Jennie Gray), Udolpho magazine, UK.

“The Highgate Vampire is a most interesting and useful addition to the literature on the subject.”

~ Reverend Basil Youdell, Literary Editor, Orthodox News, UK.

“If you want to read a good book on the subject which is very well done, then read The Highgate Vampire.”

~ Dale Kaczmarek, President, The Ghost Research Society, USA.

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

~ Dr Devendra P Varma, Professor of English Literature, Dalhousie University, Canada.

“I found the book 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, Department of English Literature, University College London, UK.

“Reading The Highgate Vampire was a fascinating experience. I found myself eager to turn each page as the momentum kept building with each new chapter.”

~ Vincent Hillyer, arcanologist and author of Vampires, USA.


~ Editor of Vampires, Dracula, Werewolves, Delectus Books, UK.

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Highgate Cemetery’s eerie north gate in Swains Lane at the time of the vampire panics of early 1970.

Highgate Vampire Picture Gallery

(Left): Discovery of the vampire tomb in 1970. (Right): The exorcised remains prior to cremation in 1974.

“We would like to exorcise the vampire by the traditional and approved manner ~ drive a stake through its heart with one blow just after dawn …, chop off the head with a gravedigger’s shovel, and burn what remains.”

~ Seán Manchester, Hampstead & Highgate Express, 27 February 1970.

Elizabeth, the convent schoolgirl who months later fell victim to nocturnal visitations from the vampire.

“A series of nightmares … began to plague Elizabeth; all with one thing in common: something evil was trying to come in through her bedroom window at night. She could see the face clearly: it was deathly pale. Just like the faces of the corpses leaving their graves. … She was extremely quiet and barely spoke at all that evening. As she sat, seemingly exhausted, … I noticed for the first time the marks on the side of her neck. … They were two inflamed mounds on the skin, the centre of each bearing a tiny hole.”

“We did not succeed in destroying the evil … soon enough. Her blood was tainted by that demonic thing which drew her to Highgate Cemetery. … This grave cannot contain Lusia in its confines whilst malevolent forces refuse her rest. She was never truly dead. A solitary figure swathed in a white shroud, her face the colour of marble save for her lips … wanders this place after dusk. Her cry, like the howl of a wolf, disturbs my sleep. At night I know she is out there.”

“There was Lusia, her face composed as if in a deep trance, slowly walking along the side of the church … [until] she reached the rear of the church’s old broken railings, beyond which lay the cemetery. Gliding, then almost pouncing feline-like, she entered the graveyard and began to dissolve in its darkness. … A grey veil seemed to obscure my view as I strained to see in the inky darkness of the catacombs what she was doing. The haze cleared … I produced a large silver cross and threw it so that it landed … [near] … Lusia. … She gasped and collapsed on the ground.”

~ The Highgate Vampire

The haunted icy path that runs from the north gate to the catacombs and also vampire tomb at the centre of Highgate Cemetery.

This picture is considered by some to have captured the dark countenance of an unearthly presence in its far right corner. Amid the inky darkness, right of the tomb mounted by a stone cross, the image of a deathly face can be perceived. The spectral face, first identified by Ayla Kabowski, is oblivious to the camera’s flash ~ yet eerily it appears.

(Left) The Highgate Vampire at the moment of exorcism. (Right) The vampire tomb after it had been bricked-up and sealed.


Aspect from the vampire tomb ~ the Egyptian-style avenue approach in Highgate Cemetery as it appeared circa 1970.


“All these things happen, and the eyes of ordinary men do not see them.”

~ Michael Sendivogius (17th Century)


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