The Highgate Vampire, London
Highgate Cemetery, built in 1839, is perhaps Britain’s most famous burial site, providing the last resting place of Karl Marx and equally celebrated figures like George Eliot , Michael Faraday and Christina Rossetti. But it is also known for – supposedly – providing a place where a far from resting spirit wanders.
The legend of the Highgate Vampire emerged in the 1960s. It is reported that in 1963 two girls returning home late at night observed spectres rising from the tombs; other people encountered dark figures; the local press reported sightings of a variety of such apparitions, some of them given as seven feet tall. In the late 1960s the story changed in tone: the figures began to be reported as vampyric, able to drift over 12 feet high walls; foxes were found drained of blood; one girl even reporting that she was attacked by a vampire. In 1970 the remains of a burned corpse, thought to have been used in a satanic ritual, were found in the cemetery.
Details were added: mysteriously it was revealed that a vampire from central Europe had been brought to London in the 18th century and buried in the ground that later became Highgate Cemetery ; and his followers or modern occultists had brought him back from the dead. The affair is thought to have sparked the idea for the Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee Hammer Horror film Dracula AD 1972.
Two authors are particularly associated with the legend of the Highgate Vampire: Sean Manchester; and David Farrant, both of whom have written accounts of the story. Whatever the truth of the tale, property prices in the area have not plummeted because of unquiet neighbours.
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