Saturday, 31 December 2016

White Out

Phill White of "Thee [sic] Vampire Guild" might have finally succumbed to the fatal forces after a considerable absence from evincing an interest in vampires or the Highgate Vampire case.

He popped up out of nowhere (well, Brentry, a suburb of north Bristol, actually) threatening to send material to Anthony Hogg's partner in crime Erin Chapman on the condition that she publishes it on YouTube. It transpires that the material in question is a 90 minutes' audio tape made by the Vampire Research Society about the Highgate case in the previous century. Not content with threatening to infringe copyright, White also posted on Hogg's Facebook group what can only be described as extremely defamatory comments. Seán Manchester has not mentioned this man once on the internet, but he is obviously unhappy with his lot since moving from Portland to Bristol to settle down and raise a family. White tried to enter the "vampire" media exploitation that was occurring just about everywhere a quarter of a century ago when he was less of a sceptic than he is today, but he was unable to make any impact, being too far stage left; (far left on the map of England, and ultra-left politically) to ever get close to the centre stage of London. White discovered the collection of malcontents on Hogg's group and gleefully added himself. His comments have been mostly all aimed at deriding and defaming Seán Manchester, someone he has not had contact with for at least two decades. Something had happened in the interim since a quarter of a century ago to cause him to become bitter, resentful and totally sceptical of anything remotely supernatural. 

When Seán Manchester last heard from Phill White he was exceptionally sympathetic and supportive. In the interim, a complete turn around has manifested. This is what Seán Manchester recorded in The Vampire Hunter's Handbook (Gothic Press,1997):

As Crimson, Phill White's official magazine of "Thee [sic] Vampire Guild," approached a slow but inevitable death, he saw fit to promote between its covers a vampiroid band called Nightcreed whose curious recordings included the track titled "Die, Manchester, Die," sung by someone with the unlikely name of Theos Diamon Kakos. Around the same time White protested in private correspondence to Seán Manchester his Christian credentials, and declared that he saw many "similarities" between himself and the bishop-exorcist.

White eventually appeared on his local television channel dressed in black apparel and wearing red lipstick. His canines had been fitted with sharp fangs and his normally fair hair was dyed black. A large silver pentagram dangled around his neck, as he grimaced and postured throughout his interview on "True ... But Strange," 17 October 1996. He was shown prancing about in a graveyard with youngsters in kindred attire, and also at his modern terrace home in Portland where he kept a coffin and a pile of bubble-gum picture cards that he had been collecting since he was six-years-old.

Meridian television journalist, Mike Debens, observed that "his little home in Portland is even more cramped because of the think-tank [coffin] where he reclines in the dead of night."

"It's been used," boasted White, whose father was in the funeral business, a trade his son quickly took up, much to the horror of anyone who had viewed him dressed as a vampire sleeping in a "used" coffin. Though White has since relocated to Menhyr Grove, Brentry, Bristol BS10, he remains in the business of organising funerals and preparing dead bodies for burial.

Seán Manchester's advice is quoted briefly in issue fourteen of Crimson. It would be the final time. 

"My advice is that it is better to travel alone than in the company of fools."

The same issue had Seán Manchester described me as "one of the most despised characters" within vampire wannabe circles. This would be for the benefit of White's new friends and acquaintances of dubious status and intent; one of whom, Azz Wood, writing from a prison cell (about Seán Manchester) for Crimson, said: "Someone should rip off his head and piss down his neck and windpipe."

Thus the curtain fell on White whose vampire obsession became a millstone around his neck. He turned against all he had once believed in and admired. Today he represents the opposing forces.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Lore: Variations on the Facts

Narrated by Chad Lawson, written and researched by Aaron Mahnke.

(To listen to the podcast, click on the above image.)

From 11:15 Highgate Cemetery is discussed and by 12:40 Aaron Mahnke already has his facts muddled. It is claimed that in 1970 David Farrant was at the centre of the British Occult Society investigatory group. He was not. In fact, the British Occult Society were to publicly warn against Farrant's lone activities in Highgate Cemetery. By 13:10 we have been misinformed that on 21 December 1969 Farrant camped out overnight in the graveyard. Farrant is described as a "paranormal investigator." Neither of those statements are true. Farrant stated originally, as confirmed in his letter to a local newspaper (Hampstead & Highgate Express) on 6 February 1970, that the occasion was on Christmas Eve 1969 while he was walking down Swains Lane past the cemetery's top gate. Far from being a paranormal investigator, Farrant made clear in the same letter that he had "no knowledge in this field." He said he had seen a tall, dark figure, but there was no mention of eyes "glowing brightly" in his letter, or any of the interviews he gave immediately afterwards. When interviewed by Sandra Harris on a television programme the following month he only described the figure as being tall and resembling someone who was dead. He felt it was evil.

At 13:50, we are told that "Farrant's partner, Seán Manchester, left the group to start his own and made further discoveries." How can such recent history become so distorted in so short a time?

Seán Manchester was President of the British Occult Society from 1967 to 1988 when the BOS was formally dissolved. A specialist research unit within the BOS became autonomous in February 1970 to concentrate on the Highgate Vampire case, and is still extant. It is the Vampire Research Society.

At no time were David Farrant and Seán Manchester "partners." They met as a result of Farrant writing a letter to his local newspaper in which he claimed to have sighted an unearthly spectre. Farrant agreed to show Seán Manchester where he thought he had seen the spectre. This incident where they met in the cemetery was covered by the Hampstead & Highgate Express, 6 March 1970.

Following his arrest in August 1970, David Farrant became increasingly belligerent toward Seán Manchester who nevertheless agreed to visit Farrant in prison after he had received a written plea from him. By which time the British Occult Society had already condemned Farrant's behaviour.


At 14:25, we hear a repeat of the "King Vampire" attribution which nomenclature Seán Manchester did not utter. He explains in detail how it arose in his concise vampirological guide. It is then claimed that Seán Manchester had already staked two vampires by the time he started investigating Highgate Cemetery case, which is more "creative" writing falsely attributed half a century after the events.

At 16:39, we hear the narrator claim: "They weren't on the same side anymore." They were never on the same side. Only Aaron Mahnke, who wrote the Lore podcast's script, is claiming otherwise.

At 18:40, it is absurdly alleged that Seán Manchester "preferred to conduct his exorcisms in broad daylight which allowed him to be safer and, as some critics pointed out, also made it more likely there would be an audience around to watch him." The "critics" being Farrant and his cronies. 

Seán Manchester's exorcism at Highgate Cemetery was later described by the uninvited media as "secret," and, as it happened, was the only one he carried out during the daylight hours. All the other exorcisms were held in the dead of night. There were never members of the public or media present. The nocturnal exorcism at the derelict house in 1974 and the final exorcism in the night at the Great Northern London Cemetery only involved Seán Manchester and anyone who was assisting him. Nobody else was aware of them taking place. Compare this with Farrant's arrests at Highgate Cemetery in 1970 and Monken Hadley churchyard two years later in 1972. Not only were journalists and photographers conveniently to hand, but Farrant was accused in Court of having alerted the police himself in order to ensure coverage throughout the media. His appearance on a Hallowe'en afternoon at Highgate Wood, ostensibly to demonstrate his prowess as a sorcerer (in full knowledge that he would be arrested long before his "magic" could be put to the test), resulted in every national and local newspaper in the country being invited by him. There was also a heavy police presence.

At 20:08, we are told that "Manchester found a way to make a career out of his adventures in Highgate." The narrator adds that Seán Manchester has written two books. In fact, Seán Manchester has written seven books with further unpublished manuscripts in abeyance which he has not tendered in favour of a private life out of the spotlight. He ceased giving interviews about the Highgate Vampire case for the same reason, and nowadays avoids any contact with the media. Not so Farrant who remains every bit as desperate for publicity today as he did back in 1970 when he was twenty-four-years old. Indeed, it was Farrant's hunger for attention that led to him receiving a four years and eight months prison sentence in 1974. Nobody ever really believed any of his claims.

Totally absent from Seán Manchester's career profile is that he is an accomplished photographer, musician and artist who entered the minor order of exorcist in early 1973, and later took holy orders.

At 20:50, we are told that after Farrant left prison "he went back to heading up the British Occult Society where he still works today." If Aaron Mahnke has researched this history beyond visiting Farrant's self-published works and online self-pronouncements he would know that David Farrant was at no time ever a member of the British Occult Society which organisation was instrumental in declaring him a lone publicity-seeker and charlatan in search of a bandwagon to jump on. Sadly, the eerie history (often talked about in local pubs in the 1960s) of Highgate Cemetery and its sinister spectral manifestation provided a suitable vehicle for Farrant and some others to ruthlessly exploit.

So who is Aaron Mahnke who managed to get so much wrong, and has obviously not read the two books he identifies in the podcast, ie The Highgate Vampire and The Vampire Hunter's Handbook?

He was born and raised in Illinois, and now lives with his wife and children on the north shore of Boston where he works on Lore, a bi-weekly (twice a month) podcast. He has apparently written three thrillers and one fantasy novel. What a shame he couldn't entirely move away from fiction?

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Forbidden History

(Click to view the entire programme.)

Forbidden History, now in its third series on the "Yesterday" channel, is one of those programmes that chooses sensationalist subjects but after viewing frequently leaves its audience with a feeling of disappointment. The programme about vampires, transmitted last Friday, had all the ingredients of a topic that would hold the viewer's attention. Inevitably and inexorably, by the time it reached its climax with the Highgate case at the top of the vampire menu, disappointment was all they could evoke. Seán Manchester wrote to the series director and producer. It is now understood that Forbidden History accepts that a mistake was made on their part, and they have agreed to pay an appropriate compensatory sum to Seán Manchester for illicitly using his image in their programme.

Seán Manchester wrote:


Forty-one minutes into the programme, a black and white photograph of me appears for seven seconds.

I am the lawful and exclusive copyright owner of that image which shows me standing by the North Gate in Swains Lane, Highgate.

To add insult to injury, my image has been used in the programme to support the words of a charlatan who has shamelessly exploited my work for his own self-serving ends and voracious appetite for publicity for over four decades.

The photograph has been filched from somewhere I have had it legitimately published. If you intended to airbrush the author of The Highgate Vampire from your coverage of the case you should not have included this photograph.

When Andrew Gough, a personal friend of Farrant for some years, first approached me about this programme last year he assured me that "David [Farrant] would not be interviewed." (See below).

Having been a contributor to television for almost half a century, I naturally take nothing I am told at face value. I feel that my persona has been seriously abused by linking me to anything this Farrant character claims.

Most in the section on Highgate is misleading and factually inaccurate. There is enough evidence on public record, however, to have avoided this occurring, even if you expurgated, as you clearly did, all reference to those who actually investigated the case.


†Seán Manchester

Seán Manchester had fittingly and somewhat ironically written on his website on 13 December 2013:

"I quickly came to realise many years ago that interviewers, regardless of the subject, simply do not know the right questions and the questions are every bit as important as the answers. Another problem in the new century has been one of trust. Seldom have I encountered an interviewer in recent years who keeps his or her word. Consequently, any condition I might have set for providing a contribution was frequently and almost immediately compromised. Without trust and a sense of honour there is nothing. I cannot interact in that way and would rather stay silent than witness yet another agreement broken. I am still having to regularly turn down television and radio interview requests, along with a plethora of other invitations to partake in projects that would maintain a perception of me remaining a public figure."

Despite Andrew Gough's assurance to Seán Manchester that "David Farrant would not be interviewed," in actual fact, Farrant was the only contemporary person who was interviewed about the vampiric goings-on at Highgate. Others who offered their opinions throughout the programme, whether about Highgate or not, were hardened sceptics who view everything in purely materialistic terms. They approached the subject of vampires from a scientific point of view. The problem is that the supernatural cannot be approached in that way because it transgresses the laws of science.

Seán Manchester states in his correspondence to the programme's director that "the section on Highgate is misleading and factually inaccurate." Let's examine that section to see what he means.

Thirty-four minutes into the documentary it finally reaches what a lot of people will have been waiting for when they first began watching: the case of the Highgate Vampire. What the viewer ends up with is a young American woman proclaiming that the Highgate story is "the ultimate British B movie" with "someone running around claiming he's chasing vampires." While this is being stated the viewers are shown Roger Simpson's article about David Farrant's penchant for sacrificing cats in Highgate Woods that appeared in the Hornsey Journal, 13 August 1973, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the case of the Highgate Vampire. Forbidden History is careful not to reveal the article's headline: "Cat's throat slit during witchcraft ritual in woods." Cat's throat slit by Farrant according to Farrant himself!

Next, while being shown posed images from TitBits magazine of Farrant prancing about in Highgate Cemetery, we are told "a group of ghost hunters in the 1960s, 1970s were ghost hunting in Highgate Cemetery, and one of them spent the night there and believes he saw a ghost, a figure dressed in a cape wandering through Highgate Cemetery." This is clearly a reference to Farrant who did not describe anything "dressed in a cape" and whose wife at the time, Mary, stated under oath at the Old Bailey during his criminal trials in 1974: "We would go in, frighten ourselves to death and come out again. It was just a silly sort of thing that you do after the pubs shut." Mrs Farrant added that her husband’s friends who joined in the late night jaunts were not involved in witchcraft or the occult.

We are then told about Satanists who broke into Highgate Cemetery, exhumed a corpse and  "hammered a metal stake through the coffin lid and through the heart of the person in the grave."  None of which happened, needless to say. Yet, as the viewer is told about these Satanists, they are shown simultaneously a 1972 photograph of David Farrant and Victoria Jervis being arrested in Monken Hadley churchyard in High Barnet, which owes no connection to the the Highgate case.

Viewers are at last treated to something that at least vaguely relates to the cemetery vampire case, albeit in a sensationalist article by Barrie Simmons in the Evening News, 16 October 1970,  covering the antics of the publicity-seeker where he is portrayed as a rank amateur with a protective cross comprising of two twigs held together by a shoelace, plus a Sainsbury's carrier bag for his stakes.

Presenter Jamie Theakston informs viewers that he has "come to Highgate" to meet David Farrant, but Farrant, who hasn't lived in Highgate for four and a half decades, actually lives in Muswell Hill. Theakston interviews him in his bedsit at the top of a house in Muswell Hill Road. He asks Farrant what it was he saw on that night inside Highgate Cemetery, but Farrant's original letter to the editor of the Hampstead & Highgate Express explicitly states that it was while walking along Swains Lane as he passed the North Gate that he saw something on the other side of the iron railings. A description of something as tall as the iron North Gate is alleged while simultaneously the massive stone arch leading to the Circle of Lebanon, which is at the heart of the graveyard, is shown on screen. While all this is being explained, the above image of Farrant armed with a crude wooden cross and stake emerges on the screen. Farrant has always previously insisted that he doesn't believe in vampires and  has never seriously sought them out. This is not a revelation made on Forbidden History

As a press cutting of the outcome of his criminal trials at the Old Bailey is shown, Theakston asks Farrant why he was arrested and allows Farrant get away with answering: "I was arrested and charged with indecency in a churchyard." True. He was found guilty of indecency in 1972, but the press cutting related to his trials two years later at which he was found guilty of graveyard desecration and tomb vandalism relating to Highgate Cemetery, threatening witnesses with black magic in an attempt to pervert the course of justice in the trial of a self-proclaimed Satanist who was and still remains his colleague, possession of a firearm and ammunition, plus theft from a hospital.

None of which is mentioned or alluded to, apart from one press cutting, throughout the documentary.

At this point, Andrew Gough proclaims that Farrant "headed the British Occult Society and had a really important role in the whole Highgate Vampire story." Nothing could be further from the truth.

"He's the one going into the tombs and uncovering the fact that satanic rituals were going on there."

"He's the one who identifies this entity, as trying to be manifested, and he's the one who kind of goes on this journey to find the vampire."

Or so claims Andrew Gough who is pictured with David Farrant in the latter's Muswell Hill bedsit. The girl at the centre is an acquaintance of Gough's whose curiosity must have got the better of her.

The fact is that Farrant was exposed by the British Occult Society from very early on. He has had no connection with that organisation beyond pretending to be associated to bolster his own publicity-seeking pranks. Newspapers invariably added to any such claim he made the prefix "self-styled."

Far from being the one who uncovered satanic rituals in tombs, Farrant was found guilty by a jury at the Old Bailey in the summer of 1974 of causing the satanic symbols and thereby rituals in tombs.

Gough's claim that Farrant went on a journey to find the vampire is perhaps the most absurd statement of all. Farrant has spent most of his life strenuously denying the existence of vampires and all newspaper reports that briefly in August 1970 he adopted the role of a "vampire hunter."

"Curiously, to this day, there are reports in Swains Lane of civilians reporting to the police of a tall man walking across the street with dark, piercing red eyes; walking across the street and through the wall. This gets reported to the police every two or three years," claims Andrew Gough near the end.

This is untrue, as the police themselves will confirm. There have been no credible witnesses since the 1960s and early 1970s. Recent claimants have turned out to be associates of one man: Farrant.