The Dutchman and the Devil’s Fool

Rob Brautigam when he was a fan of Seán Manchester – framed images
of whom can be viewed above Brautigam’s right shoulder (left of picture).
In June 1990, Rob Brautigam of Amsterdam, Holland, wrote to Seán Manchester at the International Society For The Advancement Of Irrefutable Vampirological And Lycanthropic Research (aka Vampire Research Society) to apply for membership in that organisation. He subscribed to a strong belief in the existence of real, ie supernatural, vampires and, moreover, their control. He had not yet embarked upon any newsletter or magazine production of his own; though that would soon alter. His correspondence was directed to the exorcist c/o the ISAIVLR (VRS) Highgate address in London, England. (This address became redundant at the turn of the century and initial contact is only now possible via extant members of the Society).
Rob Brautigam wrote: “It has been with the greatest interest and admiration that I have occasionally read about your activities over the years. … It goes without saying that I would very much like to join your Society. So could you please tell me if it is possible for me to be a member of the ISAIVLR?”
Over the following year and a half, Seán Manchester arranged three meetings with Brautigam. By the second and penultimate rendezvous it was transparent that the Dutchman was not suitable membership material. In the interim Brautigam had launched a home-produced magazine titled International Vampire. Brautigam went out of his way to compliment Seán Manchester on his “truly magnificent The Highgate Vampire which the Dutchman described as “a masterpiece of vamirography.” Brautigam continued: “I have been rereading the book ever since I got it. And I am impatiently looking forward to the moment when the revised edition will be on the market” (Correspondence to Seán Manchester, 22 August 1990).
When the updated and revised edition was published some months later, Brautigam enthusiastically sang its praises in International Vampire and elsewhere. By this time Rob Brautigam had made contact with Kev Demant who also admired the same author’s work. They described themselves as “fans of Seán Manchester.” Demant would later apply for ISAIVLR/VRS membership. His application was also rejected. By his own admission, Kev Demant had nothing to contribute to vampirological research, having hitherto read fiction on the subject. Despite being refused membership, Brautigam and Demant nevertheless maintained a regular and amicable correspondence with Seán Manchester until the end of 1992. Some of this was to solicit contributions for Brautigam’s magazine, but the direction being taken by the Dutchman witnessed a certain reluctance on Seán Manchester’s part to provide further material for International Vampire. Thus, by the end of 1992, the relationship had begun to sour. At the beginning of that same year, Brautigam revealed interest in David Farrant, a dishevelled character living in a London bed-sitting room who was sentenced to almost five years’ imprisonment in 1974 for desecration and vandalism linked to pseudo-occult rituals at Highgate Cemetery and sending black magic threats through the post. The Dutchman would refer to his “growing David Farrant File of Shame” and attributed the adjective “simpleton” to Farrant.
The book Brautigam referred to as “a masterpiece.”
The Dutchman’s exchanges with Seán Manchester ended abruptly on 20 December 1992 with confirmation that he had entered into a correspondence with Farrant, while also giving the impression that this contact was now over. “As to my brief correspondence with Farrant,” wrote Brautigam, “you can start breathing again, for there is no point now in continuing it any longer. … I still admire you as a most gifted writer, and nothing can ever change that. I will continue to think of it as a privilege that I have had the pleasure of meeting you and corresponding with you” (Correspondence to Seán Manchester, 20 December 1992).
Seán Manchester wrote further, but gained no response and was never to hear from the Dutchman again. The puzzle was solved some time later when it became clear that Rob Brautigam had entered into an alliance with an emissary of the very dark forces to which the Dutchman had alluded in April 1991.
Brautigam started to describe himself as a major vampirologist; indeed “the only vampire expert in the Netherlands,” which to many came as something of a surprise to those who were genuinely expert. This sudden claim, something of a revelation to Seán Manchester at the time, appeared in the Dutch Sunday tabloid Zondagsnieuws in 1992. Reggie Naus, a Dutch correspondent in contact with Seán Manchester, wrote:
“About a year ago he appeared on a Dutch talk show alongside Chorondzon Vanian, a vampiroid in a black tuxedo, wearing sunglasses inside a studio, with long sharp fangs in his mouth. After Vanian told the audience he would live forever, Rob Brautigam told them a vampire would go out at night and ‘drink fresh blood from young virgins.’ I find it rather curious that a ‘vampire expert’ would believe a vampire can only drink the blood of virgins” (Correspondence to Seán Manchester, 21 March 1996).
Naus would reveal a disturbing development: “Brautigam’s website seems to have become a meeting place for vampiroids, with contact advertisements of people claiming to be 450 years old and similar nonsense” (Correspondence to Seán Manchester, 15 May 1999).
Farrant who was jailed in June 1974 for “black magic” crimes.
David Farrant’s fraudulent claim that he was somehow part of a serious investigation into the supernatural goings on at Highgate Cemetery are exposed to the light of day when anyone who actually knew him at the time is heard. Farrant’s first wife, Mary, was certainly around and she gave testimony as a defence witness under oath at her husband’s trials at the Old Bailey in June 1974. This is what was recorded in a national newspaper by a court reporter: “The wife of self-styled occult priest David Farrant told yesterday of giggles in the graveyard when the pubs had closed. ‘We would go in, frighten ourselves to death and come out again,’ she told an Old Bailey jury. Attractive Mary Farrant — she is separated from her husband and lives in Southampton — said they had often gone to London’s Highgate Cemetery with friends ‘for a bit of a laugh.’ But they never caused any damage. ‘It was just a silly sort of thing that you do after the pubs shut,’ she said. Mrs Farrant added that her husband’s friends who joined in the late night jaunts were not involved in witchcraft or the occult. She had been called as a defence witness by her 28-year-old husband. They have not lived together for three years” (The Sun, 21 June 1974).
The concensus view four decades ago was that Farrant amounted to nothing more than a lone publicity-seeker in search of a convenient bandwagon to jump on. This opinion was reached due to the plethora of first-hand evidence from his contemporaries who knew his claims to be bogus. His publicity stunts nevertheless landed him in jail with a prison sentence of four years and eight months.
“Farrant was a fool. Fascinated by witchcraft … he couldn’t keep his interests to himself. He was a blatant publicist. He told this newspaper of his activities, sent photographs and articles describing his bizarre activities” (Peter Hounam, Editor, Hornsey Journal, 16 July 1974).
Another newspaper reporting on a court appearance where Farrant had apparently orchestrated his own arrest (this time in a churchyard, where witchcraft had supplanted vampires as his vehicle for publicity) recorded: “Mr P J Bucknell, prosecuting, said Mr Farrant had painted circles on the ground, lit with candles, and had told reporters and possibly the police of what he was doing. ‘This appears to be a sordid attempt to obtain publicity,’ he said” (Hampstead & Highgate Express, 24 November 1972).
Soon after his brief stint as a lone “vampire hunter,” Farrant hung up his cross and stake and replaced them with pentagrams, voodoo dolls and ritual daggers. This led to more arrests and a stiff prison sentence. Far from showing any remorse for his behaviour, Farrant has exploited his criminal past to the full in a life devoted to phoney witchcraft and malicious pamphleteering.
Brautigam, however, states on his Dutch website that Farrant has been “investigating the phenomena in Highgate Cemetery from the very beginning.” But this is impossible, even if it is plausible, which it patently is not. When the vampiric spectre was first being sighted at Highgate Cemetery, Farrant would have been a mere teenager. He was living on the Continent when the phenomenon reared its head to two convent schoolgirls which brought it to the attention of Seán Manchester. Indeed, France was where he met his Irish wife, Mary. Newspaper reports, court records, and various interviews on tape at the time, confirm that Farrant only learned about the rumoured vampire when he drank in local pubs in early 1970. He somewhat unconvincingly claims to have seen it himself around this time, and wrote the following to a local newspaper:
“Some nights I walk home past the gates of Highgate Cemetery. On three occasions I have seen what appeared to be a ghost-like figure inside the gates at the top of Swains Lane. The first occasion was on Christmas Eve. I saw a grey figure for a few seconds before it disappeared into the darkness. The second sighting, a week later, was also brief. Last week, the figure appeared long enough for me to see it much more clearly, and now I can think of no other explanation than this apparition being supernatural. I have no knowledge in this field and I would be interested to hear if any other readers have seen anything of this nature.” (“Letters to the Editor,” Hampstead & Highgate Express, 6 February 1970.)
Farrant wrote to Seán Manchester prior to his arrest in August 1970 and also during his remand at Brixton Prison. What he wrote is completely at odds with his later claims and certainly supports the recorded facts according to Seán Manchester, ie that Farrant was nothing more than a lone, would-be vampire hunter who acted solely to achieve self-publicity in the media; someone who had absolutely no connection whatsoever to the investigation already in progress into the supernatural happenings at Highgate Cemetery.
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