The Meeting Discrepancy

Farrant indicates where he allegedly saw a vampire in
this picture of his first meeting with Seán Manchester 
in the Hampstead & Highgate Express, 6 March 1970.
David Farrant claims that he first met Seán Manchester in “late 1967.” Seán Manchester assures that he first met Farrant in “early 1970.” Farrant conveniently slips all manner of unsubstantiated allegations into this three years discrepancy. For example, Farrant has latterly claimed he was entertained with a screening of an 8mm horror movie made by and starring Seán Manchester, and that the papier mache vampire he claims appears in the movie is what also appears in photographs of the corporeal shell of the exorcised vampire in Seán Manchester’s published account The Highgate Vampire (Gothic Press, 1991) and in television programmes featuring images from that book. Seán Manchester strenuously denies this and invites anyone who saw such a movie as described by Farrant to come forward and be identified. He states that no such movie was made; that Farrant was not someone he would have considered entertaining in his home; and that, even when they did eventually become acquainted in 1970, he only visited Farrant at Anthony Hill’s coal bunker in Archway Road and later at Farrant’s bedsitting room in Muswell Hill Road.
This is what Farrant alleged in 2009:
“I first met [Seán Manchester] in late 1967 in a pub called The Woodman in Highgate. I had brought Mary back from Spain to London in March 1967 after she had discovered that she was pregnant. We got married in a Roman Catholic Church in September 1967 and it was around this time that we used to frequent The Woodman pub just across the road from where we were living in Highgate. Mary had become friendly with a young mother nicknamed ‘Zibby’ who was married to a man named Tony [Hill] and sometimes the four of us would go into The Woodman and spend a few hours there. Now, at this time, a small trio jazz band used to play in the Saloon bar from a make-shift wooden platform at the back. There was somebody on drums, an electric guitarist and another individual [Seán Manchester] who played the saxophone.”
There is no mention of them meeting so far. In Farrant’s self-published “autobiography,” however, which first made its appearance in 2009, Farrant claims: “I learned that he had an avid interest in ‘ghosts’ and the supernatural, although he was later to say that his ‘speciality’ was vampires. He suggested that we must all meet up again when he wasn’t playing, and have a chat about the subject.”
This claim is contradicted by Mary Farrant who denies her husband’s interest in the supernatural at this time or indeed him knowing Seán Manchester in person even if he heard Anthony Hill mention him. She might eventually have become aware of Seán Manchester from whatever Hill told her when they spent six months living together. She met him only once when Hill and Mary called on Seán Manchester when they first “eloped.” They wanted him to put them up for the night, but Seán Manchester would not become involved. He was also acquainted with Elizabeth Hill and did not want to feel compromised.
Farrant could have learned of Seán Manchester’s paranormal interests from Hill with whom Farrant was only superficially acquainted at the time due to Hill’s increasing interest in Farrant’s wife who worked as a barmaid in the evenings at The Woodman; though Hill would have known nothing about any case his old employer was involved in. Seán Manchester was neither acquainted with Farrant or Farrant’s wife, Mary, but knew Anthony Hill from the time Hill worked part-time in Seán Manchester’s darkroom up until 1968 when the latter ran a photographic studio. Hill was also employed in the mornings as a milkman in North West London.
Anthony Hill and Mary Farrant became an item and “eloped” for six months. Seán Manchester did not personally know David Farrant, but was vaguely aware of having seen Mary work as a barmaid and met her just once when Hill ran off with her for six months. When Hill returned to his wife and Mary returned briefly to her husband it was not long before Farrant was declared bankrupt and became evicted from his flat. By which time Mary Farrant had left her husband with her two children and returned to her parents in Southampton where she remained. The next time Farrant saw her was at the Old Bailey in June 1974 when she was called as a defence witness on his behalf. Mary confirmed under oath that her husband had no interest in ghosts, witchcraft or the occult, and that Farrant’s visits to Highgate Cemetery were for “a bit of a laugh and a joke and to look round.” Court reports published in newspapers at the time can be found at the foot of this page.
Seán Manchester’s version of events is recorded in his introduction to The Vampire Hunter’s Handbook (Gothic Press, 1997):
“It was whilst blowing a long jazz solo on the tenor saxophone in The Woodman, Highgate, where [Farrant’s] wife worked some evenings as a barmaid, that Farrant first caught sight of me in 1968. I would remain oblivious of him, however, until the beginning of the next decade. Who knows what went through his mind as he listened to my improvised harmonic structures, accompanied by a perspiring rhythm section, in that dimly lit venue for modern jazz aficionados? It was not his kind of music, but he mentioned it when I interviewed him in 1970.”
On pages 62-63 of the same book, Seán Manchester reveals:
“His alleged sightings of the vampire were to coincide with the time when he was ensconced in [Anthony Hill’s] coal cellar. His wife was gone and so were the people who had helped him squander his money. His interest was not the occult at this time, but pub-crawling and the collecting of exotic birds; mostly cockatoos, parrots and macaws. This earned him the nickname ‘Birdman.’ Ironically, Hill had the nickname ‘Eggman.’ Relishing the attention he was now receiving, following his alleged sightings of a vampire, he took foolish risks and ended up being arrested in August 1970 for being in an enclosed area for an unlawful purpose. His ‘vampire hunting’ days were over.”
The Hampstead & Highgate Express, 6 March 1970, (pictured at the top of this page), records the meeting of David Farrant and Seán Manchester on its front page, under the banner headline “Why Do The Foxes Die?”
The newspaper recounts:
“David Farrant … returned to the spot last weekend and disovered a dead fox. ‘Several other foxes have also been found dead in the cemetery,’ he said at his home in Priestwood Mansions, Archway Road, Highgate. ‘The odd thing is there was no outward sign of how they died. Much remains unexplained, but what I have recently learnt all points to the vampire theory being the most likely answer. Should this be so, I for one am prepared to pursue it, taking whatever means might be necessary so that we can all rest.’ The vampire theory was suggested last week by Mr Seán Manchester, president of the British Occult Society. … Mr Farrant and Mr Manchester met in the cemetery at the weekend.”
The British Occult Society (1860-1988) was an investigation bureau which existed solely for the purpose of examining occult claims and alleged paranormal activity. It gave birth to the Vampire Research Society, which still survives, on 2 February 1970. Farrant carried out his threat to “pursue [the vampire], taking whatever means might be necessary” and was arrested on the night of 17 August 1970.
The Daily Express, 19 August 1970, reveals Farrant’s explanation: “My intention was to search out the supernatural being and destroy it by plunging the stake [found in his possession when arrested in Highgate Cemetery by police] in its heart.” The report continues: “David Farrant pleaded guilty at Clerkenwell, London, to entering St Michael’s churchyard, Highgate Cemetery, for an unlawful purpose. Farrant told police he had just moved to London when he heard people talking about the vampire in Highgate Cemetery. In a statement he said that he heard the vampire rises out of a grave and wanders about the cemetery on the look-out for human beings on whose blood it thrives. Police keeping watch for followers of a black magic cult arrested him. He was remanded in custody for reports. Last night, Mr Seán Manchester, leader of the British Occult Society, said: ‘I am convinced that a vampire exists in Highgate Cemetery. Local residents and passers-by have reported seeing a ghostlike figure of massive proportions near the north gate’.”
View Farrant’s latter-day self-revelations in a French television interview he gave in 2008 here: <CLICK>.
The video begins with a French diabolist who befriended Farrant in 1980. Together they concocted all manner of skullduggery for media consumption and their own self-aggrandisement. The shambling shell of Farrant shuffles onto the screen some minutes into the video as he nervously speaks from outside the gates of Highgate Cemetery. Next is a scene at his Muswell Hill bedsitting room where viewers are shown photograph albums containing naked females he had duped into his malefic publicity stunts involving phoney witchcraft and pseudo-occultism. One of these wretched creatures is Martine de Sacy whose nude image in a mausoleum containing satanic symbols became vital evidence for the successful prosecution of Farrant at London’s Old Bailey. This pathetic man appears oblivious to the implication of what he is displaying on screen and is clearly without any remorse. An arch-deceiver who always attempts to turns everything into something it is not, David Robert Donovan Farrant might make an interesting case study for the psychiatrist in search of a project concerning narcissistic personality disorders, or a priest specialising in the examination of demonic possession brought about by compulsive dabbling in pseudo-occultism for publicity, but is otherwise exceptionally tedious and boring.
Seán Manchester’s belief in predatory demonic entities known as vampires is Farrant’s excuse for branding him “Bishop Bonkers.” Farrant even wears a T-shirt in public carrying the infantile slur emblazoned across it, and employs the term on his and other people’s blogs. Extremely hypocritical as this is, it masks something significantly more malevolent about Farrant which, coupled with a history of deceit and degeneracy, leads Seán Manchester and some others to reach the conclusion that Farrant is unbalanced and possibly possessed.
The Evening News, 29 September 1970, referred to the would-be “vampire hunter” as “Allan Farrant” in the above caption because he had given police the false name of “Allan Farrow” when arrested in Highgate Cemetery on the night of 17 August 1970. He was known locally as “Allan” among his acquaintances for reasons only understood by himself, but it was not his real name. Some newspapers reported him as being “Allan Farrow” while others adopted hybrids like the one above. Some, of course, managed to unearth his correct name, ie “David Farrant.” One or two bizarrely chose to publish his second name by referring to him as “Robert Farrant.”

Farrant published on his personal blog, 2 July 2009: “I first met [Seán Manchester] in late 1967 in a pub called the Woodman in Highgate.” On the same blog one week later, 9 July 2009, Farrant claimed: “You asked how I first actually spoke to [Seán Manchester] … I believe it was in early 1969.” Such revisionism and the layering of one falsehood on top of another falsehood reminds me of Farrant’s self-proclaimed sightings of the vampire phenomenon at Highgate Cemetery. His earliest published statement was in the form of a letter he wrote to the editor of the Hampstead & Highgate Express which appeared on 6 February 1970. In that published letter, Farrant claims to have witnessed “a grey figure” no less than three times:

“The first occasion was on Christmas Eve. … The second sighting, a week later, was also brief. Last week, the figure appeared, only a few yards inside the gates. … I have no knowledge in this field and I would be interested to hear if any other readers have seen anything of this nature.”

If we roll forward some thirty years and read Farrant’s self-published pamphlets, forum messages and blog comments, we discover he claims to have had only two sightings. Now roll forward almost four decades from that first letter to a local newspaper and listen to an interview Farrant gave on blogtalk radio in 2009. Lo and behold, Farrant now apparently claims to have had only one sighting of what became known as the Highgate Vampire. That, at least, is what he told Steve Genier when interviewed in 2009. The reality is rather more prosaic. Farrant probably had no sightings and merely boarded what he perceived to be a convenient publicity bandwagon.

Let us return to Farrant’s blog of 9 July 2009 because in it he continues when he allegedly met Seán Manchester in “early 1969” (having suddenly revised his “late 1967” claim from a week earlier):

“He [Seán Manchester] said that the ‘ghost’ I had been reported as witnessing at Highgate Cemetery might indeed be one such ‘real’ vampire!”

Yet David Farrant first “reported” his ghostly apparition in February 1970, not late 1969. And he did so to the Hampstead & Highgate Express. This was his overture in the press before which he had not reported anything to anyone. The casual observer is obliged to agree with Seán Manchester. They first met in March 1970.

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