The Highgate Vampire

Later, Manchester, which public profile rose significantly, claimed to have been contacted by Elizabeth Wojdyla, one of the two convent girls who sought his help because she has anaemia and nightmares about an animalistic man outside her window. Manchester asserts that he cured her by creating a protective shield with such items as garlic, salt and silver crucifix. He was also contacted by a woman named Anne on behalf of her sister, pseudonymously named Luisa, who had two pin-pricks on her neck and a compulsion to visit Highgate cemetery while sleepwalking.

The ensuing publicity was enhanced by a growing rivalry between Farrant and Manchester, each claiming to be the one to expel or destroy the vampire. Manchester declared to the press that he would hold an ‘official’ vampire hunt on Friday 13 March.  2 hours after ITV broadcasted interviews with both Manchester and Farrant, a mob of ‘hunters’ from all over London and beyond fenced over gates and walls into the locked cemetery, forcing police to intervene.

Vampire hunt by Christopher Leone

These freelancers included rival vampire hunter David Farrant, John Pope, (who in 1973 tried to summon the spirit of Count Dracula with a magic ceremony in his hotel room); a history teacher propitiously named Alan Blood; and a local resident named Anthony Robinson, who insisted he heard a high-pitched noise and saw a grey shape during the proceedings.

In later years, Manchester wrote his own account of his deads that night (The Highgate Vampire 1985; 2nd rev. ed. 1991). According to his narrative, he and some companions entered the cemetery, unobserved by the police, via the damaged railings of an adjoining churchyard, and tried to open the door of one particular catacomb to which a psychic sleepwalking girl had previously led him; but unable to open the massive door, Manchester asked his associates to lower him in with a rope to the columbarium where he found three empty coffins. Quickly, he purified them with salt, garlic and holy water against to prevent from the possible return of any resident vampires.

This affair escalated in August 1970, when the charred and headless female body of murdered victim was found not far from the catacomb. The police suspected that it had been used in black magic. Soon after this incident, there was a noticeable surge in both Farrant’s and Manchester’s activities.

Farrant was found by police in the churchyard beside Highgate Cemetery one night in August, carrying a crucifix and a wooden stake. He was arrested, but when the case came to court it was dismissed.