Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Welcome Everyone...

Many people will already be aware that I have my own personal Wordpress Blog at davidfarrant.org called The Human Touch which serves essentially as a ‘diary of my daily life’ on a personal basis.  This has been up and running since August 2007 and presently has an average of 220 hits a day.  Because of its nature as a personal diary,  I have tended to omit detailed descriptions of ongoing investigations into ‘ghosts’ and other unexplained phenomena by the British Psychic and Occult Society (BPOS) from my writings on the other Blog, but an ongoing interest by many people into Society investigations -  not least, in the infamous Highgate ‘vampire’ case to which I was central in the late 1960s/early 1970s - persuaded me to begin another Blog here for this purpose.

I begin here with some abridged chapters from my best-selling book “Beyond the Highgate Vampire”, which, I think, gives an adequate account of that case and a few of the witnesses who laid claim at the time to having witnessed this mysterious phenomenon in and around Highgate Cemetery.

Of course, these events are now just a part of history . . . or are they?  The reported entity seen there has again been reported in more recent times, and I shall later be covering these local reports which seem to confirm that the ghostly figure (described rather ridiculously by some as a ‘vampire’!)  is still active.

READ ON . . .

Sunday, 12 February 2012

THE HAUNTING OF THE ANCIENT RAM INN (PART 1)


SITUATED ON THE INCLINE of a steep hill in Wotton-under-Edge, the bottom of the building partially submerged at the side of the modern road, the Ancient Ram Inn plays host to a variety of ghosts.
Originally an 13th century inn, the earlier building was damaged by a fire that swept through much of the village at that time, but it was rebuilt as a tavern in the 14th century and catered to locals and lonely travelers until into the early part of the 19th century.
The present owner is John Humphries. He brought the dilapidated building (which none the less retained its ancient design and structural character) in 1967 and moved in with his wife and two young daughters. It was only soon afterwards that he learned about a compulsory purchase order that had been put upon the building by the local council. They wanted to demolish it to widen the road, apparently unconcerned about its ancient charm or rural antiquity. But John had other ideas and, backed by a determined campaign that had the support of the local people, eventually succeeded in overturning the council’s order and getting the Ram Inn registered as a grade two listed building.



There was a lot to be done, but John decided to stagger the work – a necessity perhaps as at this time he was working nights as a goods train driver. But before too long, he had turned the Ram into a comfortable home for himself and his family, and certainly discouraged the rats and mice that had long since made their home there undisturbed.
My first experiences with the RAM INN and its associated phenomena took place in October 1998. I had been contacted by Ross Gage, of the Sheffield Paranormal Society some months earlier about other cases of unexplained psychic activity, and we had finally got around to discussing the Ancient Ram Inn.
She had expressed her interest in conducting a nightly vigil there with other members of her group, and explained that she already had the permission of the owner, so it was just a question of arranging a date.
I was invited to attend once arrangements were finalised, and the date was eventually set for October 31 that year. But although originally intending to hold the vigil with four other members of the her group, at the last moment, three of them dropped out due to unforeseen circumstances.
I did not learn about this until the morning upon the intended day, although she told me, one other member of her group, David Holland, was still able to go and would be taking her in his car.
We agreed to meet at the RAM around 6pm. I decided to make my own way there by train. Ironically perhaps, I too, had been let down at the last minute by two local members of the BPOS who had supposed to have been arranging a car. Though I managed to take the matter philosophically, having learned of the unexpected twists and turns that can accompany psychic investigations.
It was already dark when my train had pulled into the station. It was barely 5.15, but the last bus had already left for Wotten-under-Edge, so I was forced to look for a taxi to cover the last twelve miles or so.
On first impressions, the building certainly lived up to its various descriptions. Mostly in darkness due to the absence of adequate street lights and the sunken shades in which it lay, one could just make out the antique timbered outline of its forlorn walls merging almost menacingly with the black sky. The sun – if ever it came out there – could surely never penetrate such inpentrateable blackness; certainly not then, but you were only left to wonder whether the place would still maintain its black gloom in bright daylight.
It was hard to imagine any light being cast upon this formidable place. But then I knew that, imagination, when applied to fields of the Unknown, should not be allowed to stray into the realms of fantasy or supposition, thereby clouding direct perception into things which were not reliant on “normal” visual images or everyday impressions.
I arrived at the Ram Inn, to find that Ross Gage and Dave Holland had only just arrived. John Humphries was not quite as I had expected. I Judged him to be around seventy – and I was actually right as far as that turned out. From first impressions, he looked mildly eccentric, wearing a black leather cap and a ‘Hell’s-Angels-type’ jacket with leather tassels across the chest, and tight blue jeans. He certainly wasn’t well dressed. He spoke with a distinct Devonshire accent, but at the same time, was quite softly spoken and cordial.
He offered us all tea, and almost from the onset he started describing experiences that he’d had in the Ram Inn itself. We learned, for example, that he lived mainly in a converted garage at one end of the Inn which he’d converted into a living room-cum kitchen with a sleeping area upstairs. This was actually an extension to the original Inn, and the reason he’d done that was, because he wouldn’t enter the Ram Inn at night on his own, and he felt more secure in this little self-contained living-quarters he’d constructed. But he told us, that even when he was alone in this little self-built ‘house’, if you like, he’d often experienced drops of temperature and he frequently heard strange noises during the night; for instance, distinct “tapping sounds” or the sound of footsteps walking around in the main part of the Inn. And, needless to say, when he was on his own, he never went into the Inn itself to check them out. But as well as that, he told us about experiences which other people had had, who had visited the Ram Inn. For example, a visitor there had once been “pushed over” in the main part of the Inn. He had been pushed to the ground with some quite considerable force for no apparent reason. Another interesting thing he told us, was that he often saw strange orbs of light floating around the Inn after dark, but he’d seen these so often that he’d become quite accustomed to them, so these didn’t really worry him unlike some of the effects caused by the other ghosts – or whatever they were – that haunted the place.
Another interesting fact that we learned from John Humphries about the alleged psychic activity at the Inn, seemed to bear out that the alleged psychic phenomena ‘at work’ there seemed to be definitely malevolent by nature. It may be recalled that, in his younger days, John Humphries had serious considered the possibility of becoming a Methodist preacher. In the event, this never happened, but John had acquired a ‘prize’ portrait of John Wesley which, in his early days in residence at the Ram, he kept hanging on the stairs. But almost from the first moment he hung this portrait on the wall, ‘something’ kept removing it and throwing it down to the floor. He kept replacing it but systematically, the portrait kept being removed after he had replaced it on the wall. In the end he gave up. He wouldn’t throw the painting out, obviously, but was eventually forced to secure it behind other objects in a corner.
After having explained the basic history of the Inn and bring us up to date with the psychic goings-on there, we decided to go out and get something to eat and come back after ten (it was now about half past eight in the evening) and set up the equipment up to start the nightly vigil for around midnight.
In fact, we later set up most of the equipment we had in The Bishop’s Room upstairs – supposedly the most haunted room in the Inn. (Because the other people hadn’t been able to attend, we had to make do without some items, such as the night-vision video cameras).

(c) David Farrant

THE HAUNTING OF THE ANCIENT RAM INN (PART 2)

 IT WAS A VERY COLD NIGHT and there was absolutely no heating upstairs where we were. There was light, although we preferred to work by candlelight instead and use torches. An exception to this was a light that John Humphries had insisted that we left on in in the attic. There had been some partial renovation work done there and he did not want to be responsible if anybody went up there and injured themselves by falling over the rubble. In fact, the attic was lit only by a small table lamp with a dim 40 watt bulb, and ghosts aside, it was easy to see how physical injury might have occurred in the dark It was still very gloomy and hazardous being strewn with discarded furniture and scarcely visible on the floor, and the numerous cobwebs clinging tenaciously to your face did nothing to help you keep balance. The Bishop’s Room, in fact, lay right beneath a part of the attic, which itself ran across most of the main building.

David Farrant in the haunted Bishops Room at the Ancient Ram Inn (c) BPOS


Ross Gage set up an electronic thermometer up in The Bishop’s Room and, interestingly enough, even before that was actually used, there were distinct ‘cold spots‘ throughout that particular room. We actually sensed these ‘cold spots’ before we used the thermometer itself; the thermometer merely confirming this later by its electronic readings. In fact, it was possible to ‘walk through‘ these cold spots, which were about two feet in diameter, and you could actually stand outside them and put your hand inside the invisible space and feel the distinct drop in temperature. And this wasn’t just imagination.
The main vigil was spent within The Bishop’s Room, which, after all, was supposed to be the most haunted room in the building. Ross Gage spent most of her time here recording temperature variations and taking other measurements whilst Dave Holland and myself ‘moved around’ a little more; in particular spending some time in another supposedly haunted room by candlelight (near to The Bishop’s Room) and in the attic – obviously, with cameras at the ready. We also had small tape recorders with us, just in case!
We spent about an hour in that particular room, but apart from the odd strange noise such as ‘creaking sounds‘ bangs or thuds which could have happened in any old building and which were are not necessarily supernatural, at one stage we did actually hear a distinct ‘knocking sound’ up above in the attic. Its hard to say if these could have been rats knocking something over or whether it was of supernatural origin. But we decided to go up into the attic and spend and spend a couple of hours there to see if we could witness anything.

Secret attic chamber at the Ancient Ram Inn (c) BPOS


David Holland positioned himself at one end of the attic, while I was at the other. I took two or three pictures at random before noticing that the built-in light meter in my camera had ceased to register, despite the fact I was using an ultra sensitive 1500 ASA film.. Now, even in that very low light it should have picked up some sort of reading; but the needle just remained ‘dead’. I checked the camera but found nothing untoward so focused it directly on the table light itself, but still a zero reading. The needle would not budge.
This apparent malfunctioning of the camera did not unduly surprise me. For on past occasions this had happened at other supposedly haunted places. Indeed, I recall once at supposedly haunted Whittington Castle in Shropshire, the camera had acted in a similar manner when I was trying to take some photographs at the top of one of the ruined towers. It was a bright sunlit afternoon but the camera’s meter refused to register within an area of about six feet but if you stepped outside the diameter of this ‘invisible circle’, the needle  registered as  normal.  
After spending a good hour in the attic, we went back downstairs to The Bishop’s Room and it was then that Ross Gage confirmed to us that every fifteen minutes the temperature dropped quickly and distinctly by four degrees (she was taking all these readings down in concise detail). It remained that way for five minutes or so and then it returned to normal. But then precisely fifteen minutes later, the same thing would happen again following a consistent pattern.
Apart from these the drops in temperature, she hadn’t actually witnessed anything, other than claiming to have heard some unusual sounds in the an adjacent room. She’d gone outside to look but apparently, there wasn’t any apparent cause for it. By this time it was about three o’clock in the morning, so we thought we might as well lie down in the Bishop’s room, obviously with tape recorders, cameras and torches at the ready, and spend some time there to see if anything happened. The Bishop’s room, I should add, was still very well furnished; there was a large four-poster bed in there with two antique single beds either side so there was no lack of space for people to lie down. John Humphries had supplied us with ample blankets to keep warm, so we thought we might as well relax for awhile for this part of the vigil – so we settled down and just lay in silence for some time.
It was about an hour after that, we all heard a distinct tapping noise coming from the ceiling, obviously caused by something knocking on the floor in the attic. In fact, I was lying in the end bed nearest the window, and this sound occurred right above my head; but everyone could hear it, it was that distinct. It was rather like hearing somebody knocking purposely on a door, to let you know they were there and that they wanted to come in; distinct, and almost ‘deliberate. This happened twice with a gap of about half a minute in-between. There were five or six knocks each time; not pounding, not soft either, rather like somebody using their knuckles knocking sharply on wood.
Needless to say, leaving Ross down in The Bishop’s Room in case the sounds occurred again, Dave Holland and myself went back to the attic and located the spot these knocks would have come from, because you could tell roughly where the beds were underneath. But there was nothing there to account for the sounds them and it was very hard to contemplate such sounds being made by rats or mice, even had they knocked something over.
Apart from these occurrences, not least the regular drops in temperature which went on until daybreak, the rest of the night was seemingly uneventful. But these relatively small things that did occur, were certainly not the result of fanciful imagination, nor did there appear to be any logical cause to explain them. It could be added here – and this cannot be taken as any sort of ‘psychic proof’ – there was a very strange atmosphere that seemed to permeate The Bishop’s Room and the attic. you’d have to actually be there to experience this precisely. But everything was deathly quiet. Perhaps that in itself is not so surprising because there was little or no traffic that time of night and the Inn lay isolated at the edge of the village. But quite apart from the quietness, there was a sort of overbearing sense – and I’m not trying to sound sensationalistic – sense that somebody was watching you. You really felt that everywhere you went, whether walking around lying down or sitting in a chair, ‘somebody‘ was aware of your presence. I can’t really describe it any better than that, because this it was more of a sensation that could only be picked up by the senses, not by any sort of physical means.
But it was not just in The Bishop’s Room or in the attic that this ‘atmosphere’ prevailed. The Inn itself was very atmospheric throughout, maybe partly due to its construction and layout. It was filled with antique furniture, and had extremely old fireplaces which had remained unchanged for centuries, with strange symbols engraved in the stone hearths of some of them, which were most likely symbols of protection against evil spirits. Indeed, a huge fireplace downstairs was strongly rumoured to have concealed a secret passageway leading from it to the church which lay a couple of hundred yards away. Near this, in the same room in fact, there was a deep hole in the stone floor where the floor had been dug up to a depth of about five feet. It was explained to us later, that on an earlier occasion, John Humphries had called in some dowsers who’d expressed an interest in the place, and they were looking for any other underground passages, covered-over wells, or anything of the kind, and one of these dowsers told him that there was something lying beneath the foundations. He’d got a violent reaction with the dowsing stick at this part of the floor. So they eventually dug down (and this was obviously a few years before we visited), and they actually discovered a lot of children’s bones and a couple of sacrificial daggers. Obviously, this was reported to the police, but there was nothing much that the police could do after they’d deduced that the age of the skeletons were several centuries old.
I believe these bones were forensically examined and it was confirmed that they were hundreds of years old. But obviously the conclusion by John Humphries and many other people was., that human sacrifice had taken place in the actual Inn itself at a much earlier date.

David Farrant at the site of a secret grave in the cellar of the Ancient Ram Inn where children's bones and sacrificial daggers were discovered (c) BPOS


We left The Ancient Ram Inn next morning after being given some tea by John Humphries. It was a Sunday and there were no buses running, but somebody kindly gave me a lift to the nearest railway station, at Stroud some twelve miles away. We said our good-byes to John Humphries and he invited us back again. And as we left he more-or -less apologised that nothing much had happened because, he said, that normally anybody that spent a vigil there usually experienced much more definite phenomena. He added that perhaps we had just picked a bad time …
In fact I was to return again to the Ram to hold another nightly vigil there. This occurred in the autumn of 2002 and was attended by members of the Black Country Paranormal Society. But that, of course, would have to be another story.
© DAVID FARRANT

THE HAUNTING OF THE ANCIENT RAM INN, (SECOND NIGHTLY VIGIL PART 1)

Here is an account of the second vigil at the Ancient Ram Inn which took place in November 2002.  In fact, I traveled down with Dave Milner and met members of the BCPS down there who  who needed two cars to transport the equipment (and the others members!). 
It was an eventful trip, although unfortunately (for myself) it took place not long after I had injured my back so I had a little trouble in getting around.  Anyway, I made it!  Here is Part 1 as its really too long to do in one post.  Hope Ram Inn enthusiasts enjoy it . . . David.

THE SECOND TIME I visited the Ancient Ram Inn, was not with Ross Gage this time but with members of the Black Country Paranormal Society from Wolverhamption. This visit in fact took place one Saturday night in early November, 2002. I’d obviously been in contact with John Humphries previously and arranged it, and I traveled down there with Dave Milner – independent coordinator for BPOS investigations and activities – by train.
The original intention was to hire a car so we could take more equipment with us and for reasons of convenience. But, due to some difficulty at the car hire place in the West End, we were unable to hire one – something to do with having to pay for an extra day as we could not return it on a Sunday. Whatever, this additional price was astronomical for what amounted to a day’s non-useage, so we decided to take a train. Accordingly, we met the other BCPS members at Wotton-under-Edge arriving about 5 p.m. These included Wayne Pickerell, Founder Member of the BCPS, his wife Heidi, Anne and her husband Jeff, and Wayne’s brother Mark and his girlfriend, Vicky. In fact, they gone in two cars down there, which they needed having quite a lot of investigative equipment. We’d arranged to meet at the church and they’d already arrived by the time Dave Milner and myself got there. The church was chosen because they were reluctant to introduce themselves to John Humphries without my being there; simply because I had already met him and arriving in a complete group made them feel more at ease. We arrived at the Ram around 6 p.m.

David Farrant with members of the BCPS at the Ancient Ram Inn (c) BPOS


Another vigil like the first one took place but this time we obviously had more equipment with us which, obviously, took longer time to set up. But again, we all went out and had a meal first, arriving back at the Inn around 11 O’clock in the evening.
Wayne Pickerell set up highly sophisticated night-video equipment in the Bishop’s Room. We sealed the door but we had a monitor outside so we could sit and watch for any signs of any potential in there. In turn, this was videoed on long -play tape, so should anything unusual or untoward have happened, it would have been recorded.
The other room adjacent to the Bishop’s Room, the one which was also reputedly quite haunted, was also similarly wired up; only in this case, to an audio cassette recorder that might potentially ‘capture‘ any unusual sounds. Again, the door was sealed; mainly to prevent any extraneous sounds affecting the microphone, but also to prevent any member of the group accidentally walking in there. (It should be remembered that we were, by choice, working under very dim light; apart from which, BCPS members were working in unfamiliar territory.) Obviously, one person had to keep a permanent eye on the monitor (we agree to take this in hourly shifts as it was quite a laborious task) and this also applied to the audio tape to make sure it kept running smoothly. While this was going on, the rest of us thoroughly explored the place, in particular looking for any distinct changes in temperature or other signs, such as any changes in dust patterns that might have betrayed the movement of objects.
I do remember that before this particular vigil I had sustained a foot injury, so I was unwilling – if not unable – to go up into the attic. It had been difficult enough to get up the partially broken staircase that led to the Bishop’s Room, let alone to attempt to climb the hazardous almost vertical steps that led to the attic. Two of the others, however, went up into the attic and spent a vigil there in the dark. One of these, Wayne’s brother, Mark, was later to claim that he’d heard some strange inexplicable sounds up there. I do know that after hearing these he took a couple of random photographs up there in the direction of the strange noises. Now, I believe, although I haven’t actually yet seen the picture myself, that when it was later developed, there were some strange light formation appearing on it.

The haunted fireplace at the Ancient Ram Inn (c) BPOS


I should add that before all this took place, that is before all this equipment was set up and we’d sealed the two rooms, we took quite a few pictures in the Bishop’s room and elsewhere with our own cameras. Dave Milner had a digital camera and he took some pictures of the whole group before the vigil started. He took some outside the Inn and we all took pictures of the “sacrificial grave” which had still not been covered up by this time, and the old fireplace which supposedly had a secret passage leading to the church. I remember that Dave Milner took a picture of myself alone in the Bishop’s Room before the vigil proper had begun, mainly for the purposes of a souvenir. When some of these photographs were later developed, they showed what appeared to be distinct spheres of light which were moving around. They were only still photographs, but some were taken in quick succession and you could see these distinct although indiscernible transparent balls of light, had moved position; although they were moving across the frame in front of the people, but they weren’t actually visible to anybody being photographed. But they certainly came out on film.
We should perhaps remember that John Humpheries had first mentioned these ‘orbs of light’ when I’d first visited the Ram with Ross Gage and Dave Holland in 1998, but I’d learned in the meantime that these ‘orbs’ that Dave Milner had caught on film had also been photographed by other independent people visiting the Inn using totally unrelated cameras. As a matter of interest John Humphries later sent me some of these photographs which are still in my possession taken on another occasion by another psychical research group from the North of England whose address I have on file, and they too showed identical orbs of light to the ones that had come out on our photographs. They were obviously not taken in exactly the same place, but the point being here is that these were taken by a group completely unknown to us, at a different time and with completely different cameras.
In fact, the photograph Dave Milner took of myself in the Bishop’s Room showed three or four orbs of light; and again, these hadn’t actually been visible to myself at the time when the picture was taken, but they came out on the film. It would seem that while the existence of these “orbs of light” can not ‘proved’ irrefutably, it can be reasonably stated that there may be some sort of unknown energy operative the effects of which can be ‘captured’ on film.
© DAVID FARRANT 2002

THE HAUNTING OF THE ANCIENT RAM INN, (SECOND NIGHTLY VIGIL PART 2)

A good part of the night was spent monitoring the Bishop’s room and the adjacent room hoping to pick up any, shall we say, supernatural occurrences. Actually, the original idea was for Dave Milner to sleep in the Bishop’s Room, and he could be monitored, whether he actually managed to sleep or not, lying on the bed. He was a bit reluctant at first, but he agreed to do it but only on the understanding that we all went downstairs first to have some tea from flasks and get warm by the calor gas fire John Humphries had left on for us. In other words, for everybody to take a short break away from the gloom and despairing atmosphere that seemed to permeate the upstairs of the building. The idea was that, after this short respite in the investigation, Dave Milner could act as a firsthand witness to any unusual psychic activity in the Bishop’s Room in the event of any unusual occurrences as – and as seemed to have proved the case going by its past history – the Ram’s ghosts seemed to become more active in the presence of human witnesses. 

John Humphries, owner of the Ancient Ram Inn (c) BPOS


Anyway, it seemed a more plausible alternative as opposed to rather just continuing to monitoring the room empty. And if it was the case that psychic energy might be in some way be activated by some “living presence” in the room – in this case Dave Milner – if anything happened it could be recorded on film and produce some sort of evidence of psychic activity.
After having discussed the matter downstairs for an hour or so and comparing notes in the still relatively depressing atmosphere that seemed to envelop the entire Inn after dark, I remained downstairs with Dave Milner, trying to grab as much available heat as possible, whilst Wayne went upstairs with the others to check the equipment and make sure it was ready for the next stage of the vigil. He said he would send somebody down to get us once the preparations were complete. Although Dave was set to get into the bed, I would be watching the monitor and checking around with the others. About twenty minutes after this, there seemed to be a slight commotion, movements of the others moving around upstairs which seemed at variance with a previous “organised silence”.
I went upstairs to find out what was happening, only to find Wayne packing up the equipment. He said he was sorry but they had to leave; not because of any “psychic anomalies” in the Inn itself, but because Heidi was feeling really unwell, an escalation of a condition that she’d had for over a week or more. I could tell this was no idle excuse. I had come to know Heidi quite well and realised she was not one who would easily give in to any effects of physical sickness, unless its results were real enough and she only longed the comfort of her own home and the warmth of her own bed. You could tell by looking at her that she looked drained by the temporary “bug” that had attached itself to her; indeed, even at dinner earlier before that vigil had even commenced, she looked slightly pale and had not been her normal talkative self. Wayne with his typical concern for other people, and notwithstanding that he was a dedicated psychic investigator himself who had frequently endured far more potent places than the Ancient Ram Inn, just wanted to take her back to Wolverhamption as quickly as possible, and had no wish to aggravate her condition by making her endure yet more hours in the cold, damp environment of the Inn.

The devil's head at the Ancient Ram Inn (c) BPOS


So, after loading up the equipment, Wayne and the rest of his group left in their two cars at approximately a quarter to four that morning leaving Dave Milner and myself tired, but relatively comfortable, downstairs. Dave covered himself with blankets on a tattered settee and fell into a light sleep, probably relived no longer to be expected to try and sleep in the cold Bishop’s Room upstairs. I curled up on another sofa; cold and “sleepless” but hugging the warmth of the small calor gas fire.
Lying there in the dim light, my eyes absorbing the numerous strange objects and ornaments that cluttered the room, I suddenly became aware that something seemed “different”. I didn’t know what it was; only that there was just something ‘different’ in the room.
I had been idly watching an old grandfather-clock; not so much consciously, but because it commanded my line of vision on the wall opposite and it had almost an hypnotic effect in the undisturbed stillness. An orange glow reflected from the light of the gas fire, which by itself, seemed to reflect unreal images in a semi-real environment. You could see the light move across the yellowed glass; strange images, I thought, yet consoled by the fact the cause was only a gas container. It would have been easy to let imagination to wander in the confines of the Inn; but it was more an hypnotic effect, like fleeting illusions that seemed to be trying to defy reality.
Ironically, I was wide awake, but my attention was somehow drawn to the clock for no apparent reason.
I lay watching the minutes on the clock, casually “ticking these off” as it gradually approached daylight, when it suddenly dawned on me that what had taken five minutes on the clock, seemed to have taken more like half an hour. Its difficult to describe it more precisely than that. I never wore a watch, and Dave Milner was asleep, so I didn’t want to compare time by waking him up. But what was strange was, this went on for the next five minutes, and then the next five; it seemed to be an eternity. Eventually, what should have been about an hour or so, had only registered on the clock as about five minutes.
Then, all of a sudden, my attention was distracted by something else and I looked at another area in the room (as it was this turned out to be irrelevant; I had heard a ‘scratching noise’ but I assumed this to be a genuine rat or something) but when I looked back at the clock, I realised that something was ‘different’. The clock had actually stopped ticking. Before, its monotonous ticking sound had been almost a part of the background but now, after I had been distracted by the noise of the ‘rat‘, there was just an overbearing silence. I lay staring at the clock-face and could swear its hands were still moving forward. But this almost ‘hypnotic’ focusing’ caused me to fall into a ‘half-sleep’, and when I awoke fully it was light and I realised the clock had started ticking again. Dave Milner eventually woke up and I learned the exact time and, much to my surprise, the actual time registered on the clock was dead right. I was convinced these mysterious ‘time lapses’ – or perhaps more accurately ‘time-delays’ – had not been my imagination. Like most people, I was perfectly capable of being able to discern normal time spans; at least, be aware of the difference between lengthy periods and those accompanying only a minute or two. But another careful look at the clock confirmed that it hadn’t lost any time whatsoever.
We remained till the morning, and again, being a Sunday, there were no buses. But John Humphries called us a taxi and, once again, I watched the Ram Inn merge back into its virtual hiding place on the hill; an encapsled shrine in the bleak countryside that seemed to be in no hurry to give away its innermost secrets …

© DAVID FARRANT

Mysterious objects at the Ancient Ram Inn (c) BPOS

Monday, 9 January 2012

DAVID FARRANT: BEYOND THE HIGHGATE VAMPIRE


 
Do such things as 'vampires' really exist? Or is such imagery merely the result of misguided theology, legend and outdated superstition?

Author David Farrant throws a unique insight into the realm of ghosts, demons and 'vampires', and the fascinating realm in which they supposedly dwell. 

Beyond the Highgate Vampire was the first contemporary account to expose the activities of Satanists in Highgate Cemetery. Including original reports received by the BPOS, it details the original BPOS investigation,  that concluded such activity may have been responsible for ‘activating’- or perhaps ‘re-activating’- a terrifying demonic entity which lurked in the environs of Highgate Cemetery.
 
The markings themselves in the mausoleum, which indicated that a group of Satanists were regularly using Highgate Cemetery (Photo (c) BPOS)

David Farrant consecrating a vault desecrated by Satanists in Highgate Cemetery in 1971 (Photo (c) BPOS)
Read 'Beyond the Highgate Vampire' to discover where fact divides from fiction in a remarkable tale of 20th century vampirism recorded at Highgate Cemetery in North London in 1970 ... true facts of supernatural origin which have never been disclosed in their entirety ... until now!  

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

FOR SOME YEARS  now David Farrant has been renowned for his investigations into unexplained mysteries and other ghostly phenomena. 


 Perhaps the most well known of these cases, at least, in so far as much that this came to be held in the public view, was the mysterious phenomenon that was reported at London's Highgate Cemetery in the late 1960's - a case that he was later to regret having investigated in the first place due to the unforeseen circumstances that were to arise. For as he describes in the book, David Farrant was taken to court for his involvement in the Highgate Cemetery affair in 1970, although he was also involved in a series of later court actions which he has chosen to leave out of this present account.  Perhaps this is an inevitable consequence of space (or lack of it), for Farrant's involvement in the whole Highgate affair (not least, with the 'blood-sucking vampire' that was said to lurk at Highgate Cemetery), would have been wildly beyond the confines of the space he devotes to put forward the essential part of the  investigation and his original arrest for 'vampire hunting' back in 1970. 

Discovery of a vandalised coffin by the author at Highgate Cemetery in 1971 (Photo (c) BPOS)

 But these events, he deals with fairly, and I suppose it remains his privilege to record later happenings - the tragic consequences included - as and when these were to occur in the future.  For the purposes of this present work, it would perhaps be fitting to remind ourselves, that the following account remains on record as a sober and factual testimony about the facts that surrounded the strange vampire-like entity that was said to haunt Highgate Cemetery.

G.C.



BEYOND THE HIGHGATE VAMPIRE

BY DAVID FARRANT


FOREWORD…


SO MUCH has already been written on the subject of ‘vampirism’ that it would seem an impossible task to write anything new about the subject without reverting to mere repetition or flirting with facts incredible - a trap that has ensnared even serious researchers since the myth was first born, somewhere, at some time in the distant mists of human memory.

But instances of vampirism (in their written form at least) are by no means confined to the whims and platitudes of their various creators (Bram Stoker included) and occasionally there will occur a ‘real life’ event that seemingly steps out of fiction to silence the objections of the most hardened sceptic. Perhaps the most famous case in recent times concerned the Croglin Grange incident when in Cumbria in 1875, a ‘vampire-like’ figure that had been terrorising the neighbourhood was shot by a band of ‘citizen vigilantes’ and later discovered lying in a bloodstained coffin - wound intact - in the vaults of a local cemetery; but another case that occurred only a few years ago was to take its turn in convincing many that there really existed such things as ‘blood-sucking vampires’. The year was 1970; the location, a semi-derelict Victorian burial ground on the outskirts of north London called Highgate Cemetery.

In fact, the story really began the preceding year, although at this time consisted of little more than a series of ghostly sightings at - or around - Highgate Cemetery that had been marked down for investigation by the British Psychic and Occult Society (BPOS).

The Flask public house, not more than a stone's throw away from Highgate Cemetery, where a "black-clad" apparition was sighted. (Photo (c) BPOS)

The council flats at "Hillcrest", scene of drastic bouts of psychic activity (Photo (c) BPOS)
It was little dreamt that this subsequent investigation was to uncover a sequence of strange events (some would say ‘sinister’) that were to eventually associate Highgate Cemetery with a unique outbreak of 20th century vampirism. Some of these events are now all but history, but many others have become immersed in a deluge of fact and counter-fact, the truth having long since been buried beneath a welter of unfounded supposition and frivolous publicity.

David Farrant being interviewed by ITV Television about the Highgate Vampire in March 1970 (Photo (c) BPOS)  

The author speaking on the BBC television programme "24 Hours" in October, 1971 (Photo (c) BPOS)

It is only now, some twenty years after the case first came into the public view, that the BPOS have chosen to release the true facts underlying the original investigation. The motive is to clarify once and for all the general uncertainty and misunderstanding over what may, or may not have been, a ‘vampire’ at Highgate Cemetery.

Friday, 6 January 2012

DAVID FARRANT: OUT OF THE SHADOWS

An Autobiography - Vol. 2



Following on from his bestselling book In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire, David Farrant picks up the story where the first volume left off, with his infamous ‘Witchcraft Trial’ at the Old Bailey in 1974. In a no holds barred account, David finally tells the full story of life behind prison bars, and dispels the myths and rumours that have grown out of those dark years.

David was facing a number of ‘occult related’ charges; including conducting nude witchcraft rituals in open vaults in London’s Highgate Cemetery; being in possession of a loaded firearm,  and threatening two police detectives by sending them ‘voodoo death dolls’ impaled by pins.  The book goes on to deal with his convictions at the Old Bailey and details his life at various prisons, where he was to gain further notoriety for involving other prisoners in the ‘occult lifestyle’ for which he had been sent to prison.   “He had a thriving Coven in there” as one prisoner on release told The Sunday People, which resulted in a newspaper headline . . . Naked Witchcraft in the Nick. Forced to share a cell with a notorious axe murderer who would eventually come to fear him, David reveals the details behind the secret magic rituals that took place in the cells and how prisoners would turn to him for help and advice.

David describes his clashes with the top levels of prison authority as they constantly tried to censor his communication with the outside world. Refusing to admit defeat, he took his case to the Home Office and European Commission for Human Rights whilst still managing to smuggle letters out before finally going on a hunger strike in a bid to clear his name.

Moved from prison to prison in attempts to break his rebellious spirit, David was finally released in 1976 from Blunderstone Prison with a one way ticket to London. Penniless, homeless, divorced and still trying to come to terms with the death of his parents, David returned to a world which he no longer recognised. Unfortunately the world recognised him, and the media witch hunt had only just begun.

But behind the headlines life went on, and Farrant goes on to detail his marriage to a controversial white witch in 1979 (And the Bride Wore Black as one tabloid dutifully reported); his meetings with the late comedian Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame;  his involvement with the well known French author and occultist Jean-Paul Bourre which resulted in his guest appearance at the Congrès LucifĂ©rienne in Paris alongside a variety of international mystics and occultists, and a host of other detailed psychic investigations and ‘ghost hunting’ trips with which he was involved in the intervening years.  

In between all this,  he continued to be the subject of much ire from some rival occultists, all trying to prove that they had greater magical abilities; one of whom persistently challenged him to a series of ‘duels’ in an attempt to ‘prove’ his superiority.  In the main, David ignored these challenges, made to usurp his public position, but has included them as part of the record, purely for their entertainment value, and to enable a fuller picture of the London ‘occult scene’ to be presented.


 
The real circumstances behind these, and many other incidents which gained David infamy in both the ‘occult’ and public spheres are presented here in detail. This continuing account, in the author’s own words, offers the curious reader a personal insight into events which have become clouded by so much controversy and misinformation over the last four decades. Out of the shadows, but back into the spotlight, the story continues…


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Farrant is a well known psychic investigator, writer and researcher whose many findings on the paranormal have published around the world. He is Founder President of the British Psychic and Occult Society, which was established in 1967, and gives regular talks on the subjects of ghosts and the supernatural.  


Saturday, 31 December 2011

DAVID FARRANT: IN THE SHADOW OF THE HIGHGATE VAMPIRE

          





Born in London’s leafy Highgate suburb, David Farrant has now become as closely linked to the area, as the infamous ‘Highgate Vampire’ story that he first broke to worldwide media attention four decades ago – a story that resulted in his eventual arrest and imprisonment. Well known psychic investigator and author of over two dozen books, David Farrant has taken two of his biggest selling books ‘Dark Secrets’ and ‘Shadows in the Night’, and combined them; adding over a hundred new pages featuring never before seen photographs from his personal collection, to bring you this definitive autobiography.





Brutally honest and refreshingly candid, the story charts David’s life from his childhood in Highgate, through to his travels across Europe as a headstrong fifteen year old after the death of his beloved mother.

The voyage of self discovery takes him from the grounds of private schools to the seedy backstreets of  France, and through the mountains of Spain before finally returning home to Highgate only to face public and worldwide scrutiny over the infamous Highgate Vampire episode.




 



A veritable Who’s Who of celebrities and villains are also referenced, from the Kray twins; the death of Joe Meek (wrongly asserted by some to be the result of a hex devised by David); the sinister neighbour who turned out to be mass murderer Dennis Nielson; visits at his parents’ home from Spike Milligan, and to his friendship with Graham Chapman of ‘Monty Python’ fame. Those with an avid curiosity about David’s personal life will also nor be disappointed – but be prepared to be shocked!












 

As we return with David to 1960s and 1970s Britain, we are invited to experience the moral climate of the day, that broad gulf which stretched between the entrenched attitudes of the old order, and a post-war generation that was embracing never before known freedoms and opportunities at a giddily accelerating pace. 



David provides the reader with a unique and personal insight into the sensibility of this era of Highgate’s history. He details his experiences within the relatively safe confines of a Barnet Wiccan coven, and his break away movement into a more dangerous experimental magic. Even in the world of the occult and organised alternative religion the younger generation were rebelling against the restrictions imposed therein.  And the occult itself had become a popular fascination for many; a new and exciting world which was the thing to be ‘into’ – but which was also the catalyst which contributed to the legacy afforded by many of the well known personalities in occult and paranormal circles today.



 



There are clear differences between the Wiccan beliefs and practices, and explorative  High Magic techniques he describes at length in his book, and the darker, often Satanic practices he was accused of by the popular press, including black masses, naked orgies, and necromancy.



There are many incidents recounted in this volume which have in themselves attained cult status. Recurrent ‘occult duels’ between David and rival ‘occultists’, often complete with pre-battle publicity shots, were chronicled by the local and national press.  Their readers, with tongue firmly in cheek, anxiously awaited the outcome of these frightful duels to the death (or, more correctly, to first blood).  We also find out the truth behind the Daily Express and The Sun’s accusations that David had kidnapped and sacrificed the blues singer Long John Baldry’s cat.




 

It was against this backdrop that David’s involvement with the phenomenon which is now known as the Highgate Vampire began. Local sightings of a dark entity in and around Highgate Cemetery led to an investigation by the British Psychic and Occult Occult Society of which David remains Founder President. Amid escalating press hysteria maintaining that a real-life bloodsucking vampire was terrorising North London, the Society continued its attempts to decipher the true nature of the shadowy aggressor, and its connection with Satanic activity within the tombs of the cemetery. Various ceremonies, detailed within this volume, were conducted within the cemetery in an attempt to make contact with the entity, with varying degrees of success. These attracted the unwelcome attention not only of other occult groups, but also the Police who had begun to keep a close watch on David’s activities. 



 

 

By the time of the arrest which led to his trial, David had already been arrested three times - essentially for the practice of magical rituals in public places, regardless of how these charges had been worded in point of law.  Eventually David’s impulsiveness and headstrong defiance was catching up with him. A dossier of circumstantial and fabricated evidence had been compiled which identified him as the principle cause of the vandalism and desecration which had defiled once peaceful Highgate Cemetery. His now admittedly misguided decision to send voodoo effigies as a warning to police officers who had assaulted a society member was probably the final straw. The police had long made it very clear that  they considered him a public nuisance and an outrage, and his time was running out...











  

‘I have known the name David Farrant ever since I first started reading about and investigating the paranormal. His conversational style of writing comes across as very personal so you get a real sense of David’s character and strong feelings towards those around him at the time. I found ‘In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire’ an intriguing insight to the Highgate case and the man thrust into the media storm that surrounded it.’                                                     -   Ian Topham, Mysterious Britain and Ireland







A Note from the Author



Why the need for a new autobiography?
Simple.
With the advent of the internet, a lot has been said about me and my life by people with an agenda to discredit me.
Whilst it was interesting to see what lengths people would go to in the early days, a close friend suggested that I take on board all of the comments and answer the critics - who better than me to tell you about my life?
A lot of readers said they felt there were important parts of my life missing from my two previous autobiographical volumes, so here, for the very first time, is a complete, concise account of my life from the beginning right up until the events of '74 when I found myself facing a long prison sentence.

Rather than take an all too easy way out, I have been pushed by close friends who have told me to leave no stone unturned as truth is sometimes far stranger than fiction.

Volume II, which is now complete and also available, picks up the story from the last page of Volume I and includes never before seen court transcripts of my trial and the aftermath.
At 275 pages, it has been a daunting task to go over the events of my life whilst picking at old wounds to scribe new blood in the story.
I hope you, as the reader, will have a better understanding of the truth as it actually happened.

The book has been a labour of love that many people have tried to stop me from completing whilst going to extraordinary lengths in the process.
For me, the final volume looks as good as it reads, with a cover that I hope does some justice to the pages within.

I do hope you enjoy the read!

David

Saturday, 15 October 2011

THE GHOST OF BLACKBIRD COTTAGE

PERHAPS ONE REASON so few ghost stories have emerged from Wales compared to the flood of stories and legends hailing from other parts of the country, is a definite suspicion in some rural communities of  'outsiders' who, by posing ‘alien’ questions, are seen to pose a threat to intimate, if not the guarded, lifestyles of some people.  Perhaps it follows that anyone pursuing enquiry’s of a supernatural nature  - enquires which in turn may be seen to intrude upon the privacy of both those living and dead, are often treated with disdain, if not with cold indifference or outright hostility.

Such at least, proved to be the case during a visit by the author to North Wales, though it should be said that patience and persistence revealed an unique haunting and one which had hitherto escaped written documentation.

For some years a ruined cottage near Deiniolen in the Snowdonia valley has been linked with stories of supernatural happenings and a wandering shadowy figure that emanates an aura of intense evil and despair.  Blackbird Cottage as it is known lies secluded near the bottom of a deep mountain slope, its stone walls intact, the broken roof still withstanding despite persistent falls of rain.

Its history is relatively unknown but it has somehow acquired a fearsome reputation, sufficient it would appear, to prevent most villagers visiting the area at night.  Although some have lent their testimonies to the existence of something "very sinister" lurking in the vicinity, most displayed a marked reluctance to recount details of any given experiences, making consecutive accounts hard to track down.

But despite the local  'veil of secrecy' that seemed to envelop the case, eventually research led to two young ghost hunters who actually claimed to have encountered a ghostly figure at the cottage first hand and (perhaps in refreshing contrast to others interviewed) did not mind relating their experience.

Paula Haywood and Jemima Mitchell with David Farrant

Paula Haywood of Tyn-y-Gerdd, Deiniolen and Jemima Mitchell of Bordorgan, Anglesea, both claimed to have seen the ghostly figure on two occasions after deciding to explore the ruins for evidence of its ghost.

Their first visit took place during the day and before long they both sensed an overbearing sense of melancholy inside the cottage and a distinct feeling of being watched from one of the back rooms. It was a mild day with a gentle breeze blowing from the mountains but inside the temperature seemed to have dropped to the extent it was 'like being inside a refrigerator'.  They decided to leave but glancing back they both saw a  'shadowy figure' coming towards them from out of the back room.  The ghost hovered motionlessly before suddenly disappearing into a bare stone wall one side of the corridor.

Shaken but undeterred by the incident, Paula and Jemima returned about a week later, this time at night and accompanied by a male companion.  There was a bright moon and as they approached the cottage, all three clearly saw a dark figure standing beside a stone wall outside.  They walked away rapidly as the figure appeared decidedly menacing, but they were horrified to see the figure following them as if in pursuit. It stopped at intervals down the mountain slope and did not disappear from view until they reached the roadway.

Asked to describe the figure in more detail, Paula said it was about six feet tall in the shape of a man although it was not possible to make out any discernible features.  But it looked ‘solid’ despite being without positive features and it made no sound whatsoever.  She added that there was no question that the figure could have been a human being; for one thing they noticed that it cast no shadow despite the bright moonlight, and on the first occasion they had actually seen it disappear.

From a psychic point of view, there obviously arises the question as to what the nature of the entity was, and whether it was really 'intelligently malign' as described, or whether it was merely some earthbound phantom taken out of all context from a relatively innocuous appearance.

For it is sometimes the case, that relatively harmless phenomena are judged to be entities having some terrible intent, when in reality, they might only be reflections of some past event, shadows or unintelligent pictures that might be witnessed by the human senses.

This would otherwise help to establish if some  'intelligent' force or being lurked - indeed, still lurks - within the confines of the cottage or if this was merely just an unintelligent picture of some long forgotten past event capable of being witnessed spasmodically who happened to be in the vicinity at a given time.

Intrigued by these accounts of the ghostly figure, it was decided to conduct a nightly vigil at Blackbird Cottage to see if some contact could be made with the entity. Members of the British Psychic and Occult Society conducted this vigil in March 1985, and also present were Paula and Jemima, occult medium Colette Sully and the author.

From the onset, it was impossible not to be aware of the distinctively cold temperature inside the cottage  (which was well below that of outside) and an almost uncanny atmosphere of 'trapped isolation’ that seemed desperately alien to the world outside.  A small fire was lit in a derelict fireplace fuelled by gathered logs and everyone settled down to await developments.

For almost an hour everything was quiet, but then a distinct change came over the atmosphere and a  'heavy tension' descended on the room whilst simultaneously a fleeting figure was seen in the doorway, similar to a movement caught quickly from the corner of the eye before having been brought properly into focus; although this had occurred in most peoples' direct line of vision. Only seconds after this, the cottage was illumined by a bright white light passing overhead that cast eerie shadows through the broken timbers of the roof. Probably, most people present assumed that this was a distant helicopter or reflections from an overhead plane; although strangely, there was no sound accompanying this light.

Almost immediately following this, a loud  crashing noise’ came from above and large pieces of bricks and rubble fell down the chimney obliterating the log fire and causing the room to be filled with a dense collection of dislodged soot and smoke. There was also a strange 'breathing sound' that seemed to accompany this; although this could have been that wind howling down the presumably unblocked chimney.

Whatever the cause of this, nobody seemed inclined to investigate further: the prospect of no fire, freezing temperature and torches that made virtually no impact in the dense smoke, persuading everyone present that it would better to postpone the vigil.

In fact, as it turned out, there would have been no alternative to this decision, for just after leaving the cottage, a local police patrol car arrived and two policemen  - after having been enlightened for the reason for our presence  - warned us that, aside from the possibility of trespass - it was unsafe to enter derelict buildings on the mountainside at night.

Pressed about stories and sightings of the black figure, the police confirmed that the cottage was indeed reputedly haunted and, interestingly enough, the conversation led to local reports about mysterious lights in the sky. They said these were numerous, and added that they had seen one only some ten minutes before they approaching the cottage.  They would not be drawn further than this, although later enquiries to locals revealed that the two policemen had, not exaggerated the extent these mysterious lights had been officially reported.

 In fact, for some reason, local people seemed far more willing to discuss these lights  (which many referred to as UFO's) than they did to discuss cases of ghosts - probably because they were commonly known and this reduced the risk of potential ridicule.

From a personal point of view, however, the mysterious lights seen in the sky over Snowdonia  (in this particular instance, perhaps over the cottage), raised another potential to this investigation ...

Could it have been a feasible possibility, perhaps, that the light seen momentarily through the cottage 's broken roof, was in some way connected with the appearances of the ghostly figure?  And to speculate a step further, was the cottage itself perhaps situated upon an earth energy line (a ley line) along which such lights and other ghostly phenomena had been reported over other parts of the country?

Following the police intervention at Blackbird Cottage, however, there seemed little point in holding another nightly vigil there.  It was fairly obvious that the cottage would now be under police observation, not to mention the possibility of a hostile reaction from locals if word of any further nightly vigil came to light.

But the investigation into Blackbird Cottage had not been entirely without success. We had managed to catalogue what we considered two definite sightings. And, of course, the nightly vigil had also brought limited results - at least, in suggesting the possibility that 'non-worldly’ forces may have been connected with events at the ruin.

It had not been possible to establish the exact nature or cause of this phenomenon, but what remained of importance was, that we had reasonably established that some psychic force  - or 'forces' - were active in and around Blackbird Cottage.
_________________






-  By David Farrant - 
President of the British Psychic and Occult Society