It’s the evening of Friday 13th March 1970, and a mob break into Highgate Cemetery determined to deal with a den of vampires lurking in the graves.
The event was the culmination of a number of reports of ghostly antics in the cemetery, and a local man with an interest in such matters, David Farrant wrote to the local paper for any more reports, leading to a flurry of letters.
While Farrant never claimed there were vampires, another local man, Sean Manchester also got involved and he seems to have started the vampire rumours, claiming that local occultists had inadvertently awoken an Eastern European undead nobleman buried in the cemetery.
A number of interviews in the local papers over the next few months kept the story alive, or at least, undead.
In an interview on ITV, Farrant and Manchester, now spooky rivals said that they were determined to seek out the vampire and exorcise it with the traditional method of a wooden stake in the heart.
The matter was well publicised, and a large crowd had gathered to watch, while it took some 40 police to try, and fail, to control the crowds.
It’s estimated that nearly 100 people came to the vampire hunt, including the so-called vampire expert, and aptly named Alan Blood who arrived to to probe the legend of the undead satan like being said to lurk in the graves. He didn’t think it would worth though, as he worried that the crowd would disturb the undead spirit.
Many of the people climbed over the 10-foot high walls to get into the cemetery, and news reports cited Anthony Robinson (27) who claimed to see a shape walking among the graves and heard a high pitch scream.
The matter didn’t end there though. In September, Farrant was found not guilty in Clerkenwell of breaking the law when he went on another vampire hunts in nearby St Michael’s churchyard. He had been caught trying to enter the crypt armed with a stake and hammer on the night of a full moon.
Although he admitted the act, he was found not guilty of breaking and entering after the judge decided that the cemetery wasn’t an enclosed area, in the purely legal sense.
He was later arrested and jailed for three years following conviction for desecrating graves, which he always denied.
Such was the ongoing interest in vampires, that the police were forced to set up a “ghost squad” and have a regular patrols at night of Highgate cemetery.
There were occasional reports through the rest of the 1970s of people attempting to spend the night vampire hunting until eventually it seemed to die out.
With interests in new age religions and the paranormal surging in the 1960s and 70s, the whole thing was very much of its time, and people really did believe in the supernatural, and still do, but these days vampires are rather less common place than they were 50 years ago.
As for the vampire hunter, David Farrant, he died last year.