Highgate vampire brought back to life

The infamous tale of the Highgate vampire is to be brought back to life in a book and feature film based on the legend.

The Highgate Vampire by Asa Bailey will be published in June with a film directed by the author set to coincide with the novel’s release.

Both the book and the film are based on the legend which dates back to the time of the Black Death, which peaked in Europe between 1348 and 1350.

Mr Bailey, who lives in Hillfield Road, West Hampstead, said: “We’ve built a fictitious world around the legend.

“We’ve taken the concept right the way back to where we believe it started and followed it through to today.”

Much of the action revolves around Highgate Cemetery which, according to the legend, is the resting place of the vampire.

“There’s always been a burial ground on that site right the way back to Roman times,” said the 38-year-old author. “It’s one of the oldest burial grounds in London.”

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Mr Bailey’s inspiration for the book, the first in a possible trilogy, was a conversation with a taxi driver who used to work as a stonemason at Highgate Cemetery in Swains Lane.

“He told me this story about how he and his father used to mend and renovate the mausoleums at Highgate Cemetery, but the weird part about it was that, no matter what time the sun went down, they were made to leave,” said Mr Bailey.

“He then asked me if I had heard about the Highgate Vampire, the concept of ley lines and the magic surrounding Highgate.

“I thought, ‘This is a bit strange’. The story had come to me on a plate.”

The vampire was the focus of a great deal of media attention in the 1970s.

The Ham&High published a letter in its edition of February 6, 1970 from a Highgate resident named David Farrant, now president of the British Psychic and Occult Society.

He said he had seen “a ghost-like figure inside the gates on Swains Lane”.

Later that month we recorded that the Right Reverend Bishop Sean Manchester of the Old Catholic Church, then 25 and president of the British Occult Society, said the ghost at Highgate Cemetery was a vampire.

Both the police and the press investigated the claims as a series of bizarre incidents followed.

In March that year the Ham&High reported David Farrant as saying he had seen dead foxes in the cemetery with no outward sign of how they died.

Numerous books, websites, and television and radio programmes have been produced on the subject.

The Highgate Vampire is published by Hachette and is available to pre-order now.