David Farrant – controversial psychic investigator famed for his involvement in the Highgate Vampire case – has died. PATSY SORENTI pays tribute to the legend of the London paranormal scene.
I first came to know David Farrant in 2003, when I came across an old story about an alleged vampire operating in Highgate Cemetery.
I had previously been aware of the sensational case when it first came to the public’s attention back in the early 1970s.
I was about 10 years old when it happened, and remember seeing something of a headline about it on the front cover of a magazine called ‘Titbits’.
At that time, I wasn’t interested in it and besides, my parents would never have purchased the paper anyway.
I had forgotten about the story until I was reminded of it, following my research into the Pre Raphaelite painters and poets, some of whom are buried in Highgate Cemetery.
Following my reawakened interest, I paid a visit to Swains Lane in late 2002, remembering what I had read about David Farrant’s escapades in and around the cemetery, and also of a ‘flamboyant, theatrical figure’ who was also implicated in the tale.
Read David Farrant’s Top 5 Haunted Places to Visit in Highgate
I peered through the old cemetery gates at the top of the lane, imagining how it must have been, back in 1970, with the story so current at the time.
Oddly enough, I did meet a man dressed in a frilly shirt and bow tie on that drizzly day in November 2002, and wondered if he might have been part of the ‘vampire circus’ of the period.
How I first met David Farrant
Prior to my second visit to Highgate, and by this time, familiar with how a visit to the cemetery could be possible, I contacted David Farrant.
He told me that another person was also going to the cemetery on the same day as I, and that we should meet with him after the tour.
I met the other person and during the walk around the cemetery, I had picked up a stone in my shoe’s sole that I couldn’t remove.
We walked all the way from Swains Lane to David’s residence, whereupon we were treated to tea and a pair of pliers to remove the lodged stone.
We stayed for hours, chatting about the vampire case, his involvement in it, the arrests, the prison sentence and much more besides.
David invited us to visit again, and I eventually became a regular visitor to his flat in Muswell Hill.
There were always visitors: either expected or already there, many of them film crews or journalists.
David showed everyone the same hospitality, no matter why they were there, and enjoyed telling the tale of how he became the central figure in what became known as ‘The Highgate Vampire Case’.
He never believed in blood-sucking vampires, but was an adherent of the notion that certain people could be ‘vampires’ – those who suck energy from others, leaving them tired and fatigued. It was always a good visit.
In the years since 2003, my acquaintance with David Farrant grew into a strong friendship, during which I would become one of the ‘inner sanctum’ of Mr. Farrant’s confidantes.
We did not agree on everything, and some things were completely dismissed, but we always met regularly, and discussed many things by telephone.
I came to know his wife Della and his son Jamie, from his first marriage, and he in turn, knew my husband.
We stayed friends at a time when friendships such as these, built on a crazy idea of ‘vampires’ easily crumble, but not this one.
I last met David when he had moved to a nursing home in Tottenham, and even though he was very poorly, he was always ready with the laughter and the sense of mischievous fun.
I believe he was laughing to the end.
David Farrant will never be forgotten
David Farrant will never be forgotten, either by me or by the occult world in general.
He became a sought-after speaker, extremely knowledgeable on matters of the paranormal, and indeed, was a highly regarded investigator.
Some of his antics were not always on the right side of the law, but in defying the rules is how we learn and grow, and knowledge of a great deal about ghosts and witchcraft has led to a general feeling that these things
should not be feared, thanks to some of David’s involvement in them.
David didn’t have an easy life: his parents died when he was young, and yet he carved out an extraordinary life without them.
He accepted life as it came, in all its forms, and used it to challenge the status quo.
He was always ready with an intelligent answer, and would get up to mischief whenever the opportunity arose.
He was utterly fearless, especially when it came to authority, and in later life, was a visitor to the now-reinvented Highgate Cemetery and he even struck up an acquaintance in the form of an ex-tour guide.
This is what made David Farrant Highgate’s raison d’etre: a colourful human being with a human touch – just as the title of his weblog says.
He epitomised Highgate, its environs, its people and its culture.
Goodbye, old friend and rest in peace.
Tell us your memories of David Farrant in the comments section below
Jamie and I have been completely overwhelmed by the public outpouring of grief since David’s death. We would like to thank you all for your tributes, messages and emails. At the present time I have over 200 personal email, text and FB messages of consolation to reply to, all from people who David knew. So please bear with me, but thank you so much for caring. Della.
Thanks Della for your comments. Are thoughts are with you and your family at this time. Take care, DS
I was sorry to hear the sad news. David Farrant was for some time patron of the Yorkshire Robin Hood Society and came to Yorkshire to exorcise his grave(pictures available) while in a relationship with a Yorkshirewoman. Robin Hood died from being bled to death by the wicked prioresess f Kirklees Nunnery–, hence the “vampire connection”. We had a lot of fun with David, though lost touch after he and his lady friend split up, and sadly as a result lost his support regarding Robin Hood’s Grave–which still remainsa mystery. Barbara Green http://www.robinhoodyorkshire.co.uk
I never really got to know David but I was then inspired by David himself.
I then 1st moved to Highgate from Crouch End in July of 1976 aged 6
with my own parents. Then moved away out of London in May 1979.
But my own father still lives in Highgate to date with my close family.
Over the years I then got to hear about the Highgate vampire legend
that then made Highgate so famous. David then later inspired me
into writing horror supernatural science fiction stories called Salem.
As some people did not believe David but both myself & others did
believe in him. Keeping an open mind is then always key to belief.
Seeing is then believing is then my own motto to date. I was then
living in an haunted house in Cecil Park Road in Crouch End from
1971 until 1976. I was then attacked one night by this suspected
Highgate Vampire in my house. As alot of supernatural stuff was
then going on throughout my stay in that house. Thanks due to
David I have then always maintained a very keen belief in the
supernatural to date. Thank U David Farrant & then rest in peace.