Real-life vampires and other bloodsucking creatures are found throughout English history, says RICK HALE
Legends of fiendish bloodsucking creatures who stalk the night and the nightmares of man have been with us since the advent of storytelling.
The vampire, as we have come to call these monstrous beings, gained international attention with the publication of Bram Stoker’s tale of gothic terror, Dracula in 1897.
For the most part, Stoker’s inspiration for the ageless Count came from Vlad Tepes, a 15th century Wallachian nobleman.
Although he was more genocidal madman than undead fiend, the idea stuck.
However, Stoker may have gotten inspiration a little closer to home from tales of English undead revenants.
Although stories of vampires in England are few and far between, there are a few both ancient and modern.
Here are six of those tales sure to keep you up at night fearing the immortal undead.
The Vampire of Berwick
The earliest known account of a vampire like being, or revenant, comes to us from the Northumbrian town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
In his 12th century history of England or Historia Rerum Anglicarum, William of Newburgh, tells the story of a revenant terrorising the town and its people.
Newburgh details that following the death of a wealthy man, people reported seeing him rise from the grave and roam the streets.
The superstitious townspeople, of course, believed the devil was at work and if they didn’t act quickly a plague would spread.
They feared whatever this man was would spread turning others into horrific beings like him.
The townspeople followed the man back to his grave when the sun peeked over the horizon.
They opened his grave and went about the business of dismembering his body and burning it.
According to Newburgh, the revenant no longer haunted the town. But, a plague did spread killing dozens. Those dozens, thankfully, remained in their graves.
The Hunchback of Alnico
Northumberland, a county in the north has long been known for its generous collection of mediaeval castles.
One of these castles, the millennium old Alnico castle is the home of the Duke of Northumberland. And it was the inspiration for Hogwarts.
Although it has this pleasant history, something dark once called the castle home.
A hunchbacked vampire that fed on the blood of the locals many centuries ago.
Coming to us again from William of Newburgh is the story of a disfigured horror that brought both terror and disease to the people of Northumberland.
According to Newburgh, this hunchbacked vampire would come from his hiding place in the castle, raid the villages and feed upon the weak and vulnerable.
One night the people grew tired of the monster and cornered him with pitchforks and set the living nightmare ablaze reducing him to ash.
They were finally free of this terror that came in the night.
The Croglin Vampire
Following the years of the English civil war, there were stories of a being borne of mankind’s darkest dreams stalking the village of Croglin.
Those who saw the being, and lived to tell the tale, described the vaguely human creature as having brown shriveled skin and long grotesque fingers that it used to cease young women by the throat.
One well known story comes from a house in the region called Croglin Grange.
The vampire allegedly visited a young woman nightly and fed upon her until she fell ill.
One night her brothers busted in and wounded the fleeing creature with a gunshot to its leg.
When they tracked the vampire to his tomb, they found it sleeping in a coffin.
They smashed the coffin and proceeded to burn the vampire as it slumbered.
Historians believe the alleged creature of the night was actually a murderous madman with a history of attacking people.
Whatever the case may be the nighttime attacks ceased.
The Blandford Vampire
A common superstition concerning vampires is if a Christian defies god by killing themselves they will be forced to wander the world as a vampire.
This superstition is commonly found among the religious people of Eastern Europe.
However, in the town of Blandford, Dorset, it would seem the local people believe this superstition from a faraway land.
Blandford, Dorset is a charming market town and popular tourist destination.
Despite this, Blandford, is also home to a haunting take of vampirism.
According to legend, William Doggett stole a large sum of money from his master while he travelled abroad.
When his master returned, Doggett was so terrified his treachery would be discovered he put a gun to his head and ended his miserable life.
But that was not the end of William Doggett.
For almost a century following his suicide, the blood-soaked spectra of William Doggett were witnessed speeding through town in a black carriage pulled by jet black demonic steeds.
The ghost of Doggett was known to corner young women in the street or crawl in their windows to feast upon their blood.
When Doggett’s body was disinterred it showed no evidence of decay.
Not all legends of English vampires can be found in the country’s past. The last two are of a more recent vintage.
The Surrey Vampire
Close to London is Surrey and in 1930s some mysterious creature was on a bloodthirsty hunt
In 1938, a woman claimed that on three separate occasions a creature she called a vampire, swooped out of the sky and attacked her.
She further stated that whatever the creature was attempted to bite her neck and suck her blood.
Whatever this bizarre creature was it was never ascertained whether it was a vampire, or something found in the natural world.
The Birmingham Vampire
In 2005, several citizens of Birmingham contacted the police with a bizarre story to tell.
According to eyewitnesses a vampire was on the loose in Glen Park Road, Ward End.
The vampire allegedly bit a man and then viciously attacked his neighbours as they tried to fight him off.
One woman said the terrifying monster bit her hand tearing the meat away in chunks
Following the attacks, the Birmingham Evening Mail received several reports of alleged vampire attacks.
When the media and police investigated they found no evidence of a vampire rampaging across the city.
This report of a vampire terrorising the city of Birmingham is likely nothing more than an urban legend.
Vampires, revenants or bloodsucking creatures of the night are these real beings that have successfully hidden from mankind only to pop in occasionally to feed on our most precious fluid, blood?
Or, are they just stories, blood-soaked tales borne of superstition and mankind’s deeply buried murderous impulses?
I’m not sure, however I will say this, fear the night.