Vampires

VAMPIRE, dictionary definition: (pronounced vam’pir) a dead being that leaves its grave to feed on the living.

Vampires have existed for thousands of years. The first known record is in ancient Greece during the 8th century BC.
Some think vampires are mythological creatures, existing only in literature and folklore, others know better.

In 1734 the German scholar, pastor , historian and self proclaimed expert on vampirism, Michael Ranfts, published the first serious paper on vampires based on his own investigations.

The same year, the word ‘vampyr’ entered the English language.

Identifying Vamipres

According to Vampires.com, a website dedicated to the vampire culture, there are several ways to identify your neighbour, friend, colleague or a loitering stranger at night, as a vampire.

Remember, vampires look like everyone else, most of the time.

  • Notice the people around you and look out for those who truly have repulsive teeth and fetid breath. Vampires are not concerned with oral hygiene.
  • Look at the teeth, elongated or pointed ‘canine’ or front teeth may indicate vampirism.  If fangs are visible, then you need to get as far away from that person as possible.

  • A vampire’s skin is much colder and paler than the average human body temperature. Try and find out by casually touching their skin, if safe to do so, or offer to shake their hand in greeting, also taking note of particularly long fingers and talons.

  • When someone is injured and a suspected vampire is offering first aid, observe if their focus is more on the wound itself rather than the person’s welfare, as vampires have an unhealthy fascination with blood.
  • If the opportunity arises, ask in a casual manner if they have a blood donors card (not having a donors card is not conclusive evidence of vampirisim).
  • When being kissed by a possible vampire, for example on a first date, have they bitten you on the neck hard enough to draw blood?

  • Is the person affected by sunlight?  A good trick is to coax them into the sun and see if their skin blisters.

  • A vampire’s home will always be kept dark with the curtains or shutters closed during the day.  Do not confuse this with someone working nights.
  • Be wary of friends or acquaintances who have a holiday home or timeshare in the Carpathian Mountains and are eager for you to join them for a long weekend.

  • They can smell blood and will react immediately to the sight or smell of spilt blood, becoming agitated and very demanding.

Conclusion

If you know what to do and what to look for, vampires should be relatively easy to identify.  Most vampires react to garlic, do not cast a reflection in a mirror, will retreat from sunlight and cringe and cower when confronted with holy water or a crucifix.

Do Not Invite A Vampire Into Your Home. 

A vampire can enter any building they like (except churches, obviously), but needs to be invited into where you live.

Once a vampire has been invited into a home, they cannot be uninvited, so don’t waste precious minutes insisting they leave.  According to those who know about this phenomena, it is all to do with the ‘threshold’ point of entry.  The ‘threshold’ acts as a barrier to supernatural energy and can only be breached by invitation of the occupier.

Never Enter A Vampire’s Dwelling. 

Traditionally, most vampires live in mountain top castles, dilapidated mansions with a long lease taken by person(s) unknown or graveyard crypts and mausoleums.  The majority of suburban residents have nothing to worry about, unless the large detached house next door that has been empty for as long as anyone can remember, is suddenly illuminated by candle light in certain rooms ad there is an old hearse in the driveway.

The President of the Vampire Hunters Association UK, Doctor Dirk Van Helsing (Retired), great grandson of Professor Abraham Van Helsing, who famously ended Count Dracula’s reign of terror in 1897 states, “there can only be one reason and one reason only to enter the lair of the Nosferatu and that is to kill the beast, but remember, never enter as the sun is setting or after midnight”.

Her Majesty’s Government Advice. 

Surprisingly, there is no government advice available as to what the best course of action to take if confronted by or residing next door to a vampire.

How To Kill A Vampire. 

Above is a typical ‘tool box’ with everything a vampire hunter would need. 

As emphasised by Doctor Van Helsing in his Sunday Times bestseller, Confessions of an Impaler, there is much preparation in hunting and killing vampires and such a task should be left to experts accredited to The Vampire Hunters Association.  Nonetheless, the Doctor’s book provides life saving tips for the layman, listing basic tools and the need for a strong stomach.

There are only four ways to kill a vampire (bearing in mind they are already dead):

1: Stake through the chest.

2: Decapitation.

3: Fire.

4: Sunlight.

Garlic, Holy water and crucifix’s will only act as a temporary deterrent to ward off a vampire attack and would probably enrage the monster even more, but may give you vital seconds to reach for an axe or Molotov cocktail which you should have with you.

Vampires are nocturnal predators who feed solely on human blood.  They have supernatural strength, speed and agility.  They possess hypnotic powers with a mesmerising stare that can render the unprepared victim into a trance.

Finally. to quote Doctor Dirk Van Helsing, from his controversial appearance on BBC’s Newsnight on 31st October 2017, “vampires do not just appear on the streets at Hallowe’en, they live amongst us, watching and feeding and have done so since the dawn of mankind”.

Reference sources: ragingswan.com, pitlanemagazine.com, vampires.com.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

 

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Horror Movies for Halloween

The Top Ten Biggest Grossing Horror Movies of All Time.

This list is compiled from the IMDb (International Movie Database), an online database  for the world of films, television programmes, home videos and video games, internet streams, cast, production crew, biographies, plot summaries, reviews and ratings.

IMDb is recognised as the worlds most comprehensive entertainment related database. It is owned by Amazon and includes Box Office Mojo.

 

10. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999).

Three film students vanish after travelling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.

Worldwide ticket sales: £188,304,423.00

9. GET OUT (2017).

Chris and his girlfriend, Rose travel upstate to meet her parents. At first Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behaviour as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could never have imagined.

Worldwide ticket sales: £193,460,174.00

8. ANNABELLE (2014).

A couple begin to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.

Worldwide ticket sales: £194,786,684.00

7. THE CONJURING (2013).

Paranormal Investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorised by a malevolent ghost in their country house.

Worldwide ticket sales: £241,896,152.00

6. THE CONJURING 2 (2016).

Ed and Lorraine Warren travel to North London to help a single mother and her four children plagued by a supernatural presence. This is based on true events, known as The Enfield Haunting in the 1970’s.

Worldwide ticket sales: £242,578,751.00

5. ANNABELLE; CREATION (2017).

Twelve years after the tragic death of their little girl, a doll-maker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shattered orphanage into their home, where they soon become the target of the doll-maker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

Worldwide ticket sales: £270,328,575.00

4. THE EXORCIST (1973).

When a girl is possessed by an evil entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.

Worldwide ticket sales: £333,999,274.00

3. WORLD WAR Z (2013).

Former United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the zombie pandemic that is crushing armies and governments and threatening to destroy humanity.

Worldwide ticket sales: £408,835,666.00

2. I AM LEGEND (2007).

Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York struggles valiantly to find a cure.

Worldwide ticket sales: £443,104,568.00

1. IT (2017).

A group of bullied kids band together when a shape-shifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.

Worldwide ticket sales: £530,222,191.00

For nearly forty years The Exorcist had been the biggest grossing horror movie globally, until the release of I Am Legend in 2007. Ten years later in September 2017, Stephen King’s IT became the number one box office horror movie ever, within a matter of months.

This list does not include movies such as The Sixth Sense (1999) Global sales: £509,402,126.00, Jaws (1975) Global sales: £356,329,159.00 and Ghostbusters (1984) Global sales: £220,804,200.00.  IMDb do not consider them to be horror films of the genre, instead classifying them as supernatural, thriller and comedy, respectively.

Other listings do include The Sixth Sense, Jaws, Ghostbusters and similar movies which will create a different table.

The most successful movie of all time is not horror, but the science fiction blockbuster, Avatar (2009) with worldwide sales of £2,110,647,089.00.

The most successful horror movie franchise is The Conjuring/Annabelle productions with four movies in the ‘all time top ten’.

This is not including the fifth movie of the franchise, The Nun, on general release September 2018. It still being shown in cinemas world wide and has already taken £272,347,985.00 in global sales.

The Conjuring franchise has taken over a billion pounds in sales to date.

Photos courtesy of Google Images.
Movie information gathered from IMDb.

Priest Town

A Horror Bound Novel.

A horror story set in Victorian Preston.

Carriage Outside Addisons and Turks Head Yard, Church Street, Preston 1899.

Preston circa 1890.


Priest Town Synopsis.

In November 1888 Jack the Ripper ceased his bloody slaughter.

Eleven years later Detective Inspector Albert Meadowbank would find out why as he investigates the murder of two women with horrific wounds chillingly familiar.

To add to the death toll a priest is lynched in his own church, graves are robbed of corpses and fear grips a Lancashire mill town as vigilante mobs and a deranged killer stalk the streets.

Retired Chief Inspector Frederick George Abberline, the famous Ripper Detective is called in to assist the investigation.

A few months later, as the Boers invade Natal, Charles Cadley, millionaire industrialist and benefactor of Ribbleton Manor, sets sail for the Cape. Hell-bent on the recovery of a fortune in diamonds from the besieged town of Kimberley, he leaves behind madness and bloody mayhem. Both wait patiently for his return. 

Kimberley Diamond Mine circa 1900.

Then there is the lake, in the grounds of the magnificent manor house, the family home of the Cadley dynasty, eager to reveal secrets it has kept hidden for centuries.

From the soot laden cobbled streets of a northern town to the vastness of the South African savannah, the hunt is on to catch two bloodthirsty killers who are destined to clash as Meadowbank and Abberline race to bring both maniacs to justice, oblivious to a supernatural force yearning for its release. 

British Forces in Action During Boer War 1899 – 1902.

Priest Town is available on Amazon as a paperback or as a free ebook download via the link on the blog page. (www.horrorboundbooks.wordpress.com)

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

The Ghosts of Lytham Hall

Lytham Priory.

Lytham is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and described as an area of ‘moss and sand’.  In 1190 Benedictine Monks took advantage of the arable land and established Lytham Priory, built on the present site of Lytham Hall.

Aeriel view of Lytham Hall today.

The Cliftons.

The Clifton family were originally of Clifton village, near Preston and later of Westby near Blackpool.  Cuthbert Clifton acquired the village of Lytham in 1606 and it became the seat of the Clifton dynasty. Cuthbert was knighted in 1617 and built his new manor house on the ruins of the old priory.

A portrait of Sir Cuthbert Clifton can still be seen at Lytham Hall.

Sir Cuthbert died at the age of 52 in 1634 and the estate eventually passed to his descendant, Thomas. He replaced the Jacobean hall with the current house, built between 1757 and 1764 to the design of John Carr of York. The Clifton’s lived on the 8,000 acre estate for the next two centuries.

The Great Hall.

The aristocratic Cliftons were extremely wealthy and travelled the world, owning extensive estates in England and Scotland.
Henry Talbot de Vere Clifton, born 1907, spent many years in Hollywood during the 1930’s as an actor and film producer. He maintained a suite at The Dorchester and The Ritz in London for when he visited the capital and purchased the 150 acre estate of Rufford Abbey in Nottingham, but let it fall into disrepair. He died penniless in 1979, having squandered his family wealth of millions and the estate passed to his main creditors.

The Ghosts of Lytham Hall.

In the bedrooms on the first and second floor the sound of loud clumping footsteps and clanking of chains being dragged have often been heard and reported, together with the spectre of Sir Cuthbert Clifton who died nearly 400 hundred years ago.

Many have claimed to have seen the ghostly female form of ‘The celebrated White Lady’  floating along the Long Gallery.
During the Second World War, the hall was requisitioned and used as a military convalescent home. During that time there were numerous sightings reported of the White Lady by nurses and patients. To date, the White Lady has not been identified.

The Lytham Witch.

John Talbot Clifton, the squire of Lytham  had a much loved race horse called ‘The Witch’ and exercised the horse in the grounds of Lytham Hall. In January 1888 the horse, ridden by the squire, fell and died from its injuries in woodland surrounding the hall. He had the horse buried where she fell and a gravestone still marks the spot.

The eerie sound of The Witch still cantering through the grounds of Lytham Hall has often been heard by visitors and volunteers and the woodland where she fell is known to this day as Witch Wood.

Witch Wood.

Witch Wood is a remnant of The Big Wood, once the west and south boundary to Lytham Hall. It is free access to the public and maintained by the Lytham St Annes Civic Society and is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Lytham Hall, described as the finest Georgian house in Lancashire, is owned by the Lytham Town Trust (charity no. 1000098) and managed by Heritage Trust for the North West (charity no. 508300). Their website: lythamhall.org.uk provides details of open days and events at the hall.

I have no connection or affiliation with Supernatural Tours or Lytham Hall Trust.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

Reference source include: Wikipedia; Lancashire’s Ghosts & Legends by Terence Whitaker published by Granada Books & lythamhall.org.uk.

 

 

 

 

The Hanging of Stephen Burke

Stephen Burke.

Stephen Burke was a 40 year old tailor, who lived with his wife Mary and their five children in a terraced house at  31 Brunswick Street, Preston. It was a bleak scene of destitution, drunkenness and domestic violence. With little or no furniture, the couple shared a small filthy bed in the front bedroom with their five children.

The above photos are of Brunswick Street in 1958 and even then a life of hard times is still conveyed nearly 100 years later. 

A Disturbance and Arrest.

At around 7.30am on 30th January 1865, the distraught 12 year old daughter of Burke woke the neighbours and told them of a disturbance that had occured at her house during the night, between her parents. Within minutes the police arrived and made a forced entry into 31 Brunswick Street where they discovered the body of Mary Ann Burke. She had suffered a fatal and severe wound to the head. Her husband was arrested at the premises.

The Trial.

Within weeks Stephen Burke was put on trial at Lancaster Castle Assizes, accused of his wife’s brutal murder.  His 12 year old daughter was the main witness. She told the court how her father had repeatedly attacked and assaulted her mother throughout the evening and night of 29th January. The final assault took place in the early hours of that morning when he repeatedly hit her about the head with a bed-staff (wooden club used for making/repairing beds).

Lancaster Castle Assizes.

The daughter stated that once the police had arrived, she rushed to her Uncle Edward’s house at 53, Brunswick Street to inform him, without success. She spent the next three hours huddled in a neighbours lobby, trembling with fright.

The Death Sentence.

The jury soon reached a “Guilty” verdict against Stephen Burke, the charge being, “you maliciously, feloniously and of malice aforethought killed and murdered your wife, Mary Ann Burke.”

His Lordship Judge Mellor donned the black cap and passed the sentence of death upon the prisoner: “The sentence of this court is that you shall be taken from here to a place from whence you came and there be kept in close confinement until the date of execution, and upon that day that you be taken to the place of execution and there hanged by the neck until you are dead. And may God have mercy upon your soul.”

The Execution.

With morbid curiosity, many locals from Preston and the surrounding area walked the distance of at least twenty five miles to Lancaster Castle, to witness the public hanging of Stephen Burke. At midday on 25th March 1865, some 7,000 people had gathered outside the Castle.

The hangman was William Calcraft, the country’s official ‘Executioner to Her Majesty’ who travelled from London to carry out the public hanging.

The experienced executioner, Calcraft, appeared on the gallows a few minutes before the appointed time and with rope in hand, checked that all was in order. Burke was then brought from his cell, accompanied by the Rev. R. Brown of Lancaster, to assist his spiritual journey.

Hanging Corner, as indicated. I have posted an earlier blog specifically about the executions at Lancaster Castle under ‘The Hanging Town.”

Once the condemned man was on the platform situated in the grounds of the castle, known as ‘Hanging Corner’,  Calcraft took control. He first placed a white hood over the head of Burke, pinioned his hands behind his back, tied his feet together and made a final adjustment of the rope, then swiftly withdrew the bolt, opening the trapdoor and the condemned prisoner fell through the hole feet first, the short drop method.

Tools of the trade for the Official Public Executioner, which would be taken to each hanging.

The Short Drop.

William Calcraft favoured the short drop method of hanging, which involved the prisoner falling through the trapdoor just two or three feet before the noose took hold.   This was often an insufficient drop to break the prisoners neck, leaving them to die slowly by strangulation. This usually took between 10 and 20 minutes, but unconsciousness occurred within 6 to 15 seconds, resulting in a more painful and prolonged death. The executed were left hanging for an hour to ensure death could be certified by the doctor in attendance.

Example of a short drop gallows.

Up to 1850, the short drop was the standard method for State executions, but scientific and medical research proved it was a cruel and barbaric way to hang the guilty.
As a result the standard drop was adopted, involving a drop of 4′ – 6′ which had been calculated as enough fall to break the persons neck, causing immediate paralysis and immobilisation.
In 1872 this was replaced by the long drop, which again was considered more humane and calculated on the persons height and weight, resulting in a quicker death. The calculations had to be precise or decapitation could occur from the force of the drop.

R.I.P.

A few days after Stephen Burke was executed, his body was interred in the grounds of Lancaster Castle in an area reserved for murderers in unmarked graves.

Stephen Burke was the last person to be publicly executed in the United Kingdom.

The last execution by hanging in the United Kingdom was in 1964. Capital punishment  for murder was abolished in 1965 in Great Britain and 1973 in Northern Ireland.

Reference source: Wikipedia; Chilling True Tales of Old Preston by local historian, Keith Johnson.  Published by Owl Books.

 

 

 

 

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

 

 

The Gory Head of Mowbreck Hall

Mowbreck Hall.

In the parish of Wesham, which straddles the A585, a couple of miles north of Kirkham once stood the proud home of the Westby family; Mowbreck Hall on Mowbreck Lane. The Westbys were seated at Mowbreck from around 1300 and also owned Burn Hall near Thornton. They originated from Westby in the West Riding of Yorkshire and have no connection with the Westby village in the Fylde.

The Westbys were related by marriage to the Haydocks of Cottam, ardent Catholics, two of whom died for their faith. William Haydock, a monk at Whalley Abbey, was hanged for taking part in the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 and George Haydock, a young priest, was betrayed and arrested for practising the Roman Mass. He was later hanged, drawn and quartered in London in1584.

In the 1500’s 105 Catholic martyrs were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn, charged with “spiritual treason”.

Hanged, drawn and quartered.

The penalty of hanged, drawn and quartered was ordained in England as a punishment for treason in 1241. The full sentence passed upon those convicted of High Treason was as follows: “That you be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution where you shall be hanged by the neck and being alive cut down, your privy members shall be cut off and your bowels taken out and burned before you, your head severed from your body and your body divided into four quarters to be disposed of at the King’s pleasure.”

It was specifically created to punish William Maurice, who had been found guilty of piracy.

The last recorded execution in this manner was at Maidstone in 1798 when James O’Coigley was found guilty of “compassing and imaging the death of the King and adhering to the King’s enemies.” In this case, the enemy was the French.

The Treason Act 1841 formally removed the disembowelling part of the punishment, replacing the procedure with hanged till dead, followed by post mortem decapitation.

Vivian Haydock.

George Haydock’s father, Vivian Haydock. who late in life became a Jesuit priest after the death of his wife, was in hiding at Mowbreck Hall, where he performed illegal Masses in the Westbys’ private chapel.

On the Feast of All Hallows Eve 1583, Vivian Haydock was stood before the small altar, robed and ready to conduct midnight Mass.  Unknown to him, his son George was at the same time being arrested in London, having been betrayed by a Fylde man (from the Blackpool area) named Hankinson.

As he began to say Mass, Father Vivian saw to his horror a ghostly manifestation of his beloved son’s head floating above the altar, severed, bruised and bleeding, blood trickling from his lips as they muttered the words ‘Tristitia Vestra Vertetur in Gaudium’  (Your sadness is turning to joy). The priest collapsed and not long afterwards died of shock.

George was confined to the Tower dungeons and executed the following year. His head was preserved and up to recently kept as a sacred relic in the attic chapel at Lane End House, Mawdesly, a 16th century house on the edge of the village (There has been a long standing argument whether the skull is that of George Haydock or his brother William.)

Mowbreck Hall was first built in the 1100’s and rebuilt in 1730. In 1979 it was demolished, but to this day paranormal investigators still visit the site of Mowbreck Hall hoping to capture on film the manifestation of George Haydock’s ghostly head floating above the lane, reputedly  witnessed by local residents over the years.

Reference sources: Lancashire’s Ghosts & Legends by Terence W Whitaker and Lancashire Magic & Mystery by Kenneth Fields.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

 

The Written Stone of Dilworth

 Written Stone Lane. 

Below the gentle slopes of Longridge Fell sits the small community of Dilworth on the outskirts of Longridge town. An ancient lane running from a cross road, winds past several farms and was once part of the Roman road from Ribchester to Lancaster. This track is called Written Stone Lane and known locally as Boggart Lane (Dictionary definition: Boggart, a spectre or goblin, a source of terror).

The Written Stone.

A huge slab of sandstone, weighing several tons, measuring 9′ long, 2′ wide and 18″ high is set prominently on a low wall by the side of the lane and bears the clear inscription:

“Ravffe: Radcliffe: Laid: This Stone to Lye: For: Ever: A.D. 1655”

The Haunting of Written Stone Lane.

It was recorded in 1874 in the book Lancashire Legends: “Tradition declares this spot to have been the scene of a cruel and barbarous murder, and it is stated that this stone was put down to appease the restless spirit of the deceased, which played its nightly gambols long after the body had been hearsed in the earth.”

A Victorian drawing of a boggart.

A woman wearing a bonnet and carrying her head in a basket is said to haunt the lane, releasing shrieks of terrifying laughter to anyone she meets. Travellers spoke of strange occurrences on the lane, screeching and scratching in the undergrowth, being bumped into, painful pinching, clothes tugged and hats knocked off and as time went by the lonely track became known as Boggarts Lane.

Above, Present day Written Stone Lane.

The Radcliffe Family.

According to legend, the conspirators to the murder, the Radcliffe’s who lived at Cottam House were plagued by the victims ghost and several of Ralph (Ravffe) Radcliffe’s family began to die in strange circumstances, as if they had been cursed. Hoping to appease the restless spirit, Mr Radcliffe had the huge stone put in place and carved with the inscription, but the haunting’s continued forcing the Radcliffe’s to move away.

New Tenents.

The new tenents of Cottam House decided the stone slab would make an ideal buttery stone in their dairy, but moving the slab proved to be very difficult. It took six horses and many local helpers to move the stone, several of which were injured during the endeavour. Once in its new position the stone seem bedevilled, anything placed upon it was knocked off by an unseen force and during the night banging and shrieking could be heard coming from the dairy. The farmer he’d had enough and arranged for the stone to be put back to its original position, but strangely it only took one horse to pull the stone back and peace and quiet returned to Written Stone Lane.

Why the stone was laid and inscribed over 360 years ago remains a mystery, but there is still an air of superstitious awe surrounding the stone and to this day paranormal investigators visit Written Stone Lane and touch the Written Stone, hoping to witness the boggarts that once terrorised the ancient Roman road.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

Reference sources: Lancashire Legends by Kathleen Eyre, published by Dalesman 1992, the northernantiquarian.forumotion.net and cryofthesedge.wordpress.com/tag/longridge.