Where to Find a Vampire in Real Life
The Lair of the Undead
Where to find a vampire? Cynics might suggest between the pages of a book or flickering across the screen in a Hammer Horror film. I can't argue with that; you will definitely find them there. But for centuries there have been persistent rumours of blood-sucking wraiths, so who's to say that there aren't a few revenants skulking around the globe. If you have an interest in proving the doubters wrong, where might you find a bona fide vampire?
There are of course the traditional hunting grounds of Eastern Europe, the birthplace of popular vampire lore. However, vampires can apparently be found throughout the world. Here is a list of places to either avoid or visit, depending on your feelings towards the undead.
Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania
Think of vampires and you think of Transylvania. Bram Stoker's Dracula was based upon Vlad the Impaler, a medieval prince of Wallachia. Vlad's kingdom which was located in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, is now part of Romania. Vlad was a particularly cruel and bloodthirsty ruler, whose bloodlust has resulted in his being labelled a vampire. In fact, the Romanians, in common with other Slavic peoples, have long believed in the concept of vampires
Although Stoker has fired the imagination of vampire hunters everywhere, and although the Romanians have a great many customs devoted to the detection and destruction of vampires, modern sightings of the nosferatu are either extremely rare or kept very quiet. Perhaps having had centuries of practice, the vampires of Transylvania are simply very accomplished and manage to keep themselves undetected.
If you plan to travel to Transylvania, go on St George's Eve (22 April) as this is traditionally the gathering day for vampires and witches. Stoker chose this day for Jonathan Harker to arrive in Transylvania and as we know, he was spectacularly successful in finding his vampire!
The Cemeteries of New Orleans
It's no wonder that New Orleans provided the inspiration for Anne Rice's vampire novels. From the Spanish Moss dripping from the trees to the breathless steamy nights, the Crescent City oozes a menacing charm. There may be a few vampires lurking in the courtyards of the Vieux Carre, but your best bet for finding a vampire might be in the City's cemeteries.
New Orleans' cemeteries are truly Cities of the Dead. The tombs are above ground due to the high water table; try to bury a body here and it will simply float to the surface. To overcome the problem the locals constructed their vaults above ground and placed the coffins inside. The larger tombs look like little houses, so the cemeteries have the feeling of a silent deserted town.
Local rumours persist that the Cities of the Dead are home to vampires, and that it is these creatures who are responsible for a series of suspicious deaths in 1933 and 1984. In each of these cases, bodies were found with the throats torn out and despite the catastrophic injuries, it was remarked by police and paramedics that there was a lack of blood at the scene.
If you are tempted to visit one of the City's cemeteries, the advice is not to go alone; join an organised tour, of which there are many. Whether this is to protect you from the blood thirsty attentions of the undead or violent theft by the living is unclear; in either case it remains good advice.
Highgate Cemetery Location
The Highgate Vampire: Highgate Cemetery, London
Highgate Cemetery is perhaps London's best known cemetery. It is huge; 37 acres containing around 53,000 graves. Some of the occupants are famous, like Karl Marx, whilst others wither away anonymously. There's plenty of scope for a vampire's lair in this fascinating Victorian cemetery. Indeed, Bram Stoker fictionalised the cemetery in Dracula; Lucy Westenra is buried at Kingstead Cemetery, based on Highgate. Small wonder then that vampires are said to reside in this North London cemetery.
The first modern reports of vampire activity at Highgate were in 1963. Two 16 year old girls were walking home late one night past the cemetery and were shocked to see bodies emerging from graves. Shortly afterwards a couple walked past the same spot and reported seeing a figure hovering behind the gates. They watched for a few moments, riveted to the spot and were alarmed at the look of abject horror on the apparition's face. In the following months the figure was spotted on numerous occasions, floating around the path near the gate. The apparition was dubbed a vampire after the discovery of animal carcasses sucked clean of blood.
The Highgate vampire finally attacked in 1971, if a young woman is to be believed. She was returning home in the early hours of the morning, her journey taking her past the cemetery. She was suddenly thrown to the ground with great force by a tall dark figure. Fortunately a car stopped to help her and her attacker vanished.
Despite a great deal of media interest and investigations by police and paranormal investigators, no-one has actually managed to find any evidence of the vampire. You might like to try; organised tours of the West Cemetery run at weekends, whilst you can visit the East Cemetery unaccompanied. Entry fees apply.
A Vampire Spotted Here!
An Urban Vampire: Coventry Street, London
Perhaps the Highgate Vampire occasionally ventures out across London. Certainly, in 1922 there were suspicions of a vampire in London's West End. A man was found unconscious in the early hours of the morning at a corner on Coventry Street and taken to Charing Cross Hospital. The doctor found a small stab mark on his neck. The young man, a clerk, said he remembered being pounced on by a man who bit his neck. Remarkably, two more men were brought into the hospital with the same injuries later that day. No attacker was ever found, nor were there any further assaults.
A Cautionary Tale for Vampire Hunters
In 1973 Demetrious Myicuria was found dead in his bed at The Villas, Stokeville, Stoke on Trent. His body was surrounded by salt and garlic, apparently in an attempt to ward off vampires, which he feared were in the area. His cause of death? Initially it was thought he had choked to death on one of his cloves of garlic; the post mortem examination revealed that the offending item was a less romantic, but equally deadly, pickled onion.
Tower Hamlets, London
The East End of London was awash with reports of a vampire prowling amongst the Bangladeshi community in 2005. Despite appeals for calm in mosques, people were gripped by tales of veiled figures grabbing victims, sometimes from their own doorways, and biting them.
Many Bengalis lived in fear for several weeks, locking their doors and staying indoors after dark. Some community leaders reported that the stories had originated in the Bangladeshi community in Birmingham, where there were reports of a man attacking people and tearing at their flesh. No evidence of these attacks was found. Nonetheless, the Police received 17 calls about the predator but eventually the threat seems to have melted away.
In the 1970s two young women were referred to a doctor as they had become lethargic and listless, and had the same physical symptoms too; purple marks at their necks and breasts. They both claimed to have had dreams about a tall dark man entering their bedrooms. One of the girls recognised the man as a local art student. After ruling out any other causes of their conditions, the doctor decided to visit the art student, a young Hungarian named Lazlo.
After his visit to Lazlo the doctor too began to experience strange phenomena. His cat was killed and its corpse left on his doorstep. His fiancée, who knew nothing about the case, awoke feeling icy hands strangling her. Strange disembodied voices threatened the doctor. He decided to forget scientific reason and issued the two girls with crucifixes and Bibles. They gradually regained their former health and the marks faded. Lazlo faded away too; he quit his lodgings and wasn't seen again. Or was he?
In 1991, a young woman who was staying in the house formerly occupied by one of the assaulted girls, reported an apparition of a tall dark man hovering by her bed. She hid under the covers for some time, emerging to find him gone. Perhaps Lazlo is still fond of Winsford's girls.