The Vampire of Alnwick Oct 19, 2018 14:36:37 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Oct 19, 2018 14:36:37 GMT -5
The Vampire of Alnwick
Before Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was filmed at Alnwick (pronounced “Annick”) Castle (above), most tourists had never heard of the small Northumberland town. In the movie, the castle is the location of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry House Cup Quidditch matches. Children from local Lindisfarne Middle School were used as extras to round out the class, complete with scholarly wizard robes and broomsticks for flying. But film crews aren’t new to the townsfolk of Alnwick. The castle has appeared in Dracula, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Ivanhoe and Elizabeth (which also featured Chillingham Castle).
Alnwick is the second largest inhabited castle in England, the first being Windsor, and has served as home to the Percy family, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland, since 1309. The District of Alnwick stretches from the wilds of Northumberland National Park to the lovely Heritage Coast and, like the rest of Northumbria, consists of rolling hills, long sandy beaches, ancient abbeys, quaint villages, historic market towns and other castles and ruins in unspoiled surroundings.
But there’s more to Alnwick than films and breathtaking scenery for if the stories are true, a vampire once walked abroad in the village. In the 12th century, William of Newburgh collected a variety of vampire accounts in England and one of those he researched and recorded concerned a gentleman who served the Lord of Alnwick Castle. The man was known for his wickedness and plagued by an unfaithful wife, which likely added to his currish nature. Or perhaps it was the other way round: his wife took a lover because her husband was a meanspirited blackguard. Whatever the cause, one day he hid atop the roof above the marital bed to catch his wife in the act, fell to his death and died the following day.
He was buried in the churchyard and it could be said not many were sorry to see the last of him. But then word began to spread that people out and about after dark had seen the man they’d laid to rest wandering about. People hadn’t liked him when he was alive, but they were absolutely terrified of meeting his apparition and men started walking in groups if they had to be out after sundown and then locked themselves inside their homes until cockcrow.
Then a strange epidemic broke out, people began dying in large numbers and it didn’t take long for someone to blame the deaths on the villain from the castle who had recently been buried in the churchyard and whose apparition had been seen skulking about at night. Rather than a mere restless spirit, there was no doubt he was one of the living dead – a vampire.
Villagers grew every more anxious and on Palm Sunday, the local priest assembled a group of his more devout parishioners, some of whom were among Alnwick’s leading citizens, and led them to the graveyard. There they unearthed the body of the man who had been dead several weeks, but instead of a decaying corpse, the body appeared to be gorged with blood, which gushed forth when struck with a spade. Realizing the foul, inhuman thing that had terrified the area was one of the living dead, feeding on the blood of the living, the men hoisted the cadaver from the grave, dragged it to the village green and burned it to ashes. The mysterious deaths ceased and no one else reported seeing the ghost.
The Berwick Vampire. The Northumbrian town of Berwick-upon-Tweed is home to one of the earliest accounts of a British vampire. This account of vampirism was also investigated by William of Newburgh, who wrote: “A great rogue, having been buried, after his death sallied forth (by the contrivance, as it is believed, of Satan) out of his grave by night, and was borne hither and thither, pursued by a pack of dogs with loud barkings; thus striking great terror into the neighbors, and returning to his tomb before daylight.” Locals eventually found the fiend’s resting place and burned the vile corpse.
Sources: Ghosts of Great Britain and Ireland: A Compendium of 2,000 Hauntings by Jonathan Sutherland; The Good Ghost Guide by J.A. Brooks; The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton; and Truth about Vampires by Steve Preston.