Croglin Grange, The Vampire of

Croglin Grange, The Vampire of

(pop culture)

Among frequently cited incidents involving “real” vampirism, the story of the vampire of Croglin Grange, an old house located in Cumberland, England, has proved very intriguing. An account of the vampire originally appeared in the Story of My Life by August Hare, written during the last years of the 1890s. According to Hare, the various episodes occurred around 1875 to 1876. Owned at the time by a family named Fisher, the house was rented to a woman and her two brothers: Amelia, Edward, and Michael Cranswell. During one summer, the district experienced a hot spell, so when the three retired for the night, the woman slept near the window. She shut the window but did not close the shutters. Unable to go to sleep, she spotted something approaching that eventually reached the window and began to scratch and then to pick at it, removing a pane. A creature then reached in and unlocked the window. The terrified woman, frozen in fear, waited as a brown face with flaming eyes came to her, grabbed her, and bit her throat.

She screamed, and when her brothers rushed to her rescue, the creature hurriedly left. One brother tended to his sister and the other pursued the creature, which disappeared over a wall by a nearby church. The doctor who later treated the woman suggested a change of scenery, and the brothers took her to Switzerland for an extended visit. The three eventually returned to Croglin Grange. The following spring the creature appeared again. One brother chased it, shot it in the leg, and traced it to a vault in the local cemetery. The next day, accompanied by some townspeople, the brothers entered the vault, which was in complete disarray except for one coffin. When they opened the coffin, they found a body with a fresh gunshot wound in the leg. A bullet was extracted, and they burned the corpse.

In 1924, Charles G. Harper, basing his assertions on a visit to the area, challenged the Hare book. Harper could find no place named Croglin Grange. Though there were two other buildings, Croglin High Hall and Croglin Low Hall, neither fit the description of Croglin Grange. There was no church, the closest one being over a mile away, and no vault corresponding to the description of the one opened by the brothers and their neighbors. Harper’s own account was challenged at a later date, when F. Clive-Ross visited the area. In interviews with the local residents, he determined that Croglin Low Hall was the house referred to in Hare’s story and that a chapel had existed near it for many years, its foundation stones still visible into the 1930s. Clive-Ross seemed to have answered all of Harper’s objections.

The Croglin Grange story continued when, in 1968, psychic researcher Scott Rogo offered a new challenge. He noted the likeness of the story of the vampire at Croglin Grange to the first chapter of Varney the Vampyre, the popular vampire story originally published in 1847. The accounts, both of which were published in 1929 by Montague Summers, are very similar, and it is likely that one is based on the other, according to Rogo. He suggested that the entire Croglin Grange story could be dismissed as a simple hoax.

A final footnote to the controversy: Clive-Ross, later discussed the case again with residents of the area, and was told that there was a significant mistake in Hare’s original account: the story took place not in the 1870s, but in the 1680s, almost two centuries earlier. While this fact would definitely place the events prior to the publication of Varney the Vampyre, it also pushes the story far enough into the past as to turn it into an unverifiable legend.

Sources:

Dyall, Valentine. “Vampire of Croglin Grange.” Fate (April 1954): 96–104.
Glut, Donald F. True Vampires of History. Secaucus, NJ: Castle Books, 1971. 191 pp.
Hare, Augustine. Story of My Life. 6 vols. London: George Allen, 1896–1900.
Harper, Charles C. Haunted Houses. Detroit: Tower Books, 1971. 288 pp.
Rogo, Scott. “Second Thoughts on the Vampire of Croglin Grange.” Fate 21, 6 (June 1968): 44–48.
Summers, Montague. The Vampire in Europe. London: Routledge, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co. 1929. 329 pp. Rept. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1962. 329 pp.

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