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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bizarre In The News - The Croglin Grange Vampire Mystery

From Phantoms and Monsters

Our modern idea of a vampire, a creature that has returned from death to prey on humans at night, is based on the Eastern European vampires myths and legends, such as vampires wearing capes or turning into bats. Although vampire myths occur in almost every culture around the world, such myths are rare in England where the idea was almost unknown until the 18th century, when reports from Europe began to surface.

This particular account dates from just after the English Civil War in the 1650's. The owners of Croglin Low Hall in Cumberland (now Cumbria) were a family named Fisher and the story was told to one Augustus Hare by a descendent of the family in 1896. For some reason of their own, the Fishers decided to go and live in the south of England and rent out the farm. The new tenants were two brothers and a sister named Cranswell. The new family stayed in their remote farmhouse through the first winter without event. The summer came and, that year, it was stiflingly hot so they slept with the windows open. At that time the Hall was only one storey high - the upstairs has been built subsequently. Near the Hall was a chapel and a small graveyard which once belonged to the Howard family, who were great landowners in these parts.

One airless summer night the men sat with their sister watching the moon rise. After a time they decided to go to bed. The sister lay in her bed, the bedclothes cast off because of the heat. She had closed her window, but not fastened the shutters. She gazed out of her window, propped up on her pillows as the long summer day faded out and night took its place. In Cumbria at midsummer, because it is quite far north, it does not get very dark at all between sunset and sunrise.

Miss Cranswell soon became aware of two lights in the belt of trees some distance from the house which separated the lawn from the graveyard. She watched and, after a while, she made out a dark shape moving towards the house and towards her window. A terrible horror seized her. She wanted to get up and leave the room, but to go to the door would have meant she had to go closer to the window. Besides she had locked the door from the inside and so would have to stand there and unlock it...all the while clearly visible to whatever was out there. Frozen to the spot, she stared at the shape...but then it turned and instead of moving closer to her window, it started to move around the house. She jumped up and ran towards the door. Her hands were shaking so much that she found it hard to turn the key. And then her heart nearly stopped. Behind her, close to her though she didn't dare look, she heard a scratching at the window. It was outside...just feet away. She stood there petrified with fear still not turning her head. Then she heard the sound of it unpicking the lead which held the glass in place. She forced herself to look and saw that one pane of the mullioned glass had come away and a long bony hand stretched in and turned the window catch. Whatever it was, it came in through the window with a rush and grabbed her...its fingers in her hair, its mouth at her throat. It bit her neck and forced her onto the ground. As it bit her she screamed.

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