As the story goes, Croglin Grange in Cumberland, England, was a one-story stone dwelling on a hill near a primeval churchyard and church. According to legend, the Fisher family owned it for centuries; then in the 1800s, the Fishers moved into a larger home and rented the property. In the spring, siblings Edward, Michael and Amelia Cranswell leased the dwelling. Was this the beginning of a vampire story or a pulp-fiction hoax?
Croglin Grange Vampire: The First Encounter
According to the legend, the first encounter came when the weather was hot. Amelia didn’t feel well, so she went to bed early, and closed the window. As she looked out of the window, Amelia saw what looked like two small lights in the churchyard, which moved from the graveyard, went over the wall and approached the house. Amelia felt anxious, bolted her bedroom door, ensured that the window was securely locked, then went to bed to try to sleep.
As the story goes, Amelia heard rustling by her window and scratching at its pane; then she saw a shriveled brown face and glowing eyes. The creature removed a pane, then unlocked the window – then stalked toward her, then bit her throat. Amelia shrieked, and her brothers rushed to her room; they had to break the locked door open with a poker. One brother tended to Amelia while the other went to the window and saw something race toward the churchyard, then disappear over a wall.
Someone sent for a doctor, who told them that they should take a vacation after her wound healed. The trio went to Switzerland. After Amelia recuperated, legend tells us, they returned to the Grange. Upon their return, the creature repeated the visit. The brothers investigated the churchyard, and found a hideous creature in a coffin, which they burned until only ashes remained.
Croglin Grange Vampire Controversy
Where did the story of the Croglin Grange vampire originate? Clergyman, writer and storyteller Dr. Augustus Hare included the event in his book, Story of My Life, published in 1875, saying he heard it from a Captain Fisher. According to another source, however, the book’s name is Memorials of a Quiet Life and was published in 1871. The accounts are the same, but with varying sources; a little like memes that circulate on Facebook today. Controversy and investigations ensued.
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- In 1924, Charles G. Harper decided to challenge Hare’s account about the vampire. He visited Cumberland and couldn’t find a house named Croglin Grange. He found a Croglin High Hall and a Croglin Low Hall, but neither fit the Grange’s description. There was no church and no vault nearby, as described by the brothers and villagers. Harper concluded that the entire story was false.
- Later, F. Clive-Ross challenged Harper’s findings. He claimed he interviewed local people and presumed that Croglin Low Hall was what Hare referred to as the Grange. A chapel existed near the house and its foundation stones were still there in the 1930s. He discovered that Hare made a massive error; the story took place in the 1680s, not the 1870s.
- In 1968, parapsychologist and writer, D. Scott Rogo challenged Hare’s story once more, linking it to a popular book, Varney the Vampire, published in 1847, with an unknown author. The book was a sensational “Penny Dreadful” pulp. Some of the authors who wrote exciting pulps didn’t admit they wrote them. Rogo’s research proved there was another “Penny Dreadful,” published in 1929, that had Varney and the Grange in it. He believed, as a result, that it’s highly likely Croglin Grange was a hoax.
Vampire Stories: Recent Research
Journalist and writer Lionel Fanthorpe recently researched the vampire stories and theorizes that some events happened in the 1600s. In Oliver Cromwell’s era, someone demolished a vault close to the Grange.
Is it possible that Varney’s anonymous author and either Fisher or Harper knew bits of history about the vaults and decided use them as bases for their horror stories? Either way, the locals don’t consider Croglin Grange chicanery – they view it as folklore.© Copyright 2014 Jill Stefko, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Past