We all know the story of Dracula, Lestat de Lioncourt, and Louis de Pointe du Lac (yes, I realize I just mentioned two of the characters from Interview with the Vampire). But do you know the story of the vampire that gave way to the vampires we know and love today? Let me introduce to you my personal favorite, The Vampire of Croglin Grange (or Phantom of Croglin Grange, for the people who don’t like the word “vampire”).
Before I begin, I would just like to forewarn everyone that as a twelve-year-old (when I first heard the story), it pretty much freaked me out and for a while there, I became a little OCD about closing the shutters on all the windows at our house. So if you are faint of heart, under five, or just get scared easily, I’d recommend reading my post on Big Cats of Britain or watching one of my youtube videos. Or you can keep reading this and start wearing a scarf around your neck at night so it’s difficult for the vampires to suck your blood (yes, I did this).
Long ago in the monster-infested land of England—specifically, Cumberland—there was a village called Croglin. The villagers of this town were happy, easy-to-get-along-with people who lived in harmony. They felt sad for the city folk who had to deal with creeps like Jack the Ripper, and who, at a moment’s notice, could be attacked by a werewolf, vampire, or phantom. But one day their happy-go-lucky natures faded. The town was being harassed by a no good vampire.
The villagers didn’t know how the vampire made it all the way to Croglin, but once women and children were being attacked, they knew they had to do something. One night, they managed to catch him. The vampire was unlike anything they’d ever seen. His pale skin radiated in the silver moonlight, and his red eyes pierced the soul of every villager standing near him. His good looks and undeniable charm made him seem harmless. Yet, when he opened his mouth to smile and you noticed his pointy, wolf-like teeth, you knew your death was coming faster than you anticipated.
The villagers did what was customary at the time when it came to vampires. They stabbed him with a stake to the heart and buried him in a vampire vault in the churchyard next to the Croglin Grange property…
A few years passed, and the villagers were back to their normal happy-go-lucky status. This is when the Fisher family, a big family with several children, moved into Croglin Grange. The family’s youngest daughter, let’s call her Sarah, was the little cherub of the family and town.
The Fisher family lived in complete bliss for many years at Croglin Grange. Then, on one hot summer night, when the moon was glowing silver and the stars were hidden by gray clouds, their horrors began.
The next morning, when the father went out to the barn to check on the horses, he saw the carcasses of rats on the floor. He dismissed it at first glance, thinking that their farm cat had been hunting that night, but as he walked further he saw the body of the dead cat. The cat had puncture wounds in its neck, and all its blood had been drained. He called his sons out to the farm and they began examining the rats, realizing their blood was drained, too.
The father and his sons cleaned up the farm and didn’t tell anyone what they had seen. They thought maybe they were mistaken, and they didn’t want to cause any worry in their happy village.
The rat bodies continued to appear every morning during the summer months, and the father and his sons dutifully cleaned them up every morning before the youngest daughter came out to check on her favorite horse. But one morning, instead of rat bodies, the daughter’s favorite horse was dead. The men began to panic, and they quickly buried the body. The daughter of course wanted to know where her horse was, and all they could say was that the horse “ran away.”
All of their horses “ran away” over the next few days. The men still said nothing. One of the sons wanted to notify the local priest, whose churchyard was divided from their property by a stone wall and a line of trees. The father refused. Their silence continued on for many days, until the murderer ran out of horses and rats and went looking for bigger prey.
The grotesque creature jumped over the wall with ease. His flickering eyes looked like tiny red fires appearing from behind the line of trees separating Croglin Grange from the churchyard. His bony, translucent figure calmly walked among the grass towards the house. He stood still, sniffing the air. He noticed up ahead a bedroom with the shutters opened. With the grace of a ballerina, he eased his way up to the house and peered inside. It was dark in the room, but he could make out a figure fast asleep in bed. He examined the window and, noticing it to be unlocked, he opened it. His movement was tense; he didn’t want to wake the victim. He stepped inside and stopped. His dinner rolled over, revealing a slender neck. He walked over, leaned down, and took a bite. When he was done, he wiped his mouth and left the way he came in. With one leap over the wall he was gone, no one the wiser.
The next morning, the mother prepared breakfast and yelled for her sons and daughters to come inside. As they all came to sit down, there was one chair left empty. She went to the room of the missing child and opened the door. She noticed the open window and her motionless daughter in bed. Every fear a mother has about her children rushed through her head. She went to put a hand on her daughter and noticed the puncture wounds. Crying and wailing, she called out for her husband. He came rushing in to find his little cherub, Sarah, dead.
The Fisher family, filled with grief, decided it was time to leave Croglin Grange for good. When asked by the villagers why they were leaving, they always said, “We need a bigger place.” When asked, “Where is Sarah?” they said, “She isn’t feeling well today.” They decided to put the house up for rent, since they didn’t have enough money to just leave it vacant and move on to a better place.
The Cranswell family consisted of two brothers and a sister – Amelie, Michael, and Edward. They were a nice family—let’s say they were from London—and they wanted a nice summer home. The Fisher family rented it out to them, and for the first few years the siblings loved their summer abode. They made many new friends in the village, and were quite popular among the locals.
One summer day when it was too hot to really do anything fun, the siblings enjoyed an early dinner and a nice conversation out on the veranda. Amelie decided to turn in early, and her brothers bid her good night. Amelie’s room was hot that night and she locked the window but opened the shutters to her room. As it grew darker, it became too hot to even sleep. Instead, Amelie gazed out on the pretty lawn and the silvery glow of the moon. As she was watching, she noticed a red flickering light dashing behind the trees separating their property from the churchyard. She watched as the light grew closer and closer, and began to quiver in fear when she realized what this light was attached to, a grotesque beast that seemed to be coming straight at her. She was frozen in fear and her limbs felt as if they were paralyzed. She watched as the creature came to her window, recoiling from his ugly face. His long fingers began scratching at her window sill, then pecking at the lead on the window.
Amelie quickly jumped out of bed and ran to her door, but fear had overcome her and she couldn’t work the door handle. That’s when she heard the glass pane shatter to the floor and saw the bony, translucent fingers reaching in to open the window. She tried to scream but no sound could come out. She watched in horror as the creature glided across the room toward her, and before she could fully understand the danger of her situation, his wolf-like teeth dug themselves into her neck.
The pain drew out a scream from Amelie, and her brothers came running. They began shouting, trying to open the door, but the vampire had pinned Amelie to it. As their screams grew louder, the vampire threw Amelie across the room and fled. One brother, Edward, went running after the vampire, but lost it after it jumped over the churchyard wall.
The siblings immediately left, but returned the following summer. The brothers were adamant that this time they would catch the creature. One night they unlocked the window and hid in Amelie’s room. They were both armed with guns, ready for a fight. The vampire returned under the glow of the silver moon on the hottest day of summer. He came inside, hoping for a tasty meal. Instead, he was shot in the leg. The pain caused him to emit an inhuman screech that was heard across the village. He fled to the churchyard. What he didn’t notice was the trail of blood behind him.
The brothers went to the churchyard by themselves the next day and tracked the blood to a vault. They climbed inside to discover a coffin with a creature inside, a fresh wound on his leg. They immediately burned him and left Croglin Grange for good.
Of course, the story worked its way around the village. Those who had been there long and knew the old stories, realized this creature was the good-looking man with the fiery red eyes, wolf-like teeth, and addictive charm who had been stabbed in the heart for being a vampire years earlier.
No one knows how this vampire had managed to stay alive and transform into the hideous creature that brave Michael and Edward Cranswell burned. Some say the vampire even managed to survive the burning, and if you visit the churchyard or Croglin Grange, you may catch a glimpse of this creature running around looking for something to eat. Especially on a hot summer day when the moon emits a silver glow over his vault.
I’ll admit I added a little pizzazz to the story, but I still managed to hit the basic ideas behind the Croglin Grange vampire. Most people say the vampire isn’t real and is just folklore, and it has been proven. Sadly, there is no such place called Croglin Grange, only Croglin Low Hall. In the memoir by Augustus Hare called The Story of My Life, he mentions visiting Croglin Grange and hearing the tale back in 1874. This story is included in the fourth volume of his memoirs. He heard it from his friend, Captain Edward Fisher-Rowe, who was telling a family story about an eerie occurrence at his North Country estate. In Hare’s telling of the story, there were no dates or names, he only described Croglin Grange. In his book, it was a single-story building with a terrace that looks over the church in the hollow.
The story has taken many forms over the years, with authors adding names and dates. Much like me juicing it up for my audience. This story also has many similarities with Varney the Vampyre, which has been proven to be a good story with no truth to it.
My dad has always told me that “every good lie always has a kernel of truth to it,” which can be applied to any story. Maybe there is some truth to the Vampire of Croglin Grange. Maybe Captain Fisher-Rowe was telling a little bit of truth when he was sharing stories with Augustus Hare one night after dinner.
But just remember, if you see this sign when going to Croglin: Drive fast, because there probably is a vampire lurking around!
Be sure to sound off in the comments below about what you think of the Vampire of Croglin Grange. If you’ve heard any other versions of this story, be sure to let me know! LULU
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