Home > The Vampire of Croglin Grange - Vampire Stories
The Vampire of Croglin Grange - Vampire Stories
Source : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croglin_Grange
Belief in vampires was once widespread in Eastern Europe, particularly amongst the Slavic people of Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia and of course neighbouring Romania. Several times between the 11th and 18th centuries there were cases of 'vampire hysteria' when people were sure local deaths were caused by vampires.
However vampire myths go back thousands of years and they appear in many different forms. In early Babylonian writings there were the Lilu, spirits with vampire like habits. The Greek Lamia had the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a winged serpent. In northern India there was the brahmaparusha, a vampire-like creature with a head encircled by intestines and a skull from which it drank blood. The most famous Indian vampire is Kali who had fangs and drunk the blood of the demon Raktabija so he could not reproduce himself from the drops spilled.
Of all the stories of paranormal creatures, none have captured the imagination quite as much as the vampire. Stories of undead entities, who rise from their graves to feast on the blood of the living, have endured for centuries, and have inspired a myriad of pop culture films, books and TV shows, from the sublime to ridiculous, but are stories of vampires more than just terrifying myths; more than just great entertainment? Was there really a vampire at Croglin Grange, or were overactive imaginations and folklore to blame for the stories which emerged from the Cumberland village in the 1800s.
The Cranswell Family
The story of the Croglin Grange vampire was first printed in a book called ‘My Solitary Life’ in the 1890s. It was written by Augustus hare, who claimed that descendent of the family featured in the story told him about the sinister events of which he wrote. Croglin Grange was a low stone house on a hill that overlooked a valley near an ancient churchyard and church. Legend has it that the Fisher family owned it for centuries. In the 1800s, the Fishers moved into a larger dwelling and decided to rent out the property. The house was empty all winter, but, in the spring was rented to Edward, Michael and Amelia Cranswell, siblings.
One cool summer night, the Cranswell sister retired to bed. Whilst peering from her chamber window to the dark churchyard at the end of her property, she noticed two lights moving above the gravestones. They then hovered over the wall, quickly approaching the lawn of Croglin Grange. Although she had no idea what the strange lights were, Miss Cranswell felt a sense of unease and quickly closed the window and bolted her door, before she took to bed.
At the Window
As she fell into sleep, Miss Cranswell was abruptly woken by a rustling sound which seemed to be coming from outside of her window. Sitting up, she glanced toward the window and saw the same two lights she had watched leave the graveyard, lights she now knew to be eyes because before her she saw a vampire. Miss Cranswell tried to scream, but she found herself paralysed by sheer terror.
Unable to move, Miss Cranswell watched in horror as the terrible creature began to unpick the lead from her windows, causing pane after pane of glass to fall to her bedroom floor. A grey, dead, but not lifeless, hand reached through the window and worked the latch. The window swung open and the vampire gracefully climbed into her chamber. Unable to breathe, Miss Cranswell could only watch on in horror as the vampire came to his feet. Leering over her, the pale demon grabbed Miss Cranswell’s hair, pulling her head back as if to kiss the terrified woman with his bloody red lips.
Amelia became uneasy, bolted the door, made sure that the window was securely shut, then went to bed to try to get some sleep.
She heard a rustling outside of her window and scratching at the window pane. Then, she saw it. It had a shriveled brown face, like a walnut and glowing eyes. The creature removed a pane, then unlocked the window. Amelia, in terror, was unable to scream at first. The hideous thing stalked toward her and bit her in the neck. Finally, she was able to scream out and her brothers rushed to her room, but had to break the locked door open with a poker.
She noticed the creature had started picking at one of the panes in the window, and in moments, one of the pieces of glass fell into the room. The vampire then put its hand in through the window, unlocked it, and opened it. Within seconds, it was in the room and standking over her. It immediately grabbed her by the hair, pulled her head back, and bit into her throat. She screamed loudly, and in a few seconds, her brothers came running to her locked bedroom door and broke it down.
When they entered the room, the two men found their sister lying in bed, unconscious and with her neck bleeding. The vampire was in the process of escaping through the open window. One brother chased it into the woods and noticed that it seemed to disappear over the wall of the churchyard. The other brother tended to his injured sister.
Later, when the woman recovered consciousness, she commented that her attacker was probably some lunatic who had escaped from an asylum. The doctor who examined her the next day felt that she had suffered a great shock, and, regardless of what had caused it, some change in her surroundings would do her much good. So the three decided to go away to Switzerland. They stayed there until the autumn, when the young woman decided that she would like to return, commenting that lunatics do not escape from asylums every day.
One brother tended to her while the other went to the window and saw a form running toward the churchyard, then disappear over a wall.
She went to her doctor who suggested a change of location for a while, so the trio decided to vacation in Switzerland. After Amelia recuperated, they returned to the Grange.
The Cranswell brothers were not about to let the vampiric entity get away with his crime and they swore to avenge their sister. Hearing of their plans, Miss Cranswell insisted that they use her as bait to lure the phantom into their trap, and despite their protestations, she would not be dissuaded from this course of action.
The family returned to Croglin Grange in the winter and sweet about their plans, Miss Cranswell retired to her bedroom, and it was not long before the vampire made his move. As darkness fell, two lights appeared above the gravestones and made their way to Croglin Grange.
As before, the demonic entity appeared at Miss Cranswell’s window and began to remove the window panes so that he could once again feed on the blood of the brave woman. This time, however, her brothers were ready for him. As the vampire entered their sister’s room, the brothers emerged from the shadows and shot at the inhuman creature before them. The vampire let out a piercing shriek and flew off out of the window it had used to make its sinister entry.
The next day, the brothers gathered some of the men in the village and went to the churchyard. Nothing was askew in the graveyard, but they noticed a vault door was slightly open, so they went into the crypt. What they saw was horrifying. All but one coffin was in disarray and there were bones scattered about the floor.
The brothers and villagers wrenched the lid to the coffin open and saw the hideous wrinkled walnut colored face of the thing it contained. There was a fresh wound from a gunshot on its leg.They took the coffin and the creature it held into the churchyard and burned them until all that remained were ashes.
This account has been controversial since the twentieth century.
In 1924, Charles G. Harper decided to challenge Hare’s book and his account of the vampyre. He visited Cumberland and could not find a house named Croglin Grange, although he found both a Croglin High Hall and a Croglin Low Hall but neither fit the description of the Grange. There was no church nearby. The closest was a mile away. There was no vault as described by the brothers and the villagers.
Later, F. Clive-Ross visited the area and challenged Harper’s findings. He interviewed the local people and deduced that Croglin Low Hall was what Hare referred to as the Grange. He also noted that a chapel had existed near the house and its foundation stones were still there in the 1930s. Clive-Ross appeared to refute Harper’s challenges.
In 1968, parapsychologist and writer, D. Scott Rogo challenged Hare’s story. There was a book, Varney the Vampire, which was popular, published in 1847. The book was known as a Penny Dreadful book and the authorship has not been definitively established. These books sold for a penny and are like pulp books and magazines, sensational. Some of the authors do not want to admit they wrote them. Montague Summers, in 1929, published a book that contained both stories. Rogo concluded that it was likely that one story was based upon another and that is was highly likely Croglin Grange was a hoax.
Later, Clive-Ross talked to the local residents of Cumberland and discovered that Hare made a huge blunder. The story took place in the 1680s, not the 1870s. If the events did happen, they happened nearly two centuries earlier than Hare stated.
Recent research done by Lionel Fanthorpe suggests that the events took place in the 1600s. A vault close to the Grange was demolished during Cromwell’s time and a second story was added after this era. These findings, beyond a doubt, place the events before the publication of Varney the Vampire.
Could the account of the vampyre of Croglin Grange actually have happened? According to the documentation of vampyre epidemic in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when the beast was found, it appeared the person had just died and the body was filled with fresh blood. This vampyre’s body was shriveled, yet it did have the gunshot wound. And, the body was not subject to a wooden stake, nails or anything invasive. It was simply burned.
Consider the possibility that something did, in fact happen in the 1600s and was handed down from generation to generation by oral tradition. When stories are told and retold, some people decide to add twists to the original story to make it more exciting. Or facts can become muddled and changed. It’s akin to the children's game of “whisper down the alley.” One child whispers something into another's ear, then what is apparently heard is repeated until the last child hears it. When the last child tells what has been heard, the results are amusing because it is rarely what the initial child said.
It is possible that Varney's author heard the legend and decided to write about it as a Penny Dreadful. It could be that Hare either read this book and copied its ideas or, independently heard about the legend and wrote his own account of it.
It is unfortunate that no one, when Hare’s book was published thought to investigate and question the villagers about the event. The Cranswells could still have been alive and traced. Usually, in this paranormal literature at the time, people names were not used, but referred to Mr. Mrs. or Miss C or by initials only without a title or given pseudonyms.