The Phantom Of Croglin Grange
The phantom of Croglin Grange is one of the best known vampire stories in Britain. It is as famous in the annals of vampire lore as Whitby and its Dracula associations. The actual story bears the marks of fiction and first appeared in a book called ‘In My Solitary life’ by Augustus Hare. What follows is an adapted and shortened version of his story.
Legend tells that Croglin Grange was in the hands of the Fisher Family for many centuries. In the Early 19th Century the Fishers moved from the property into larger dwellings and put the property up to let. All during the cold long winter the house was empty, who knows what ancient stirrings were aroused in its period of dereliction. As the winter passed into spring the grange was finally let to 2 brothers and a sister called the Cranswells. It seems that they enjoyed life to the full and soon settled in to village routine and socialised with the local people. They were well liked within the village and loved their new home very much.
One summers evening as the shadows drew long around the Grange, and the Churchyard hollow took on the blackness of night. Miss Cranswell took her leave to her bed chamber, she paused to look out of the window in the direction of the darkened churchyard at the bottom of their long lawn, and noticed something peculiar in the vicinity of the churchyard. It seemed that above the darker blackness of the gravestones, she could see two points of light moving. In time they moved from the graveyard over the shadows of the wall, moving closer on to the bottom of the lawn where they played around the churchyard wall. By this time Miss Cranswells curiosity had given way to a deep feeling of unease, she shut the window tight bolted the door and laid down in her bed to try and get some sleep.
After a short while she checked herself for her foolish superstition and slowly drifted to slumber. On the verge of sleep she was suddenly jolted awake by a low rustling from outside the window. She twisted in bed and sat bolt upright, outside the window burning like coals in the night were two points of light, which she now recognised as the demon eyes of some humanoid creature who was grasping at the window pane. She tried to scream but terror froze the sound in her throat.
The sound of rustling gave way to picking and she realised that the creatures brutish hands were unpicking the lead from the triangular panes. First one, then another of the small glass panels gave way and fell to the floor. A grey cadaver like hand reached in and pulled the latch. The window swung inwards in one slow motion and the figure climbed through the gap with a cat like ease. Miss Cranswell could now hardly breathe let alone scream for before her stood the towering figure of a man, pale, almost translucent with bright burning eyes and blood red lips. He stepped to the bed and in one movement grasped her hair with gnarled hands, and pulled her head back as if to deliver a kiss.
The brothers, sleeping in separate rooms were aroused by a loud high pitched scream that seemed to shake the very walls of the Grange. In a moment they were before their sisters door. The door was locked so they smashed through with a poker, eventually breaking through into a devastating scene. There was a stench of mouldy decay in the air and upon the bed lay their sister, blood pumping from arterial gashes in her neck. One of the brothers rushed to the open window and just caught sight of a shadow flitting across the bottom of the lawn near the churchyard. They managed to stop the blood flow and revive Miss Cranswell, the next few hours were spent in the attempt to save her life.
Miss Cranswell survived the attack and when she was strong enough to travel they took her to Switzerland to recuperate in the fresh mountain air. When the full story was in the open the brothers swore revenge on the creature, at whose nature they could only guess. When Miss Cranswell had recovered fully and heard of her brothers plans to hunt out her assailant, she persuaded her brothers to let her act as bait, and would not be dissuaded by her brothers concerns.
So it came to be that the Cranswells returned to Croglin one dark winters day. Miss Cranswell took her place in the room overlooking the churchyard, and as the moon rose a pair of bright lights shone in the shadows of the churchyard. Once more the figure of a man appeared at the window and picked the leaded glass to gain entry to the bed chamber. This time the two brothers were lying in wait in the shadows, as the figure came to step into the room they both loosed shots at the creature. There was a low howl and the creature sped off at in the direction from whence it came. Not wishing to follow such a night creature into its domain the two brothers waited for daybreak.
First thing in the morning they took Miss Cranswell to safety and gathered all the residents of the grange around them to carry out their gruesome task. The men searched the graveyard for any signs of disturbance on finding none turned their attention to the church. All was quiet but they noticed that the crypt door was slightly ajar. Pushing into the crypt they were met with a horrific scene. All around the crypt were the scattered remains of broken coffins and gnawed human bones. One coffin stood alone in the corner and seemed to have been left untouched by the chaos. The villagers wrenched off the coffin lid, inside wrapped in mouldy clothes was what they assumed to be a vampire. Its eyes were cold and lifeless in the daylight but a fresh pistol wound was gaping from one of the creatures legs. The villagers dragged the coffin and its demonic contents out into the churchyard and burned the lot to ashes.
Nobody seemed to know where this strange creature came from, or why it had remained dormant in the centuries of peace when the Fishers lived in the property. One can only surmise that during the period of dereliction, an age old horror was reawakened and would not return to rest after the house was reoccupied.
Recent research by Lionel Fanthorpe suggests that the story is much older than reported. A chapel and vault closer to the house were demolished in Cromwells day, and a second storey was added to the house after this date. So the description from the story matches much better in the 17th century.