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.
There was a hot spell and Amelia did not feel well, so she retired early. She closed the window, but not the shutters. As she looked out of her window, she saw what appeared to be two small lights in the churchyard. They moved from the graveyard and over the wall, approaching the bottom of the lawn.
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.
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.
Amelia’s brothers slept with guns in nearby rooms, waiting to see if the hideous thing would return. They were ready. The woman looked out of her window and, again, saw the lights she had seen in the summer. It approached her window and tried to pick at the glass. According to one version, the brothers were in the room with Amelia and shot it in there. The more plausible version is that the sister screamed and they shot it as it ran away on the lawn. It emitted a howl and limped into the churchyard.
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.
And, all of this compounds the mystery of the vampire of Croglin Grange.
Author: Jill Stefko, PhD