The History of the Modern Vampire

The myth of life sucking demons has been putting the fright into ordinary folks for fucking ages (or centuries as you might call it)

Through varying incarnations and guises, these iconic undead killers have remained the stuff of nightmares. Pennywises and Freddy Kruegers come and go, but vampires are forever.

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What lippie is that babes? Via Giphy

So without further ado, lets take a look at the history of our favourite monster!

The First Vampire: Ekimmu

Arguably the earliest incarnation of vampires is the Ekimmu or Eddimu from ancient Babylonia (we’re talking from like 4,000 years B.C here)

The Ekimmu was a restless spirit of the dead who drained the blood and life-force of the living. They were said to be created from souls who met a violent end or who weren’t buried properly.

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It’s dinner tiiiiime! Via giphy

And if you thought that after 1000s of years these suckers has flown off, you’d be mistaken! It’s said that The Ekimmu still live in big cities amongst the homeless spreading death and disease…

The Lady is a Vamp: Estries

Estries are another ancient vampire from Jewish Folklore;  female vampires they feed on the blood of the living and have the ability to shapeshift into animals, usually preferring the form of cats.

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It’s basically reverse Sailormoon…but with murder and no dick in a top hat!!

Killing an Estrie meant decapitating and burning the corpse. This form of vampire extermination apparently works…because today decapitation and a good vamp bonfire are also referred to as effective ways to kill our more modern vamps.

Vampires of Eastern Europe 

Now Vampires in one form or another have been around in European folklore for hundreds of years, such as the Shtriga from Albanian folklore.

The Shtriga was a delightful vampire witch that sucked up the blood of babies and infants at night (nice!)

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Mmmmmm babies. Via Giphy

Shtriga would then turn themselves into a flying insect (think moth, wasp etc) and fly the feck outta there post meal without even leaving a tip.

Another vamp favourites from this corner of Europe is the Strigoi (which sounds like it should be a delicious pastry).

These vampires hailed from Romanian culture and have fed heavily into our modern vampire mythos; the spirits of the dead they drained the blood from living creatures and had the ability to transform into different animals, not only that but the jammy buggers could also turn invisible.

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And for my next trick… Via Giphy

The best way to kill one was to cut the head off a suspected Strigoi corpse and to stab it in the chest with steel (because the Romanians are nothing if not thorough). The vampire slayer would then leave the vamp’s head between the knees or behind the bum. Which just seems rude.

The Best Selling Vampire 

We can thank short story, The Vampyre by John William Polder, for our modern day vampires.

Published in 1819 it tells the story of charming aristocratic vamp Lord Ruthven who is a total shit to his mate Aubrey (probably because he is a 19th century aristocrat). Ruthven kills the girl Aubrey fancies and then goes after his sister. It ends with a blood drained corpse and a missing Ruthven.

Next up came Carmilla in 1872, An amazing short story from Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, WHICH BTW GAVE BIRTH TO QUEER LADY VAMPIRES!

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Carmilla trying to cop a feel… Via Wikipedia

Carmilla is a super sexy lady vamp who prefers to chomp down on and suck the life out of innocent young ladies. Sadly though Carmilla is a trailblazer and future queer icon… it doesn’t end well for her, she gets a stake through the heart, then they cut her head off and burn her body… finally they chuck the ashes in a river. Overkill much?

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published in 1897, was heavily influenced by The Vampyre and Carmilla.

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Phwooooooooooor Drac. Via Giphy

Stoker elevated the modern vampire by taking the already established vampire mythos and building on it in a way that cemented it into the public’s consciousness.

  • Blood lust – check
  • Not keen on garlic – check
  • Hates crosses – check
  • Some kind of toff aristocrat as the main vamp – check
  • Fuck loads of bats – check.

When Dracula was released it wasn’t an immediate hit, in fact it wasn’t until silent nightmare vamp flick Nosferatu was made in 1922 that Dracula became more well-known.

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Creepy as fuck mate. Via Giphy

The producers of Nosferatu wanted to do a faithful version of Stoker’s Dracula, but they weren’t allowed. Stoker’s widow was having none of it.

To get round the fact they couldn’t use Drac producers basically changed some names and tweaked the ending from the book having their count vamp die in a sunlight related accident instead of getting staked.

Thanks to this, we now we know vamps hate sunlight! We also have the word ‘Nosferatu’ as a word to describe vamps thanks to this film too! Knowledge is power! 

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F Yeah History, helping people win pub quizzes since 2017

Post Dracula

Thanks to Dracula’s cinematic success, everyone wanted a piece of the undead action.

Universal had a punt at making the Dracula legend with Bela Lugosi giving Drac that sassy European accent, Hammer Horror upped the sexy factor in their vamp films thanks to Christopher Lee feeding on big busted wenches and also used Carmilla as an influence for some light lesbian vampire action.

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Dead but delicious. Via Giphy

Then you have Buffy, Blade, Anne Rice novels, True Blood and our personal fave the Underworld series (anything that puts Kate Beckinsale in PVC is a winner) plus a million other vamp inspired shows and books that all take lore and influence from Dracula & co.

Our worldwide vampire obsession continues to this day. Everyone loves a new vampire iteration… unless you decide to make them sparkly, creepy and abusive bum nuggets… also BTW no way would anyone in their right mind choose Pattinson over Lautner.

Sara Westrop is passionate about making history accessible (and fun!) for everyone. A disabled, queer writer from just outside London, who loves writing about the unsung chapters of history.

Britain’s 5 Most Horrifyingly Haunted Places

Talking about haunted places in Britain is a doddle… it’d probably be easier to tell you places that aren’t haunted or have some kind of horrific supernatural story behind it. We’re tripping over ghosts and castles everywhere!

But these 5…. these 5 places are so horrifically haunted that they deserve a special place in the heart of every Halloween loving goth kid.

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So. Many. Fucking. Ghosts. Via Giphy

Hampton Court Palace

This place has hella ghosts. Like so many that we could probably do a post just on Hampton Court… but we have a word count to keep to (and other haunted spots to visit) so we’ll touch base with just some of their more famous spooks.

The ghosts of Catherine Howard AND Jane Seymour (wives of historical gobshite King Henry VIII) are supposedly busy getting their spook on here.

It is said that Catherine haunts the (rather aptly named) haunted gallery. Catherine supposedly ran down the gallery to beg Henry for mercy; her attempt failed and Henry had her head cut off in 1541. Now Catherine is stuck in some kind of horrifying historic limbo, forever trapped wailing in that corridor.

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Yeeeeeah…Henry was a dick! Via Giphy

Henry’s 3rd wive, Jane, also supposedly haunts Hampton Court and can be seen walking through the palace courtyards carrying a lantern. She died at the palace in 1537 giving birth to King Henry VIII’s only male heir, Edward. TBH considering what a shit nozzle Henry was, she got off lightly.

Hampton Court’s most famous ghost though is SKELETOR (not the He Man baddie sadly).

CCTV caught this spook in 2003 after security staff noticed the fire doors near the Clock Court kept being violently flung open and closed again.

CCTV CAUGHT THE IMAGE OF THE GHOST IN A FANCY ROBE!

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Skeletor! Via Giphy

One half of F Yeah History even had her own ghostly encounter whilst working there. Whilst in one of the shops, Greensleeves started playing on the shops iPod speaker system (nightmarish enough) but the song wouldn’t stop playing, looping itself on an endless repeat.

Our brave lass unplugged the iPod AND IT STILL KEPT PLAYING GREENSLEEVES! 

Note: The other half of F Yeah History is a ghost non-believer and would like to point out that she reckons the speakers were just broken…but screw that we’re going with GHOSTS 

 

Glasgow Necropolis

Now this super ancient graveyard has the literal name ‘city of the dead’ opened in 1833. The place is seriously crowded, housing over 50,000 souls; so you’re bound to see some weird shit happen round there.

Sightings of ghosts have been spotted since its conception, and locals advise that if you’re going there alone at night you should be respectful and polite, unless you want a ghost boot up the arse.

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The John Henry Alexander Monument at Glasgow Necropolis. Via Wikipedia

One of the stranger rumours was that a vampire lurked round this graveyard back in the 1950’s, there were several sightings of a tall sinister looking man in a huge cape who disappeared into thin air if confronted and the vampire was blamed for the disappearance of two local children.

Local kids armed themselves with knives and homemade stakes and patrolled for two nights back in September of 1954.

Local PC Alex Deeprose was called down to make the kiddies dispurse, he was shocked at the sheer number of them and it took weeks for the patrols to stop!

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Sadly a bit before her time… via Giphy

Bolsover Castle

One of our faves, Bolsover is chock full of supernatural shenanigans. This site has had reports of spooky sightings, people being pushed about by unseen forces and objects moving around between locked doors!

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Haunted AF Bolsover Castle. Via Wikipedia

Bolsover was built on an ancient burial ground (recipe for supernatural disaster) and has been around since the 11th Century, so there’s a bum load of history there and room for plenty of ghosts.

One of the more well-known ghosts is that of a little boy who holds the hand of female visitors when they explore the garden.

They’ve had staff check out after experiencing spooks first hand. Night shift security guards have handed in their notice after seeing lights and hearing voices when checking the site on their own.

Once during some routine maintenance work 4 builders watched a period clad lady walk through a wall near where they were working. Two of them decided ‘fuck this!’ and didn’t come back.

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What he said… via Giphy

Note: The other half of F Yeah History would like to note that Bolsover is so supposedly haunted, that its staff have had to start a ghost sightings books, just to keep up with all the creepy shenanigans (apparently, despite not believing in ghosts, the other half of F Yeah History is a know it all…)

Woodchester Mansion

Woodchester Mansion is just a shell of what would have been an impressive gothic mansion, it’s a strange story because the build was suddenly abandoned in the 1870s and no one ever finished off the work, so it’s stood there for over a hundred years.

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Looks quite nice in the daytime! Via Wikipedia

There were rumours one of the workers was murdered on site, and his ghost haunted remaining builders there who downed tools and promptly fucked off… the likelihood is that the money for the build just ran out.

From there its history reads like a series of American Horror story!

During the Second World War the grounds of the house were used for D-Day training and one day a fatal accident took place when a bridge over the lake collapsed and soldiers performing a drill were drowned.

Their bodies were taken back to the house and their ghosts still haunt the ruins; visitors claim to have seen men in uniform wandering through the house.

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😱 via Giphy

The house itself is said to house a bunch of seriously nasty ghosties. Before it was turned into a gothic shell it was the site of a few other fancy houses so the site has collected all the ghosts from previous incarnations.

There’s a ghost monk in the chapel, a mean old lady ghost who grabs at people in the dark and the ghost of a small girl who likes to trip people up (so all nice people)

It’s been featured in loads of ghost hunter TV shows like Most Haunted and Ghost Hunters International so if you want to get in on the action book yourself in for a ghost hunt there. They do them all the fecking time!

 

Bleeding Heart Yard

This one is proper creepy. Legend has it that Lady Elizabeth Hatton a beautiful Tudor socialite was brutally murdered in the yard.

She was found torn limb from limb and her still beating heart was left in the road found by a (probably) really fecking traumatised passer-by.

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People have reported hearing a loud beating sound like, y’know…. a heartbeat, when in the yard, others have seen a mournful looking woman said to be the ghost of Elizabeth looking for her still beating heart.

Depending on the legend she was either murdered by her lover, a penniless dancer, who was jealous of her attention from rich fancy men or it was the devil himself who killed her. Not much difference between those two really.

Now it houses a super fancy bistro (their eggs Royale is the tits), but we used to work near there and neither of us would walk down the yard at night. It is creepy as fuck.

We hope you enjoyed our countdown, if you fancy visiting for yourself there’s ghost tours round most of these ones that go on year round. Bolsover even has its own FrightFest this October celebrating all their ghosties!

Sara Westrop is passionate about making history accessible (and fun!) for everyone. A disabled, queer writer from just outside London, who loves writing about the unsung chapters of history.

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