Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe


Copyright (C) Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe

  THE CROGLIN GRANGE MYSTERY Article by Patricia and Lionel Fanthorpe

The strange story of the Croglin Grange Vampire appeared in Augustus Hare’s book The Story of my Life. In the closing decades of the 19th century one of the Hare ladies married Captain Fisher, who had once lived in Croglin Grange near Penrith and Augustus met him at the wedding. It is more than possible that they had a few celebratory drinks together at the reception, which may have accounted for Augustus getting confused about when the events in the vampire story allegedly took place. In his account of it, he gave the impression that it had happened not long before the wedding, towards the end of the 19th century.
A Croglin researcher also needs to note that Varney the Vampire written by James Malcolm Rymer (1804 – 1882) was widely read when it was published in penny parts in 1853. Some of Varney’s fictional adventures are similar to the Croglin Grange accounts.

The basis of the Croglin story was that the Fisher family had moved from Croglin to London because of their business interests, and the Grange had been leased to a family named Cranswell, consisting of two brothers Mike and Edward, and their sister Amelia. There were, apparently, strange tales in the village to the effect that something dangerous made periodic attacks on people and animals in the area, but this did not dissuade the Cranswells from leasing the Grange.
The Grange was described as a single storey building, so that all the bedrooms were on the ground floor. One summer evening a few weeks after the Cranswells had moved in, Amelia saw what she described as a frightening, scarecrow-like figure with blazing eyes moving across the lawn towards her bedroom. She screamed for help as it picked away the lead lights of her window, thrust a claw-like hand inside and opened the catch. Her brothers tried hard to smash down her locked bedroom door, but by the time they came to her rescue, the mysterious attacker had bitten her face and throat – which was why it was popularly described as a vampire. As Amelia slowly recovered, the family decided to go to Switzerland for a few weeks to aid her convalescence. While there the brothers purchased two Swiss pistols in a case with matching ammunition. That ammunition is significant in the story of the Croglin vampire: unlike British pistol ball lead, this Swiss lead had a distinct greenish tinge.


Copyright (C) Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe

Amelia was a highly intelligent girl with courage to match her intellect. She worked out a plan: Mike was to have the room opposite hers and the doors were to remain open; Edward was to have the room nearest the front door; if the thing returned, big Mike was to rush to Amelia’s defence with one of the pistols, while Edward pursued it outside with the other gun.
It did return.

Croglin Grange – also called Croglin Low Hall.

Amelia’s plan worked perfectly. Mike, furiously angry with the thing that had injured Amelia on its first visit, was at her side in a moment, gun in hand. Whatever it was fled, only to run into Edward who fired at point blank range and hit it in the leg. It screamed with pain and limped a few yards to the nearby church, where it vanished into a vault. Edward stood guarding the vault entrance, not knowing what to do for the best. If he left the door to fetch Mike, the thing might escape. If he went in after it with an empty gun, it might easily overpower him. He recalled all too vividly the injuries it had inflicted on Amelia on its first visit. He finally decided to risk leaving the door unguarded to fetch Mike and any other helpers they could recruit.

Within a few minutes, a dozen burly villagers were reinforcing the Cranswell brothers as they opened the door of the vault. An eerie sight confronted them.
An open coffin stood on a dais in the centre of the vault. The semi-mummified occupant wore the clothes of a bygone century and had fresh red blood on its mouth and hands. The Cranswells and their stalwart posse carried it to the nearest crossroads, dismembered it, beheaded it and staked it through the heart. During these gruesome proceedings, a pistol ball was discovered in one of its legs. It was made from green Swiss lead. Finally the Cranswells and their colleagues burnt the remains. If ever a vampire was conclusively disposed of – that one was! The villagers were certain that it had been destroyed as no further attacks on either people or animals were reported from the Croglin area.

When we went to investigate the story on site, there were a number of curious anomalies. Croglin Grange had two storeys – so why were the bedrooms on the ground floor? There was no church nearer than the one in Croglin village about two miles from the Grange – and that one had no adjacent vaults. It also seemed strange that the Cranswells had used old-fashioned single-shot pistols in the late 19th century. A six-chambered 0·45 magnum Colt revolver would have been much more effective.

These problems, however, were solved by our further research. Close examination of the Grange revealed corbels that indicated a second storey had been added at some time in the long history of the ancient building. As we talked with the farmer who lived in the Grange when we visited it, she told us that there was a patch of land – quite close to the house – that she couldn’t plough because it held the remains of an ancient church and its subterranean foundations made that land impossible to cultivate. It had apparently ceased to be a place of worship after Cromwell’s men had damaged it following the Civil War in the 17th century.