The Undead Rise Once More

In Others
August 11, 2009

“It was just a quarter before twelve o’clock when we got into the
churchyard over the low wall. The night was dark with occasional
gleams of moonlight between the dents of the heavy clouds that scudded
across the sky. We all kept somehow close together, with Van Helsing
slightly in front as he led the way…. The Professor unlocked the door,
and seeing a natural hesitation amongst us for various reasons, solved
the difficulty by entering first himself. The rest of us followed,
and he closed the door. He then lit a dark lantern and pointed to a
coffin…. Van Helsing said to me,
“You were with me here yesterday. Was the body of Miss Lucy in that
“It was.”

The Professor turned to the rest saying, “You hear, and yet there is
no one who does not believe with me.”

He took his screwdriver and again took off the lid of the coffin.
Arthur looked on, very pale but silent. When the lid was removed he
stepped forward. He evidently did not know that there was a leaden
coffin, or at any rate, had not thought of it. When he saw the rent
in the lead, the blood rushed to his face for an instant, but as
quickly fell away again, so that he remained of a ghastly whiteness.
He was still silent. Van Helsing forced back the leaden flange, and
we all looked in and recoiled.

The coffin was empty!”

Dracula – Bram Stoker

Yes, today I finished that foul work which on the 1st of this
month I purposed to complete. Indeed, I at last discovered
that tomb which first gave rise in the mind of Stoker to the
notion and conception of the fiend, Nosferatu, Count Dracula.

In fact, old Hendon Cemetery is literally round the corner
from my house – my previous estimate of ‘a five-minute walk’
turned out to be a bit long, to be honest. (Which is a good
thing because I’m supposed to be chained to the desk again
this week working on changes frommy copyeditor, and I know
my editor at Penguin reads this blog* and wouldn’t like to hear
that I’d gone on any long excursions.)

Here is the tomb:

I can quite see why it inspired Stoker. The tomb was erected in 1821, long before missile silos or bomb shelters, but it has that look of a place built to keep things out or… to keep someone in. I expect Philip Rundall of Hendon probably thought it looked rather stylishly like a bank vault.

I have to say, I feel proud of Hendon. It’s a beautiful ancient graveyard, wonderfully crumbly, with lovely views.

And I am personally pretty excited to think that all those vampire stories, from Hammer Horror to Twilight, from Nosferatu to Buffy all started right here. I feel I should start keeping a stake by my bed, just to pay homage.

*Hi Kate!

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