I received a lovely long letter today from my dear friend Peter Underwood, much of it too personal to share, but the intriguing part I certainly can. The letter was accompanied by the latest Journal of the Society for Psychical Studies, of which Peter is Honorary President, a signed copy of his latest book, and something in a mysterious small box of some considerable age, which, after I opened it, quite took me aback. What I found inside is referred to in a chapter of the anthology Peter and I collaborated on four decades ago which emerged as The Vampire's Bedside Companion (1975). The chapter is titled "A Vampire Talisman."
Peter mentioned the contents of the mysterious box only in passing, relegated to a PPS at the foot of his recent letter where he wrote: "I think it is time you had the vampire protection medallion."
The first edition of the 1975 anthology, in common with the second edition of The Highgate Vampire, is dedicated to the memory of Montague Summers followed in The Vampire's Bedside Companion by the inscription: "in the hope that he will forgive me for revealing some of the secrets of the Vampire Medallion - and I shall not regret it."
Appropriately enough, the chapter about the medallion is immediately followed by two chapters recounting the Highgate Vampire happenings and my investigation up to and including discovery of the vampire tomb in the summer of 1970. The full account would not be revealed until after the case was closed.
Peter describes the medallion in the book as containing "lettering in what could be old Slavonic, or Romanian, which incorporated both Roman and Cyrillic characters," and informs that Montague Summers "blessed it for me." The old vampirologist and priest died suddenly soon afterwards in 1948.
Peter was investigating a case of vampirism at the time and "found Summers tremendously helpful with knowledgeable advice. But all my efforts to countermand my vampire had no effect and some weeks after my initial visit I was back talking to him again. This time he brought out a brass medallion which he said had great power against vampires and evil spirits. He said he did not expect to have any further use for it but he wanted it to be in the possession of someone who could use it whenever the necessity arose. He believed completely in the supernatural vampire and had no doubt whatever that I would be called upon to use the talisman many times during my lifetime."
I had been informed by Peter some time back that the medallion passed to him by Montague Summers would one day be mine and that he had made a provision in his Will to that effect. Clearly he now feels that any benefit afforded by this curious object should be in my possession during the darkening days ahead. I am both overwhelmed and grateful, as there remains much work to do in this fearful realm in the winter of my life.
I have received several requests from friends, colleagues and other interested parties, eg vampire researchers etc, to view the medallion.
This can be arranged by appointment.