Saturday, 1 January 2011

Christopher Neil-Smith

The Reverend Christopher Neil-Smith (1920-1995) was an Anglican priest, originally from Hampstead, most celebrated for his practice of exorcism and his paranormal interests.[1] Like Bishop Manchester, whom he knew, Reverend Neil-Smith  believed that evil is an external reality and should be treated as such rather than as an abstract concept.

A vicar at St Saviour's Anglican Church at Eton Road in Hampstead, London, he performed more than three thousand exorcisms in Britain since 1949. In 1972, the Bishop of London authorised him to exorcise demons according to his own judgement.[2] Two years earlier, he had been misquoted in the Hampstead & Highgate Express, 27 February 1970, as saying that vampires are "probably a novelistic embellishment," but, as Bishop Seán Manchester has subsequently pointed out, Reverend Neil-Smith claimed to have actually exorcised vampires, as confirmed in a book written by Daniel Farson and Angus Hall which records:
"Yet not far from Highgate Cemetery lives a man who takes reports of vampirism seriously. The Reverend Christopher Neil-Smith is a leading British exorcist and writer on exorcism. He can cite several examples of people who have come to him for help in connection with vampirism. 'The one that particularly strikes me is that of a woman who showed me the marks on her wrists which appeared at night, where blood had definitely been taken. And there was no apparent reason why this should have occurred. They were marks like those of an animal. Something like scratching.' He denies this might have been done by the woman herself. She came to him when she felt her blood was being sucked away, and after he performed an exorcism the marks disappeared. Another person who came from South America 'had a similar phenomenon, as if an animal had sucked away his blood and attacked him at night.' Again, the Reverend Neil-Smith could find no obvious explanation. There is a third case of a man who, after his brother died, had the strange feeling that his lifeblood was being slowly sucked away from him. 'There seems to be evidence this was so,' says Neil-Smith. 'He was a perfectly normal person before, but after the brother's death he felt his life was being sucked away from him as if the spirit of his brother was feeding on him. When the exorcism was performed he felt a release and new life, as if new blood ran in his veins.' Neil-Smith rules out the possibility of a simple psychological explanation for this, such as a feeling of guilt by the survivor toward his brother. 'There was no disharmony between them. In fact he wasn't clear for some time that it (the vampire) was his brother.' The clergyman describes a vampire as 'half animal, half human,' and firmly refutes the suggestion that such things are all in the mind. 'I think that's a very naive interpretation,' he says. 'All the evidence points to the contrary'." [6] 

The Reverend Christopher Neil-Smith, contrary to Gerald Isaaman's false attribution of 27 February 1970 in a local Hampstead newspaper, concluded that there really are such a things as vampires.

David Farrant posted the following on 6 April 2007 about Reverend Neil-Smith:

“Rev Christopher Neil-Smith was called into Wormwood Scrubs Prison in November 1974 after a man sharing a cell with me and one other became convinced that he had become possessed after we had conducted a séance in the cell one night. He would wake up screaming in the cell and swore that some 'evil spirit' had entered him. Naturally, as I was in there for allegedly conducting 'witchcraft ceremonies' in Highgate Cemetery, I was held to blame for his condition. He was moved out of the cell, but the next thing I heard was that the Rev Neil-Smith had been called in to 'exorcise' him in the prison chapel. A 'trustee' was present and I got the full story. The prison governor was present, the prison chaplain and a couple of other people. During this 'exorcism', Neil-Smith violently shook this man's head and repeated several times ‘Drive out the evil powers of David Farrant!’ … This took place at the end of 1974 which was after the publication of Neil-Smith's book. I'm sure it would have been included otherwise as I doubt the Rev Neil-Smith would have forgotten it!”
Christopher Neil-Smith wrote Praying for daylight: God through modern eyes [3] as well as The Exorcist and the Possessed in which he detailed his experiences and beliefs about exorcism.[4] In the latter, he claimed that evil should be treated as an actual force rather than an abstract idea.[5]

Appearing on radio and television programmes, Reverend Neil-Smith became well known in the public debates about exorcism, demons and vampires in the mid-1970s following the popular response to Peter Blatty's The Exorcist, and, of course, the vampire sightings, attacks and panics centred at nearby Highgate Cemetery, recorded throughout the media earlier in that decade, which had surfaced in print in Peter Underwood's anthology The Vampire's Bedside Companion (Leslie Frewin, 1975) to which Bishop Manchester made a significant contribution by writing a chapter comprising one fifth of the book in anticipation of his own bestselling The Highgate Vampire (British Occult Society, 1985; Gothic Press, 1991). 
Christopher Neil-Smith died at the age of seventy-five. He was married, and had two sons.[1]


  1. ^ a b Beeson, Trevor (2006). "The Reverend Christopher Neil-Smith". Priests And Prelates: The Daily Telegraph Clerical Obituaries. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0826481000. Retrieved April 20, 2010. 
  2. ^ Sands, Kathleen R. Demon possession in Elizabethan England. Praeger Publishers. Retrieved 2010-04-03. "At around the same time, Father Christopher Neil-Smith, an Anglican priest, received a standing license from the Bishop of London authorizing him to exorcise freely according to his own judgment." 
  3. ^ Neil-Smith, Christopher. Praying for daylight: God through modern eyes. P. Smith. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  4. ^ Cramer, Marc. The devil within. W.H. Allen. Retrieved 2010-04-03. "with the noted exorcist, the Rev. Christopher Neil-Smith, author of an anecdotal book entitled The Exorcist and the Possessed." 
  5. ^ Spence, Lewis. Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. Kessinger Publishing. Retrieved 2010-04-03.
  6. Mysterious Monsters (Aldus Books, 1978) by Daniel Farson and Angus Hall.