We are adjacent to St Nicholas’s Churchyard in Newcastle Upon Tyne where, for over a hundred years, the Vampire Rabbit of Newcastle has perched above the ornate rear door of the historic Cathedral Buildings.
Still today no one is quite sure why this blood-sucking grotesque character was created, its provenance and significance are unknown, but probably is an original feature of the building built in 1901.
Locals tell a story about a grave robbers who were wandering in the area until one dark night the fanged beastie rose on the door opposite the graveyard as if to scare off future robbers.
Less legendary and superstitiously, it has also been theorized that the vampire rabbit is in fact a hare, whose ears were mistakenly put on backwards: if so, the bloody little creature could have been installed to honour (or to make fun) Sir George Hare Philipson, physician of Newcastle Royal Infirmary and founder of the University of Durham Masonic Lodge, in London, in 1903, and friend of the cathedral’s architect William H Wood, a specialist in ecclesiastical architecture.
Or most basically the rabbit could simply be meant to represent the coming of spring, invoking the same symbolic association that created the Easter Bunny.
The vampire rabbit of Newcastle was originally the same sandy color of the surrounding stonework, and only in modern times it has been painted a menacing black with droplets of blood staining its teeth and claws.