Royal Armouries successfully “stakes” a claim to Vampire Kit

Vampire Slaying Kit.

A vampire slaying kit – inspired by 19th century folklore and fiction – has been bought at auction by the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. The fascinating kit comprises a mahogany casket, packed with everything a vampire hunter might need - including a pistol, crucifix, rosary beads, a bottle labelled holy water and even a mallet, plus four wooden stakes.

The Royal Armouries Leeds has secured this unusual lot at auction, organised by Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, after the box was left to a local woman in her uncle’s will. It was probably compiled in the late 20th Century following the success of the Hammer Horror Movies and inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula.

The Royal Armouries’ Curator of Firearms, Jonathan Ferguson, said, “These kits are often said to have been made as novelties in the Victorian period, but research shows they are later than this. We’ve yet to establish a firm date for our kit, but we know it will attract a lot of interest from our museum visitors.”

The mahogany box is split into two tiers. The top layer contains a percussion cap pistol with an octagonal barrel – for firing silver bullets. The lid holds a crucifix and rosary beads, to ward off “evil spirits”. Other compartments contain three glass bottles, two of which are labelled holy water and another holy earth. As a “last resort”, there’s a mallet and four wooden stakes, plus A Book of Common Prayer, dated 1857. A handwritten extract from the Bible.

The kit will go on public display at the Clarence Dock museum – hopefully in time for Halloween.

For more information see the Royal Armouries Newsletter.