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Newcastle upon Tyne, England

The Vampire Rabbit of Newcastle

This century-old gargoyle has a mysterious history and may not actually be a rabbit. 

The Vampire Rabbit of Newcastle is a mysterious grotesque that has perched above the ornate rear door of the historic Cathedral Buildings, facing the rear of St Nicholas Cathedral for over a hundred years but no one is quite sure why the blood-sucking lepus was created. 

Erected with the rest of the building in 1901, locals tell a tale of grave robbers who were running rampant 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 superstitiously, it has also been theorized that the vampire rabbit is in fact a hare whose ears were mistakenly put on backwards. If this were the case the bloody little creature could have been installed to reference Sir George Hare Phipson, a local doctor, Freemason, and friend of the cathedral’s architect. Most basically the rabbit could simply be meant to represent the coming of spring, invoking the same symbolic association that created the Easter Bunny. 

While the vampire rabbit of Newcastle was originally the same sandy color of the surrounding stonework, in modern times it has been painted a menacing black with droplets of blood staining its teeth and claws.

Know Before You Go

Around the back. Look for St Nicholas Cathedral and walk around behind it in the alley.