Running Naked in the Nineteenth Century June 19, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Modern
There are few things in life quite as sweet as grown men making fools of themselves. Beach recently stumbled upon this account and he has got it vaguely marked down for a strange sport tag: any other suggestions for the same, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
In passing yesterday  through the Ride in Hyde Park [London], I was much surprised at meeting two men, nearly stark naked, running a race on foot promenade; they were attended by a great crowd, chiefly Life Guards Men. This indecent transaction was at a time when the Park was full of people, Ladies and others, and a few minutes before the Princess of Wales passed in her coach.
God forbid! Note that these two were ‘nearly’ naked. To the north, though in Lancashire there was a tradition of the real thing.
During the summer of 1824 I remember seeing at Whitworth in Lancashire [a hamlet in the parish, and three miles north of the town of Rochdale], two races, at different periods, of this description. On one occasion two men ran on Whitworth Moor, with only a small cloth or belt round the loins. On the other occasion the runners were six in number, stark naked, the distance being seven miles, or seven times round the moor. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of spectators, men and women, and it did not appear to shock them, as being anything out of the ordinary course of things.
A key question would be whether these men at least ran with their shoes on. Beach has been on the moor in question and he wouldn’t like to go barefoot there. The visitor to Rochdale and area goes on to introduce a brain-teaser that may be connected:
It is with reference to this usage, no doubt, that the Lancashire riddle says:
‘As I was going over Rooley Moor, Rooley Moor shaked,
I saw four-and-twenty men running stark nak’d;
The first was the last and the last was the first.’
In case you are as slow as this blogger the answer was: ‘twenty-four spokes of a wheel.’ So this was the end of naked racing? Not a bit of it. One author wrote in the 1870s.
Races by nude men are not yet extinct in many parts of Lancashire, notwithstanding the vigilance of the county police.
It is one thing to run around naked before Victoria comes to the throne. in an age where toilet humour and sex were at the heart of national diversion. But to run naked in the 1870s with village bobbies running after you… Heroic in its way. The last trace of this in Lancs (that we’ve found) dates to the 1890s from just outside Burnley:
[A councillor] had seen men scores of times near to Grove-lane playing and gambling, and even stripped naked running a race.
Magonia #8: The Comte de Gabalis and the Sylphs June 18, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
The Magonia series is now almost at an end. But Beach could not sink the sky boats without a reference to the Comte de Gabalis, one of the most hellishly strange books ever written (first edition 1670). The CdG is a seventeenth-century esoteric text, essentially a long discussion of the secret life of elementals: the [...]
Totoro and Kiki: A Tribute June 17, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Actualite
***Dedicated to little Miss Beachcombing who makes 5 today and who Beach will be spoiling for the next hours*** Ghibli is a Japanese cartoon studio that has, in the last thirty years, created two of the greatest films for children and two of the greatest fairy/witch films ever made: Totoro (1988) and Kiki (1989). [...]
Here’s a bizarre scenario (with no basis in the historical record…). c.c.c.1000 a Jewish, a Muslim and a Christian missionary find themselves on the wrong side of the Ural Mountains among a horse-killing, horse-worshipping pagan people (and before anyone writes in there is some ancient and medieval evidence for Jewish ‘evangelism’). The Christian missionary, Peter, [...]
Magonia #7: Grimaldus and Chemical Warfare June 15, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Medieval
There follows another extract from Agobard’s essay on thunder and hail. It is not actually linked in any way to Magonia: so why bother? Well, first, it is certainly bizarre and should be recorded on strangehistory. And, second, because many who have written on Magonia have undeservedly conflated the Tempestarii and this strange episode. A [...]
Swiss Zulus June 14, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Modern
‘Never invade Russia in November’, ‘never start a land war in Asia’ and ‘don’t ever but ever bring a sword to a gun fight’. That last point might be self evident. However, because of the technological gap between different cultures in the post medieval period, all too often courageous men with spears and blades found [...]
Blood at El-Halia June 13, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Contemporary
Civil war is always terrible. But the Anglo-Saxon world has experienced, at least in modern times, relatively mild versions. The English Civil War was admittedly the most traumatic event on British soil in the last seven hundred years, but, with shameful exceptions from Scotland and Ireland, civilians were not usually put to the sword. Likewise [...]
Magonia #6: Leland Sings Magonia June 12, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Medieval, Modern
Elizabeth Pennell writes in her memoirs of Charles Leland, the nineteenth-century folklorist and alleged bullshitter: He got well over the gout in the spring and summer of 1891, as he travelled by easy stages several weeks at Via Reggio, Geneva, Homburg to London for his last visit there. He went on with his Heine [the [...]
Buried Alive in Ninteenth-Century India June 11, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Modern
***Dedicated to Leif*** Busy day chez Beachcombing as two Romanians help to retrieve a garden that has been abandoned for forty years to a state of wellbeing. On the subject of digging this brilliant piece was sent in by an old friend of this blog, Leif. The text comes from The Court and Camp of [...]
Vision Quest #3: Witch Lotions June 10, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Medieval, Modern
An interesting witch case from fourteenth-century Italy with hints of hallucinogens. The following passages appear in the work of Bernard of Siena (aka Bernardino, and Bernardine) (obit 1444). This, btw, is before the witch craze really catches fire. It has several curious features. I having preached of these charms and of witches and of sorceries, [...]
Jasper and Butternuts on the Edges of Vinland June 9, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Medieval
***Dedicated to Wade*** Jasper is a silica stone that was used by our ancestors both as a decoration and as a form of primitive match. Because of its fire-making properties jasper is often found in archaeological digs. A nice example of this is the dozen odd pieces of jasper that have been discovered over the [...]
Magonia #5: What’s In A Name? June 8, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Medieval
One significant part of the Magonia puzzle that Beach has not yet troubled with is the name. Surely there should be a clue in those four syllables as to what Magonia really was? Well, there have been, suitably enough, four theories that have been put forward, over the years, to explain what the word ‘Magonia’ [...]
Part of the StrangeHistory project is to put up sources that for some reason have not made it onto Google Books and the like. In an attempt to do just this Beach spent a long hour typing out, yesterday, 3000 words from William Thornber’s The History of Blackpool and its Neighbourhood (Poulton 1837). I know, [...]
Nine Historical Mysteries June 6, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
***Dedicated to Moonman*** Thanks to an email from an old friend of StrangeHistory Beach found himself wondering about moments from history that are mysterious, and where this blogger would chop off his own digits to get at the truth. In what follows, he has avoided the classics because, to be frank, he just doesn’t care [...]
Sex Madness! June 5, 2013Posted by Beachcombing in : Contemporary
A very early morning and, after Beach finished his drudge work surprisingly quickly, he found himself dragged by a link (from a book of sermons by Bernard of Siena…) to a 1938 film entitled ‘Sex Madness!’ The adolescent in Beach got antsy and he wasted the next 51.58 seconds watching this tawdry but fascinating and [...]