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  • The Oldest Flame August 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    The Oldest Flame

    Inspired today by the description of a nineteenth-century visit to a British church: a private chapel attached to the Arundell family house at Lanherne (Cornwall). Within the chapel there was a tabernacle and ‘the great interest is in the tradition that, since the house has always been in Catholic hands, the lamp before the Tabernacle […]

    Jane Stanley Paints Castle-An-Dinas August 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Jane Stanley Paints Castle-An-Dinas

    Jane Stanley is an extremely talented archaeological reconstruction artist, based out of Cornwall. Castle-an-Dinas is an Iron Age fort in the middle of that county, a six-acre site second only, in terms of its natural charisma, to South Cadbury in Somerset. Put Jane and Castle-an-Dinas together and you get some of the best historical fiction around, […]

    Zwanze in Wartime Brussels August 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Zwanze in Wartime Brussels

    Regular readers will remember previous posts in the jokes and practical jokes series: world war jokes, treasure hunting jokes, Derren Brown and spiders, the poor wife hunter and the classic of all classics, Brunelleschi’s cruelest scherzo, which sent a Florentine scurrying to the backwoods of Hungary. Today, we offer up a modest WW1 story from occupied […]

    In Search of Enys Tregarthen: ‘The Little Cripple’ August 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    In Search of Enys Tregarthen: 'The Little Cripple'

    Imagine being born, in the winter of 1850, while your father is away at sea. You find yourself in a vulnerable but aspirational household, perhaps the worst nineteenth-century social gradient of them all in Britain. As you slowly emerge into consciousness you start to understand that your father, a seaman, is rarely present and by the time […]

    The Last Shot at Waterloo August 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Last Shot at Waterloo

    Tomorrow Beach has an appointment to go through a Welsh text for six long hours, translating and puzzling. Today he thought he would post, then, this cute story from the early nineteenth century with a Welsh connection in partial celebration. It will be remembered that the Welsh had a long history of doing good service […]

    Catholics, Dead Sheep and Fire Balls in Early Modern England August 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Catholics, Dead Sheep and Fire Balls in Early Modern England

    In 1531 Henry VIII began divorce proceedings with Roman Catholic Church and Latin Europe, the so-called English Reformation: all of modern English history pivots on that date, much as medieval English history pivots on 1066. The betrayal of English Catholicism was a brutal process in which some of the best Britons suffered intoleraby. But if […]

    Watch Out for the Fairies Among Us! August 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Watch Out for the Fairies Among Us!

    In the long struggle to get a handle on fairies there have been claims that ‘the good people’ were simply a human race, kept apart from the rest of us, in the bogs and the mountains of the west and north of Europe: Buchan, Jenner, MacRitchie and many, many others made this argument and it […]

    Hidden Flags August 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Hidden Flags

    There’s a scene in that very good Powell and Pressburger film One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942), where downed British pilots in occupied Holland establish the loyalty of their hosts through a trick commode. A line of orange flowers (the Dutch colour) leads to a swing picture that reveals a disguised portrait of the […]

    Mexican Indians Glow in the Dark August 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mexican Indians Glow in the Dark

    ***thanks to Borky for the material behind this post*** The Pueblo revolt of 1680 took place in what is the Rio Grande. It was a well planned operation on the part of the local Indians against their Spanish overlords, who had dominated the territory for almost a century previously. Led by a mysterious medicine man […]

    Animal Sacrifices in Christianity?! August 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Animal Sacrifices in Christianity?!

    Christians don’t sacrifice animals, do they? There is some uncomfortable stuff to do with sacrificing Christ in the mass: particularly if you believe in transubstantiation. But that’s a man/god. Yes, Christians routinely kill animals either directly or as consumers: the growth of vegetarianism in the west in the last century has nothing to do with […]

    Unusual Wild West Duels August 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Unusual Wild West Duels

    Duels out in the unconquered west and in the badlands of Mexico should, by rights, just be a matter of six shooters and a fast finger and a faster hand. But here are three examples that show that nineteenth-century eccentricity over duels also reached far beyond New England. Let’s start with a particularly nasty one. […]

    Review: Hobberdy Dick July 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Hobberdy Dick

    Katharine Briggs is the world famous folklorist, who wrote many books on folklore and fairies, some above average, some outstanding. Among her lesser known works are two folklore novels that she wrote in the 1960s, Kate Crackernuts and Hobberdy Dick. I’m trying to read KC at the moment and not having much luck, but the […]

    The Golden Ghost of Mold #6: A Cornish Parallel July 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    The Golden Ghost of Mold #6: A Cornish Parallel

    The Rillaton Cup was a prehistoric gold beaten vessel that was discovered in a barrow in Cornwall (the cairn on the map below to the north east of the Hurlers). It is beautiful and antiquarians have compared it to the fabulous Mold cape, which is probably roughly contemporary. However, there is another connection between the […]

    The First Mythbuster? July 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The First Mythbuster?

    In June 1771 one H wrote to the most important English review, The Gentleman’s Magazine. He claimed to have put together a list of over three hundred myths: what this blog refers to as cobblers. It is one of the first examples of the very modern habit of debunking myths: Snopes is the best contemporary […]

    A Vampire Story: Decapitating Dad July 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Vampire Story: Decapitating Dad

    This story appeared in several British newspapers around 10 March 1887. It would be interesting to know whether or not a Continental source could be found for this: or better still a diary of Baron deGostovsky: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com One might imagine that the wheel of time is turning backward on reading the […]

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