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  • Victorian Urban Legend: The Gold Watch July 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: The Gold Watch

    Crime is the most profitable part of Victorian Urban Legends. Enjoy, for instance, this one, it is an absolute peach: When the office of the City Recorder was filled by Mr. Silvester, it was on one particular occasion the recorder’s duty to try a prisoner for picking a man’s pocket of his purse. The prisoner […]

    Snowball Atrocities #3: Geo-Political Snowballing July 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Snowball Atrocities #3: Geo-Political Snowballing

    Snowballs were the weapon of choice for young toughs out on the town in a blizzard. But they were also a way that furious crowds could show their contempt for various political or religious speakers. You could hurt and humiliate your enemy without running the risk (or not too great a risk) of finding yourself […]

    Rabbit Death at Manassas July 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Rabbit Death at Manassas

    In 1863 some Confederate troops had a horrific experience at Manassas: this is important for understanding the rabbit incident that follows. So steel yourself, reader. On the morning of July 21, 1863, our regiment, the 5th North Carolina State Troops, under Col. Duncan K. McRae.  ordered to double-quick across Bull Run and charge a  Battery […]

    The Coming Destruction of Minneapolis! July 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Coming Destruction of Minneapolis!

    Minneapolis is in a cavey region. It is also true that the discovery of the Schieks Cave in 1904 under downtown Minneapolis did cause some panic, but the concern was more about perceptions in a growing and prosperous city than danger. Little in the way of precautions seem to have been taken. Enjoy then this […]

    Witch Wars in Devon! July 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Witch Wars in Devon!

    1869, the Empire is at its height, teeming millions walk through Britain’s mighty metropolises and out in the Devon countryside the locals are consulting witches. A witchcraft case reported from South Devon. Two or three young women living at Dittisham fell ill. Their mothers, thinking they had been illwished – that is, looked upon with […]

    The Drumming Well July 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Drumming Well

    This is one of these paranormal legends that just seems to have no parallels: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com. In Northamptonshire there was a well that drummed (!) on occasions of national importance. ‘[155] When I was a school-boy at Oundle, in Northamptonshire about the Scots coming into England, I heard a well, in one […]

    Living on Other Planets July 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Living on Other Planets

    Beach recently, while looking for ghosts, ran across this in one Daniel Defoe’s work. This is what it would be like to live on other planets according to an intelligent eighteenth-century thinker. In Saturn they are to live without Eyes, or be a Kind so illuminated from their own internal Heat and Light, that they […]

    Fairies in Old Oaks? July 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairies in Old Oaks?

    Beach recently came across this curious sentence in Della Hooke’s Trees in Anglo-Saxon England (103). ‘Fairy folks are in old oaks’ and on closer examination the rhyme is everywhere. It appears, for example, twice in Katharine Briggs, Dictionary of Fairies at 159 and 313. Needless to say that has also travelled, like a spore, across […]

    Review: Spirits of an Industrial Age July 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Spirits of an Industrial Age

    There are few pleasures greater in the second decade of the twenty-first century than picking up a self-published volume and finding that it is actually a good read. (For younger readers this simply did not happen thirty years ago). Enter from the left stage Spirits of an Industrial Age: Ghost Impersonation, Spring-heeled Jack and Victorian Society […]

    Curious Royal Epithets July 4, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Curious Royal Epithets

    There is a long tradition in Europe of giving kings, queens and even aristocrats epithets: e.g. Catherine the Great, Louis the Pious… Of course, epithets make particular sense when dynasties repeat names endlessly: you need to distinguish one George from another, say. Beach has spent an hour looking through collections of lists of these epithets, […]

    Historical Children Scarers July 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Historical Children Scarers

    ***Dedicated to Invisible*** Parents have scared children for generations with conjured horrors: the fairies, the black boggart, Jenny Greenteeth and many, many more. However, Beach today wants to look at a very select category. Historical personalities who were so horrific (or at least were imagined to be so horrific) that parents could credibly say: ‘Get […]

    Weird Wars: Lost Maps, Lost Plans June 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Weird Wars: Lost Maps, Lost Plans

    You’ve all had that awful sinking feeling. You’ve prepared your masterful attack with a vast army across the entire front and then some fool goes and misplaces the map: and next thing you know the scrap of paper ends up in the hands of your opposite number, in the enemy  high command. There must be […]

    What is a Headless Bear? June 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    What is a Headless Bear?

      There are many different kinds of British bogeys, but one of the oldest attested is the fearsome ‘headless bear’? The most famous record of this monster is, without any question, Shakespeare in Midsummer Night’s Dream: Sometime a horse I’ll be, sometime a hound, A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire; And neigh, and […]

    Immortal Meals #29: Chair Jumping at Court June 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #29: Chair Jumping at Court

    Colonel Lennox (1819) was a British ne’erdo well who evolved into a capable member of the British establishment eventually starring as Governor General of North America. As a young man testosterone dripped from him as he walked along: he argued, dueled, whored and was a fine wicket keeper… The event below relates to the aftermath […]

    Norfolk Shape Shifter June 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Norfolk Shape Shifter

    Here we have a fairly rare thing. A Norfolk ghost story. During the passing of the third decade of the present century [1830s] I had not reached my teens, but distinctly remember that the inhabitants of Thetford generally, and young folks in particular, were greatly alarmed by prevalent report of a frightful monster—which had been […]

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