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  • The Last Stoning in Ireland November 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Last Stoning in Ireland

    Ok this title is a provocation. Saying the last stoning in Ireland is a bit like saying the last blizzard in Saudia Arabia or the last vegetarian meal in France. The early Irish left behind detailed law codes and there is no record of anyone being stoned at any time. Their medieval heirs had many […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #10: John Williams, the Dirt (and Tin) November 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #10: John Williams, the Dirt (and Tin)

    Surely the most important player in the Perceval dream is the dreamer himself, John Williams. Read most modern reports about the murder and you will assume that JW was a member of the Cornish upper middle classes, a squire with clay and fox blood on his hands. In fact, John Williams was a major Victorian […]

    Chinese Pied Pipers? November 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Chinese Pied Pipers?

    Beach ran into this weird little text in the depth of the archives of a book quoting a book quoting a book. It is dated to 1820 but reported almost sixty years later in a discussion of horse whispering (a recent obsession on this blog). It does not appear in any newspaper database that we […]

    Crypto Fairy Hippo Cow in Scotland and Ireland?! November 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern, Prehistoric
    Crypto Fairy Hippo Cow in Scotland and Ireland?!

    Fairy cows are occasional adjuncts to fairy legends and in the Gaelic world, particularly in the Irish west and the Scottish highlands there is the fairy water cow, a creature that comes from out of the water to land to graze. A little legend illustrating this from Limerick in Ireland, more specifically Lough Guir (aka […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #9: Mr Fox Speaks (or Lies)! November 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #9: Mr Fox Speaks (or Lies)!

    ***Many interesting comments on the Perceval case, particularly from Bob S who has done far better at digging out rare sources than Beach. Here is one that passed Strange History by completely but that Bob happily picked up*** Here is yet another source for the Williams dream from The autobiography of Sir John Rennie  by […]

    Dumb Duels #1: Finn vs O’Hara November 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dumb Duels #1: Finn vs O'Hara

    Duelling? What an absolutely charming idea. Two men and occasionally two women resolve problems with recourse to combat. But doesn’t this make for rather boring history? After all, the two meet, the two shoot/cut and one apologies or dies. There just isn’t that much potential for things to go bizarrely wrong? Well, apart from that […]

    Review: The Ghost Wore Black October 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Ghost Wore Black

    The Ghost Wore Black: Ghastly Tales from the Past is the latest in Ghosts of the Past series by Chris Woodyard. Anyone familiar with CW’s style will know by now what to expect. There are half a dozen thematic chapters, which takes us from devils, to wild men, to spring-heeled jack wannabees: ‘ghosts’ has to […]

    A Russian Prince in Seventeenth-Century Rural England? October 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Russian Prince in Seventeenth-Century Rural England?

    Woolley is a rural parish in what was once Huntingdonshire and what is now Cambridgeshire. Its has provided one very worthwhile episode for the annals of bizarre history and that concerns its seventeenth-century rector Mikipher Alphery. Poor old Alphery was kicked out in 1643 during the Civil War when Cromwell and his devils were getting […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #8: Abercrombie and a Friend from Madras Speak! October 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #8: Abercrombie and a Friend from Madras Speak!

    Beach began thinking that there was just one account of Williams dream, his own (1832). He then learnt there was a second earlier account (dating to 1828), which shows signs of not being written by the author. However, since then – in great part thanks to Wade and Bob – he has realized that there […]

    The Law and Cauls October 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Law and Cauls

    Long-time readers of the blog may remember several posts on cauls (the membrane that sometimes sticks to a child as he or she exits the womb). ‘Hooded’ children or caulbearers are often said to have psychic gifts. But there is also a tradition of excellence in law: the reason for the connection between these two […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament 7#: Perceval Speaks! October 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament 7#: Perceval Speaks!

    ***For all previous posts on the Perceval Dream follow this link*** In one of the many modern books that describe the Williams’ dream this strange addition to the legend is included. Get ready for a laugh. A week later, Spencer Perceval himself had a very disturbing dream. After he shared with his family the nightmare […]

    Hot Mermaids from Renaissance Venice! October 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Hot Mermaids from Renaissance Venice!

    Beach is feeling very shallow today and so he thought that he would celebrate a wonderful new book that arrived through the post: Alison Luchs, The Mermaids of Venice (Brepols 2010). Why shallow? Well, he can’t celebrate the scholarship of the good Prof Luchs because he hasn’t read any of her words yet (another post, […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #6: The Bude Kirk Rumours October 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #6: The Bude Kirk Rumours

    Now consider this strange little annex, in Lang. One very curious circumstance in connection with the assassination of Mr. Perceval has never been noticed. A rumour or report of the deed reached Bude Kirk, a village near Annan, on the night of Sunday, May 10, a day before the crime was committed! This was stated […]

    Authority in the Village from Italy to Ireland October 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Authority in the Village from Italy to Ireland

    Beach lives today in a small village in central Italy. The village is isolated and there has been little marriage with ‘outsiders’. Up on the hills, barely disturbed by such inconveniences as the twentieth century – the Germans occupied for a couple of weeks and blew up half a dozen houses – the folk kicking […]

    Why Do Married Couples Sleep in the Same Bed? October 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Why Do Married Couples Sleep in the Same Bed?

    T.S. Eliot to his wife ‘To whom I owe the leaping delight/ That quickens my senses in our wakingtime/ And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime,/ The breathing in unison ‘ Why do married couples sleep together? This might seem a stupid question, but really why? Is it a biological imperative dating back to the […]

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