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  • You Can’t Go Home Again: Aunt Janey and Other Stories February 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    You Can’t Go Home Again: Aunt Janey and Other Stories

    Qua campis cervos agitabat sacra juventus/ Incumbit fessus nunc baculo senior./ Nos miseri, cur te fugitivum, mundus, amamus? (‘Here the holy young man who chased deer in the fields, now, stands a broken old man with a stick/ O what wretches! Why, world we love, do you flee from us?’) Alcuin O Mea Cella Beach’s […]

    Two Hebridean Losers Harrow Hell c. 1600 February 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Two Hebridean Losers Harrow Hell c. 1600

    Trip away today so a brief post about a rather unusual denouement to a life, Scottish Highland style. Allan was a villainous magician. In fact, we have come across him in the past roasting cats. When Allan was dying on his home island of Mull (in the 1600s though we are in a legendary past […]

    The Hairy Boggart of Weeton February 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Hairy Boggart of Weeton

    ‘Boggart’, it will be remembered, is a British north(-western) word meaning ‘bogey’: it was a promiscuous word and covered everything from a ghost to a troll (and sometimes a scarecrow). Individual settlements in Lancashire, northern Cheshire and northern Derbyshire, parts of the Ridings (particularly the West) and surprisingly Nottinghamshire had boggart haunted areas. Sometimes they were glades, […]

    The Eugenics of History? February 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Eugenics of History?

    Eugenics refers of course to the depressing strand of thinking that says that societies (for which read boffins with bow ties employed by the state) should be allowed to decide which of us can and cannot reproduce our genes. Eugenics was briefly fashionable in the 1920s and 1930s then the Nazis came along and, perhaps […]

    Killing the Witch’s Rooster? February 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Killing the Witch's Rooster?

    The most important thing about nineteenth-century witchcraft reports in British, Irish and American newspapers is that they reveal a series of beliefs that were actually practiced, but that were often too intimate and ‘stupid’ to share with a folklorist. The result is that these neglected newspaper reports are the closest that we come to the […]

    The Index Biography #15: Prize = A Good Book January 31, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Index Biography #15: Prize = A Good Book

    The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the individual’s life. We offered up previously here Sheridan le Fanu and Joseph […]

    Naked Christianity January 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Naked Christianity

    Beach recently shared the splendours of naked fertility rituals in Missouri from Colonial times to the Great Depression. The author of that article (Vance Randolph, Nakedness in Ozark Folk Belief, The Journal of American Folklore 66, 333-339) also describes what may be spill over into local Christianity. In 1905 a preacher, Jim Sharp from Missouri, […]

    The Lost Tragedy of Anne Boleyn January 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Lost Tragedy of Anne Boleyn

    An entry in the burning libraries catalogue… In 1536 Anne Boleyn was executed for sexual betrayal and for plotting the murder of the king, her husband Henry VIII. Beach has examined these extraordinary claims in another post, sufficient to say for now that there was almost certainly no substance to them, but that Henry VIII […]

    Witchcraft and the Walking Toad! January 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Witchcraft and the Walking Toad!

    If you want to know what beliefs were really held out in the wilder parts of the English countryside in the nineteenth century there are two important sources: folklore collections and, more to Beach’s taste, legal proceedings. Every so often a member of the British rural classes with conservative inclinations and beliefs, which would have […]

    The Mystery of Ghost Riots January 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Mystery of Ghost Riots

    This blog has reported many historical ghost stories over the year. Now it is time for a bit of reflection. Let’s pretend that your neighbour John Smith on Treacle Row in London, has reported that he has seen a ghost in a flowing gown running up and down the stairs. Now think carefully about this […]

    The Horror of Electric Lights January 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Horror of Electric Lights

    New technologies bring fears with them, of course, and often for very good reasons. Electricity was no exception. You could understand the presence of electrificed objects causing fear, but more refined is the fear of electic light. This particulary story come from 1890. A family in Ottery (Devon, UK) had been terrorised by the new […]

    Review: The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick January 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick

    What do you want the good or the bad news? OK, let’s start with the bad. The two exquisite volumes on Beach desk today cost about 170 dollars…. each. One is entitled The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick I and the other is entitled The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick II, Oxford University Press, 2013. […]

    Ghost Riot in 1880 January 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ghost Riot in 1880

    A ghost story from late nineteenth-century London, 22 Sept 1880 Ab Jo, 7: According to the police, the ‘appearance’ [of the ghost] was first observed by a Mrs Taylor, residing in Hartshorn Court, which runs parallel with the City of London Baths, and whose rooms overlook the site in question. Her version is that she […]

    Naked Fertility Rituals from Missouri January 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Naked Fertility Rituals from Missouri

    Imagine these three scenes all from Ozark country in Missouri: A man and a woman walk into a flax field naked chanting, while throwing seeds, ‘Up to my ass, an’ higher too!’ The man throws the seed against the woman’s buttocks. ‘Then they just laid down on the ground and had a good time.’ Date: […]

    Epiphany Gift 5: Latham’s Elizabethan Fairies January 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Epiphany Gift 5: Latham's Elizabethan Fairies

    A happy epiphany to all. Six year old little Miss B (her picture) has just announced that she thinks that ‘adults’ might be behind the Santa Claus lark and this seems, then, like an excellent time to give Beach’s fifth epiphany gift. This is Minor White Latham’s Elizabethan Fairies published back in 1930. In Beach’s […]

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