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Giant Caterpillar Outside Manchester, 1850! November 16, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Giant Caterpillar Outside Manchester, 1850!

This appeared in a northern British newspaper in 1850 relating to the Manchester area. The monster, so long the object of such contradictory reports, is now proved beyond doubt to be a real living creature. He has been seen on shore by hundreds of spectators, having originally, it is supposed, come up the Bridgewater Canal. […]

Native North American Vampire? November 13, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Native North American Vampire?

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (obit 1558), on his trips into the wilderness of North America, did not meet a vampire: but he heard about a creature that sounded strikingly like one and that had caused the Indians some problem a generation before, c. 1500. It would be tempting to say that we are referring […]

Mysterious Hominids in India November 12, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Mysterious Hominids in India

Another extract – this time eighteenth century – from Beachcombing’s Pygmies, Dwarfs and Fairies series. The following has a certain cryptozoological feel to it: including the fact that the ‘samples’ disappeared into the ether. The creatures in question came from deep in the Indian interior and were brought to Bombay before they inconsiderately died. They […]

Billesley and Shakespeare: Books, Weddings and Fornication November 8, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Billesley and Shakespeare: Books, Weddings and Fornication

Many times on Strange History we have looked at the possibility that a small community is capable of remembering a tradition over decades, generations and even centuries without any recourse to writing. And Beach has just stumbled on a possible example of this in the deep English village of Billesley in Warwickshire. There are fewer […]

The Greatest Heist in History? The Captain of Kopenick November 7, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Greatest Heist in History? The Captain of Kopenick

Much has Beach travelled in the realms of criminal gold. But rarely has he come across a villain of the quality of Wilhelm  Voigt (obit 1922): the Captain of Kopenick. Let’s begin with the shocked aftermath and then follow Voigt back through one of the most daring robberies in history. 17 October 1906 the German […]

Madame Tussaud Meets the Guillotine November 6, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Madame Tussaud Meets the Guillotine

***Dedicated to Laura: for an excellent background to Madame Tussaud follow this link (and look out particularly for Brad Pitt’s knickers)*** Anna Maria Tussaud (obit 1850) came to Britain in 1802 to show her famous wax impressions as an entrepreneur, but she remained in the country as an exile once the Napoleonic Wars had begun. […]

Goodwin Wharton and the Fairies November 4, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Goodwin Wharton and the Fairies

In 1684 the Queen of Fairy was visiting the (fairy) Duke of Hungary in his estate under Moorfields (London), when the Duke hatched a dastardly plot. First he tried to poison her majesty with chocolate and then, having failed to ruin her insides, he attempted to blow up her subterranean palace with gunpowder. If you […]

Review: Goodwin Wharton October 31, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Review: Goodwin Wharton

In the spring of 1683, a disgraced scion of an English aristocratic family, Goodwin Wharton met Mary Parish a woman in regular communication with fairies (‘lowlanders’), angels, the dead and, of course, the Almighty. Mary was down on her luck having alienated her spirit guide, having argued bitterly with the royal family of faery and […]

Welsh Candles and a Ghost October 30, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Welsh Candles and a Ghost

A couple of weeks ago we travelled to the Church Porch at midnight to see who would die in the coming year. Here is a Welsh equivalent (kind of). Down to the last hundred years it was usual in many a district in Wales to burn candles in the parish church on the eve of […]

Shakespeare’s First Anne October 29, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Shakespeare's First Anne

Earlier this year we publicised that famous inventor of the compass, Flavio Gioia, who never, in fact, existed. Today, we offer a parallel tale from English literature: the story of Shakespeare’s first love. We refer here not to that hated appendage, Anne Hathaway, who married the bard after he got her pregnant and eventually got […]

A Fourteen-Month Pregnancy in Nineteenth-century Cornwall? October 25, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
A Fourteen-Month Pregnancy in Nineteenth-century Cornwall?

Polperro Press is a small publishing house that produces excellent quality monographs on Cornish themes. If every town of this size – Polperro is an idyllic Cornish port – had a book producing company of a third of this quality historians would be able to give up their day jobs: history, at least western history, […]

Flying with Diana October 23, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
Flying with Diana

One of the most fascinating questions about witchcraft belief is the extent to which it was invented by the Inquisition (and other bogey men of our own imaginations); or to what extent it reflected common beliefs held by medieval and early modern European populations. If we accept that the idea of the sabbat and devil-sex, […]

Mythic Lines at the Alamo October 19, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Mythic Lines at the Alamo

***Dedicated to Paul Caspar/ Paul Kaspar of Santiago de Compostela and Austin Fame*** The Battle or more accurately the Siege of the Alamo took place in 1836, as a small band of irregulars, English- and Spanish-speaking, resisted a Mexican attempt to re-impose the Supreme Government’s rule in the territory that was to become Texas. Of […]

Coins Out of Time October 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
Coins Out of Time

***Dedicated to Lehmansterms, whom Beach owes an email…*** An underdeveloped post on the wrong time use of coins. Any other examples gratefully received: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com The following passage comes from a book describing the adventures of an Allied serviceman in Italy in 1943: the serviceman in question had escaped from prison camp […]

Modern and Early Modern Animal Sacrifices in Britain October 15, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Modern and Early Modern Animal Sacrifices in Britain

Beach knows that animal sacrifices took place in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. He has even featured and celebrated a few cases himself, but he was much struck by this list. Can anyone add anything to it? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Mr. Henderson wrote his Folklore of the Northern Counties in 1879, and he says: […]

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