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  • Chime Hours and Chime Children January 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Chime Hours and Chime Children

    The ‘chime child’ was born at a magic time of the night (the times varied but involved bells). She or he had psychic abilities; think of it as a temporal version of the seventh son or the caul. The idea of chime children has become an increasingly popular one in recent years. Beach typed in […]

    Immortal Meals #19: Rum Up at Harewood House January 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Immortal Meals #19: Rum Up at Harewood House

    ***Dedicated to Chris who sent this one in*** The year is 1805, the month December and the location Harewood House, a delightful stately house near Leeds, Yorkshire. The cellar records have a special note for this meal as something extraordinary happened there. The Lascelles family, who had built and owned Harewood, ordered up eight bottles […]

    Index Biography #14: prize = book December 31, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Index Biography #14: prize = book

    LL writes in with the correct answer, scroll down… 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. […]

    Benedict’s Pool (Worcestershire/Gloucestershire) December 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Benedict's Pool (Worcestershire/Gloucestershire)

    This ghost story is a curiosity, a maverick. It is not that there are not haunted pools or even haunting monks. But no book read by this blogger has ever troubled to put them together and certainly no tradition makes the monk into a nasty piece of work. This is a nineteenth century, which seems […]

    Saved by Birds and a Gypsy December 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Saved by Birds and a Gypsy

    Archduke Joseph Karl (obit 1905) was one of the minor scions of the Austro-Hungarian royal family. He was famous though for a particular interest: in a country where gypsies were despised he was a Roma-phile, writing books on gypsy culture and even learning their language. In his attempts to advance the claims of the gypsy […]

    A Dublin Haunted House Case December 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Dublin Haunted House Case

    We’ve looked before at Irish haunted houses in court cases. But in this forgotten nineteenth-century ghost story there is some ambiguity about whether the noises were nasty neighbours, creaking floorboards or spirits from the other side (1885) A remarkable case was heard on Saturday in Dublin. Mr Waldron, solicitor’s clerk, sued his next door neighbour, […]

    The Loneliness of Nineteenth-Century Infanticide December 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Loneliness of Nineteenth-Century Infanticide

    Today an unmarried mother, in a western country will be, assuming that the father is nowhere to be seen, taken care of by the state or by her family. This was not necessarily the case in the nineteenth century, and in that period an unmarried mother would find herself the object of scorn to boot. […]

    Why Children-Stealing Gypsies? December 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Why Children-Stealing Gypsies?

    The idea that someone is out to get our children has been around from classical times. Several antique Christian writers, for example, credit ‘the Jews’ with stealing children and this became, by the Middle Ages, part of the notorious ‘blood libel’ for which hundreds and perhaps thousands of men, women and, yes, children of Jewish descent […]

    Witch Oven Near Florence December 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Witch Oven Near Florence

    This story appeared in 1893. It is a witchcraft report from Italy in a period when Leland assures us that there were still many cunning women and planet rulers making their living in the country. What is unusual is the advice given. In any case, first the preliminaries… At Ponte a Ema, about three miles […]

    Immortal Meals #18: Breakfast in the Forbidden Palace December 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #18: Breakfast in the Forbidden Palace

    The month is March 1912, the day unspecified, but you walk into the dining room in the Forbidden Palace in Peking and one breakfast is much like any other. The sole guest is about to have breakfast and the twenty five dishes for this important meal have just been laid out by the eunuchs. Beach […]

    Buying Flying Rocs and Sailing Ships December 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Buying Flying Rocs and Sailing Ships

    There is always a joy in imagining yourself in those fabulous nineteenth-century pantomime production where glitz, technology and spectacle came together and left audiences in London, New York, Chicago and Manchester speechless. It is only rarely though that we get to look behind the magician’s curtain, to see how things really worked, with very few exceptions […]

    Earth Light in Norfolk December 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Earth Light in Norfolk

    This site has sometimes given space to earth light stories. This particular example is perhaps the best Beach has come acros read. The author is rather verbose – ‘the hours sped by on rosy wing until the humming tongue of the great church clock told all the drowsy Market-town that it was midnight’ – and […]

    A Dead American and A Riot in County Cork December 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Dead American and A Riot in County Cork

    This one’s a gem and reminded Beach of that great Limerick custom of beating up families who dare to bury their dead on the same day. Here we are a bit further to the south, near the normally more sensible Cork, but the problem is still a death. The year is 1867. A riot, originating […]

    Devil on the Trans-Siberian Railway December 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Devil on the Trans-Siberian Railway

    Beach has previously celebrated strange railway superstition stories, the simple and unsurprising fact that innocent peoples faced with long lines of track and steam behemoths running across country naturally mixed up science and superstition and interpreted the train as a demon or bogey. Most strikingly there is the fate of the Plains Indians in their battle with […]

    Was Leonardo’s Mother a Slave (Chinese or Otherwise)? December 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Was Leonardo's Mother a Slave (Chinese or Otherwise)?

    Madness on the internet in the last few days with the announcement that Leonardo da Vinci’s mother was a Chinese slave and that she is the Mona Lisa. Many readers will have stumbled upon this theory and enjoyed its improbability, but they may not know that there has been almost ten years of similar theories […]

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