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  • 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 […]

    The Mystery of the Fairy Battery January 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Mystery of the Fairy Battery

    Here is a place and a name that is hard to account for. On the 1850 Ordinance Survey map for Lancashire (79) there is a peculiar rock formation with the words Fairy Battery by the side. This is on Lowe Hill to the north of Turton and Entwistle Resevoir (already built in 1850). There follows […]

    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. […]

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