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  • The Headless Bear and the Woman Who Became a Hoop June 7, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Headless Bear and the Woman Who Became a Hoop

    Headless bears must be one of the strangest of all British bogeys. Where do they come from, what do they mean? This is a question for another day. But here is the single most detailed account of an encounter with one. The events described too place 9 May 1584 in the house of one Stephen […]

    The Victorian Ancestor of an Internet Scam June 5, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Victorian Ancestor of an Internet Scam

    Here is a nineteenth-century version of a modern internet scam. The gentry who have more brains than money, and less honesty than either, are now, it seems, calling in the services of the telegraph to promote their purposes. A gentleman writes to the Times showing the modus operandi, which appears to be altogether new. The […]

    The Man Who Lived with the Fairies? June 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Man Who Lived with the Fairies?

    Here is a fairy reference that is worth spending some time over. In 1919 a northwestern English scholar published this short note. In academic terms it translates into, ‘look I don’t have time for this nonsense but somewhere out there someone will be interested and, God knows, this is out of the ordinary’. No one […]

    Index Biography #30: Prize a book May 31, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Index Biography #30: Prize a book

    ***BT got it scroll down for the result*** 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 […]

    Forgotten Kingdoms: Africa Town May 30, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Forgotten Kingdoms: Africa Town

    This blog described, a month ago, the horrific experience of a group of African slaves, brought to Alabama (illegally) in 1860. In that post, Beach concentrated on the experience of slavery, remembered by men and women some seventy years later. But not the least incredible part of their experience was their decision to build a […]

    Watchers of the Sky: The Modern UFO Cult May 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Watchers of the Sky: The Modern UFO Cult

    The sky was not a big thing in the supernatural before the early modern period. Yes, there were the odd wild hunts, some dragon flights (aurora borealis?) and some airy elementals. But there was no sense that the heavens were worth watching for the supernatural in their own right. Then the modern age begins: Protestantism, […]

    Lost Sounds #2: London Street Cries, c. 1700 May 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Lost Sounds #2: London Street Cries, c. 1700

    Beach offers the second in his series of lost sounds: the noises that were familiar to our ancestors but that have now for ever vanished and that we struggle to reconstruct. Last time, the Lancashire clog charge, this time the criers of early eighteenth-century London. The idea of London street criers, perhaps particularly from Victorian […]

    Regency Love Signs May 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Regency Love Signs

    These were some interesting love tips from early nineteenth-century Britain. The sources is included, below, with apologies and joy, it is terribly wonderful. The good and bad signs are mixed naturally. If the maid has the first and last letters of her forename the same as the first and last letters of gentleman’s surname this […]

    Irish Horse Whispering in Co. Cork May 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Horse Whispering in Co. Cork

    A lovely story from New Market in Co Cork in the wild west of Ireland and another episode from the series on horse charming. Not least interesting is the fact that this seems to be the origin of the modern phrase ‘horse whispering’. Among the curiosities of this district [New Market, 1810] may be properly included […]

    Immortal Meals #28: Bourbon at Surrender May 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #28: Bourbon at Surrender

    Surrenders are never very easy moments but the meeting between William Tecumseh Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston at Bennett Place on 17 and 18 April 1865 as the American Civil War was winding down proved a generally civilized affair. Sherman, the Union commander, was a Democrat and had a natural sympathy for the south: despite […]

    Sleeping with the Devil May 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Sleeping with the Devil

    Beach has recently been looking at cases of men and women who accidentally, or deliberately, or accidentally-deliberatishly slept with demons. The following comes from a seventeenth-century account and it is interesting to see an idea that defined the Middle Ages surviving so powerfully into the early modern period: Beach wonders when the latest record would […]

    Irish Phoenix (1897)? May 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Phoenix (1897)?

    Beach likes to think that he presents an interesting series of monsters to the international anomalist, folklore horror and ghost community. But he has one regret. In largely limiting himself to British and Irish newspapers the range of fauna is often fairly modest, certainly when compared to the marvelous stuff that appears in some American […]

    Vivid African Execution May 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

      There follows a particularly vivid description of an African execution/sacrifice of a witch. The witness, Paul B. Du Chaillu (obit 1903) was describing his travels in West Africa in the 1850s: Du Chaillu has gone down in history as the first westerner to see gorillas (though there is Hanno…) Here he instead he learns […]

    Neither Ghosts, Nor Bogeys, Nor Heat, Nor Gloom: Postoffice Workers and the Paranormal May 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Neither Ghosts, Nor Bogeys, Nor Heat, Nor Gloom: Postoffice Workers and the Paranormal

    Beach came across this reference to postal messengers being delayed the inference being that this was because of a fear of Derbyshire bogeys: we are near the ivy-covered village of Longnor in the deep Peaks (UK 1874). For the guidance of our friends and neighbours we learn that our post-messenger will for the future be […]

    Early Modern Sentries and the Supernatural May 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Early Modern Sentries and the Supernatural

    Beach has previously examined the frequent paranormal experiences of sentries in the nineteenth century: with the help of Chris from Haunted Ohio Books. It has, long-time readers will remember, been suggested that lonely, potentially violent men asked to spend the night, attentive to every noise and movement, might easily conjure up ‘something’. Here are two […]

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