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  • The Matrimony Business February 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Matrimony Business

    You are living in the middle of the nineteenth century and, man or woman, you have failed to get your mate for life. Perhaps you regret, saying, ‘no’ to the third son of a duke: or perhaps you regret asking twelve daughters of men in ecclesiastical offices. The point is that, tick toc, time is running […]

    Red Fairies #4: Added in Translation? February 5, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Red Fairies #4: Added in Translation?

    Perhaps the real key to the Red Fairies problem is language. As we have established they are referred to as y Gwilliaid Cochion Mowddwy in Pennant our first extensive source. Let’s work backwards. Mowddwy refers to their region, modern Mawddwy. No problem there. Cochion refers to a deep red colour. Again no problem or controversy. (Some […]

    Red Fairies #3: Do NOT Use the Chimney February 4, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Red Fairies #3: Do NOT Use the Chimney

    One curious folklore tradition survives about ‘the red fairies’. This is David Pennant our earliest extensive source. The traditions of the country respecting these banditti, are still extremely strong. I was told that they were so feared, that travellers did not dare go the common road to Shrewsbury, but passed over the summits of the […]

    Red Fairies #2: A People Apart? February 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Red Fairies #2: A People Apart?

    One of the most curious aspects of the Red Fairy legends in the belief that the Red Fairies survived up until the nineteenth century as a race apart in the locality. This was elevated to high pseudo-science. Here is a passage from The British Race (1909) In Merioneth there is a red-haired, ruddy-skinned people, with […]

    Red Fairies #1: The Fairy Bandits? February 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Red Fairies #1: The Fairy Bandits?

    Imagine the scene: 1555, Lewis Owen, vice-chamberlain is passing down the road with a small bodyguard and his son-in-law, on the edge of Powys in central Wales. As they pass down the track, they come to several felled trees across their way in the midst of ‘thick woods’. Are the men anxious? Perhaps not at […]

    Index Biography #26: Prize a book January 31, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Index Biography #26: Prize a book

    ***James got this… scroll down for the answer*** 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 […]

    Robin and the Sermon January 30, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Robin and the Sermon

    When Beach was at university he lived about six floors up just under the roof of a marvelous Georgian building. Every day a bird used to visit his room and fly around inside impressing all Beach’s friends and casual visitors who thought that he’d turned into a Celtic saint. The real reason for the bird’s […]

    The Bogle and the Gamekeeper January 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Bogle and the Gamekeeper

    Regular readers will know that Beach has a pronounced weakness for the collision of the supernatural and the legal system: be this in Africa, Ireland or Britain. Here is a lovely case from Scotland in 1889. Five miners were charged yesterday, Falkirk Sheriff Court, with poaching on the lands of Mr William Forbes of Culendar, […]

    The Mystery Footstep January 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Mystery Footstep

    A busy day, so a good and, let’s say, credible story from Llanfillin in Wales. This tale also involve a favourite Beachcombian theme, which cannot be revealed to the end without ruining the story.  An English man goes to live in Wales and is warned that the house he wished to rent is haunted. The […]

    Letters from a Witch’s Clients January 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Letters from a Witch's Clients

    In 1859 a unique witchcraft source appeared in the British newspapers. Durham police had raided the house of one Mrs Leadpiper and had seized a number of letters from her supplicants. To our great good fortune the Durham Chronicle published several: and the article was then picked up by other papers from Cornwall to Luton. […]

    An Outstanding Italian Ghost Story January 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    An Outstanding Italian Ghost Story

    This is an Italian memory of a British traveller, it is also a rather good ghost story. The non consequality of many of the events is effective. I had the pleasure many years ago of staying for some days at San Donato, in Chianti. It is about thirty miles from Florence. The way of life […]

    Film, History and Memory January 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Film, History and Memory

    ***Dedicated to David*** In a recent reflection about the way we remember the past, this blogger made the case that after about two hundred years we cease to ‘own’ history. ‘For Beach Waterloo seems, somehow, ‘present’. Anything before that date seems, meanwhile, completely out of reach, as if the historical imagination falls down into a […]

    Ghost Hangs Four in New Orleans January 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ghost Hangs Four in New Orleans

    Here is an American story (of who knows what veracity) that got sucked across the Atlantic and into the British newspapers: WDP, 22 Nov 1872, 3. Few positions in life can be imagined more disagreeable than that of being imprisoned in a haunted cell in police station. The New Orleans Times tells a most unpleasant […]

    Churn Milk Peg January 21, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Churn Milk Peg

    There are few greater pleasures than bringing half- or three-quarter forgotten British bogeys back from the dead. Churn-Milk Peg was a psychotic old dear who would sit in glades of nut trees and smoke a pipe, waiting for children to come along to pick from her trees: ‘churn milk nuts’ were unripe nuts. In as […]

    Bosom Serpents and False Operations January 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Bosom Serpents and False Operations

    Bosom serpents refers to the belief that an animal, typically a reptile or amphibian has taken up residence in a human body. Two truisms to start with. First, there is no way that these animals could live in a human body. Second, if the patient believed in the BoS, the doctor had to deal with […]

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