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  • William Bottrell and the Strangest Funeral Procession in the World November 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    William Bottrell and the Strangest Funeral Procession in the World

    The year is 1881 and Willam Bottrell has just passed away after a horrific final illness: he lay paralysed in bed for the last year, his mind as fine as ever, his body drying up. Bottrell, for those many who don’t know, was a hero perhaps the hero of Cornish folklore studies because despite having […]

    Modesty and Killing November 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Modesty and Killing

    When Benito Mussolini was ‘executed’ (jolted out of a car by some communist partisans and shot in the chest in a ditch) he did not die alone. By his side was his lover and perhaps the most significant woman in his life, Clara Petacci. CP was gunned down a moment before Mussolini himself. The corpses […]

    Witches, Confessions and the Truth November 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Witches, Confessions and the Truth

    Scholars of witchcraft in the burning years have an overwhelming problem. As rationalists they do not believe in the sabbat, devil sex or flying broomsticks. And yet, and yet… Women who were investigated often come up with the most extraordinary stories about the Satanic things that they have done. The problem for historians is why does […]

    Late Pixy Accounts from Devon November 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Late Pixy Accounts from Devon

    Here is some late pixylore from a collection written in 1982. The author is the very fine Theo Brown, an outstanding folklorist. We’ve tried here to quarry experiences of those known by TB rather than the normal Devon folklore fodder, which can be found in ‘all’ the books. 1) Pixies present a difficult problem. What […]

    Families and the Durability of Memory November 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Families and the Durability of Memory

    How long can memories remain in a family? We have played these games before, of course. Just a couple of weeks ago Beach was imagining his daughter telling his great great grandchildren about the time their great, great, great, great grandfather survived an Italian attack in the Mediterranean, a hundred and fifty years after the […]

    Oldest Still Used Clothes November 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Oldest Still Used Clothes

    Strange History announces a search for the oldest clothes in the world. Or rather the oldest still worn clothes. This is the best we’ve come up with so far. A British soldier has escaped from an Italian prisoner of War camp, 1943, and he has run to the mountains where he has fallen ill. Luckily […]

    The Inventio Fortunata: A Lost Medieval Journey to the Arctic North November 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Inventio Fortunata: A Lost Medieval Journey to the Arctic North

    The Inventio Fortunata sometimes written the Inventio Fortunae (likely a mistaken amendment by an over anxious sixteenth-century author) is one of the most extraordinary documents NOT to come down to us from posterity. It was written in the fourteenth century, either at sea or in England, by a friar for the King of England, Edward […]

    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 […]

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