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  • Never Forget the Church Sprite! August 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Never Forget the Church Sprite!

    When Beach gives fairy posts (and God knows sometimes he does too many) he tries to come up with unusual accounts, peculiar perspectives. He does not do ‘normal’ folklore. But this is a little story from Sweden that filled him with the melancholy of a dying or at least a changing world. Read it, reflect […]

    Headless Coachmen and Crime August 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Headless Coachmen and Crime

    In the Middle Ages they had the wild hunt, the insanely nasty cavalry that rode across the sky. Then, come the early modern period, when everyone had ‘grown up a bit’ and men with shag and swords were so, well, ‘medieval’, that they moved on. They started seeing, instead, headless horsemen out on the toll […]

    The Terror of the Cow Charmer August 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Terror of the Cow Charmer

    A cute fairy post from the west of Ireland in the nineteenth-century. The narrator is a visiting sportsman. I heard, when passing the porter’s lodge, that the gate-keeper’s cow was ill. As she was a fine animal, the loss would have been a serious one to the family, and hence I became interested in her […]

    The Hairies: Thoughts from Africa August 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Hairies: Thoughts from Africa

    Beach has only very inadequate knowledge of cryptozoology, so if he says things here that are unoriginal, stupid or dangerous he wants to apologise ahead of time. It is just that he didn’t go to sleep until very late last night because he found this stuff so interesting. He knows that there are ape men […]

    The Immortal Major Fraser August 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Immortal Major Fraser

    OK here is an atmospheric little passage from a nineteenth-century description of the fifth most beautiful city in the world. Major Fraser, though he never dined there, spent  an hour or two daily in the Estaminet du Divan [in Paris] to read the  papers. He was a great favorite with every one, though none  of […]

    Queens On Top (or not?) August 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Queens On Top (or not?)

    Beach has been waxing lyrical a lot about monarchy recently: there was Charles I with his head sewn back on (the bastards!), then there was environment vs the hereditary principle (or perhaps better environment within the hereditary principle) and today we come to queens. Queens, you’ve got to love them. For is it Beachcombing’s imagination […]

    Genetics vs Environment among Monarchs July 31, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Genetics vs Environment among Monarchs

    There is a phrase that’s trotted out from time to time that monarchs are simply the descendants of those who killed lots of people and as such deserve little respect and certainly no adulation. Of course, it is true that monarchs are the descendants of those who killed many people. But what really matters is […]

    They Do It With Drawers You Know July 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    They Do It With Drawers You Know

    To a twenty-first century reader one of the strangest things about nineteenth century séances were the materialisation of physical objects at the hand of talented mediums aka conjurers. What seems to be just absurd to us was actually taken as a proof of the genuine nature of the swindlers, because they were typically searched before […]

    Charles I and Cromwell July 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Charles I and Cromwell

    ***Sorry not replying to emails annihilating headache: this is a reserve post, though heartfelt for that*** 30 January 1649: the execution of Charles I. The King of England, the ‘anointed of God’ says goodbye to his younger son. He walks out into the freezing cold worried that any trembling will be misinterpreted by the crowd… […]

    Mutant Hares, Modern Satyrs and Centaurs July 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mutant Hares, Modern Satyrs and Centaurs

    Fairies are so ‘yesterday’. What about the more exotic fauna from the forests of the imagination? Let’s start with the mutant hare at Windsor! I remember Lilian, Countess of Cromartie, telling me of a strange incident that once happened to her. She was walking alone one bright summer morning in Windsor Great Park. Suddenly she […]

    ‘Psychic’ Phenomena: Trends in Time? July 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    'Psychic' Phenomena: Trends in Time?

    Beach has had a lot of fun today reading Andrew Lang from morning to the kids’ homecoming. What a pleasure! Lang (obit 1912) was a Victorian/Edwardian writer who had a clear fascination with psychic-phenomena among many, many other things. But Lang was tough-minded and always looked for other solutions before starting on about clairvoyance or […]

    Precious Pot Sherds at Tell-el-Hesy July 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Precious Pot Sherds at Tell-el-Hesy

    Beach has failed to find the original for this as it appeared unreferenced: a crime he is going to compound by unreferencing that one late inadequate reference. However, the passage almost certainly relates to the work of Flinders Petrie at Tell-el-Hesy in 1890, sometimes said to mark the birth of modern archaeology. FP, among his […]

    The Crown of the Queen of Serpents July 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Crown of the Queen of Serpents

    A curious little episode from a very obscure English autobiography. The individual being described here is August de Haxthausen (obit 1866), friend of the brothers Grimm.  De Haxthausen ended up in Britain in the 1840s in the house of a little girl, Janet Ross, who would become one of Beach’s favourite cookery book writers: but […]

    Crowds #4: Religion July 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Crowds #4: Religion

    Beach has so far offered up three crowd photo collections: August 1914, Speaking to Crowds and Crowds as Art. Today he thought he’d move in a little deeper with religious crowds from a small file he’s been building up over the last couple of years. The picture that head’s this post is one of his […]

    Kobolds and Lights in Derbyshire July 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Kobolds and Lights in Derbyshire

    Beach is particularly proud of this one. It came from the pen of a spiritualist and relates to an experience c. 1860. It is now some few years since, being in the neighbourhood of a lovely valley called Dovedale, in the County of Derbyshire, England, I heard my kind host and hostess, Mr and Mrs […]

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