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  • The Drumming Well July 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Drumming Well

    This is one of these paranormal legends that just seems to have no parallels: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com. In Northamptonshire there was a well that drummed (!) on occasions of national importance. ‘[155] When I was a school-boy at Oundle, in Northamptonshire about the Scots coming into England, I heard a well, in one […]

    Living on Other Planets July 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Living on Other Planets

    Beach recently, while looking for ghosts, ran across this in one Daniel Defoe’s work. This is what it would be like to live on other planets according to an intelligent eighteenth-century thinker. In Saturn they are to live without Eyes, or be a Kind so illuminated from their own internal Heat and Light, that they […]

    Fairies in Old Oaks? July 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairies in Old Oaks?

    Beach recently came across this curious sentence in Della Hooke’s Trees in Anglo-Saxon England (103). ‘Fairy folks are in old oaks’ and on closer examination the rhyme is everywhere. It appears, for example, twice in Katharine Briggs, Dictionary of Fairies at 159 and 313. Needless to say that has also travelled, like a spore, across […]

    Review: Spirits of an Industrial Age July 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Spirits of an Industrial Age

    There are few pleasures greater in the second decade of the twenty-first century than picking up a self-published volume and finding that it is actually a good read. (For younger readers this simply did not happen thirty years ago). Enter from the left stage Spirits of an Industrial Age: Ghost Impersonation, Spring-heeled Jack and Victorian Society […]

    Curious Royal Epithets July 4, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Curious Royal Epithets

    There is a long tradition in Europe of giving kings, queens and even aristocrats epithets: e.g. Catherine the Great, Louis the Pious… Of course, epithets make particular sense when dynasties repeat names endlessly: you need to distinguish one George from another, say. Beach has spent an hour looking through collections of lists of these epithets, […]

    Historical Children Scarers July 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Historical Children Scarers

    ***Dedicated to Invisible*** Parents have scared children for generations with conjured horrors: the fairies, the black boggart, Jenny Greenteeth and many, many more. However, Beach today wants to look at a very select category. Historical personalities who were so horrific (or at least were imagined to be so horrific) that parents could credibly say: ‘Get […]

    Weird Wars: Lost Maps, Lost Plans June 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Weird Wars: Lost Maps, Lost Plans

    You’ve all had that awful sinking feeling. You’ve prepared your masterful attack with a vast army across the entire front and then some fool goes and misplaces the map: and next thing you know the scrap of paper ends up in the hands of your opposite number, in the enemy  high command. There must be […]

    What is a Headless Bear? June 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    What is a Headless Bear?

      There are many different kinds of British bogeys, but one of the oldest attested is the fearsome ‘headless bear’? The most famous record of this monster is, without any question, Shakespeare in Midsummer Night’s Dream: Sometime a horse I’ll be, sometime a hound, A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire; And neigh, and […]

    Immortal Meals #29: Chair Jumping at Court June 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #29: Chair Jumping at Court

    Colonel Lennox (1819) was a British ne’erdo well who evolved into a capable member of the British establishment eventually starring as Governor General of North America. As a young man testosterone dripped from him as he walked along: he argued, dueled, whored and was a fine wicket keeper… The event below relates to the aftermath […]

    Norfolk Shape Shifter June 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Norfolk Shape Shifter

    Here we have a fairly rare thing. A Norfolk ghost story. During the passing of the third decade of the present century [1830s] I had not reached my teens, but distinctly remember that the inhabitants of Thetford generally, and young folks in particular, were greatly alarmed by prevalent report of a frightful monster—which had been […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: The Red Hand and Seven Years in a Cave June 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: The Red Hand and Seven Years in a Cave

    Beach is absolutely fascinated by this story. It is clearly genuine and it somehow manages to convey a great deal of menace. There are four English counties beginning with ‘W’ (or at least there were): Westmorland, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Wiltshire. It seems rather futile to look for ‘T’ because ‘W’ may have been to mislead… Much more […]

    Snowball Atrocities #2: Snowball Deaths June 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Snowball Atrocities #2: Snowball Deaths

    You can’t go far in snowballing history without dealing with the deaths. European and American newspapers (Beach’s source for most of what follows) are full of snowball fatalities in the nineteenth and twentieth century. For those of us who have perhaps played with snow and lovingly lobbed loose white balls in the direction of family […]

    Killer Rabbits June 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Killer Rabbits

    Beachcombing’s father in law, a few days ago, actually managed to trip over a snake. He thought it was a piece of rope… In celebration of this unlikely event and in memory of sheep killings Beach now declares open season on rabbit killers. We’ve already had the terrors of supernatural rabbits, but what about the […]

    The Kaiser and the Crowned Prince June 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Kaiser and the Crowned Prince

    This story may or may not be true: but as all good Victorians would tell ‘it might as well have been’. The Emperor of Germany is, of course, that world destroyer Wilhelm II, and the tale is absolutely at one with his martinet, aggressive nature. It might be worth noting that at this date the […]

    The Renwick Cockatrice June 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Renwick Cockatrice

    Renwick is a pretty Cumbrian village with one bizarre episode in its past: a duel between a local and a deadly cockatrice in the first decade of the seventeenth century. There are a good many references to this legend in the nineteenth century. But the earliest written version appears as an aside in  Hutchinson’s History of the […]

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