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  • 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 […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Coffin Games January 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Coffin Games

    ***Dedicated to Chris W*** Beach in his tiny hours of research ran across two accounts that feel like Victorian urban legends: a favourite theme of this blog. Note the lack of concrete references. These look as if they were included in a joke column and then recycled as news with some salacious details thrown in… A Sheffield […]

    A Ghost Rabbit as Big as a Sheep January 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Ghost Rabbit as Big as a Sheep

    Welsh ghost stories always have something extra: maybe it is the water, maybe Methodism, maybe coal dust… They are, in any case, always worth reading. This one starts with a nun that is admittedly not very promising but bear with her. Llangynwydd, which is in the Llynvi Valley, has a ghost scare on just now. […]

    The Last English Hobbits? January 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Last English Hobbits?

    Ludchurch (aka Lud’s Church, Lud Church) is not a church. It is a haunted ravine in the English midlands, Staffordshire, that has been frequently associated with the supernatural. The photo above will hopefully give some idea of what it is like. It has also been associated with an underground race of hominids in caves that […]

    My Name Writ on Glass January 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    My Name Writ on Glass

    One of the eternal human problems is how to transmit facts – history, fame, infamy, love… – from one generation to another. We have tried to do it on calf skin, on papyrus, on the tongues of the tribal singers and on stone. But never forget we have also tried to do it on glass. […]

    Phantom Rabbit Monster: Rochdale, Lancashire January 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Phantom Rabbit Monster: Rochdale, Lancashire

    Beach has recently been looking for the stranger monsters of British mythology and with some pride he comes today to the Baum-Rappit, a monster from Rochdale in Lancashire. What was the Baum-Rappit? Well as the name suggests it seems to have been a diabolical rabbit. Wright in his incredibly useful dialect dictionary comes up with […]

    Lovers Leaping, Shooting and Drowning January 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Lovers Leaping, Shooting and Drowning

    Love suicides are happily today a rare thing. But they were common enough from 1700 to, say, after the Second World War to enter folklore: many places in the English-speaking world have their ‘Lovers Leaps’. (Derbyshire, a small British Midland county has four!) Why were love suicides so popular? Perhaps we can separate the pull […]

    The Noontide Hag in Luton! January 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Noontide Hag in Luton!

    Walter Scott refers, in one of his poems, to ‘the noontide hag’, a creature he explains in a note as ‘a tall, emaciated, gigantic female figure, is supposed, in particular, to haunt the district of Knoidart’ and ‘which, contrary to the general rule of ghostly creatures, appeared in the full blaze of noon.’ Quite how […]

    Self Made Victorians? January 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Self Made Victorians?

    Were there self made men in Victorian Britain? The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as well as being the single most impressive collection of biographies yet put together is useful in measuring money as for most modern individuals, say from the eighteenth century onwards, the vox-writer has included wealth at death (something recorded in Britain […]

    The Naked Dancing Thief: Con or Urban Legend? January 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Naked Dancing Thief: Con or Urban Legend?

    The following is a report from Reuters from Turkey from June 1937. Pretending to be a ghost, a beautiful young woman in Istanbul, who appeared naked at night in the house of a priest, and danced before him, has made big haul money and other valuables. When he first saw what he described as a […]

    Republican Fields January 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Republican Fields

    A month ago Beach offered up some of the most offensive names that farmer’s gave their fields in medieval and modern England: Judas, Kiss Arse Hill, and Poison Piddle being some of the highlights. Our reference guide, Mark Field’s English field names, goes beyond the offensive though to the downright bizarre. Perhaps the most striking example […]

    Epiphany Gift 6: Enys Tregarthen and the Piskeys January 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

    Beachcombing has a tradition of epiphany gifts. Here is the latest. Enys Tregarthen Piskeys These are by no means all of Enys Tregarthen‘s pixy stories, but these are five that are unavailable online. Enjoy!

    A Linguistic Family Tree of North-West European Fairies January 4, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Linguistic Family Tree of North-West European Fairies

    Word history is particularly fraught where supernatural creatures are involved. Uncanny things multiply with such disconcerting speed (often varying from valley to valley) that the normal philological approaches can easily get stuck in the mud. A particularly painful example of this is what might be called the bugge family. Bugge meant demon or spirit in Middle English: […]

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