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  • Female Poison Circles July 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Female Poison Circles

    As is well known periodically through history groups of frustrated women have banded together to poison their violent, somnolent, poor or idiotic husbands. Six or sixty or one hundred and fifty would  find a local gypsy who sold tastless, colourless (in short undetectable) poisons and then run home and start dosing gins and tonics or […]

    The Somers Affair: A Pirate Fantasy and Three Nooses July 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Somers Affair: A Pirate Fantasy and Three Nooses

    The Somers affair is a curious incident dating to 1843 in which three American sailors were executed/murdered (opinions differ) in surprising circumstances. There is a lot of scope for psychologising and motive fishing, but the best bet is that this was an adolescent game that got very, very badly out of hand. First, the bare […]

    Seeing Fairies is Out: Lost Manuscript Found July 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Seeing Fairies is Out: Lost Manuscript Found

    A bragging post today. This morning a copy of Marjorie Johnson’s Seeing Fairies: From the Lost Archives of the Fairy Investigation Society arrived by express delivery: major kudos in the village when the red van drives up and the courier demands a signature, the butcher and the baker came out to watch. Regular or perhaps […]

    Immortal Meals #15: Full Up at Ferrara July 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #15: Full Up at Ferrara

    As noted in a recent post late medieval and early modern feasts often had as their point not the consumption of simply massive quantities of food, but the ostentatious displays of simply massive quantities of food, most of which would not be touched by human hands: at least once they had come out of the […]

    Nineteenth-Century Gravegoods in Somerset July 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Nineteenth-Century Gravegoods in Somerset

    The burial of children is always extremely melancholy. The very tragedy of putting a loved child in the ground – memories of an Anglo-Saxon grave in Oxfordshire covered previously by this blog – leads relations, siblings and particularly parents to an unusual pitch of grief and in that grief they sometimes make unusual decisions. Certainly, […]

    The Ten Stupidest Duels in History July 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Ten Stupidest Duels in History

    Duelling was a sensible institution that, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, reminded young men, and sometimes women, of a particular social class that – never mind how they had been spoilt growing up – words and actions had consequences. Most individuals who paced around in Hyde Park  slashing the air with their swords, […]

    Three Wellingtons To Rule Them All and Hair Jewellery July 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Three Wellingtons To Rule Them All and Hair Jewellery

      I came across this story while looking into the history of magic rings. It is some, shall we say, marginalia, written into the back of a volume that was subsequently scanned by Google. This is not the first time I’ve come across an intriguing reference on an online scan, but this one begged more […]

    Index Biography #8 June 30, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Index Biography #8

    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 offered up previously here Sheridan le Fanu and Joseph […]

    Ghost Universals and Human Universals June 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Ghost Universals and Human Universals

    Let’s say that your neighbour meets a ghost. What will they typically see/hear/experience other than a human form: a floater, strange clanking, glowing body parts, missing body parts? We might guess one or the other from this list, but there is no need to guess. There are statistics out there (or data amenable to statistics) […]

    Boy Genius Washed Up from Shipwreck In Wales? June 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Boy Genius Washed Up from Shipwreck In Wales?

      ***thanks to Wade and Andy who sent this amazing story in** Consider the following tale. Two young children are found in mysterious circumstances without their parents: they look different from the locals and speak another language. They are adopted by a family in the neighbourhood. One child dies but the other prospers and shows […]

    Blue Bottoms and Samurai in 17 C. Spain June 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Blue Bottoms and Samurai in 17 C. Spain

    ***This story came from Invisible for which many thanks*** In 1613 a group of Japanese soldiers and diplomats undertook an extraordinary journey that would end with blue spots on the bottoms of babies in Andalucia (Spain). The diplomatic group was led by a northern aristocrat, Hasekura Tsunetaka and a crew of 180 under HT sailed the Pacific landing […]

    Starving Duel in Idaho June 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Starving Duel in Idaho

    By the nineteenth century duels were falling out of fashion. The state typically prosecuted and even the girl (or very occasionally the boy) who were argued over resented the fact that blood was going to be spilt on their behalf. There came, then, an interesting rash of fighting duels without weapons: because there was some legal […]

    Buried In a Fish’s Belly June 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Buried In a Fish's Belly

    This is an almost unbelievable story that made a splash in the UK in the late May of 1833. We quote one G.S.Gowing who was the owner of a ship, but who was not a witness. On Monday last, the 20th inst., a fishing vessel belonging to Lowestoft [Norfolk], Robert Gowing master, engaged in the […]

    Do Fairies Hate Lawnmowers? June 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Do Fairies Hate Lawnmowers?

    Boggart Hole Clough is a nook, a small valley within the Manchester connurbation that has miraculously remained without housing development or industry. Its name should immediately excite those interested in fairylore as the boggart is a northern solitary fairy: note that there have been several boggart posts on strangehistory including boggart catching, a misplaced Calderdale […]

    The Horror of 69 Charlotte Street June 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Horror of 69 Charlotte Street

    One of our occasional series of ghost stories from the English press. This one appeared in 1940 – as if a World War wasn’t enough to keep you busy – and relates to Devonport (Plymouth) in the south-west. Note that the south-west is over-represented in English newsreports of Fortean affairs. Relieved peace once more reigns […]

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