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  • Immortals: Memories of the Revolutionary War in the Late Nineteenth Century October 30, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortals: Memories of the Revolutionary War in the Late Nineteenth Century

    Another immortal, this time from the Grantham Journal 20 Sep 1873. Note that vagueness about Afro-Americans’ ages was often pronounced in the late nineteenth century. Several of the ‘oldest American’ stories are about ex-slaves in the south. According to the Louisville Journal, a wonderful old negro is at present living at the farm of Dr. […]

    Skinny White: the Cleverest Pickpocket in Europe October 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Skinny White: the Cleverest Pickpocket in Europe

    Beach continues to enjoy pickpocket stories. This one was told of James White (skinny White) a pickpocket, who died in 1895 and who was ‘the cleverest pickpocket in Europe’. His obituary is willfully quiet about some of his exploits. It for example, tells us nothing of the ‘curious tales’ about his fun at Monte Carlo. […]

    Crash Ghosts October 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Crash Ghosts

    In 2008 that hoary old newspaper of the British right, The Daily Telegraph, all cobwebs and fox hunting, included a fascinating piece on a car-crashing ghost. Here follows a very brief edited version: Paranormal researchers are investigating the sightings of a girl in Victorian dress on a road in the West Midlands, which locals say […]

    Tudor Sex Romps October 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Tudor Sex Romps

    The lovemaking of other ages is often obscured from us. A natural reticence, which the twenty-first century has largely given up on, draws a veil around medieval or Tudor sex. Our few exceptions include some rare pornographic accounts and a handful of legal descriptions where sex was getting someone in trouble and needed to be […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Thames Crocodiles October 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Thames Crocodiles

    There have been a few cases of crocodiles being found in the Thames. In 1897 and 1933 crocodiles were retrieved from the river: alive in the first case (two feet), and dead in the second (five feet). Note that there are also several modern claims that crocodiles have been seen on the river. However, what […]

    Snowball Atrocities #6: Snowballs over Glasgow October 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Snowball Atrocities #6: Snowballs over Glasgow

    In Beach’s long and passionate searches through the annals of snowballing, he has come across many descriptions of mass snowball fights. However, this, from February 1865, is perhaps his favourite. It combines reckless youth, police brutality (to not from), and significant property damage: in short it is the essence of the Victorian snow-balling. Glasgow has […]

    Review: London Urban Legends October 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: London Urban Legends

    Scott Wood, London Urban Legends Urban legend junkies are perhaps the most attractive of all folklorists. Their brethren get obsessed with the minutiae of traditional culture: polkadots on dresses, superstitions about dandruff, dance rhythms… Alternatively, men and women of advanced years (who should know better) plunge into subjects that defy understanding, that are actually about not […]

    A Canadian Fairy Hole (with Wigwam) October 21, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Canadian Fairy Hole (with Wigwam)

    The Fairy Hole on Cape Breton in Nova Scotia is a huge cave on a mountain side, some twenty yards across. There are several videos on youtube that give some sense of what it is like inside and immediately outside. Beach was interested by this site because Fairy Hole is a common placename in England, particularly […]

    Sowing the Land with Salt October 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Sowing the Land with Salt

    What do you do if you really dislike someone? Hurt them, tax them, kill them obviously… But if you really hate them you salt their land… Confused? Let’s head back to mid eighteenth century Portugal. The Tavora executions were some of the bloodiest from the eighteenth-century west: even fifty years later the family would have […]

    Wrong Place Castaways October 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Wrong Place Castaways

    Right through history castaways have been thrown up on foreign shores after a shipwreck, a storm or an argument on board (in many navies marooning was a form of punishment). For those of us interested in Wrong Place and Wrong Time phenomena these castaways are crucial. But how many were actually left behind. For example, how many […]

    Dumb Duels #2: Whip Duel October 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dumb Duels #2: Whip Duel

    Beach has neglected for some time the honourable pursuit of dumb duelling: duels where either the weapon or the motive or preferably both were absurd. Here is one from 1853 from France. It is reported in a contemporary English newspaper so it may even, say it quietly, be true. Enter the whip duel A singular duel […]

    John Trew and an Elizabethan Tank? October 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    John Trew and an Elizabethan Tank?

    Beach recently enjoyed Robert Hutchinson’s The Spanish Armada, particularly this short passage about an Elizabethan inventor, John Trew: Periods of national crisis often throw up the more eccentric among us. John Trew wrote to the queen in December offering his services for ‘her preservation and salvation… Though an old man, I desire to be employed […]

    Simon Bolivar Meets Ferdinand at Sport October 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Simon Bolivar Meets Ferdinand at Sport

    Simon Bolivar was a Venezuelan troublemaker who would lead the Spanish Americas to freedom. Ferdinand VII was the cretinous Spanish monarch who would allow this to happen. What Beach had not known until recently was that Bolivar and Ferdinand actually met as boys in 1800 in extraordinary circumstances. Bolivar (right) was seventeen; Ferdinand (left) was sixteen. […]

    Execution by Boat October 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Execution by Boat

    In the famous nineteenth-century Belgian novel The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak there is a reference to an unexpected form of execution. ‘Since you do not like any of these,’ said the Stevenyne, ‘you shall be taken on to the king’s ships, and there condemned to be torn asunder by four galleys.’ The […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Surviving Death by Molten Iron October 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Surviving Death by Molten Iron

    A busy day today as Beach is going to go and do five or six useless tasks. Here, then, is a fillip post, put tentatively in the urban legends file: surviving death by molten iron (or ‘molten metal’). This can’t be true can it? Can it? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com But few men have […]

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