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  • The Wesley Ghost #1: Introduction November 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Wesley Ghost #1: Introduction

    ‘The Wesley ghost’ is one of the best attested instances of a poltergeist haunting prior to the twentieth century. There were apparently twelve people living in the Parsonage House (pictured), Epworth (Lincolnshire) at the time of the disturbances, disturbances that centred on the period December 1716 to January 1717: three servants, the Wesley parents and […]

    Blood and Judges: Murder Will Out November 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Blood and Judges: Murder Will Out

    There is the old folk belief that blood calls out for justice. If Beach murders his father-in-law (random example) and then successfully provides an alibi he will soon be undone. The local magistrates will call Beach forward and demand that he lay his hand on dead dad and then poor, much provoked Beach will be […]

    Index Biography #23: Prize a book October 31, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Index Biography #23: Prize a book

    ***James wins it, scroll down for answer*** 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 […]

    Ophelia, Shards and Suicides October 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Ophelia, Shards and Suicides

    In Hamlet a priest says of the dead Ophelia as she is being brought to her burial (5,1): She should in ground unsanctified have lodged Till the last trumpet: for charitable prayers, Shards, flints and pebbles should be thrown on her: But what is this about ‘shards, flints and pebbles’? The Auden Shakespeare has no […]

    Fairy Human Relations: Dangerous Reflections October 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Fairy Human Relations: Dangerous Reflections

    ***Dedicated to Chris with question marks*** There is a modern idea that fairies are the spirit of vegetation, the spirits of the land. Human beings, meanwhile, are their polluting, urbanizing neighbours. The two represent, respectively, the forces of life and entropy and are on a permanent collision course. Traditional views of European fairies were rather […]

    The Earthquake Ghost October 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Earthquake Ghost

    Odell is a small village, now in the English county of Bedfordshire. Here is a nice nineteenth-century case of ghost hysteria. For two or three weeks the neighbourhood Odell has been put into an extraordinary degree of excitement by the description of a supernatural visitation, at the village alehouse. To such a pitch had this […]

    Late Witch Ducking in Bedfordshire October 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Late Witch Ducking in Bedfordshire

    Just to put the following events in perspective. The last witch certainly executed in England – there are some subsequent doubtful cases – dates to 1682: the last witch executed in Scotland dates to 1727. In 1735 witchcraft ceased to be a supernatural crime in England. Yet, 12 July 1737, The Monthly Chronologer reports the […]

    The Smith’s Ghosts October 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Smith's Ghosts

    This account from 1838 is interesting in combining obituary and folk story. We are in the deep, dark Irish west. Blacksmiths are always slightly tainted figures in traditional societies, muttering charms to the ferrous lumps on their forges. On Friday, the 7th instant, the remains of Patrick Cormack, a blacksmith, were borne through Nenagh, from […]

    London Polt October 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    London Polt

    We are in London in 1847, in a religious family. The whole of the neighbourhood of Black Lion Lane, Bayswater is ringing with the extraordinary occurrences that have recently happened in the house of Mr. Williams in the Moscow Road, and which bear a strong resemblance to the celebrated Stockwell ghost affair in 1772. The […]

    Counter Factual: Pre-War Politicians and Television October 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Counter Factual: Pre-War Politicians and Television

    A modern politician needs to be convincing on television. That these qualities matter was famously demonstrated in the first debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in 1960, where radio listeners believed that Nixon had won the contest, but television watchers, shocked by Nixon’s five o’clock shadow, claimed that Kennedy had beaten his Republican […]

    Flying Girlfriend, Frightened Boyfriend and the Witch Orgy October 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Flying Girlfriend, Frightened Boyfriend and the Witch Orgy

    Beach has recently become obsessed with stories about witches’ flying exploits. Here is a tale (sounds almost a folk tale) from the pen of the dreadful Jean Bodin, one of Europe’s most important sixteenth-century witch theorists. There was… at Lyons a young noblewoman a few years ago, who got up at night and, lighting the […]

    Real Tree Trunk Deaths October 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Real Tree Trunk Deaths

    There are several nineteenth century legends about bodies trapped in the hollow of trees. These seem to be, for the most part, urban legends. But there are some unquestionably factual accounts. It must be quite difficult to die within a tree, but clearly some people managed it. Beach concentrated on Britain. Are there other factual […]

    Scooby Doo Crime 4#: The Skeleton Robber October 17, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Scooby Doo Crime 4#:  The Skeleton Robber

    This is a story about the countryside around Portsmouth in the UK in 1825. It belongs to our Scooby Doo series of crimes: i.e. local hoodlums using the supernatural while carrying out illegal activities. A curious attempt at robbery took place a short time since, near this town. A Gentleman, returning home after spending the […]

    Georgian Magic School October 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Georgian Magic School

    The Magus by Francis Barrett (London 1801) is a typical work of modern magic: plagiarized from earlier works with badly drawn Hebrew letters strewn about like rice at a wedding. But the author Francis had one novel feature in his book. His announcement of, Beach can barely hold back his excitement, a magic school in […]

    The Snake Tree October 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Snake Tree

    Beach was innocently looking for stories about human bodies in trees. This one has no human body, but it seemed too good to waste. A correspondent of the Horticultural Times contributes the following account of the so-called snake tree, which is said to exert such a terrifying influence upon the natives of the Mexican Wilds. […]

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