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  • Papal Sorceror? July 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Papal Sorceror?

    ***Thanks to an old friend of the blog, Stephen D. for this one*** Urban VIII (obit 1644) was one of the most exquisitely cultured popes ever to sit on the throne of Peter. He is famous today for being the man who brought Galileo to Rome to rap his knuckles very hard: but that is […]

    So You Want to Become an Early Modern Witch: 16 Steps July 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    So You Want to Become an Early Modern Witch: 16 Steps

    We are back in the seventeenth century and your neighbours are really getting on your nerves, money is tight and, frankly, you want to let down your hair and deny God and the mother Church. How do you get involved with early modern Satanists and impress at the Sabbat? Well, luckily for you someone was […]

    Image: The Hands Haven’t It July 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Image: The Hands Haven't It

    What is wrong with this picture? We have here two Elizabethan nobles: Sir Thomas Wroughton (d. 1597) and Lady Anne Wroughton of Broad Hinton in Wiltshire: their manor house would in later centuries host and house such notables as John Evelyn and the Iron Duke of Wellington. Thomas was a member of the upper ranks […]

    Practical Joke: The Wife Hunter July 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Practical Joke: The Wife Hunter

    Practical jokes were often fairly of poor fare in the nineteenth century. However, there is something amusingly diabolical about this one, particularly if you remember that no one died and that the wife hunter learnt  that there were probably better ways to find true love . It appears that a Manchester tradesman short time ago […]

    Last Zombie Burial in Western Europe? July 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Last Zombie Burial in Western Europe?

    At least twice a year there are news stories about zombie-proof burials. Archaeologists dig up a body that has been given special treatment by gravediggers: we have enjoyed some of these stories at StrangeHistory in the past including a particularly haunting one from Ireland. Sometimes corpses are decapitated and the head placed between the legs; sometimes […]

    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 […]

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