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  • Victorian Urban Legends: The Wrong Bed August 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: The Wrong Bed

    The Wrong Bed urban legend is self explanatory: a man or a woman get in the wrong bed in the wrong room in the wrong house, inevitably with someone of the opposite sex. That this story did the rounds in Victorian times there should be no surprise. What is incredible is that the story was […]

    The Mystics and Joe Bloggs August 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern, Uncategorized
    The Mystics and Joe Bloggs

    From 1889-1892 the Society for Psychic Research asked a series of 17,000 Britons (of all classes and both sexes), whether they had ever had a ‘hallucination’, that is hearing or seeing someone who was not actually there and yet while ‘awake, and not suffering from delirium or insanity or any other morbid condition obviously conducive […]

    Witch Violence in Nineteenth-Century Cumbria August 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Uncategorized
    Witch Violence in Nineteenth-Century Cumbria

    A modest attempt to shed some light on a peculiar act of near murder from Yorkshire, August 1874. We are at Garsdale in Cumbria in one of the wildest parts of the UK and Levi Abbott an excavator on the railway (navvy?) is in court because he has wounded Ellen Bowers, his landlady who kept […]

    Witching Spiders from Suffolk August 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Witching Spiders from Suffolk

    This witching story from the late seventeenth-century is interesting for two reasons: first because it is inherently weird and creepy; second because it may be the source for one of the greatest twentieth-century horror stories. Frightened of spiders? Then go click away. At St. Edmund’s Bury, in Suffolk, Sept. 6, 1660, in the middle of […]

    Immortal Meals #24: Jaén’s Eggfight August 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Immortal Meals #24: Jaén's Eggfight

    Jaén in Andalucia (Spain) is a town with its roots in Spain’s troubled late middle ages, half Arab, half Christian. Jaén also stars in a wonderful book by one of our greatest living medievalists Teofilo ‘God’ Ruiz now at UCLA. In City and Spectacle, Ruiz describes life in fifteenth-century Jaén in terms of the shows, […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: The Coffin Trick August 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: The Coffin Trick

    This is an absolutely brilliant story, but probably not a very good scam. That suggests that we are dealing here with a nineteenth-century urban legend. According to the New York Herald, a charitable gentleman his lately been imposed upon in the most shameful manner in Boston. Meeting a woman in one of the streets in […]

    Nine Moments When the Axis Lost the War August 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Nine Moments When the Axis Lost the War

    The sequel to Beach’s seven reasons why Germany lost the Great War. 1) When Germany didn’t destroy the British Expeditionary Force: at the end of May 1940 about a third of a million British servicemen, the Empire’s entire European army was trapped in a small pocket on the northern French coast. Demoralised, with their equipment […]

    British and Irish Wild Men August 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    British and Irish Wild Men

    There follow nineteenth-century reports of wild men from Britain and Ireland: can anyone add to the list, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com (fiction is good too) 1851: Co Limerick (Ireland), a rumour was doing the rounds that a wild man with no clothes lived in the wood there. He had been carrying off and killing […]

    Foundling Names August 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Foundling Names

    We recently offered a post on the names given to bastard children. Here is a related and far nicer post on the names given to foundlings, who seem to have been treated, perhaps strangely, with rather more respect by society. Today, if an anonymous individual turns up, he is, in the US, referred to as […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: the Pickpocket’s Diamond Ring August 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: the Pickpocket's Diamond Ring

    Beach has offered a series of Victorian and Edwardian urban legends in the last weeks, some of which he has his doubts about. This one though is a slam dunk of the best kind. First, it is the clear ancestor of the stories where an honest person accidentally steals something from a stranger: though in Beach’s […]

    Return to Trenches at Death August 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Return to Trenches at Death

    There follows a very fine ghost story from the British press. It would be fascinating to track down the sources here: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com At the beginning of the war a famous regiment left England for France. The colonel that regiment was a man beloved of all his men, idolised by his young […]

    When Spain Was Nigeria: the Origin of the Email Scam August 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    When Spain Was Nigeria: the Origin of the Email Scam

    Here is an early instance of the 419 scam. Was Spain nineteenth-century Nigeria? For some months a number of persons in several parts of Europe have had letters addressed to them in French, in Spanish, and in German, bearing different signatures, but all of almost similar purport. Were they in bad French, English and German? The […]

    Wedding Ring Superstitions August 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Wedding Ring Superstitions

    Everything to do with weddings attracts superstitions and rings are no exception: as the most visible material sign of the bond between man and wife it is only natural that they were included in rituals. The following folklore (all we have in our files) comes from Britain and Ireland, all but one are from nineteenth-century […]

    In Search of Misha’al August 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    In Search of Misha'al

    Misha’al bint Fahd al Saud was a princess who was, 15 July 1977, shot several times in the head in a carpark in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 1977: Misha’al was the granddaughter of Muhammad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the power behind the Saudi throne and one of the original Saudi playboys. Moments after Misha’al’s death her […]

    Baby Loving Snakes August 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Baby Loving Snakes

    There are many stories about snakes getting into cradles or generally just hanging around children. Here are a few crude, and possibly in some cases factual instances from pre-war British newspapers. The 18 months-old son of Mr and Mrs Howell of Mainchlochog, Pembrokeshire, walked into the house yesterday with a snake coiled round its neck. […]

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