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Forgotten Kingdoms: August Gissler’s Cocos May 15, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Forgotten Kingdoms: August Gissler's Cocos

  When August Gissler (obit 1935) became, at last, governor of Cocos Island, off Costa Rica, in 1897, he was not interested in the tiny and transient population of tobacco growers there, most of whom he had brought over from his home country. The German was obsessed, instead, by the vast quantites of gold (allegedly) […]

The Boggarts of Royde and Royd May 14, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
The Boggarts of Royde and Royd

Today, an almighty confusion of boggarts: the fairy-shape-shifting-ghosts that haunt the south Pennines and the North West of England. Ellen Royde is a gentile house, now used as a health clinic, in the Lower Calder Valley at Elland near Halifax. There, in the garden, was a boggart chair, some kind of seat or structure, suggesting […]

Dowry Fossil May 13, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Medieval, Modern
Dowry Fossil

  A wrong time post… There are few things in history as fascinating as the archaic customs that have been handed down from generation to generation and that survive in our societies like the tail-bone’s pointy edge on our spines. A particular Beachcombian favourite is the dowry. Civilisations basically fall into three categories here: those […]

Halley’s Comet and the Generations! May 12, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
 Halley's Comet and the Generations!

***Dedicated to Larry who got me interested in this and provided, through his emails and forwards, much of the information*** It recently struck Beach that Halley’s comet would be a perfect measure of the continuity of knowledge in ancient and medieval civilizations. After all, here is a comet that returns every 75 (and a bit) […]

Lawrence’s Missing Tree May 11, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Lawrence's Missing Tree

D.H.Lawrence, the high priest of love, the enemy of the bourgeoisie (and their closest ally), an indifferent stylist, a brilliant novelist and the man our great grandmothers prayed that they would not be seated next to at a dinner party. DHL had a lifelong, masturbatory relationship with Italy: a country that was, in his mythology, […]

Soul Selling in Eighteenth-Century London May 10, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Soul Selling in Eighteenth-Century London

A melancholy day today and so Beach thought that he would enjoy some soul-selling. We are in eighteenth-century London and in the middle of one of those stories that are a little difficult to credit. A young maid, who lived formerly at Kensington, but, removing from thence, lived in St. Martin’s le Grand, London, being […]

Witches and Brambles May 9, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Witches and Brambles

This is a summary borrowed from Owen Davies’ excellent Witchcraft, Magic and Culture. In December 1924, Alfred John Matthews, aged forty-three, a small-holder of Clyst St Lawrence, Devon, appeared at the Cullhompton petty sessions for scratching and drawing blood from Ellen Garnsworthy, a middle-aged, married woman of the same village. Matthews had a sow which […]

Academic Quotations from Aged Newspapers May 8, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
Academic Quotations from Aged Newspapers

There follows what may be the most boring post ever put up here. Apologies ahead of time: I tried to make the title as tedious as possible to keep thrillseekers and glue-sniffers away. First, some background. In the last two years I have published half a dozen academic articles that include or, in two cases, […]

Astrology and Burning Cities May 7, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Astrology and Burning Cities

Astrology was the one portion of occultism that survived, with its respectability intact, into the modern age. Indeed, up until, the eighteenth century there were those who insisted that astrology should be included among the natural sciences. Then, with the Enlightenment and the birth of modern astronomy, astrology took a dive in prestige from which […]

Athens and Ghosts May 6, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Athens and Ghosts

  A month ago Beach published a story of a legal case between Irish tenant and landlord over a haunting. While typing the account out, while reading the emails about it and generally in that week, Beach had this strange déjà vu, nothing new under the sun feeling. He’d come across something similar before. Finally, his memory […]

Grazing Sheep, Rutting Tortoises and Academic Books May 5, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Grazing Sheep, Rutting Tortoises and Academic Books

Beach is presently reading an academic book that cost 105 dollars. There are 384 pages in said book, which means that purchasers will be expected to pay a little over 50 cents for each leaf of paper (front and back). Strangely, Beach is not bitter about the reading experience because (i) the book is a […]

Hob and Documentation May 4, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Hob and Documentation

Historians with their infinite archives and supercilious (and usually ill-functioning) electronic databases need lessons in modesty. And here is a ‘lesson’ that Beach stumbled upon this morning. In 1861 the following appeared in a book on archaeology. Mr. Bateman opened a circular tumulus on Baslow Moor [Derbyshire] called ‘Hob Hurst’s house’. It was a very […]

Ragamuffin Purring in 1873 (Preston) May 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Ragamuffin Purring in 1873 (Preston)

In the early days of this blog Beach celebrated the ancient Lancashire sport of purring or clog fighting (1, 2), where an opponents shins are reduced to bloody jelly with the white bone showing through. Sorry for that. In the hope of reviving this thread of posts here is a nineteenth-century allusion to the sport […]

Amazons 5#: Some Truths? Don’t Count On It… May 2, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Amazons 5#: Some Truths? Don't Count On It...

In 1542 Francisco de Orellana crossed from Chile (under Pizarro) and then passed down the Amazon to the sea with fifty men. It was an extraordinarily dangerous and uncomfortable journey and it says something for the courage and ruthlessness of the Spaniards that most were still alive when the Amazon vomited them into the Atlantic […]

Beachcombed 35 May 1, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
Beachcombed 35

  Dear Reader, Sorry but no time. Today is a national holiday that means I have to walk to get to my final exam (university open but buses not running). then I hope to spend the summer writing cool articles about north-western English fairy history (boggarts, bogles…) and enjoying this blog. Here are  the 13000 […]

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