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  • Forgotten Kingdoms: Enclave London! July 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Forgotten Kingdoms: Enclave London!

    In 410 the walls of Britannia came crashing down. In a situation of great confusion Rome apparently disavowed its interest in the island; the island that had always been its poorest province, and got on with trying to save its continental possessions: the failure of that task a generation later marked the end of the […]

    The Bull of Brandlesholme (another reason to avoid Lancashire) July 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Bull of Brandlesholme (another reason to avoid Lancashire)

    A transcendental experience this morning in the wood: came face to face with a cow-sized wild boar that sniffed at me and then went to chew on a neighbour’s cherries. Medium-sized or large creatures in the wild often have a  magical quality: foxes and deer are a particular favourite. ‘The Lords of Life’, as Lawrence […]

    Weird Jobs in the 1881 UK Census July 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Weird Jobs in the 1881 UK Census

    Spent the night and early morning looking for a much loved missing tortoise: mission accomplished at 6.42 amdist tears and recriminations. How do you punish a tortoise? This morning trying to come down from too much chocolate and coca cola. Took to racing through the 1881 census looking for unusual jobs and strange households: winding […]

    Scooby Doo, Shag and the Bleachworks July 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Scooby Doo, Shag and the Bleachworks

    This is a weird little story from a nineteenth-century Lancashire history. You remember the Scooby Doo formula: kids turn up, find that their local fun park is haunted by a ghost, who keeps tripping on the white sheet, and then, finally, they unmask the janitor? Well, this is a Bury equivalent. The story dates to […]

    Coulrophobia and Cricket July 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Coulrophobia and Cricket

    There are many reasons to loathe the English but cricket is not one of them. Cricket, according to the romantics, was the game that the squire would play with their tenants, small time farmers and landless labourers on the village green on distant Sundays in the eighteenth century. Trevelyan wrote with pardonable exaggeration: ‘if the […]

    Dreams of Murder June 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreams of Murder

    Telepathy is a curious concept and not the least curious part of this most curious ability is the inability to properly document it. However, in the annals of telepathy (so-called or imaginary, factual and always elusive) some of the most interesting cases have involved dreams and murder: ‘murder will out’ in a bouquet of pink […]

    Sex, Teachers and Students June 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Sex, Teachers and Students

    ***To Bilker*** A long argument last night about the Jeremy Forrest case with an old friend and a post that strays from the pleasantly brambled paths of history, though not, sadly, from the red brick road of education. For those outside the UK Jeremy Forrest was a twenty-nine-year-old teacher who had an affair with his […]

    Faking in Ninetenth-Century Seances June 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Faking in Ninetenth-Century Seances

    Beach has stumbled again into the world of nineteenth-century séances in search of fun. And he’s awfully glad he ended up there. What mummery! What hoaxing! What extraordinary imbecility on the part of intelligent men and women! He brings together here a selection of his favourites. First let’s get into the mood. We could detect […]

    Fewest Casualties… June 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fewest Casualties...

    In what modern war did the fewest people die? Beach has been wasting a couple of joyful hours this morning looking through the annals of battles past and some dodgy Wikipedia pages. He has built in several limits to the survey. First, he has restricted himself to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, where it is […]

    Transvestite Protestors: Why, When and Where? June 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Transvestite Protestors: Why, When and Where?

    ***Dedicated to Chris*** Modern and early modern social movements are not normally Beach’s thing. He’ll let the likes of Eric Hobsbawm salivate over those. But just yesterday an email brought a peculiar Irish American phenomenon to his attention: the Molly Maguires, previously known to this author only from Conan Doyle’s Valley of Fear.  The Mollys […]

    Running Naked in the Nineteenth Century June 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Running Naked in the Nineteenth Century

    There are few things in life quite as sweet as grown men making fools of themselves. Beach recently stumbled upon this account and he has got it vaguely marked down for a strange sport tag: any other suggestions for the same, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com In passing yesterday [1808] through the Ride in Hyde […]

    William Thornber and the Witches, Boggarts, Sorcerers and People of the Fylde June 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    William Thornber and the Witches, Boggarts, Sorcerers and People of the Fylde

    Part of the StrangeHistory project is to put up sources that for some reason have not made it onto Google Books and the like. In an attempt to do just this Beach spent a long hour typing out, yesterday, 3000 words from William Thornber’s The History of Blackpool and its Neighbourhood (Poulton 1837). I know, […]

    Nine Historical Mysteries June 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Nine Historical Mysteries

    ***Dedicated to Moonman*** Thanks to an email from an old friend of StrangeHistory Beach found himself wondering about moments from history that are mysterious, and where this blogger would chop off his own digits to get at the truth. In what follows, he has avoided the classics because, to be frank, he just doesn’t care […]

    Magonia #4: Sky Ships and Moebius Strips June 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Magonia #4: Sky Ships and Moebius Strips

    Back to Magonia. Agobard leaves no space for doubt: in early medieval popular tradition there are sky boats and these sky boats are connected with a magical land named Magonia. Now after reviewing the evidence for Agobard himself, a crusty old sceptic, and looking too at the folklore traditions about European hail medicine (Beach would […]

    Missing Children in Nineteenth-Century London June 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Missing Children in Nineteenth-Century London

    Like all parents Beach worries about his children’s safety: he has developed ‘child vision’, the ability to constantly keep his daughters in peripheral vision in a public place; and the moments they are out of sight or hearing of an adult even in a domestic setting stand at seconds rather than minutes. Yet at the […]

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