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  • 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 […]

    Brownies of Bangor May 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Brownies of Bangor

      There follows a peculiar little story, from 1909, which has certainly not got the attention that it deserves from fairyists or from students of mass hysteria.  Bangor, for those outside the UK, is a pretty town in North Wales. Brownies, meanwhile, are solitary fairies, typically, associated with houses in the north of England and […]

    Inscribed Egg from Lancashire May 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Inscribed Egg from Lancashire

    What is the most popular page on this blog? Beach would have expected his work on the last cavalry charge or on the Fairy Investigation Society (happy days) or possibly some of his writing on capital punishment. But not a bit of it. The most popular post picked up by Google and its users is […]

    A Bugged Conversation from June 1945? May 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Bugged Conversation from June 1945?

    ***Dedicated to Cristiano and the memory of his old friend Johann Elser*** In the 1930s and the 1940s Britain boasted perhaps the best intelligence services in the world, with only the Soviets as rivals. SIS (aka MI6) operated throughout the Empire but also in allied and potential enemy countries to great effect. When World War […]

    The Hell of Being Christopher Robin May 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Hell of Being Christopher Robin

    Your mentor – a father, a family friend… – tells you, and then writes a series of stories where you are the hero. You can’t help but notice, however, that said mentor spends more time at the typewriter than reading these stories to you: the first bad sign? Then the publications appear and you see […]

    Review: Cunning Folk May 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Review: Cunning Folk

    There is a memorable scene near the beginning of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall when Woody goes out on his first date with Diane Keaton and kisses her at the very start of the evening: oily old Woody says that he just wants to get the kiss out of the way and let everything else follow […]

    Cat Cruelty in Nineteenth-Century Magic May 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Cat Cruelty in Nineteenth-Century Magic

    ***Unexpected summer flu, the result of sitting up all night and writing about boggarts then taking students up a mountain: act your age!*** Why is it always the cats that suffer? Beach has not the slightest idea but here is yet more proof that few animals get a worse deal from the esoteric world. The […]

    Soul-Selling in Nineteenth-Century London May 19, 2013

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

    Another soul-selling episode from London, this time c. 1840: more entertaining and yet so much more disturbing. On Friday night a large number of thieves, prostitutes, and other blackguards residing in the vicinity of Westminster Abbey, collected in the churchyard belonging [to] that venerable building. They began to congregate soon after eleven o’clock at night, […]

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