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  • Irish hang-women January 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish hang-women

    Richard Clark in his remarkable Capital Punishment in Britain has a story that has been buzzing around and around in Beachcombing’s head for the last six months. In his chapter on hang-men RC notes, in a final short section, that ‘Ireland allowed women to be involved with executions and two were’. He records a female assistant executioner who […]

    Image: Decapitation at Aitape, 1943 October 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Decapitation at Aitape, 1943

    Beachcombing continues with his series of striking images. He is offering today though not the neat studio photograph of an Australian, Leonard Siffleet (1916-1943), opposite. But another more worrisome photograph of the same man that he has included in the middle of this post. There any reader, who feels up to it, will see the brave Australian […]

    Last Axe Decapitations in the West October 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Last Axe Decapitations in the West

    A description this morning from one of Beachcombing’s books of the season Charles Duff’s A Handbook on Hanging, reviewed in September. To make sense of what follows it should be remembered that Germany had inherited from Prussia beheading as a form of capital punishment. Of course, France too favoured decapitation but employed the more lithe and winsome […]

    Review: A Handbook on Hanging September 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: A Handbook on Hanging

    Beachcombing recently stumbled upon and cannot now shut up about Charles Duff’s A Handbook on Hanging: Being a Short Introduction to the Fine Art of Execution (1928) in a Nonsuch reprint.*  Yes, it gives a caricature of the history of hanging, while also communicating the case for and against abolition back in the days when the […]

    Execution by Elephant July 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Execution by Elephant

                                                And so begins Elephant Week – for the next seven evenings an article will be given over to the freakish fringe history of the largest land mammal. First of all, this extraordinary passage from the […]

    Oft hung John Lee and an urban legend June 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Oft hung John Lee and an urban legend

                        Beachcombing has recently had a bit of a thing about human sacrifice and capital punishment. But it is. he promises, a passing phase and has now reached its climax with a reading of Mike Holgate and Ian David Waugh’s superb The Man They Could Not Hang: The True Story of […]

    Surviving Hanging June 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Surviving Hanging

                      Beachcombing has a file on ‘failed executions’: men and women who were sent to meet their maker but whom, thanks to chance, and, more often than not, the stupidity of their executioners, lived to die another day. Of course, survival rates were always small but the […]

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