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William Bottrell and the Strangest Funeral Procession in the World November 28, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
William Bottrell and the Strangest Funeral Procession in the World

The year is 1881 and Willam Bottrell has just passed away after a horrific final illness: he lay paralysed in bed for the last year, his mind as fine as ever, his body drying up. Bottrell, for those many who don’t know, was a hero perhaps the hero of Cornish folklore studies because despite having […]

Late Pixy Accounts from Devon November 24, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Late Pixy Accounts from Devon

Here is some late pixylore from a collection written in 1982. The author is the very fine Theo Brown, an outstanding folklorist. We’ve tried here to quarry experiences of those known by TB rather than the normal Devon folklore fodder, which can be found in ‘all’ the books. 1) Pixies present a difficult problem. What […]

Mysterious Hominids in India November 12, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Mysterious Hominids in India

Another extract – this time eighteenth century – from Beachcombing’s Pygmies, Dwarfs and Fairies series. The following has a certain cryptozoological feel to it: including the fact that the ‘samples’ disappeared into the ether. The creatures in question came from deep in the Indian interior and were brought to Bombay before they inconsiderately died. They […]

Goodwin Wharton and the Fairies November 4, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Goodwin Wharton and the Fairies

In 1684 the Queen of Fairy was visiting the (fairy) Duke of Hungary in his estate under Moorfields (London), when the Duke hatched a dastardly plot. First he tried to poison her majesty with chocolate and then, having failed to ruin her insides, he attempted to blow up her subterranean palace with gunpowder. If you […]

Review: Goodwin Wharton October 31, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Review: Goodwin Wharton

In the spring of 1683, a disgraced scion of an English aristocratic family, Goodwin Wharton met Mary Parish a woman in regular communication with fairies (‘lowlanders’), angels, the dead and, of course, the Almighty. Mary was down on her luck having alienated her spirit guide, having argued bitterly with the royal family of faery and […]

Fairy Jousting? October 26, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Fairy Jousting?

This tale comes from an early thirteenth-century Latin collection of mirabilia. It has not, to the best of Beach’s knowledge been associated with fairies, but reading it eight hundred years after its composition, there seem to be some fey hints worth flagging up. Note that the Latin below comes from an early edition where there […]

Dowding and the Fairies! October 21, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Dowding and the Fairies!

Hugh Dowding (1970 obit) is a British hero. It was his expert shepherding of Fighter Command in the summer of 1940 that allowed British victory against the Luftwaffe, or at least a convincing draw that could be passed off as a victory. He stands with Slim and Cunningham as one of Britain’s three great 1939-1945 […]

How Big Are Fairies? October 12, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
How Big Are Fairies?

There is a lot of confusion about the size of fairies in tradition and we often read that ‘small’ fairies were the invention of Shakespeare and his hangers on. The proof that small fairies were there all along comes, instead, in Gervase of Tilbury’s Otia Imperialia written and ‘published’ in the early thirteenth century: long […]

Review: Walter Starkie, Raggle Taggle September 19, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Review: Walter Starkie, Raggle Taggle

When Beach first picked up Walter Starkie’s Raggle-Taggle: Adentures with a Fiddle in Hungary and Roumania (1947) he was looking for a reference to fairies. The book was to be a literary one night stand: 300 closely printed sides, ten minutes of flicking. But already in ‘the Preface to New Edition’ a more serious relationship […]

The Last of the Ancient Centaurs and Fauns September 16, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Last of the Ancient Centaurs and Fauns

The following appears in the Life of St Paul by Jerome, chapters 7 and 8. These passages are interesting because we have a very unusual attitude to in-between creatures, particularly given what an intolerable stick in the mud, Jerome was about everything that didn’t come out of the gospels and Paul’s letters… The blessed Paul […]

A Fairy Encounter in Nineteenth-Century Madrid September 10, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
A Fairy Encounter in Nineteenth-Century Madrid

***And so it begins… first class today: unpleasant warm fuzzy feeling in stomach, awareness that no more proper research for six months*** Beach just stumbled across this curious account of a sighting of little people in Madrid in the 1860s. The witness was a nineteenth-century spiritualist: the account begins with her own curious take on […]

African Pygmies and European Fairies September 5, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
African Pygmies and European Fairies

We have sometimes visited in the past the early modern and very popular late Victorian theory that fairies were nothing more than a pygmy people who dwelt on the fringes of society. By the early twentieth century Empire sorts were so keen on this theory that they were proving it with reference to the customs […]

Baring-Goulds’ Pixies August 23, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Baring-Goulds' Pixies

Anyone interested in fairies will read in many places of Sabine Baring-Gould’s childhood encounter with pixies. But how many will have actually read the original? In an effort to correct this Beach sat this afternoon tapping out the following text only to discover that someone else got there first: a bunch of heroes over at […]

Panty-stealing Zimbabwean Goblin August 16, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Panty-stealing Zimbabwean Goblin

This news story ran at the end of July. Why, on earth, didn’t it receive more international attention? Perhaps the world was tired of Zimbabwean mermaids. The version here comes (cut) from the The Herald (Zimbabwe). A sixty-two year-old Gokwe man has come out in the open and claimed ownership of a goblin which has […]

See But Can’t Touch August 15, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
See But Can't Touch

Beach travelled by plane earlier this summer with little Miss B to the UK. Aged just four his daughter marvelled as she looked out of the window at the cloudlands that stretched away in every direction: Beach remembers a similar marvelling when he was about ten and went on his first long plane journey. Things […]

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