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  • The Hobgoblin Club September 21, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Hobgoblin Club

    It is 1891. You are living in a small Cornish village and your neighbours get jumpy every time they see a shadow (‘the ghost…’ etc) and talk darkly of Mother Jones being a witch. Well, in most British villages it was a question of sermons, railway timetables and opening parish schools. But in Ludgvan, close […]

    Werewhales! September 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Werewhales!

    Different countries, of course, have different shape-shifters. Northern Europe and France have a strong werewolf tradition. Amerindian peoples have a lot of changing into birds. In northern Scandinavia shaman became deer. Early modern Britons did not change into bears, but they often met headless bears that changed into other things: confusing I know. Vampires are […]

    In Search of the Droll-Teller August 26, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Droll-Teller

    The droll tellers were the bards of modern Cornwall. Droll-teller. An itinerant story-teller, news-monger, and fiddler, who travelled from town to town, and village to village. There were two such in Cornwall as late as 1829. In 1865 Robert Hunt gives a description of one of these droll-tellers from an informants who is presumably remembering […]

    The Death of the Bogeyman August 22, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Death of the Bogeyman

    The bogeyman was the monster conjured up by parents in times gone by to terrify their children. Here is a paragraph published in Britain in 1887 by some frightful progressive. Boggard is a local Yorkshire version of the same and the writer gives a good sense of how bogey was deployed. It was a common […]

    Herne the Hunter: the Twelve Basic Facts August 7, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Herne the Hunter: the Twelve Basic Facts

    For the unacquainted Herne the Hunter is a southern English bogie, who haunted a tree in the park at Windsor Castle on the Bucks/Berks border. Almost all writing about Herne is overlaid with speculative points and useless comparisons. This post offers, therefore, an absolute basic version of the legend focusing hard on our early sources, […]

    Did You Hear the One About the Ring… July 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Did You Hear the One About the Ring...

    Curious about ring legends? This blogger recently went through the international folklore indexes in search of rings so you don’t have to: you can waste a lot of time there… Yes, he found the boring old chestnuts: ring found in fish; ring cut from corpse etc. etc. But there are also some marvelously bizarre and […]

    Buckinghamshire Fairies and Little Witches July 12, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Buckinghamshire Fairies and Little Witches

    Fairy legends are common in the Celtic fringes and the north of Britain. They are to be found in northern England and south central England: they also occasionally crop up in the English Midlands. However, they were as rare as gold dust in south-eastern England and East Anglia by the time that folklore records were […]

    Operation Resurrection: British Folklore July 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Operation Resurrection: British Folklore

    British folklorists badly screwed up their own discipline in the late nineteenth century. When they should have been collecting the rich crops from the home counties and the north and midlands they, instead, indulged in premature comparative work, looking overseas for answers to stupidly ambitious questions. The comparison with some of Britain’s smaller European neighbours […]

    King’s Evil and a Two-Hundred-Year-Old Charm June 29, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    King's Evil and a Two-Hundred-Year-Old Charm

    The King’s Evil (aka scrofula) was a form of tuberculosis that created horrific injuries on the skin’s surface, particular in the neck area. It could only be cured, many early modern French and British sufferers believed, by contact with royalty: a sufferer would go to the king or queen, be touched, and cured. The practice […]

    The Lost Canyon and the Impossible Buffalo June 25, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Lost Canyon and the Impossible Buffalo

    This fine ‘lost valley’ story comes from Texas, but the tale of the shepherd who accidentally walks through into a hidden dell or stumbles up, while chasing a lamb, onto an unknown plateau is probably as old as our Neolithic ancestors. This particular version was collected by J. Frank Dobie at the end of the nineteenth century. West […]

    Woman to be Stoned and Blindfolded Priest June 4, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Woman to be Stoned and Blindfolded Priest

    Unpleasant story warning. This dates to 1834 and incredibly was given in a public talk at the Society for the Conversion of the Jews. It is clearly a legend (there are many European parallels): see below. But Beach is desperately looking for more of the same from fiction or from ‘fact’. A clergyman in London, […]

    Chased into a Sicilian Hell May 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Chased into a Sicilian Hell

    This is a great supernatural stories from 18C England. The earliest version known to this blogger dates to 1793. Note that this is a much later version that claims to be based on actual records. Beach doesn’t believe that for a second. Ha! It is almost identical and entire passages word-for-word the same. An Account of Mr. […]

    Big Ben Superstitions April 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Big Ben Superstitions

    Big Ben the great bell that rings out from Westminster is a central part of British identity: not least because its chimes have, for many years, sounded on national radio and television programs. It would hardly be surprising then that there are superstitions about Big Ben, but what is surprising is that these seem not […]

    Granddad Became a Seal March 21, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Granddad Became a Seal

    Busy day here as the students are to be crucified in a ritual quiz. Here is a curious seal story from Ireland; there are, Beach thinks, other British or Irish story of humans becoming animals at death, but he can’t find them. Can anyone help? drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com I don’t exactly know whether […]

    The Eternal Mystic March 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Eternal Mystic

    Beach is eternally worried about mystics, people who have or believe that they have paranormal powers. Where do they come from? What do they mean? Most studies of ‘mystics’ put them in a historical tradition. The Cunning Man in the English or, for that matter, New England countryside in the 1700s draws on Christianity, Anglo-Saxon […]

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