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  • Transit of Venus October 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Transit of Venus

    Beachcombing had some fun earlier in the summer with the most famous act of nineteenth-century spiritualism: Daniel Home’s floating escapade back in 1868. He recently came across this description of a rival levitator, Agnes Nichol Guppy (obit 1917) and her famous ‘transit of Venus’.  Note that this took place some three years after Home’s own […]

    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 […]

    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 […]

    The Cloud of Death, Hawker and A Letter to the Times August 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Cloud of Death, Hawker and A Letter to the Times

    A pleasing example of how something unusual can get blow up into something extraordinary. A letter to The Times 1 Dec 1858 from North Cornwall [this date appears to be slightly wrong, it must be a couple of days later] To the Editor of The Times Sir, Last night, at 15 minutes to 9, it […]

    Mutant Hares, Modern Satyrs and Centaurs July 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mutant Hares, Modern Satyrs and Centaurs

    Fairies are so ‘yesterday’. What about the more exotic fauna from the forests of the imagination? Let’s start with the mutant hare at Windsor! I remember Lilian, Countess of Cromartie, telling me of a strange incident that once happened to her. She was walking alone one bright summer morning in Windsor Great Park. Suddenly she […]

    ‘Psychic’ Phenomena: Trends in Time? July 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    'Psychic' Phenomena: Trends in Time?

    Beach has had a lot of fun today reading Andrew Lang from morning to the kids’ homecoming. What a pleasure! Lang (obit 1912) was a Victorian/Edwardian writer who had a clear fascination with psychic-phenomena among many, many other things. But Lang was tough-minded and always looked for other solutions before starting on about clairvoyance or […]

    The Trolls That Tuck You In July 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Trolls That Tuck You In

    1980 a British psychic is in Finland. ‘I had hardly made myself comfortable [in the bedroom], and I was certainly not asleep or even dozing, when I heard chattering all around me. There were people in the room. Perhaps, thinking I was asleep, they had come to inspect the strange creature in their midst from […]

    Kobolds and Lights in Derbyshire July 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Kobolds and Lights in Derbyshire

    Beach is particularly proud of this one. It came from the pen of a spiritualist and relates to an experience c. 1860. It is now some few years since, being in the neighbourhood of a lovely valley called Dovedale, in the County of Derbyshire, England, I heard my kind host and hostess, Mr and Mrs […]

    Flying In and Out of Windows July 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Flying In and Out of Windows

    Forget Padre Pio fighting allied bombers and St Joseph of Cupertino who allegedly flew from the middle of a church to the high altar. The man that really stands out as the great modern levitator is the remarkable Daniel Dunglas Home playing peekaboo at a third floor window in London in 1868. Here is a […]

    A Welsh Mermaid and the Bastard with the Binoculars June 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Welsh Mermaid and the Bastard with the Binoculars

    When people see strange things they rave to friends, family and (sometimes) newspapers. When they see strange things that reveal themselves to be something utterly pedestrian, the marvel is quickly forgotten. This is, in some ways, a shame as accounts of misperception probably bring us closer to the enigmas of the world than hours and […]

    The Monger-Goss Theory of Dragons and ABCs June 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Monger-Goss Theory of Dragons and ABCs

    Just last week Beach was looking into dragon accounts from seventeenth century England. And in searching for dragon-related material he stumbled on an article that he feels deserves to be better known and perhaps celebrated. The article in question is George Monger’s ‘Dragons and Big Cats’ published in the illustrious journal of British myth and […]

    Seventeenth-Century English Dragons May 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Seventeenth-Century English Dragons

    Beachcombing recently highlighted the case of a giant serpent in nineteenth-century Devon, a snake that was as thick as a thigh. Beach had assumed that this was a one off, but now he is wondering as he found a second reference to go with it. This one comes from a pamphlet with a straight-to-the-point title: The […]

    Cellini and the Salamander May 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Cellini and the Salamander

    ***Dedicated to Michael F who sent this in*** We last saw Benvenuto Cellini (obit 1571) imprinted on a French/Spanish/Scottish canon. Fourteen months on, here is a little doodle from Cellini’s infancy, judging by his autobiography the happiest years of his chaotic life. When I was about five years old [c. 1505] my father happened to […]

    The Problem with Sea Apes May 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    The Problem with Sea Apes

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk and Invisible*** Beach has, since the early days of this site, shown a persistent interest in mermaids. It would be outrageous then to pass by the important new documentary coming out (or has it already aired?) on Animal Planet. The following is borrowed from Wikipedia (courtesy of the inestimable […]

    The Great Snake Scare of 1828 May 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Great Snake Scare of 1828

    A cute little WtH story from deepest Devon (Tavistock) about a cryptid snake. Beach knows that nineteenth-century newspapers had a great time making up serpents and other monsters, cue ‘the 200-foot-long Hideous Ice Worm‘ with hat tip to Invisible. But in this case local tradition seems to have done the job for them. I think […]

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