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  • Don’t Blame Germany July 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Don't Blame Germany

    Germany has never been a very popular country. But it is fair to say that Germany is perhaps more unpopular in 2015 than at any time since the bush fire memories of the Second World War started to die down in the mid 1950s. In several countries Germany is loathed: top of the list here […]

    The King of the Non-Existent Mary Ann Islands July 25, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The King of the Non-Existent Mary Ann Islands

    Strangehistory has enjoyed micronations on several occasions. However, here is a particularly early and exciting example from late nineteenth-century France.  A young pupil at the Ecole Normale of Grenoble, named Antoine Lanfrey, received by post in the course of the year a packet of papers, bearing the seal of a Royal Chancery constituting him King […]

    The Tower Monster #7: A French Parallel July 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #7: A French Parallel

    The following passage did not take place in London, nor indeed in Britain but it has been offered as a parallel to the Cylinder case. Certainly there are interesting points in common. The author, Owen, had taken the account from the Baron de Guldenstubbé, in Paris, 11 May, 1859. In March of the year 1854, […]

    Whipping Boy: Origins of a Royal Institution July 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Uncategorized
    Whipping Boy: Origins of a Royal Institution

    The whipping boy needs little introduction. He was the child, brought up with a prince or with a young king, and punished on his behalf, when the prince or king was naughty: crucially the royal and his proxy were friends so any pain was vicariously felt. And why not just hit the royal in question? […]

    The Longest Snake in the World June 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Longest Snake in the World

    British newspapers gave a couple of acres of space between 1800 and 2000 to ‘monster snakes’ discovered in this or that corner of the Green & Pleasant land. Typically a vicar in Devon had found an adder that measured two and a half feet long… However, leaving the shores of Britain behind there were better […]

    The Stone of Oo: High Weirdness from Southern France May 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Stone of Oo: High Weirdness from Southern France

    Oô in southern France has two things going for it. First, that name, I mean what…?! And second the pierre d’Oô one of the weirdest objects to emerge the last three or four thousand years of human endeavour: a sculpture of a lady and her pet. At this point, readers should take a moment and […]

    Balloon Bridge Across the English Channel, c. 1850 April 25, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Balloon Bridge Across the English Channel, c. 1850

    This story appeared in British newspapers in September of 1850. It was one of several attempts, attempts that had been going on since Napoleon had considered invading England and that would continue until the Channel Tunnel was finally drilled through, to do away with the English Channel. Any dolt can build a tunnel or a […]

    The 5 Greatest Historical Graphic Novels March 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    The 5 Greatest Historical Graphic Novels

    Graphic novels must be, surely, the most underestimated genre in the modern arts: perhaps about 40% of the adult population have such strong feelings that, with the exception of Charlie Brown, they could not bring themselves to pick up a comic. This is a tragedy. There are great works out there that have been largely ignored and […]

    Not the Shawl, Josephine! March 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Not the Shawl, Josephine!

    This is a chamber pot story, one which Beach stumbled upon during his recent research into chamber pot enemies. We are in France in the theatre at Saint-Cloud and during the first act, Napoleon’s wife, the Empress Josephine ‘was seized with an uncontrollable desire to make water’. This comes from an edition in 1896 and […]

    Death by Joke March 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Death by Joke

    The historical practical joke tag has now reached almost a dozen posts and Beach thought that he would celebrate with a brief survey of a particularly unusual form of practical joke: jokes that ended in the joker or jokee dying. Beach limited himself to British newspapers from 1 Jan 1880 to Dec 31 1899 and […]

    Smelling Germans March 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Smelling Germans

    This is a weird little story that has proved frustratingly difficult to pin down: not even the original reference. 12 June 1944 Churchill, Brook, and Smuts (far right) visited Montgomery’s forward position at Creully to see how the Normandy campaign was unwinding. This much can be attained from several sources not least the photograph above: […]

    Selling Children in the 1800s March 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Selling Children in the 1800s

    An amazing report from Oldham, 1888: On Monday evening a woman about 40 years of age was seen in Curzon Street with two children, one in arms, and the other, about three years old, walking by her side. From what transpired it appeared that the woman wanted to sell her children, and thereupon a large […]

    Tears and Bows: WW1 Ambassadors and Declarations of War March 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tears and Bows: WW1 Ambassadors and Declarations of War

    A recent post looked at the tensions created by ambassadors declaring war in WW2. Today, instead, some descriptions of declarations of war from World War 1. The initial impression is that there was more formality and more old world charm. Some of the ambassadors may have believed they would be back in their host capitals by […]

    Hair Harvests and Hair Theft February 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hair Harvests and Hair Theft

    The hair harvest was the trick of selling your beautiful head of hair, an option open to hirsute young women, to the local barber for a sovereign (or somewhat less). The practice was common enough in Victorian Britain that it appears in a Hardy novel, The Woodlanders, where Marty lops off her hair and sells […]

    In Search of Medieval Pain February 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    In Search of Medieval Pain

    First, a small rider. Beach would prefer to spend ten minutes in the company of medieval artists, than two hours in the company of the Renaissance ‘masters’. However, he has recently been disappointed in a search for pain among his favourite twelfth-, thirteenth- and fourteenth-century painters. In his naivety he thought that crucifixion scenes and […]

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