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  • Victorian Urban Legends: the Lady of the Key November 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: the Lady of the Key

    A woman with a key around her neck haunts the French saloons. What is her story? Beach is always looking for Victorian urban legends (this one is 1870) and particularly sexual ones. Ask yourself this. Would this tale have appeared in a British newspaper if it had been set in London rather than Paris? The […]

    Mermaid Monday: St Valery-sur-Somme Mermaid November 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mermaid Monday: St Valery-sur-Somme Mermaid

    In 1834 a British paper ran with this story (1834) in early August: A fisherman at St Valery-sur-Somme (France), a few days since, caught in his net a fish exactly resembling the description given of the Mermaid. The head and breast are of the human form, and, when half the body is out of the […]

    Flight with Wings in France 1858 October 12, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Flight with Wings in France 1858

    Another in our series of early flight stories. This one comes from France and appeared in the Bradford Observer in 1858. We are informed that a shepherd, residing in a village in the neighbourhood of Langres, who, a few years ago, made some attempt at flying, has just tried a fresh experiment, not alone and […]

    Best Ghost Story: Paris Station Ghost October 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Best Ghost Story: Paris Station Ghost

    This is one of the very best ghost stories: partly because of how its written; partly because of how difficult it is to explain away. The author is Shane Leslie, an Irish member of the British establishment in the 1920s and 1930s, a cousin of Churchill and a witty and delightfully gossipy talker. He had […]

    1816 Flight Attempt in Paris September 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    1816 Flight Attempt in Paris

    Prepare to be humiliated. Your name is Guillaume, the years is 1816, and you have convinced yourself that it is possible to fly with wings attached to your puny arms. Yes, this is the age of balloons, but surely man can climb into the sky practically unassisted? Now you are in a great tradition, a […]

    The Man Who Wore His Wife August 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Man Who Wore His Wife

    You could fill a large book with anecdotes, urban legends and folk tales about rings. Most fall fairly effortlessly into certain categories: lost ring found; ring makes wearer invisible; ring cut from corpse’s finger… However, here is one of its kind: husband wears wife. Beach has had a five day holiday and this was a […]

    Trafficking in Human Fat! August 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Trafficking in Human Fat!

    This story came up yesterday after inspired by the werewolf fat story. It is taken from a the Reading Mercury (10 Aug 1831)but was allegedly translated from Annals d’Hygiene Publique. ln the year 1813, a discovery was made in the Schools of Medicine, in Paris, which strongly excited the attention of the professors. The servants […]

    French Werewolves Sell Fat to Glass Factories? August 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    French Werewolves Sell Fat to Glass Factories?

    Beach has been messing around with wolves this week and he ran across this reference in relation to the wolf deaths in Dauphiné in the mid eighteenth century. The priest of Primarette wrote a summary of local attitudes to these killings. Enjoy the following: apart obviously from the fact that three kids had been devoured. […]

    Myths of Twentieth-Century History August 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Myths of Twentieth-Century History

    Seven twentieth century myths follow. Any other contributions or angry rebuttals, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Great War: A Disaster Waiting to Happen, 1914 The Great War was going to happen sooner or later because two countries, Germany and France, wanted it. However, the consensus that the Great War would have inevitably led to the ‘breaking […]

    Gaston Ouvrieu and Blindfold Driving July 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Gaston Ouvrieu and Blindfold Driving

    A delightful end of month story. Our hero is Gaston Ouvrieu who, in 1917, received a serious injury while serving in the French army. When he woke up in hospital he was alleged to be able to read the minds of other patients, as the doctor took his pulse: Ouvrieu needed this ‘telegraph’ effect for […]

    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 […]

    First Vehicular Suicide? June 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    First Vehicular Suicide?

    Beach read this story, tried to forget it but couldn’t. There are two questions. First, did it really happen? 19C British newspapers are usually quite reliable, but 19C French newspapers are not. If this had been clipped from a French newspaper it could have been a complete invention, it would be interesting to see whether […]

    The Male Midwives Called Peter and the Empty Box Trick June 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Male Midwives Called Peter and the Empty Box Trick

    The Chamberlen brothers were first generation French Hugenots whose father had fled to Britain in 1569: one brother Peter was born in Paris (1560) and the other brother Peter was born in Southampton (1572). Yes, you read that right. Two sons and both were called Peter: a fair introduction to a very unusual family. (And […]

    Evans Wentz and Sex May 4, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Evans Wentz and Sex

    Beach has had talked about Walter and his thesis, Walter and the fairies, Walter and money, now is it is time for Walter with no clothes on: Walter Yeeling Evans Wentz’s sexual habits.  At this point we better recite the ritual ‘not that there is anything wrong with that’. Beach has absolutely no interest in […]

    Evans Wentz’s Quest for Fairies May 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Evans Wentz's Quest for Fairies

    Beach has recently become interested in Walter Yeeling Evans Wentz (or Evans-Wentz as he became)* the American mystic who in his late twenties and early thirties researched Breton, British and Irish fairies, before running off to India to become a guru. Many readers will know Evans Wentz for his Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries, the […]

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