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  • The Ghost in a Tree November 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ghost in a Tree

    This little account appeared in Wilkinson and Harland, Lancashire Folk-lore (1867), 164. But they were quoting a story that had appeared in a newspaper in 1856. Beachcombing has been unable to trace the original, but honestly he didn’t try that hard. Will it be credited that thousands of people have, during the past week, crowded […]

    Burning Libraries: Lost Yorkshire Folk Collection May 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Burning Libraries: Lost Yorkshire Folk Collection

    Beach has frequently pointed to burning libraries, lost books or in this case lost sheaves of papers. First, let’s introduce the author ‘Ariel’ writing in the Blackburn Standard in 1892. ‘Ariel’ wrote a column for this publication from the late 1880s and then right through the 1890s apparently ending in 1900: normally termed ‘Passing Notes […]

    The Stalmine Fairy Tree: A Lancashire Mystery April 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Stalmine Fairy Tree: A Lancashire Mystery

    Here is a record that Beach simply cannot explain and that to the best of his knowledge is unique in England. Before getting to the fairy juice though some details about the document in which this unusual reference appears. Every British parish had, in the nineteenth century, tithe apportion records. The writers of these documents […]

    Lost Sounds #1: Dawn Chorus of Clogs in the Nineteenth Century April 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Lost Sounds #1: Dawn Chorus of Clogs in the Nineteenth Century

    The clog was the preferred footwear of the English industrial north, and particularly the industrial north-west. Shoes were cut from wood and tipped with iron in Lancashire, in the West Riding and the mill towns of Cheshire and Derbyshire. The clog cost relatively little, it was good for defending yourself, it was durable and it […]

    Britain’s Lost Bogies: Holden Rag April 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Britain's Lost Bogies: Holden Rag

    Holden is a stretch of countryside just to the north of Burnley, a small town in a small county (Lancashire) in the UK. It would be good to give a map at this point but Beach has decided against this  because the nineteenth-century ordinance survey has this territory on an edge between map sheets. That […]

    The Hare that Got Away April 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Hare that Got Away

    Here is a short paragraph from the late nineteenth century about Pendle in Lancashire. He who visits Pendle will yet find that charms are generally resorted to amongst the lower classes; that there are hares, which in their persuasion, never can be caught, and which survive only to baffle and confound the huntsman; that each […]

    Hare Horror in Furness! Return of the Supernatural Bunnies April 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hare Horror in Furness! Return of the Supernatural Bunnies

    Beach has recently been enjoying the splendour of supernatural rabbits and hares. Yes, dear reader, do you remember the thud of paranormal poltergeist bunnies? What about the legendary Baum Rabbit? Or the Welsh ghost rabbit as big as a sheep? Or Boudicca’s sacrificial hare? Or the Mann witch trial hare? However, everything that he has […]

    The Spaw Monster April 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Spaw Monster

    This is a ghost account from 1839. It starts simply enough, but it has some remarkable features. One of those singular cases commonly classed amongst the supernatural, has produced a considerable sensation amongst the inhabitant of the district of Middleton and the surrounding villages. The following are a few of the particulars. In a small […]

    Boggart Stones and Boggart Smells April 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Boggart Stones and Boggart Smells

    Joseph Wright has, in his Dialect Dictionary, this absolutely unexpected definition for ‘boggart stones’, something associated with Eastern Lancashire (the ‘e. Lan. 1’ in his reference is to a local word list from those parts, A Glossary with Rochdale and Rossendale Words, the relevant entry for which is put in a screen capture below). Wright’s […]

    Worst Career: the Knocker Up February 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Worst Career: the Knocker Up

    He knocks at doors wheer new-born babs Hev kaled him throo t’ black heawrs o’ dark; He knocks wheer deoth stalks in an’ grabs, Or age hes thrown fooak eawt o’ wark. He knows heaw mony raps ‘ll rouse Young lusty Dick, or sleepy Nan. He knocks ’em eawt o’ t’ second snooze, ‘Rat-tat, rat-tat, […]

    Phantom Rabbit Monster: Rochdale, Lancashire January 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Phantom Rabbit Monster: Rochdale, Lancashire

    Beach has recently been looking for the stranger monsters of British mythology and with some pride he comes today to the Baum-Rappit, a monster from Rochdale in Lancashire. What was the Baum-Rappit? Well as the name suggests it seems to have been a diabolical rabbit. Wright in his incredibly useful dialect dictionary comes up with […]

    Two Centuries of Historical Memory? December 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Two Centuries of Historical Memory?

    In the 1980s Beach read an article on Ronald Reagan that described the then President (born in 1911) talking to veterans of Gettysburg as a child. It was a spark on kindling for the historic imagination. Here is a striking nineteenth-century equivalent that has given Beach much pleasure today. It was recorded in 1851 in […]

    The Mystery of the Victoria Reservoir at Southport March 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Mystery of the Victoria Reservoir at Southport

    Southport is a Lancashire seaside town. In the nineteenth-century Southport had something of a reputation, tourists flocked from throughout the north and in 1860 Southport would build the second largest pier in Britain: a big deal back then when coast towns measured their self esteem by ‘how long’ they were. At the centre of these […]

    The Hairy Boggart of Weeton February 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Hairy Boggart of Weeton

    ‘Boggart’, it will be remembered, is a British north(-western) word meaning ‘bogey’: it was a promiscuous word and covered everything from a ghost to a troll (and sometimes a scarecrow). Individual settlements in Lancashire, northern Cheshire and northern Derbyshire, parts of the Ridings (particularly the West) and surprisingly Nottinghamshire had boggart haunted areas. Sometimes they were glades, […]

    The Mystery of the Fairy Battery January 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Mystery of the Fairy Battery

    Here is a place and a name that is hard to account for. On the 1850 Ordinance Survey map for Lancashire (79) there is a peculiar rock formation with the words Fairy Battery by the side. This is on Lowe Hill to the north of Turton and Entwistle Resevoir (already built in 1850). There follows […]

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