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  • The Oracle: A Victorian Computer? March 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Oracle: A Victorian Computer?

    OK, OK there were no personal computers in 1884. But the following ‘Oracle’ sounds as if it was mapping out, imaginatively, the territory that computers would make for themselves. We are in the UK: our source the Leighton Buzzard Obs, 1 Jan 1884. Dr. Lloyd, the medical officer of St. Giles’s Workhouse, attended before Sir […]

    An Urban Legend: The Vanishing Car March 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    An Urban Legend: The Vanishing Car

    This is a very exciting ghost story, because it seems to be an early version of the most famous (and at least to this blogger) the most satisfying modern urban legend: the vanishing hitchhiker: hitchiker picked up who it later transpires was a ghost. Admittedly the story is turned on its head: the driver and […]

    London Polt October 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    London Polt

    We are in London in 1847, in a religious family. The whole of the neighbourhood of Black Lion Lane, Bayswater is ringing with the extraordinary occurrences that have recently happened in the house of Mr. Williams in the Moscow Road, and which bear a strong resemblance to the celebrated Stockwell ghost affair in 1772. The […]

    Georgian Magic School October 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Georgian Magic School

    The Magus by Francis Barrett (London 1801) is a typical work of modern magic: plagiarized from earlier works with badly drawn Hebrew letters strewn about like rice at a wedding. But the author Francis had one novel feature in his book. His announcement of, Beach can barely hold back his excitement, a magic school in […]

    London Swindles in the Nineteenth Century September 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    London Swindles in the Nineteenth Century

    Here are some lovely London swindles from the nineteenth-century. Bet Swindle: Victim in railway carriage joined by man x and man y (travelling separately), man x loquacious and obnoxious American who bets victim that Henry VIII had six not seven wives. The two agree to wager five pounds that they give to y. Y turns […]

    The Tower Monster #10: Cobblers July 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #10: Cobblers

    This wrap-up post looks at some of the modern accounts of the cylinder/bear ghost and particularly their inaccuracies. This is not done in a condescending way or with spite: this blogger makes factual mistake after factual mistake as his readers constantly remind him. It is, instead, to show again how we, with paranormal sources, where […]

    The Tower Monster #9: The Sexual Predator Ghost July 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #9: The Sexual Predator Ghost

    Chris from Haunted Ohio Books a world authority on ghosts (and urban legends, and fairies and…) has written in with an extract from a book entitled Familiar Spirits: Sexual Hauntings Through the Ages, Colin Waters, Robert Hale,1993, (for pdf extract click here) sexual hauntings. CW reviews the evidence but then reveals a new source ‘another nineteenth century […]

    The Tower Monster #6: Shoe Polish Devil at the Tower July 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #6: Shoe Polish Devil at the Tower

    This poem appears as part of the Tower Ghost series. It appeared in an Irish paper in 1825 and was an advert for Warren’s shoe Blacking! Beach includes it because it looks very much like an outer ripple from the events of 1816. The problem is the story, which has escaped this careful reader. A […]

    The Tower Monster #5: Another Sentry July 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #5: Another Sentry

    This letter appeared in The Spectator, the British magazine, 21 August 1897. As it involves a sentinel at the Tower of London becoming ill on sighting a ghost it seems worth putting in this series. Some thirty years ago one of my brothers was quartered at the Tower with a detachment of his regiment, the […]

    The Tower Monster #4: A Short Story July 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #4: A Short Story

    This is a further source for the Tower monster. It was taken from the Western Gazette, 28 Dec 1888, but the WG in turn had taken and abridged it from the Vanity Fair Christmas Supplement. Can anyone get the original and any letters from the January editions? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com The introduction makes […]

    The Tower Monster #3: A Magnetism Account July 17, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #3: A Magnetism Account

    This account of the Tower Monster comes from an enthusiast for magnetism, William Gregory and was published in 1851, almost a decade before the Notes and Queries material. At the trial of Queen Caroline, in 1821, the guards at the Tower were doubled, and Col. S., the keeper of the Regalia, was quartered there with […]

    The Tower Monster #2: A Contemporary Account July 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #2: A Contemporary Account

    The very striking witness description of Swifte can, fortunately, be supplemented by a near contemporary account. This dates from January 1816: either Swifte got January and October confused or two soldiers (not one) died after seeing an apparition. The first possibility is surely more likely? For some weeks past, a family residing in the Tower […]

    The Tower Monster #1: The Witness Account July 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Tower Monster #1: The Witness Account

    There follows the single most interesting ghost story Beach has ever read. Perhaps part of its fascination is that it is not clear that it is a ghost story: though something bizarre is certainly going on. In any case, all began when in 1860, in the tenth volume (new series) of Notes and Queries  K.B […]

    Wild Man Circus Fakery May 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Wild Man Circus Fakery

    The wild man was a staple of nineteenth-century circuses and penny shows. This personality was typically black, mostly undressed and the possessor of a cannibal’s grin. He (and it was invariably a male who took on the role) would stomp back and forth in his cage every so often lunging at some unwary child, allowing […]

    Searching for Mrs S***k*n*us April 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Searching for Mrs S***k*n*us

    Can anyone please help with this one? Beach will send a 75 Euro voucher for the first person who manages to get a convincing candidate in a British census return. ***note this has now been solved*** Walter, My Secret Life, is an eleven volume work of pornographic autobiography describing a Victorian gentleman’s ‘romps’. As the ‘gentleman’ in […]

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