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  • Natator 2#: Buckland Speaks March 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Natator 2#: Buckland Speaks

    Natator had no biographer: who would be equal to such a life! However,  10 August 1867 Frank Buckland the celebrated naturalist and son of a great British eccentric (who once ate a king’s heart) visited the Cremorne Gardens to examine Frog Man. We learn more from this account than from any other. First, the aquarium: […]

    Natator 1#: Arrival of the Master! March 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Natator 1#: Arrival of the Master!

    Nineteenth-century London. Three million human beings crammed into rookeries and tenements, villas and palaces and desperate for stimulation outside the normal run of work, gin and jellied eels. The theatres and music halls did their best, of course, but even the wildest cant, the heartiest acting, the prettiest legs quickly jade in the world capital. It was […]

    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 […]

    The Mystery of Ghost Riots January 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Mystery of Ghost Riots

    This blog has reported many historical ghost stories over the year. Now it is time for a bit of reflection. Let’s pretend that your neighbour John Smith on Treacle Row in London, has reported that he has seen a ghost in a flowing gown running up and down the stairs. Now think carefully about this […]

    Ghost Riot in 1880 January 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ghost Riot in 1880

    A ghost story from late nineteenth-century London, 22 Sept 1880 Ab Jo, 7: According to the police, the ‘appearance’ [of the ghost] was first observed by a Mrs Taylor, residing in Hartshorn Court, which runs parallel with the City of London Baths, and whose rooms overlook the site in question. Her version is that she […]

    The Ripper and Thieves’ Candles November 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ripper and Thieves' Candles

    The thieves’ candle is a longstanding tradition in Britain, America and, indeed, throughout the western world. Usually the candle was the hand of a dead man with one or more of the fingers made into candles. These candles were supposed to provide safety, invisiblity and be able to cast sleep spells on victims. For example, […]

    Close Encounter of the Zeppelin Kind July 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Close Encounter of the Zeppelin Kind

    In the 1960s, date unspecified, a southern English paper the Hackney and Kingsland Gazette published the following letter, a memoir from one Mr S.C. Thomas, who had lived in the area in the First World War. His memories had taken him back to October 1916 when he and Hilda Cavanagh had gone out for a […]

    Swearing Fetuses and the English Sausage Seller May 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Swearing Fetuses and the English Sausage Seller

    A nasty little episode from the late 1860s and London with a most curious annex. A sausage seller gets roughed up by a group of young London Jews, after saying something anti-semitic. This led to a trial. When his wife or ‘missus’ was called into the witness box though, something rather peculiar happened. To corroborate […]

    Love Goddess #9: Damian Hirst’s Madonna May 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Love Goddess #9: Damian Hirst's Madonna

    ***Thanks to Invisible for sending this one in*** Damien Hirst, media-savvy horseman of the post modern art apocalypse and the Madonna, mother of Christ, eternal sweetness and light, whose breasts produce condensed milk for the faithful. What would happen should these two contrary forces come together? Well, there is no reason for speculation because in […]

    Pre-Columbian Trips to America? Ballast! January 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Pre-Columbian Trips to America? Ballast!

    Imagine the excitement of the archaeologists who had gathered at NA-57 off the Florida coast near Fernandina in 1972. In some offshore piles they had found various bits of ‘rubbish’ from European settlers: ceramics, pipes, glass fragments… Nothing special you might think. But what was unusual was the dating. British settlements began in the area in […]

    A French Bombing Operation in London, 1984! January 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A French Bombing Operation in London, 1984!

    This is the time of year that UK government records are released, slipping out of the thirty years for which state papers are routinely kept away from the public gaze: freedom of information has changed this situation, but not dramatically. The result is that every year on New Year’s Day British researchers and conspiracy theorists […]

    German Invasion Force in London, 1909! January 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    German Invasion Force in London, 1909!

    All the European nations suffered bouts of craziness leading up to the First World War: one of the reasons that so many men in jackets started throwing straw hats at each other in August 1914… However, in many ways the most endearing and incredible was the conviction in Britain that Germany was planning an invasion […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #9: Mr Fox Speaks (or Lies)! November 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #9: Mr Fox Speaks (or Lies)!

    ***Many interesting comments on the Perceval case, particularly from Bob S who has done far better at digging out rare sources than Beach. Here is one that passed Strange History by completely but that Bob happily picked up*** Here is yet another source for the Williams dream from The autobiography of Sir John Rennie  by […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #3: The Earliest Account October 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #3: The Earliest Account

    This appeared in The Times 16 Aug 1828 ‘Remarkable Coincidences’. We have been able to find no earlier trace of the alleged dream of the murder of 1812. It is clearly valuable for its age  and seems to depend on the special knowledge of Mr Williams. However, serious discrepancies with the later account (next post) […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #2: The Event October 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #2: The Event

    Any study of the psychic dream that supposedly/allegedly accompanied the death of Spencer Percival in 1812 needs some background: most studies get straight to the dream and skip over the whos and whats of the assassination, which have some intriguing aspects in themselves. Spencer Perceval (1762-1812) was a Tory statesman who had served as Chancellor […]

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