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Soul Selling in Eighteenth-Century London May 10, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Soul Selling in Eighteenth-Century London

A melancholy day today and so Beach thought that he would enjoy some soul-selling. We are in eighteenth-century London and in the middle of one of those stories that are a little difficult to credit. A young maid, who lived formerly at Kensington, but, removing from thence, lived in St. Martin’s le Grand, London, being […]

Astrology and Burning Cities May 7, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Astrology and Burning Cities

Astrology was the one portion of occultism that survived, with its respectability intact, into the modern age. Indeed, up until, the eighteenth century there were those who insisted that astrology should be included among the natural sciences. Then, with the Enlightenment and the birth of modern astronomy, astrology took a dive in prestige from which […]

British Witch Initiation c. 1970 April 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
British Witch Initiation c. 1970

Witchcraft became a force to be reckoned with in Britain after the Second World War. There is a lot of writing, but most by the witches themselves (who can’t be trusted) or by CofE bishops who are just too silly for words because they take said witches seriously. Intelligent third-party descriptions like the following are […]

Bleeding-heart Yard and Nineteenth-century London Witches March 27, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Bleeding-heart Yard and Nineteenth-century London Witches

London legends rarely stretch back beyond the 1800s which is why this one, which is perhaps based on an Elizabethan legend, is such fun. The extract dates to 1841. Let any man walk into Cross-street, Hatton-Garden, and from thence into Bleeding-heart Yard, and learn the tales still told and believed of one house in that […]

Capital Problems March 19, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
Capital Problems

Capital cities should represent a country. They should be the head that directs and controls: unless you live in a properly federal society and there are none of those left. But what happens when capitals come to outweigh and dominate the country that they stand in? Take an example from close to this blogger’s home. […]

Jim’s Missing Book February 26, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Jim's Missing Book

Jim was an Iowan, an American Indian, one of a party who in 1844 crossed the Atlantic to see Europe. The Iowans had as their guide in Britain and parts of the Continent George Catlin (obit 1872), the famous American artist and a friend of the first nations, particularly the Mandans with whom he had […]

Goodwin Wharton and the Fairies November 4, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Goodwin Wharton and the Fairies

In 1684 the Queen of Fairy was visiting the (fairy) Duke of Hungary in his estate under Moorfields (London), when the Duke hatched a dastardly plot. First he tried to poison her majesty with chocolate and then, having failed to ruin her insides, he attempted to blow up her subterranean palace with gunpowder. If you […]

Review: Goodwin Wharton October 31, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Review: Goodwin Wharton

In the spring of 1683, a disgraced scion of an English aristocratic family, Goodwin Wharton met Mary Parish a woman in regular communication with fairies (‘lowlanders’), angels, the dead and, of course, the Almighty. Mary was down on her luck having alienated her spirit guide, having argued bitterly with the royal family of faery and […]

Transit of Venus October 4, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Transit of Venus

Beachcombing had some fun earlier in the summer with the most famous act of nineteenth-century spiritualism: Daniel Home’s floating escapade back in 1868. He recently came across this description of a rival levitator, Agnes Nichol Guppy (obit 1917) and her famous ‘transit of Venus’.  Note that this took place some three years after Home’s own […]

Lord Ferrers and the Silk Rope September 28, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Lord Ferrers and the Silk Rope

Beach read the following description of an execution this summer and it has remained in his mind so vividly that he thought that he would share it here. Lord Ferrers (obit deservedly 1760) was a bad lot who used to put fireworks in his wife’s bed (he loathed her) and eventually shot a steward who […]

The Bottle Hoax August 27, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Bottle Hoax

A cute story that belongs to the please-let-it-be-true category of human endeavour. The Duke of Montague being in company with some other noblemen, proposed a wager, that let a man advertize to do the most impossible thing in the world, he would find fools enough in London to fill a playhouse, who would think him […]

Flying In and Out of Windows July 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Flying In and Out of Windows

Forget Padre Pio fighting allied bombers and St Joseph of Cupertino who allegedly flew from the middle of a church to the high altar. The man that really stands out as the great modern levitator is the remarkable Daniel Dunglas Home playing peekaboo at a third floor window in London in 1868. Here is a […]

Immortal Meals #8: The Ash Wednesday Supper May 12, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Immortal Meals #8: The Ash Wednesday Supper

Giordano Bruno (pictured badly) was a sixteenth-century philosopher with a thing about infinity. Giordano also had an infinite capacity to create irritation. Indeed, his travels around Europe have a fascinating pattern of greeting, slighting and sprinting. Typically, GB is obliged to leave his last home in a hurry because of offence caused to the church […]

Crowds #1: And so it begins… Images from 1914 March 21, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Crowds #1: And so it begins... Images from 1914

  [students in Berlin, off to enlist] Beachcombing has recently become interested in crowd photography: large groups of people, preferably in rather strange or extreme situations. And as part of this ‘project’ he started collecting photographs from perhaps the dizziest month in western history: August 1914. The war is just beginning and young and not […]

Pulling Things Out of Rivers March 13, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Pulling Things Out of Rivers

Rivers are useful guardians of the past: often thousands of years roll by (and millions of tonnes of water) before things that have been thrown in are fished out (sometimes literally) several hundred or thousands of years later. Here are Beachcombing’s favourite they-were-found-in-river things. Others would be welcome: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com 1) Claudius’ […]

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