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  • Nineteenth-Century Gravegoods in Somerset July 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Nineteenth-Century Gravegoods in Somerset

    The burial of children is always extremely melancholy. The very tragedy of putting a loved child in the ground – memories of an Anglo-Saxon grave in Oxfordshire covered previously by this blog – leads relations, siblings and particularly parents to an unusual pitch of grief and in that grief they sometimes make unusual decisions. Certainly, […]

    Review: Barry, Witchcraft and Demonology July 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Barry, Witchcraft and Demonology

    Witchcraft is extraordinarily popular in history faculties: there can be few first grade universities that don’t offer either a course on witchcraft or a course that has a witchcraft component. But caveat emptor, actually most of these courses are not about witchcraft, but about the witch hunt, in which tens of thousands of men and […]

    Witches and Brambles May 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Witches and Brambles

    This is a summary borrowed from Owen Davies’ excellent Witchcraft, Magic and Culture. In December 1924, Alfred John Matthews, aged forty-three, a small-holder of Clyst St Lawrence, Devon, appeared at the Cullhompton petty sessions for scratching and drawing blood from Ellen Garnsworthy, a middle-aged, married woman of the same village. Matthews had a sow which […]

    Fairy Witches #1: Joan Tyrry of Taunton March 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Witches #1: Joan Tyrry of Taunton

    Who was Joan Tyrry [Terry]? Beach knows very little, too little, in fact. And everything he does know about this sixteenth-century woman comes from Keith Thomas who in the 1960s visited Wells Diocesan Records and opened the dusty old boxes with A21 and A22 where her trial is recorded. KT never gave a detailed description […]

    Geologist Galivants with Spirits and Fairies May 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Geologist Galivants with Spirits and Fairies

    John Beaumont (obit 1751)  was a celebrated, to use an anachronistic word, geologist. He also experienced ‘the other side’ with a rush of spirits and ghosts that would have thrilled a wind-sock. One passage from his An Historical Physiological and Theological Treatise of Spirits, Apparitions, Witchcrafts, and Other Magical Practises are well known because they […]

    Dud Eighteenth-Century Ghosts December 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dud Eighteenth-Century Ghosts

    On previous occasions Beachcombing has celebrated the way that eighteenth-century and nineteenth century Britons, at least before the spiritualists and Tibetano-philes got started, attempt to mock the superstitious out of existence. He recently came across several examples involving ghosts and fakery that amused him and that involve Somerset on the edge of the south-west. These […]