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  • Victorian Urban Legend: The Mourning Trick June 22, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: The Mourning Trick

    This is a great story which appears with the heading, ‘Scotch Ghost Story’. We are in Glasgow. Beach has no doubt though that it is a Victorian urban legend. Let’s face it, the tale is so satisfying that if it ever actually happened it would have been abstracted and told to everyone who would listen. […]

    Woman to be Stoned and Blindfolded Priest June 4, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Woman to be Stoned and Blindfolded Priest

    Unpleasant story warning. This dates to 1834 and incredibly was given in a public talk at the Society for the Conversion of the Jews. It is clearly a legend (there are many European parallels): see below. But Beach is desperately looking for more of the same from fiction or from ‘fact’. A clergyman in London, […]

    Urban Legend: the Magic Letter May 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Urban Legend: the Magic Letter

    In the last months Beach has put up a number of posts on possible nineteenth-century urban legends: as they are reported as facts though and as the nineteenth-century was a foreign country (‘they did things differently there’) it is difficult, perhaps impossible with any certainty to distinguish the legendary from the simply bizarre. This is […]

    Kitchener Survives: Friend of a Friend May 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Kitchener Survives: Friend of a Friend

    One of the great British catastrophes of the Great War was the death of Lord Kitchener on the HMS Hampshire in the North Sea 5 June 1916, not a month before the Battle of the Somme began. Kitchener, famous  as British Secretary of War was a ruthless and effective warleader and understandably British public opinion […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Music Boxes and Watch Sacks April 25, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Music Boxes and Watch Sacks

    Truly Beach isn’t that interested in this ignorant-native story from India, but the comparison to what is evidently a home grown British urban legend: A good story of a thief comes from Calcutta. ‘The Native,’ as Miss Fox called Major B ‘s servant, stole a musical box, ignorant of its use, and fancying it contained […]

    Big Ben Superstitions April 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Big Ben Superstitions

    Big Ben the great bell that rings out from Westminster is a central part of British identity: not least because its chimes have, for many years, sounded on national radio and television programs. It would hardly be surprising then that there are superstitions about Big Ben, but what is surprising is that these seem not […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: Pickpocket and Boa Constrictor April 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: Pickpocket and Boa Constrictor

    This is a lovely tale. An elderly chap meets a young man in a tram car who confesses that he was once a pickpocket. He gives the story of his conversion. I was lounging about, when in came a gentleman with a long basket. It was the most curious basket I had ever seen, with two […]

    The Mason’s Worst Task April 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Mason's Worst Task

    This story has haunted Beach more than any other in the last month. Is it true, fiction or an inspired urban legend? In either case it would be a brilliant detective story. Beach was reminded of Sherlock Holmes and the Engineer’s Thumb (pub 1892). It appeared in 1894 in the Wicklow People (11 Aug). Enjoy […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Wellington’s Breeches March 25, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Wellington's Breeches

    Nice 19C story. Mrs. Loudon was lately in the neighbourhood of Strathsfieldsaye, and being always anxious to visit spots remarkable for fine specimens of the vegetable world, and hearing that she was likely to gratify her taste at the gardens of the Duke of Wellington, she wrote to His Grace, conveying her special desire to […]

    The Train, the Turnip, the Knife and the Girl March 18, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Train, the Turnip, the Knife and the Girl

    A busy day today so here is a little 19C story: A practical joke of a strange kind was played recently on a young lady travelling in first class railway carriage in the West Riding of Yorkshire…. She had the carriage to herself until, at the station from which the train had a long run […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: The Egg Ring March 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: The Egg Ring

    Beach has recently been looking at ring stories in his quest for Victorian urban legends. Here is one that sounds simply impossible: though if any poultry experts want to contradict: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com A doctor, residing in Moringa, in Australia, writes to the Revue Sanitaire to solicit the attention of naturalists to the […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Sewer Wealth February 21, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Sewer Wealth

    Sewer stories… Several years ago a little German Jew, named Schwartz, believing that in the sewers of New York might be found many articles of value which had been lost, entered them, and for three days wandered through the labyrinth. He was very successful, picking up some 27,000 dols. worth of jewellery, spoons, forks, &c.; […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: Familiar Robbers February 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: Familiar Robbers

    This is a cute story from the States, picked up by an Irish newspaper in 1873. Whether this story is true or false we do not know; but it is said here that recently in the parish of St. Martin, Iberia, or somewhere down that way, an old widow lady, whose children had all married […]

    The Servant Who Became a Bride January 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Servant Who Became a Bride

    Beach has often offered up stories that sound like that they may be urban legends from Victorian Britain. Many of these stories involve crime because crime was acceptable to the reading palate of Victorians: morality, punishment, sometimes redemption… There were unquestionably many sexual urban legends. Unfortunately most of these went unrecorded because of Victorian sensibilities. […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: the Expensive Manuscript December 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: the Expensive Manuscript

    Beach now has a couple of difficult days as he leaves his old university and says goodbye to a particularly fine cohort of students. Here is some more manuscript nonsense to keep him and you distracted. Is this urban legend? Probably but pleasing. A celebrated authoress wrote a drama, which she committed to the manager […]

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