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  • 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 […]

    Queen Victoria, Baby-Killer! December 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Queen Victoria, Baby-Killer!

    Beach has to satisfy himself with a very short post today, not because he doesn’t have time but because he has not the slightest idea how to deal with the material at hand. Great consternation, says the Bedford Times [unable to get the original], has prevailed amongst certain classes at Luton, from rumour that the […]

    Child Murder in a London Church? December 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Child Murder in a London Church?

    This is an extraordinary story about child murder in a London church. In fact, the real story here – thinking of this site’s interest in urban legend and rumour – is the power of a freak event involving bodies to whip a working class area into a frenzy, but we’ll get to that…. In August […]

    Killer Snake Wheels November 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Killer Snake Wheels

    Beach has just had a glorious meal but before going back to table he wanted to share this great snake urban legend: as regular readers will know snakes are a favourite subject. This comes from Pol and Fisher’s Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow: My Life as a Country Vet. How can anyone […]

    Napoleon in Wales November 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Napoleon in Wales

    Beach recently offered up the gem of a story that Göring, of all people, had hidden out in a British bomb shelter in the second world war. At that moment he alluded to the fact that in a previous period the British had been convinced that Napoleon himself had visited Britain on the eve of his […]

    Napoleon III Survives Death November 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Napoleon III Survives Death

    Beach was so moved to discover that Marshal Ney  had not really been killed in 1815 that he went out looking for other unlikely survivors. This is one he dredged up from, of all places, Leeds Times (19 Apr 1873), 8. Napoleon III it will be remembered had come to Britain in 1871 after being […]

    Herman Göring in Plymouth November 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Herman Göring in Plymouth

    In Plymouth, in the Second World War, a strange idea evolved, among the bombed out population: Plymouth, as an important port, was all too frequently visited by the Luftwaffe. The population came to believe that Herman Göring, the head of his Luftwaffe, personally took part in the attacks on the city. Plymouth folk even claimed […]

    The Origins of Canard November 7, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Origins of Canard

    Busy day here so Beach will just offer this short piece about the origin of the word ‘canard’. If true this is really a late eighteenth-century urban legend; if false it is a canard about a canard. First the basics, canard, the French for duck, came to mean any false story in nineteenth-century English. But […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: the Wrong Pocket November 5, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: the Wrong Pocket

      This wrong pocket story sounds like an urban legend though there are a worrying number of exact facts. Beach is going to try and turn up the story elsewhere and see if it is repeated. Any help? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com During the running at the Cartmel (North Lancashire) Steeplechases Meeting on Whit-Monday, Mr. Ratcliffe. […]

    Skinny White: the Cleverest Pickpocket in Europe October 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Skinny White: the Cleverest Pickpocket in Europe

    Beach continues to enjoy pickpocket stories. This one was told of James White (skinny White) a pickpocket, who died in 1895 and who was ‘the cleverest pickpocket in Europe’. His obituary is willfully quiet about some of his exploits. It for example, tells us nothing of the ‘curious tales’ about his fun at Monte Carlo. […]

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