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  • Victorian Urban Legends: The Spanish Mayor September 28, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: The Spanish Mayor

    This story comes from a Spanish correspondent to a Victorian newspaper. This then, if as Beach suspects it is, an urban legend is a Spanish urban legend: note that it is a very old story, versions can be found in many different countries. From Arragon there is a curious story, which, if true, is rather […]

    A Jack the Ripper Urban Legend September 22, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Jack the Ripper Urban Legend

    4 Aug 1941 (barely a month into Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union) this ‘funny story’ appeared in a London newspaper. Perhaps we should think of it as a bit of nostalgia from the times when knives not Nazi bombs were the most dangerous thing in the East End. During the scare caused by Jack […]

    War Heroes’ Bones for Manure in Scotland September 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    War Heroes' Bones for Manure in Scotland

    We have seen on this site, several times, urban legends about body parts being used in industrial production: fat for glass or telegraph wires; body parts for soap, something, of course, found too in the First World War. The following story is a not so elaborate practical joke but the attitudes behind it suggest that […]

    The Man Who Wore His Wife August 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Man Who Wore His Wife

    You could fill a large book with anecdotes, urban legends and folk tales about rings. Most fall fairly effortlessly into certain categories: lost ring found; ring makes wearer invisible; ring cut from corpse’s finger… However, here is one of its kind: husband wears wife. Beach has had a five day holiday and this was a […]

    Trafficking in Human Fat! August 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Trafficking in Human Fat!

    This story came up yesterday after inspired by the werewolf fat story. It is taken from a the Reading Mercury (10 Aug 1831)but was allegedly translated from Annals d’Hygiene Publique. ln the year 1813, a discovery was made in the Schools of Medicine, in Paris, which strongly excited the attention of the professors. The servants […]

    Kitchener Survives: The Insurance Policy July 27, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Kitchener Survives: The Insurance Policy

    The claim that Lord Kitchener had survived death seems to have been well established by December 1916. By 1917 the story rumbled through the spring and summer building up a head of steam until it quite unexpectedly entered the real world. In early September 1917 Lloyds opened an insurance policy, really a bet, that Kitchener […]

    The Monster of Leavenworth, Kansas July 21, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Monster of Leavenworth, Kansas

    ***Thanks to Roberto for this tale*** This is a nasty little story from nineteenth-century Kansas. We are in Leavenworth in that state and enter Mrs. Green, note a suspiciously generic name. Mrs. Green is a midwife, a profession that has had many ups and downs at the hands of doctors, feminists, journalists (nota bene), witch-hunters […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Pawn Trick July 13, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Pawn Trick

    This is a lovely story from Paisley (Scotland), ‘about the truth of which there is no doubt’. The other morning there were, as usual, standing the Cross several journeymen dyers, one of whom had the reputation of being clever in his way in providing the needful when thirst is requiring to be quenched. They looked […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Generosity Repaid July 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Generosity Repaid

    Beach goes to the motherland today with daughters and without dog or wife. Mixed feelings. Here is a familiar sounding story. Eugene Delacroix has persuaded the richest man in Europe, Baron James de Rothschild to pose as a beggar for a painting. Rothschild, a gentleman, agrees. Delacroix hung a tunic on his shoulders, placed a […]

    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 […]

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