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  • The Hanging Bed April 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Hanging Bed

    Ohio’s premier anomalist, Chris Woodyard has just put up a post on an unusual method of execution in the nineteenth-century press, the cone of death, and she has two earlier posts, including the needle mask, praying to death, squeezing to death and smothering to death. Every ‘funny’ bone in Beachcombing’s body tells him that there […]

    Ash Magic April 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ash Magic

    Your little boy is ill. The doctors can do nothing (this is the nineteenth century) and money is, in any case, short. What on earth do you do. Well, the folk answer, and one that is almost certainly as efficacious as Victorian medicine, is to look for an ash tree. This account comes from Somerset […]

    Immortal Meals 22#: Mesmerism Tea Party April 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals 22#: Mesmerism Tea Party

    This story combines three Beachcombing interests: first, mesmerism, and second, the practical joke framed, third, in an immortal meal, one that many readers would have killed to have attended. We are in the town of Hexham in the north of England in 1871. Mr Morgan, a professor of mesmerism has come to town to impress […]

    Poison Jokes April 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Poison Jokes

    Strangehistory recently ran a post on death by joke and Beach was surprised by just how many late nineteenth-century joke victims died by poison. Perhaps the strangest thing is that anyone would ever even dream of bringing poison to a joke, after all you don’t load the gun you use for a fake duel, do […]

    Natator #4: Diving off London Bridge April 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Natator #4: Diving off London Bridge

    From Natator’s defeat to the churlish Fish Man in the spring of 1871 it was all down hill, and the slope was steep and full of briars and stones: some readers might want to spare themselves the unhappy denoument and click away at this point. OK, well you’ve been warned. In June 1871, doubtless desperate […]

    Natator #3: the Fight with Fish Man March 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Natator #3: the Fight with Fish Man

      In a previous post Beach outlined the early success of Natator, the frog man and Frank Buckland’s examination of this unusual specimen. The next chapter in Natator’s life is though a more traumatic one. Acts inevitably get old and Natator recognised this. By September of 1867, just three months after he had begun, Natator […]

    Natator 2#: Buckland Speaks March 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Natator 2#: Buckland Speaks

    Natator had no biographer: who would be equal to such a life! However,  10 August 1867 Frank Buckland the celebrated naturalist and son of a great British eccentric (who once ate a king’s heart) visited the Cremorne Gardens to examine Frog Man. We learn more from this account than from any other. First, the aquarium: […]

    Natator 1#: Arrival of the Master! March 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Natator 1#: Arrival of the Master!

    Nineteenth-century London. Three million human beings crammed into rookeries and tenements, villas and palaces and desperate for stimulation outside the normal run of work, gin and jellied eels. The theatres and music halls did their best, of course, but even the wildest cant, the heartiest acting, the prettiest legs quickly jade in the world capital. It was […]

    The 5 Greatest Historical Graphic Novels March 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    The 5 Greatest Historical Graphic Novels

    Graphic novels must be, surely, the most underestimated genre in the modern arts: perhaps about 40% of the adult population have such strong feelings that, with the exception of Charlie Brown, they could not bring themselves to pick up a comic. This is a tragedy. There are great works out there that have been largely ignored and […]

    Disturbingly Nude Victorian Mermaids March 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Disturbingly Nude Victorian Mermaids

    Nothing like a really beautiful mermaid, right: hair breezing sea blue blonde, scales shining with Brasso, tail whipping like a pike dropped in a bucket of acid? Well, yes, and Beach has previously celebrated the alluring mermaids of Venice: what some of his students would call ‘babes’. But he has been disturbed today by a […]

    The Doppleganger and Ghosts of Lower Gornal February 17, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Doppleganger and Ghosts of Lower Gornal

    Lower Gornal is a village in Staffordshire close to Dudley. The following news story appeared in 1881 and relates to what Beach has tentatively termed ghost riots. That ghosts are seen is, of course, absolutely par for the course, particularly back in the nineteenth century when fairy sightings were occasionally reported in local newspapers. But what is special […]

    Ghost Riot in 1880 January 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ghost Riot in 1880

    A ghost story from late nineteenth-century London, 22 Sept 1880 Ab Jo, 7: According to the police, the ‘appearance’ [of the ghost] was first observed by a Mrs Taylor, residing in Hartshorn Court, which runs parallel with the City of London Baths, and whose rooms overlook the site in question. Her version is that she […]

    Benedict’s Pool (Worcestershire/Gloucestershire) December 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Benedict's Pool (Worcestershire/Gloucestershire)

    This ghost story is a curiosity, a maverick. It is not that there are not haunted pools or even haunting monks. But no book read by this blogger has ever troubled to put them together and certainly no tradition makes the monk into a nasty piece of work. This is a nineteenth century, which seems […]

    Bathing Mystery at Lahinch October 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bathing Mystery at Lahinch

    In 1892 Laurence Gomme gave a presidential address to the Folklore Society. Gomme was particularly interested in the parallels between British (by which was meant at this date British and Irish) folklore and the folklore of the ‘savages’. If he could snap some branches from the golden bough while proving that the Aborigines and the […]

    Speaking Fireball in Luton (Devon) September 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Speaking Fireball in Luton (Devon)

    Beach so liked the fireball stories from last month that he has been looking for some more and came across this incredible encounter from southern Devon, 1836. He was hoping for mad papists and great balls of flame, instead he got sincere yokels at midnight and omens. Still a great story. The author is a middle […]

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