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  • Homemade Beer at the Vampire Inn May 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Homemade Beer at the Vampire Inn

    Every so often, as your eye is running down the columns of documents past, you run into an unlooked for detail that you just can’t leave alone. It happened to me a week ago when I was checking through the records of bankrupt British businesses from 1869 (as you do). In that year on Hampton […]

    Duelling Schoolboys May 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Duelling Schoolboys

    Duelling is really all about grown men acting like complete asses. However, at least in one case in 1874 it appears that early teens in Lincolnshire, the UK emulated their elders. One Gerald Maurice Burn shot, 7 March 1874, at George Seagrave, both boarders at a local school run by a reverend no less. Burn […]

    Whose Child? March 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Whose Child?

    The machinery of human reproduction means that (save in exceptional circumstances) there may be doubt about the father, but there can be no question as to a baby’s mother. But the whole doubt about the father thing is a serious issue, particularly if you live in a society where blood lines are taken seriously. This […]

    The Most Beautiful Folk Cure: An Epilepsy Ring February 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Most Beautiful Folk Cure: An Epilepsy Ring

    ***for Tacitus on sabbatical*** There is a little to be said for many folklore cures in terms of efficacy unless we call out placebo. However, some cures are winners, even spectacular winners in an aesthetic sense. I recently ran across this very curious nineteenth-century Welsh cure for epilepsy (‘the cure of fits’): it appeared in […]

    Britain’s First Glider: Charles Spencer February 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Britain's First Glider: Charles Spencer

    ***an important correction to this article from Nathaniel below*** In 1868 the Aeronautical Society put up a stand at the Crystal Palace exhibition and prepared to show the nation their wares. There were many of the usual suspects: a miniature version of Stringfellow’s aerial steam carriage, for example, and prizes for anyone who get a […]

    In Search of the Lamia in Ethiopia? January 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Lamia in Ethiopia?

    This passage appears in an 1863 book about a Briton’s residence in Abyssinia. The author seems to be in two minds about the monster he is describing. Is it real or is it a figment of the locals’ imagination? In the text he seems to account for it as legend, but note that he had […]

    Welsh Leaf Mould, Pies and Cunning Magic January 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Welsh Leaf Mould, Pies and Cunning Magic

    A nineteenth-century letter detailing some very unusual goings on at Hawarden on the Welsh borders. On Sunday the 17 inst., it was discovered that some earth had recently been dug up under the east window of the church. At first it was supposed that some still-born infant had been deposited there [!!!]; but on procuring […]

    Spirit Photo Fakes: Katie King January 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Spirit Photo Fakes: Katie King

    The Count (a regular contributor here) is to blame. Beach had hoped to spend just a couple of thousand nano-seconds on spirit photography, but it is so extraordinarily interesting. Last time we looked at some late nineteenth-century photographs where ghostly  loved ones were portrayed with their families in the most transparent fakes.  But what about […]

    English Vampire in Spain December 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    English Vampire in Spain

    This article comes from the later 1860s and describes the misfortunes of an Englishman who the locals decided was a Vampire. You have to cross the straits of Gibraltar and probably the Sahara to get this kind of incident today: memories of that fine Luise White book Speaking with Vampires. Lorcea is Lorca in Murcia. […]

    The Durham Lights 3#: The Margaret and Jane December 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Durham Lights 3#: The Margaret and Jane

    To finish off this series on the mystery of the Durham Lights we turn to the description, in late December 1866, of the Margaret and Jane’s misfortunes at Whitburn. The public inquiry offers one of the clearest accounts of what mariners actually saw when they talked of ‘false lights’. First, though the ship. We have […]

    Killing a Nineteenth-Century Nessie December 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Killing a Nineteenth-Century Nessie

    There is a fabulous Scottish water beast story that is worth repeating. Today we scour lochs for fantastic animals. In the early nineteenth century they scoured at Loch na Beiste (literally Loch of the Beast) to kill the same. The story of the celebrated water-kelpie of the Greenstone Point is very well known in Gairloch. […]

    The Last Stoning in Ireland November 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Last Stoning in Ireland

    Ok this title is a provocation. Saying the last stoning in Ireland is a bit like saying the last blizzard in Saudia Arabia or the last vegetarian meal in France. The early Irish left behind detailed law codes and there is no record of anyone being stoned at any time. Their medieval heirs had many […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #8: Abercrombie and a Friend from Madras Speak! October 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #8: Abercrombie and a Friend from Madras Speak!

    Beach began thinking that there was just one account of Williams dream, his own (1832). He then learnt there was a second earlier account (dating to 1828), which shows signs of not being written by the author. However, since then – in great part thanks to Wade and Bob – he has realized that there […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #6: The Bude Kirk Rumours October 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #6: The Bude Kirk Rumours

    Now consider this strange little annex, in Lang. One very curious circumstance in connection with the assassination of Mr. Perceval has never been noticed. A rumour or report of the deed reached Bude Kirk, a village near Annan, on the night of Sunday, May 10, a day before the crime was committed! This was stated […]

    Why Do Married Couples Sleep in the Same Bed? October 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Why Do Married Couples Sleep in the Same Bed?

    T.S. Eliot to his wife ‘To whom I owe the leaping delight/ That quickens my senses in our wakingtime/ And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime,/ The breathing in unison ‘ Why do married couples sleep together? This might seem a stupid question, but really why? Is it a biological imperative dating back to the […]

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