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The Things We Couldn’t Say September 9, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
The Things We Couldn't Say

A heartbreaking story yesterday. A friend works with the terminally ill, helping those suffering and family members ‘survive’ the process. She is a trained psychologist and a very energetic and capable, elderly woman came under her care. As part of a therapy of ‘release’ this elderly woman, with a steadily growing malignant tumour inside her, […]

Victorian Lesbian Cobblers August 26, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Victorian Lesbian Cobblers

A week in which this blogger has had a thrilling time reading works on the history of lesbianism: some surprisingly good books out there. Anyway, one of the most fascinating facts about sexuality in western Europe and later European colonies is that way that there was one standard for male homosexuality and quite another for […]

The Amphibiotic Ablutionists August 22, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Amphibiotic Ablutionists

*** Sorry late, Beach family reunited today*** Diving in the freezing water is now a fairly common guarantee of guts and eccentricity. But in early nineteenth-century England it was the height of weirdness. Beach stumbled on these healthy souls while searching for more information about hydropathy.  Beach is going to put up a five dollar […]

Women and Trains July 26, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Women and Trains

Beachcombing has a dear aged friend who left her native country and came to live in the UK in the late 1930s. On her first day in the capital she, then a fresh-faced beautiful woman, climbed onto a train at Waterloo (follow the link for the best Churchill story of them all) and settled down […]

A Coincidence in the County Palatine? July 13, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
A Coincidence in the County Palatine?

***Dedicated to Borky who has greater faith in coincidences than Beach*** Chesterton has that beautiful line that ‘coincidences are spiritual puns’. Well, today’s post is to celebrate a rare and seemingly unassailable coincidence in the life of this blogger: as to the ‘pun’ part any solutions gratefully accepted – drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com. Should […]

Buried Alive in Ninteenth-Century India June 11, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Buried Alive in Ninteenth-Century India

***Dedicated to Leif*** Busy day chez Beachcombing as two Romanians help to retrieve a garden that has been abandoned for forty years to a state of wellbeing. On the subject of digging this brilliant piece was sent in by an old friend of this blog, Leif. The text comes from The Court and Camp of […]

William Thornber and the Witches, Boggarts, Sorcerers and People of the Fylde June 7, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
William Thornber and the Witches, Boggarts, Sorcerers and People of the Fylde

Part of the StrangeHistory project is to put up sources that for some reason have not made it onto Google Books and the like. In an attempt to do just this Beach spent a long hour typing out, yesterday, 3000 words from William Thornber’s The History of Blackpool and its Neighbourhood (Poulton 1837). I know, […]

Bleeding-heart Yard and Nineteenth-century London Witches March 27, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Bleeding-heart Yard and Nineteenth-century London Witches

London legends rarely stretch back beyond the 1800s which is why this one, which is perhaps based on an Elizabethan legend, is such fun. The extract dates to 1841. Let any man walk into Cross-street, Hatton-Garden, and from thence into Bleeding-heart Yard, and learn the tales still told and believed of one house in that […]

Lord Acton’s Lost Work March 23, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Lord Acton's Lost Work

Lord Acton is often reckoned one of the great historians of nineteenth-century England. Yet he published all too little despite tens of thousands of hours of study: a handful of essays and talks… His great book was to be have been a whig classic, a discussion of the growth of modern liberty. But that book […]

Mass Misunderstandings and Worse March 12, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
Mass Misunderstandings and Worse

What is a Catholic or an Orthodox Mass? Well, it is essentially an act of magic, a miracle, the bread and the wine that are brought together become the flesh and the blood of Christ, which Christians then devour. Put in these brief, crude terms Christianity is a cannibalistic and highly unpleasant: though, of course, […]

Welsh Candles and a Ghost October 30, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Welsh Candles and a Ghost

A couple of weeks ago we travelled to the Church Porch at midnight to see who would die in the coming year. Here is a Welsh equivalent (kind of). Down to the last hundred years it was usual in many a district in Wales to burn candles in the parish church on the eve of […]

A Fourteen-Month Pregnancy in Nineteenth-century Cornwall? October 25, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
A Fourteen-Month Pregnancy in Nineteenth-century Cornwall?

Polperro Press is a small publishing house that produces excellent quality monographs on Cornish themes. If every town of this size – Polperro is an idyllic Cornish port – had a book producing company of a third of this quality historians would be able to give up their day jobs: history, at least western history, […]

Transit of Venus October 4, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Transit of Venus

Beachcombing had some fun earlier in the summer with the most famous act of nineteenth-century spiritualism: Daniel Home’s floating escapade back in 1868. He recently came across this description of a rival levitator, Agnes Nichol Guppy (obit 1917) and her famous ‘transit of Venus’.  Note that this took place some three years after Home’s own […]

A Fairy Encounter in Nineteenth-Century Madrid September 10, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
A Fairy Encounter in Nineteenth-Century Madrid

***And so it begins… first class today: unpleasant warm fuzzy feeling in stomach, awareness that no more proper research for six months*** Beach just stumbled across this curious account of a sighting of little people in Madrid in the 1860s. The witness was a nineteenth-century spiritualist: the account begins with her own curious take on […]

The Terror of the Cow Charmer August 6, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Terror of the Cow Charmer

A cute fairy post from the west of Ireland in the nineteenth-century. The narrator is a visiting sportsman. I heard, when passing the porter’s lodge, that the gate-keeper’s cow was ill. As she was a fine animal, the loss would have been a serious one to the family, and hence I became interested in her […]

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