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The Immortal Major Fraser August 4, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Immortal Major Fraser

OK here is an atmospheric little passage from a nineteenth-century description of the fifth most beautiful city in the world. Major Fraser, though he never dined there, spent  an hour or two daily in the Estaminet du Divan [in Paris] to read the  papers. He was a great favorite with every one, though none  of […]

Mutant Hares, Modern Satyrs and Centaurs July 26, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Mutant Hares, Modern Satyrs and Centaurs

Fairies are so ‘yesterday’. What about the more exotic fauna from the forests of the imagination? Let’s start with the mutant hare at Windsor! I remember Lilian, Countess of Cromartie, telling me of a strange incident that once happened to her. She was walking alone one bright summer morning in Windsor Great Park. Suddenly she […]

Kobolds and Lights in Derbyshire July 19, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Kobolds and Lights in Derbyshire

Beach is particularly proud of this one. It came from the pen of a spiritualist and relates to an experience c. 1860. It is now some few years since, being in the neighbourhood of a lovely valley called Dovedale, in the County of Derbyshire, England, I heard my kind host and hostess, Mr and Mrs […]

Flying In and Out of Windows July 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Flying In and Out of Windows

Forget Padre Pio fighting allied bombers and St Joseph of Cupertino who allegedly flew from the middle of a church to the high altar. The man that really stands out as the great modern levitator is the remarkable Daniel Dunglas Home playing peekaboo at a third floor window in London in 1868. Here is a […]

Burning Reputations in Science July 16, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Burning Reputations in Science

Imagine for a second with Beachcombing that you are world famous scientist. You don’t have a Nobel Prize yet, but a telephone call from Stockholm is a distinct possibility, particularly if you don’t say anything unwise about the developing world or human rights. In the meantime, you have fawning doctoral students, colleagues sending you sixty […]

Mad Cures: Sore Throats and Currents July 10, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Mad Cures: Sore Throats and Currents

C. 1900 you have a nasty sore throat that won’t go away. A friend tells you that there is a new treatment in town for only three dollars, five if you stay at home and the practitioner comes to your house with ‘the machine’. And what exactly does this  ‘new’ treatment entail, you ask innocently? […]

Weird Nineteenth-Century Names July 8, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Weird Nineteenth-Century Names

Beach has long been fascinated by the use and misuse of names. Here are some beautiful nineteenth-century English cases of eccentric onomastics. In this town [East Dereham, Norfolk] there is an innkeeper who rejoices in  the baptismal name of ‘Mahershalalhashbaz’ (see Isaiah  viii. 1). I should think this is unique. He is commonly  called  ‘Maher’, […]

Things that Go Baring-Gould in the Night July 3, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Things that Go Baring-Gould in the Night

Beach has been having a LOT of fun recently reading the autobiography of Sabine Baring-Gould, an eccentric and very capable Victorian/Edwardian clergyman who was once described on this blog in the company of a werewolf. Here, instead, is SBG’s collection of material relating to the Old Madam who haunted his family mansion, Lew Trenchard Manor […]

A Welsh Mermaid and the Bastard with the Binoculars June 9, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
A Welsh Mermaid and the Bastard with the Binoculars

When people see strange things they rave to friends, family and (sometimes) newspapers. When they see strange things that reveal themselves to be something utterly pedestrian, the marvel is quickly forgotten. This is, in some ways, a shame as accounts of misperception probably bring us closer to the enigmas of the world than hours and […]

The Wandering Jew in Burnley May 27, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
The Wandering Jew in Burnley

Today it is the turn of the Wandering Jew. For those who have never met him WJ refused to help Christ (as he was carrying his cross) or made fun of Jesus as he hung between the thieves. This proved a bad idea. WJ now meanders cursed around the globe and will do so until […]

Welsh Pre-Marital Sex, c. 1850 May 11, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Welsh Pre-Marital Sex, c. 1850

A German tourist in Wales in the 1850s. Our hero befriends, Sarah the girl of the house where he is staying and on whom, Beach suspects, he had something of a crush. However, Sarah, who is the only member of the house who can speak English, is walking out with Owen, the elder son of […]

Victorian Osiris Kills Father and Paints Fairies April 30, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Victorian Osiris Kills Father and Paints Fairies

Now that the happy days of summer are here Beach is running away, in his mind, with several projects. There are the bat boxes, visits to the animals’ secret garden in the woods (with elder daughter), an attempt (probably vain) to get a carpenter to put up some shelves and then, chief among Beach’s preoccupations, there […]

Misfortunes with Severed Heads: Richard Owen and Lancaster Jail April 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Misfortunes with Severed Heads: Richard Owen and Lancaster Jail

Beachcombing regrets that he cannot provide the primary source for the following anecdote from Richard Owen’s early life. Anyone lucky enough to have instant access to mid nineteenth-century periodicals will find it in Hood’s Magazine and Comic Miscellany vol 3 (1845), 294-303. Beach is taking this paraphrase from the excellent Dinosaur Hunters by Deborah Cadbury, […]

Fairy Sighting on Skye, c. 1880 March 12, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Fairy Sighting on Skye, c. 1880

The family crisis continues here and so Beach offers a modest little post on a fairy sighting in Skye: perhaps Beachcombing’s favourite witness account of the ‘good folk’.  This was written out in the early 1960s that puts the experience back c. 1880. In the darkening of an Autumn evening over eighty years ago a […]

The Rocking Stone Unrocked February 10, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Rocking Stone Unrocked

The mother of all busy days today as students clamor for assistance and daughters for entertainment. Beach hope that readers will forgive him for offering up this story from his winter reading about Cornwall in the south-west of Britain. Our author is describing the Loggan Stone, aka the Logan Stone of Treen. This far-famed rock […]

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