Archive for August, 2012

The infamous Dr Crippen, 23rd November 2010 marked his 100th year since his execution. Hawley Harvey Crippen supposedly haunts the Pentonville Prison where he was hanged and interred for the murder of his wife. They say a “bespectacled, sorrowful figure” is seen standing around the unmarked grave.

Crippen was a homeopathic physician and salesman, he was convicted of the murder of his wife Cora Henrietta Crippen. He was also notably the first criminal to be caught with the use of wireless communication. His first wife died of a stroke and his son was entrusted to his parents care. He met Cora in New York, who had the stage name Belle Elmore and had very open affairs.

In 1897 Crippen and his spouse moved to England, he was not however considered qualified to practise in the UK and so worked as a distributor of patent medicines. He was sacked by his manager in 1899 as he spent more time working on his wife’s stage career than doing his job. Having moved around various places they settled in Holloway, London where a lodger was brought in to supplement the meagre wages. Cora decided that the lodger was appealing and in turn Crippen took Le Neve (young typist in the firm he worked for) as his mistress.

January 31st, 1910 there was a party at their home and Cora disappeared, he claimed that she had returned home to California and later on added she had died and been cremated. Le Neve began to wear Cora’s clothes and jewellery, the police first became aware of the disappearance when Cora’s friend (a strongwoman known as Vulcana) reported it. Friends in high places led to more requests for investigations and a house search was made but nothing was found.

The police seemed satisfied but Crippen and Le Neve did not seem to know this and fled in panic to Brussels. They went on a pacific liner the SS Montrose destined for Canada. Inspector Water Dew then ordered a further three searches of the house, and on the fourth they found human remains buried under the brick floor of the basement. The body contained traces of a calming drug, the corpse was identified by a piece of skin but the head, limbs and skeleton were never recovered.

Meanwhile Crippen and Le Neve were disguised on board the ship when a wireless telegram was sent out to British Authorities saying they suspected Crippen of London cellar murder and his accomplice was aboard the ship. Perhaps if he had travelled third class he would never have been spotted but Dew boarded a faster White Star liner and headed off to intercept them. Dew boarded the ship disguised as a passenger and followed him over to Canada. Canada meant that they could arrest him without the need for extradite as they were still part of the English Empire at that time.

When Dew announced who he was Dr Crippen was relieved and had expressed how the suspense was really too much. He held out his arms to enable the handcuffs to be placed on him and Crippen was returned to England on the SS Megantic.

Both suspects were tried separately at the London assizes and stated that they could not formally identify the remains as male or female but they had been able to locate abdominal scar tissue that matched Cora’s medical history. The drug found in the remains matched one that Crippen had brought from a local chemist.

The defence maintained that Cora had fled to America with another man, Bruce Miller, and suggested the previous owner could be something to do with the remains in the house. They also stated the marks on the skin were just folded tissue. The prosecution continued with a pyjama top that Crippen owned, it was not found but the bottoms were in his bedroom and a fragment of the fabric was found with the remains, the prosecution stated that the type he wore were not made before 1908 and so it would not have been the former owners to blame for the human remains.

Throughout the proceedings Dr Crippen showed no sign of remorse, he also showed no concern for his wife but showed concern for his lover’s reputation. After only 27 minutes the jury returned with a verdict of guilty and he was hanged. His grave, as previously mentioned, is unmarked and perhaps one of the reasons his ghost still lingers is that he is waiting for his innocence to be declared… however that is unlikely to happen as in 2009 the court of appeal said they would not hear the case to posthumously pardon him.

The 1962 feature film Dr. Crippen stars Donald Pleasance in the lead role.  His story is also retold in a Broadway musical One Touch of Venus.  He even boasts a waxwork model at Madame Tussauds in London!

Well since I posted about the Horseman spotted in Egypt I felt it only fair to post the latest one (courtesy of reader) that was brought to my attention.

It seems like I am a bit behind on the news as this one is circa 2011 but then again I never promised to be up to date, I just decided all the interesting things I found should be collected in a random place.

Again, it could be a hoax, it could be birds, it could just COULD be something very real but I pointed this out because does it really need to be a physical horse to be the real deal? A sign or another mass media outlet for panic, who cares it’s a great looking vid to watch and I guess for that reason I can  be fickle now and then.

Of course, I am probably just excited because Darksiders 2 was released not long ago.

"I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. 

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" 

Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. 

When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. " Rev. 6:2-5

One of the things I find fascinating is the ossuary concept and San Bernardino alle Ossa is no exception. It is in Milan, Northern Italy and the church there has a small side chapel decorated with human skulls and bones.

The Ossuary came into play in 1210 when a cemetery adjacent ran out of space, the room was build to hold bones. A church was attached in 1269, it was renovated in 1679, then in 1712 it was destroyed, a new church for Saint Bernardino was then built.

The ossuary’s vault was frescoed in 1695, by Sebastiano Ricci, and many niches and doors are decorated with bones in what is known as the Roccoco style. Interestingly in 1738 King John V of Portugal was so struck by the chapel he had a similar one built in Évora, near Lisbon.

In Dublin, Ireland, there is St Michan’s Church and underneath it lays the crypts. There are five long burial vaults with the mummified remains of 17-19th Century notable families.

Though there is no exact date of origin they may date from when the church was rebuilt in 1685, the dry atmosphere appears to have been a factor in the mummies and their preserved coffins. The limestone walls mean the area is dry and perfect for creating the natural conditions required for these mummies.

It is believed that Bram Stoker, creator of the novel Dracula, visited the vaults in the company of his family.

One of the vaults houses a man known as “Crusader” though his body is only around 650 years old (other sites say 400). Looking around at stories for him I have conflicting tales but one says his feet were taken off due to being so tall, for some reason they also removed his right hand.  Another site told me the man was over six feet tall, yet another claims it was over eight feet?

There are also the various bodies laid here of those that held the title Earl of Leitrim. Don’t pop by on a Sunday though just to visit the crypts as they are closed so that the residents can enjoy their normal services.

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These are also known as Tibetan Singing Bowls, rin gongs, Himalayan bowls or suzug gongs. They are a type of bell that are classified as a standing bell, they sit on their surface to produce their sound, over the hanging variety. They are traditional to Asia and appear to have roots as far back as the bronze age. They are used for meditation, music and relaxation as well has personal well being. They are used by various professionals and have been known to assist with cancer patients and those under care for post traumatic stress disorder. They are also popular in classrooms as they help to keep the attention of the students.

They are historically made in Asia, especially in Nepal, China and Japan. They seem closely related to the decorative bells made along the silk road from the Near East to Western Asia. The best known of more recent times seem to be from the Himalayan region. They are often referred to as Tibetan Singing bowlws but there do not appear to be any found in the region today.

In Tibetan Buddhist practise uses the bowls to signal the beginning and end of the periods of silent meditation. Chinese Buddhists will use the singing bowl to accompany the wooden fish during chanting, striking it when a particular phrase is chanted. In Japan and Vietnam a similar practise is sused, also in Japan they are used in traditional funeral rites and ancestor worship. Every Japanese temple will hold a singing bowl and they are found on altars and in meditation rooms around the world.

The only texts about the singing bowls are modern but a few pieces of art from several centuries do depict them. Singing bowls from around the 15th Century have been found in private collections and bronze bells for music have also been located as far back as the 8-10th Century BC. They are played by striking the rim of the bowl with a padded mallet, they can also be played by the friction of rubbing a wood, plastic or leather wrapped mallet. They produce a unique sound and alongside this a physical vibration can be felt.

The singing bowls have a traditional way to be made, they are still one of the most traditionally crafted object made today. The antique bowls are highly collectable and prized because their sounds are so unique. There are a flood of modern ones that are old looking and sold as such but there are not many dedicated experts to the field and so there are a lot of them circulating with wrong information however they are still a wonderful addition to the home regardless of this I am sure. Many of the copper bowls are assured to be the modern ones but there appears to be other bowls that are made from high tin bronze. There is so far no evidence about the claims the singing bowls contain 7 metals.

New bowls come from Nepal, India and China and the best hand made ones still appear to come from Nepal. New ones do not have the same mellow and peaceful sound, they are often louder and will ring for longer. They are made in two processes, the best ones are made by hammering, the modern method is by sand casting before machine lathing. Machine lathing can only be done by brass so many of them are made with brass alloy which do not produce the sound of those made by hand.