Bizarre Stories

History – Bizarre

There are so many interesting and slightly Bizarre stories we couldn’t help recoding them for you to include in a class when you are looking for something different.


The Queen of Sinking Ships
Yes, another Titanic Story

This is Violet Jessop, a stewardess on RMS Titanic.  She was also a stewardess on both RMS Olympic and RMS Britannic when they sank,  both sister ships of SS Titanic!

So, she got the nickname “Miss Unsinkable”, especially as she lived to the ripe old age of 83, they also called her ………

When did we first learn of the Balaclava, the Cardigan and the Raglan Sleeve

Did you know that these three items of clothing were the result of the Crimea War?

  • The Balaclava. The war was fought in a part of the world that in winter was………

What was the Silk Road?

The Silk Road was a network of trade routes from China to Europe that ran from the second century BC until the mid-15th century.

It went for more than 4,000 miles becoming ….

Nellie Bly’s record.

Nellie Bly was captivated by Phileas Fogg’s  Around the World in Eighty Days in which, fictionally, he went round the world in 80 days.  She told her editor she could better it, he didn’t like the idea of a woman going all that way on her own, he suggested sending a man. That she didn’t like! Eventually he relented and ………

The story of Anne Green
you will be amazed

Anne Green was a scullery maid charged with infanticide, a hanging offence in those days, so sihe was sentenced to hang at Oxford Castle on 14 December 1650. Which they did, cut her down and sent her body to the University physicians for dissection.

When they opened the coffin, she was still breathing!

The physicians felt ……..

Steamboat Willie

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing that it was all started by a mouse.”

Walt Disney, Disneyland; October 27, 1954

With the first Disney Cartoon with sound, with Mickey’s voice provided by Walt …….

About Champagne

The Romans first planted vineyards in the champagne region of France, it was a pinkish wine.

However, there was a problem making wines sparkle, and bottles strong enough to withstand the pressure, then in the 19th century Veuve Clicquot cracked it, starting the growth of the famous Champagne houses.

During the French Revolution, they ………………

What became of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground?

They became Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

All because a girl called Alice Liddell was being rowed down the River Isis by Charles Dawson.

As they rowed, 10-year-old Alice asked Charles to tell them a story, and he told them about a girl, called Alice, who fell into a rabbit-hole.

They loved the story …….

The History of Lotteries

They started in China around 200 BC, to fund major projects. For the Romans they were a dinner party game, until Augustus Caesar, the Roman Emperor, needed money to repair Rome, suddenly, he realised that there was easy way to raise money!    By the Middle Ages they were more popular than taxes!  Guess what? Towns such as Ghent, Utrecht, and Bruges, in the Low Countries, used …….

The ‘Plumstead Ghost’

In October 1897, the ‘Plumstead Ghost’ appeared in Plumstead, near Woolwich. The local papers were full of stories about young girls fainting on being approached by the ghost. Then a schoolmaster was frightened out of his wits when the ghost suddenly shouted ‘Boo-hah!’ at the top of his voice. Well, he was convinced it was the ‘Plumstead ghost’.

This went on until another schoolmaster …………

Do you know the story
of William McGonagall, the worst poet in England?

He was a Scotsman from Dundee, who wrote some 200 poems. They were so bad that he kept being asked to recite his poems at events all over the UK. Of course, he didn’t think he was bad, he felt they were all taking the mickey, while the audiences thought he was a music hall comic, which meant that for 25 years he delighted and appalled audiences all ………

It took a woman to
launch our first
daily newspaper?

Elizabeth Mallet published the first national daily paper in Britain, “The Daily Courant”.

Yes, it took a lady to launch our first daily newspaper!

It was only one page long with a back page full of advertisements.

She only printed foreign news, with no comments from her, she said her readers should ………

The man who sold the Eiffel tower twice!!

One man actually sold it twice, Victor Lustig

A great conman and a fantastic salesmen.

What made him so special, interesting, or just mad?  Well, he was all these things but to sell it twice says he was also a great salesman. I mean what a nerve, having sold it once, to go and do it again!

Of course, it was ………

Scotland’s First Black Football Captain

On March 12 1881 a British Guiana-born defender, Andrew Watson, made history when at the Kennington Oval when he led the Scottish National team out for an international against England.  A match, which saw Scotland thrash England 6 goals to 1.  He inflicted a terrible defeat on England.

So, who was this true sporting pioneer?

He was born in …………………

Sherlock Holmes,
a fictional invention
of the Victorian era.

He was the most famous fictional detective of the Victorian era.   During this era, as Britain’s police force became more professional and successful, it was inevitable that detective novels would follow and become extremely popular, Sherlock Holmes became the most fashionable.    How did he become popular?   He became popular when The Strand Magazine  ……….

The 1910
London to Manchester
air race

In 1910 there was a London to Manchester  air race between Claude Grahame-White, an Englishman and Louis Paulhan, a Frenchman.  It was a different race as they both left London on different days at the end of April 1910.

Claude left first on April 23rd from London, planning to refuel at ……..

Tulip Mania discussed

17th century Holland had the world’s highest per capita income. They had a financial system that was the most advanced and sophisticated ever seen in history. It is called the Dutch Golden Age. However, their sophistication in financial matters had its downside, it led to Tulip Mania!

Some say this was the first ever recorded speculative bubble ……

A village became an
independent republic!

A small village in Northern Europe really did became an independent state, a republic and it even had its own flag!

It was due to the chaos across Europe after World War I.  In November 1918 the village of Perloja’s parish committee took matters into their own hands, they established the self-governing Republic of Perloja.

They were serious and felt they should also ……..

The Dutch create a lake

In 1932 the Dutch completed The Afsluitdijk, which is Dutch for “shut off dike”. It stretched across the top of the Zuiderzee and created a large lake into which several rivers flowed, so it soon became a freshwater one.  The idea originated in 1886, when a group called The Zuiderzee Society started to investigate the possibility of reclaiming land from the Zuiderzee.  The main driving force was ……….

Where did the Circus
come from?

This is disputed, people say that circus started in the 18th century, but it wasn’t as they had what they called circus in Ancient Rome.

Nevertheless, it appears that modern circus really started in 18th century when Philip Astley, a cavalry officer, when on 4th April 1768, at Lambeth in London, he created an amphitheatre where he put on a display of horses ……… 

The Paul Pry phenomenon!

Well, the noun Paul Pry denotes an inquisitive person; one of its synonyms is nosey parker!

You see he wasn’t a person! He was the character in a farce of three acts that premiered at the Haymarket Theatre in London on 13th September 1825 and ran for 114 performances, it then continued to be popular all the way through to ……..

1908 New York to Paris Race, the wrong way!

The 1908 New York to Paris Race was a bizarre car race with the drivers attempting to drive from New York to Paris, westward. The long way!

Therefore, they had to drive from New York City to San Francisco, then up to Valdez, Alaska.  The plan was that when they reached the Bering Strait, it would be frozen and they could drive across it!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t .. …..

Mechanical Turk
a chess machine that
could beat anyone!

Have you heard of the Mechanical Turk? It was a creation of Wolfgang von Kempelen.  In 1769 the French illusionist François Pelletier perform in Vienna at the court of Maria Theresa of Austria. The court was impressed with his illusions, except for one man, Wolfgang von Kempelen.

He vowed to create an even greater illusion, which he did! One year later he …….

A Catholic French Marshal
without Royal Blood
becomes King of Sweden!

In 1810 something weird happened.  A Swedish MP proposed Jean Bernadotte, one of Napoleon’s Marshalls to be the heir to the King Karl XIII.  A French Catholic, who was a Marshall of France. He was married to Napoleon’s former fiancée, Désirée Clary. He couldn’t have been closer to Napoleon.  Initially the Swedish Parliament thought the idea mad, while Napoleon thought it bizarre. However, Marshal Bernadotte …….

The ‘dancing plague’!

Today we dance for fun, we can dance all night, and we think nothing of it, but in the 14th century they thought it was a disease!  They called it the “Dancing Plague”.   From the 14th to 17th centuries in towns across European people suddenly started dancing erratically, then others joined them, sometimes this grew to thousands.  Guess what? The religious authorities didn’t like it.   They ……

“Unsinkable Sam”
a special cat!

Sam a black and white patched cat, supposedly owned by a crewman of the German battleship Bismarck.

When it was sunk Sam, the cat, was discovered floating on a piece of wood, by the crew of the HMS Cossack, part of the attacking flotilla.  They took him aboard and they gave him the name, Oscar!

You may ask, why? 

Well, ……….

The curious effect of
the Henley Regatta

In 1839 first Henley Regatta was held for a single day. Its success meant that next year it ran for two, it kept extending until today it runs for five days!

However, this is a story about the fate of amateurism, originally only amateur oarsmen could enter, this produced no end of arguments, leading to the committee producing a formal definition of amateurism, which ……

Fairs on a frozen Thames

Today, we can’t imagine that the River Thames can actually freeze over, but years ago it not only froze over, it froze over so deeply that they held fairs on it. In the 17th century, they put on the posters advertising the fair, each time the Thames froze over.

Believe it or not the first fairs were held as early as the 7th century, in fact ……..