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The Lambton Worm (1) : Part One. John Lambton goes fishing on a Sunday, and lets loose all kinds of trouble.
The Lambton Worm
Part one

Based on ‘Notes On The Folk-Lore Of The Northern Counties Of England And The Borders’, by William Henderson.

This tale from County Durham is one of the best-known local legends. A ‘worm’ is an Old English word for a dragon, in this case something strangling and slimy rather than fire-breathing.

ONE Sunday morning, John, the young heir of Lambton Hall, skipped Mass and went fishing in the Wear. No good could come of that, and no good did.

That morning, he hooked only an ugly-looking worm, tossed it with disgust down a well, and promptly forgot about it.

Those were the days of war, and soon the young man left home in search of adventure. While he was gone, the worm grew to an awful size.

It slithered out of its narrow well, and wound itself three times* round Penshaw hill. Heroes came to do battle with the worm, but if they cut off its head, the worm joined itself together again.

At last, John Lambton himself returned to find the worm gorging on milk and sheep, and his own father worrying himself into an early grave.

As so many brave knights had been powerless against the worm, he went instead to a sybil, and begged for advice.

*Or seven, according to a popular song written by local man C. M. Leumane for a Pantomime at Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle, in 1867.

Based on ‘Notes On The Folk-Lore Of The Northern Counties Of England And The Borders’, by William Henderson.

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Picture: © Antony Dixon, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
Willows reservoir near Washington, close to the old Lambton estates. The structure in the foreground is a well. © Antony Dixon, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0.
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