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Origin: Lambton Worm


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In Mudcat MIDIs:
Lambton Worm

Bo Vandenberg 10 Apr 97 - 09:42 AM
Matt Robson 12 Apr 97 - 05:19 AM
04 Nov 98 - 07:37 AM
Ted from Australia 04 Nov 98 - 07:47 AM
Kernow John 13 Nov 99 - 03:14 PM
Rank 17 Jul 01 - 09:26 PM
raredance 17 Jul 01 - 09:33 PM
katlaughing 17 Jul 01 - 10:27 PM
Fiolar 18 Jul 01 - 05:22 AM
Naemanson 18 Jul 01 - 08:52 AM
MMario 18 Jul 01 - 09:21 AM
Bat Goddess 18 Jul 01 - 11:56 AM
Naemanson 18 Jul 01 - 12:40 PM
GUEST 18 Jul 01 - 01:05 PM
ard mhacha 18 Jul 01 - 01:24 PM
John Routledge 18 Jul 01 - 03:39 PM
John Routledge 18 Jul 01 - 04:19 PM
mbridgham 19 Jul 01 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,sinsull who lost her cookie 19 Jul 01 - 12:49 PM
Malcolm Douglas 20 Jul 01 - 03:34 PM
GUEST,jayohjo 21 Jul 01 - 03:32 PM
ard mhacha 21 Jul 01 - 04:26 PM
ard mhacha 21 Jul 01 - 04:35 PM
IanC 06 Nov 02 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,Boab 07 Nov 02 - 01:59 AM
nutty 07 Nov 02 - 03:29 AM
GUEST,Mr Red in disguise 07 Nov 02 - 06:55 AM
BC 23 Nov 02 - 08:00 PM
John Routledge 23 Nov 02 - 08:14 PM
Mr Red 24 Nov 02 - 06:54 AM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 26 Nov 02 - 09:40 PM
banjomad (inactive) 27 Nov 02 - 02:10 PM
Mr Red 27 Nov 02 - 03:32 PM
Cluin 27 Nov 02 - 05:27 PM
GUEST,Graeme Ross 23 Jul 07 - 08:30 PM
GUEST,Keith Ferret 24 Jul 07 - 04:49 PM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Jul 07 - 06:14 PM
GUEST,Frank Lee 24 Jul 07 - 08:02 PM
GUEST,Richard Sails 21 Aug 07 - 05:54 AM
Hamish 21 Aug 07 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,izzit 20 Jul 08 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,Peking Man 29 Dec 08 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,Steve Howlett 16 Mar 09 - 02:27 PM
Jane of 'ull 16 Mar 09 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Steve Howlett 17 Mar 09 - 09:58 AM
Alec 17 Mar 09 - 11:18 AM
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Subject: Lambton Worm Info
From: Bo Vandenberg
Date: 10 Apr 97 - 09:42 AM

I just heard this at a folk circle and its a great little song.

I was over joyed to find it in the DT. much the same as I heard it at the circle.

But does anyone know its source? BMI has a "Lambton Worm" credited to Keith Nichol and Peter Carr of C Minor Music. Can anyone tell me if this is the same worm? I understand its a local lambton legend could there be 2 songs????


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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm Info
From: Matt Robson
Date: 12 Apr 97 - 05:19 AM

The Lambton Worm I know is a "traditional" Tyneside song about a legend associated with Sir John Lambton of Chester Le Stree County Durham. It certainly pre-dates this century - my grandfather (born 1885) used to sing it at school in Blaydon (also then County Durham) and taught it to me when I was very young, in the 1950's.

The song refers to Penshaw Hill. The hill is near Washington (NOT D.C. but the original one) and has a "stepped" appearance as if something rather large had indeed curled its tail ten times aroond.

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE LAMBTON WORM^^^
Date: 04 Nov 98 - 07:37 AM

We just found (in the DB) the Lambton Worm.
The search for the song was promped by a stray memory of a snatch of the chorus by my wife Carolynne, who is from that Tyne ,Wear and Tease part of Geordie Land (Hartlepool , of monkey fame) The question (Finally! they all sigh) is : Can anyone help with an originating date for this song.

Regards Ted from Australia.


One Sunday morn young Lambton went
A-fishing' in the Wear;
An' catched a fish upon he's heuk,
He thowt leuk't varry queer.
But whatt'n a kind of fish it was
Young Lambton cuddent tell.
He waddn't fash te carry'd hyem,
So he hoyed it doon a well.

cho: Whisht! Lads, haad yor gobs,
An Aa'll tell ye's aall an aaful story
Whisht! Lads, haad yor gobs,
An' Aa'll tell ye 'boot the worm.

Noo Lambton felt inclined te gan
An' fight i' foreign wars.
he joined a troop o' Knights that cared
For nowther woonds nor scars,
An' off he went te Palestine
Where queer things him befel,
An' varry seun forgat aboot
The queer worm i' the well.

But the worm got fat an' growed and' growed
An' growed an aaful size;
He'd greet big teeth, a greet big gob,
An' greet big goggle eyes.
An' when at neets he craaled aboot
Te pick up bits o' news,
If he felt dry upon the road,
He milked a dozen coos.

This feorful worm wad often feed
On caalves an' lambs an' sheep,
An' swally little barins alive
When they laid doon te sleep.
An' when he'd eaten aall he cud
An' he had had he's fill,
He craaled away an' lapped he's tail
Seven times roond Pensher Hill.

The news of this myest aaful worm
An' his queer gannins on
Seun crossed the seas, gat te the ears
Ov brave and' bowld Sor John.
So hyem he cam an' catched the beast
An' cut 'im in twe haalves,
An' that seun stopped he's eatin' bairns,
An' sheep an' lambs and caalves.

So noo ye knaa hoo aall the foaks
On byeth sides ov the Wear
Lost lots o' sheep an' lots o' sleep
An' leeved i' mortal feor.
So let's hev one te brave Sor John
That kept the bairns frae harm,
Saved coos an' caalves by myekin' haalves
O' the famis Lambton Worm.

Final Chorus

Noo lads, Aa'll haad me gob,
That's aall Aa knaa aboot the story
Ov Sor John's clivvor job
Wi' the aaful Lambton Worm.

note: My young son at six (2 years ago) used to love to sing this song as
learned in his primary school (Allendale, Northumberland). Apparently,
though this may be an apochryphal interpretation, the song refers to
taxation, a tax that Lord Lambton first invented, then dramatically reduced
because of the economic hardship it was causing. The sting in the tail of
this story, however, is that the Lambton Memorial, seen from all around
Sunderland, was supposedly erected by subscription from grateful tax-payers
-- when Lord Lambton realised that there was money available for this sort
of subscription, he raised the taxes again, and so the memorial was never
completed. LW

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Ted from Australia
Date: 04 Nov 98 - 07:47 AM

I just checked out some threads from 1997 but they did not really advace the answer.

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Subject: Tune Add: THE LAMBTON WORM
From: Kernow John
Date: 13 Nov 99 - 03:14 PM

The words for this song are in the database
T:The Lambton Worm

% Output from ABC2Win Version 2.1 h on 11/18/99
Regards Baz

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From: Rank
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 09:26 PM

This ballad comes from 'The Book of Ballads - Ancient and modern,' published in London by Virtue, Spalding, and Co. No publication date. It gives the story in some detail, though perhaps a bit to long to sing. The notes below accompany the ballad.

[This ballad is taken from 'The Local Historian's Table-book,' where it is given as 'revised by the author,' the Rev J. Watson, having, apparently, been first published in 'Tait's Edinburgh Magazine.' It is founded upon a 'family legend,' current in the county of Durham, 'the authority of which,' says Mr. Brockett, in his 'Glossary of North Country Words,' 'the inhabitants will not allow to be questioned.' 'The lapse of three centuries,' he adds, 'has so completely enveloped in obscurity the particular details, that it is impossible to give a narration which could in any degree be considered as complete.' In the Table-book, however, is given a 'history,' said to have been 'gleaned with much patient and laborious investigation, from the viva voce narrations of sundry of the elders of both sexes on the banks of the Wear, in the immediate neighbourhood of the scene of action.' This 'history' is almost identical with the story of the ballad; the allusions in which will be found explained in the notes. With regard to the origin of the Legend, which has been 'preserved and repeated almost without variation for centuries,' it is conjectured in the 'Table-book' to have 'arisen from the circumstance of an invasion from a foreign foe, some successful chieftain, with well-disciplined bands, destroying and laying waste with fire and sword, whose advance over unequal ground would convey to the fears of the peasantry the appearance of a rolling serpent; and the power of re-uniting is readily accounted for by the ordinary evolutions of military tactics. And by the knight's 'destroying this legion by his single arm,' is supposed to be signified that he was 'the head and chief in the onslaught.']



It is the joyful Easter morn,
And the bells ring loud and clear,
Sounding the holy day of rest
Through the quiet vale of Wear.

Forth at its sound, from his stately hall,
Hath the Lord of Lambton come,
With knight and squire, in rich attire,
Page, seneschal, and groom.

The white-hair'd peasant and his dame
Have left their woodland cot:
Children of toil and poverty,
Their cares and toil forgot.

And buxom youth and bashful maid,
In holiday array,
Thro' verdant glade and greenwood shade,
To Brigford bend their way.

And soon within its sacred dome
Their wandering steps are stayed;
The bell is rung, the mass is sung,
And the solemn prayer is prayed.

But why did Lambton's youthful heir
Not mingle with the throng?
And why did he not bend his knee,
Nor join in the holy song?

Oh, Lambton's heir is a wicked man!
Alike in word and deed;
He makes a jest of psalm and priest,
Of the Ave and the Creed.

He loves the fight; he loves the chase;
He loves each kind of sin;
But the holy church, from year to year,
He is not found within.

And Lambton's heir, at the matin prayer,
Or the vesper, is not seen;
And on this day of rest and peace
He hath donned his coat of green;

And with his creel slung on his back,
His light rod in his hand,
Down by the side of the shady Wear
He took his lonely stand.

There was no sound but the rushing stream;
The little birds were still,
As if they knew that Lambton's heir
Was doing a deed of ill.

Many a salmon and speckled trout
Through the quiet waters glide;
But they all sought the deepest pools,
Their golden scales to hide.

The soft west wind just rippled the brook,
And the clouds flew gently by,
And gleamed the sun,—'twas a lovely day
To the eager fisher's eye.

He threw his line, of the costly twine,
Across the gentle stream;
Upon its top the dun-flies drop
Lightly as childhood's dream.

Again, again—but all in vain,
In the shallow or the deep;
No trout rose to his cunning bait;
He heard no salmon leap.

And now he wandered east the stream,
And now he wandered west;
He sought each bank or hanging bush
Which fishes love the best.

But vain was all his skilful art;
Vain was each deep disguise;
Vain was alike the varied bait,
And vain the mimic flies.

When, tired and vexed, the castle bell
Rung out the hour of dine,
"Now," said the Lambton's youthful heir,
"A weary lot is mine.

"For six long hours, this April morn,
My line in vain I've cast;
But one more throw, come weal come wo,
For this shall be the last."

He took from his bag a maggot worm,
That bait of high renown;
His line is wheeled quickly through the air,
Then sunk in the water down.

When he drew it out, his ready hand
With no quivering motion shook,
For neither salmon, trout nor ged,
Had fastened on his hook.

But a little thing, a strange formed thing,
Like a piece of muddy weed;
But like no fish that swims the stream,
Nor ought that crawls the mead.

'Twas scarce an inch and a half in length,
Its colour the darkest green;
And on its rough and scaly back
Two little fins were seen.

It had a long and pointed snout,
Like the mouth of the slimy eel,
And its white and loosely hanging jaws,
Twelve pin-like teeth reveal.

It had sharp claws upon its feet,
Short ears upon its head,
A jointed tail, and quick bright eyes,
That gleamed of a fiery red.

"Art thou the prize," said the weary wight,
"For which I have spent my time;
For which I have toil'd till the hour of noon,
Since rang the matin chime?"

From the side of the dell, a crystal well
Sends its waters bubbling by;
"Rest there, thou ugly tiny elf,
Either to live or die."

He threw it in, and when next he came,
He saw, to his surprise,
It was a foot and a half in length;
It had grown so much in size.
And its wings were long, far-stretched and strong,
And redder were its eyes.


But Lambton's heir is an altered man;
At the church on bended knee,
Three times a day he was wont to pray;
And now he's beyond the sea.

He has done penance for his sins,
He has drank of a sainted well,
He has joined the band from the Holy Land
To chase the Infidel.

Where host met host, and strife raged most,
His sword flashed high and bright;
Where force met force, he winged his course,
The foremost in the fight.

Where he saw on high th' Oriflamme fly,
His onward path he bore;
And the Paynim Knight, and the Saracen,
Lay weltering in their gore.

Or in the joust, or tournament,
Of all that valiant band,
When, with lance in rest, he forward prest,
Who could the shock withstand?

Pure was his fame, unstained his shield;
A merciful man was he;
The friend of the weak, he raised not his hand
'Gainst a fallen enemy.

Thus on the plains of Palestine
He gained a mighty name,
And, full of honour and renown,
To the home of his childhood came.

But when he came to his father's lands,
No cattle were grazing there;
The grass in the mead was unmown and rough,
And the fields untilled and bare.

And when he came to his father's hall,
He wondered what might ail;
His sire but coolly welcomed him,
And his sisters' cheeks were pale.

"I come from the fight," said the Red-Cross Knight;
"I in savage lands did roam:
But where'er it be, they welcome me,
Save in my own loved home.

"Now why, now why, this frozen cheer?
What is it that may ail?
Why tremble thus my father dear?—
My sister, why so pale?"

"Oh, sad and woful has been our lot,
Whilst thou wast far away;
For a mighty dragon hath hither come
And taken up its stay;
At night or morn it sleepeth not,
But watcheth for its prey.

"'Tis ten cloth yards in length; its hue
Is of the darkest green;
And, on its rough and scaly back,
Two strong black wings are seen.

"It hath a long and pointed snout,
Like the mighty crocodile;
And, from its grinning jaws, stand out
Its teeth in horrid file.

"It hath on each round and webbed foot
Four sharp and hooked claws;
And its jointed tail, with heavy trail,
Over the ground it draws.

"It hath two rough and hairy ears
Upon its bony head;
Its eyes shine like the winter sun,
Fearful, and darkly red.

Its roar is loud as the cannon's sound,
But shorter, and more shrill;
It rolls, with many a heavy bound,
Onward from hill to hill.

"And each morn, at the matin chime,
It seeks the lovely Wear;
And, at the noontide bell,
It gorges its fill, then seeks the hill
Where springs the crystal well.

"No knight has e'er returned who dared
The monster to assail.
Though he struck off an ear or limb,
Or lopt its jointed tail,
Its severed limbs again unite,
Strong as the iron mail.

"My horses, and sheep, and all my kine,
The ravenous beast hath killed;
With oxen and deer, from far and near,
Its hungry maw is filled.
'Tis hence the mead is unmown and long,
And the corn fields are untilled.

"My son, to hail thee here in health
My very heart is glad;
But thou hast heard our tale—and say,
Canst thou wonder that we're sad?"


And sorrowful was Lambton's heir:
"My sinful act," said he,
"This curse hath on the country brought:
Be it mine to set it free."

Deep in the dell, in a ruined hut,
Far from the homes of men,
There dwelt a witch the peasants called
Old Elspat of the Glen.

'Twas a dark night, and the stormy wind
Howled with a hollow moan,
As through tangled copsewood, bush, and briar,
He sought the aged crone.

She sat on a low and three-legged stool,
Beside a dying fire;
As he lifted the latch she stirred the brands,
And the smoky flames blazed higher.

She was a woman weak and old,
Her form was bent and thin;
And on her lean and shrivelled hand,
She rested her pointed chin.

He entered with fear, that dauntless man,
And spake of all his need:
He gave her gold; he asked her aid,
How best he might succeed.

"Clothe thee," said she, "in armour bright,
In mail of glittering sheen,
All studded o'er, behind and before,
With razors sharp and keen:

"And take in thy hand the trusty brand
Which thou bore beyond the sea;
And make to the Virgin a solemn vow,
If she grant thee victory,
What meets thee first, when the strife is o'er,
Her offering shall be."

He went to the fight, in armour bright
Equipped from head to heel;
His gorget closed, and his vizor shut,
He seemed a form of steel.

But with razor blades, all sharp and keen,
The mail was studded o'er;
And his long tried and trusty brand
In his greaved hand he bore.

He made to the Virgin a solemn vow,
If she granted victory,
What met him first on his homeward path
Her sacrifice should be.

He told his sire, when he heard the horn,
To slip his favourite hound;
"'Twill quickly seek its master's side
At the accustomed sound."

Forward he trod, with measured step,
To meet his foe, alone,
While the first beams of the morning sun
On his massy armour shone.

The monster slept on an island crag,
Lulled by the rustling Wear,
Which eddy'd turbid at the base
Though elsewhere smooth and clear.

It lay in repose; its wings were flat,
Its ears fell on its head,
Its legs stretched out and drooped its snout,
But its eyes were fiery red.

Little feared he, that armed knight,
As he left the rocky shore;
And in his hand prepared for fight,
His unsheathed sword he bore.

As he plunged in, the water's splash
The monster startling hears;
It spread its wings, and the valley rings,
Like the clash of a thousand spears.

It bristled up its scaly back,
Curled high its jointed tail,
And ready stood with grinning teeth,
The hero to assail;

Then sprung at the knight with all its might,
And its foamy teeth it gnashed;
With its jointed tail, like a thrasher's flail,
The flinty rocks it lashed.

But quick of eye, and swift of foot,
He guarded the attack;
And dealt his brand with skilful hand
Upon the dragon's back.

Again, again, at the knight it flew;
The fight was long and sore:
He bravely stood, nor dropped his sword
Till he could strike no more.

It rose on high, and darkened the sky,
Then with a hideous yell,
A moment winnowed th' air with its wings,
And down like a mountain fell.

He stood prepared for the falling blow,
But mournful was his fate:
Awhile he reeled, then, staggering, fell
Beneath the monster's weight.

And round about its prostrate foe
Its fearful length it rolled,
And clasped him close, till his armour cracked
Within its scaly fold.

But pierced by the blades, from body and breast,
Fast did the red blood pour;
Cut by the blades, piece fell by piece,
And quivered in the gore.

Piece fell by piece, foot fell by foot:
No more is the river clear,
But stained with blood, as the severed limbs
Rolled down the rushing Wear.

Piece fell by piece, and inch by inch,
From the body and the tail;
But the head still hung by the gory teeth
Tight fastened in the mail.

It panted long, and fast it breathed,
With many a bitter groan;
Its eyes grew dim, it loosed its hold,
And fell like a lifeless stone.

Then loud he blew on his bugle-horn,
The blast of victory;
From rock to rock the sound was borne,
By Echo, glad and free;
For, burdened long by the dragon's roar,
She joy'd in her liberty.

But not his hound, with gladdened bound,
Comes leaping at the call;
With feelings dire, he sees his sire
Rush from his ancient hall.

Oh! what can equal a father's love,
When harm to his son he fears;
'Tis stronger than a sister's sigh,
More deep than a mother's tears.

When Lambton's anxious listening lord,
Heard the bugle notes so wild,
He thought no more of his plighted word,
But ran to clasp his child.

"Strange is my lot," said the luckless wight;
"How sorrow and joy combine!
When high in fame to my home I came,
My kindred did weep and pine.

"This morn my triumph sees, and sees
Dishonour light on me:
For I had vowed to the Holy Maid,
If she gave me victory,
What first I met, when the fight was o'er,
Her offering should be.

"I thought to have slain my gallant hound,
Beneath my unwilling knife:
But I cannot raise my hand on him
Who gave my being life!"

And heavy and sorrowful was his heart,
And he hath gone again
To seek advice of the wise woman,
Old Elspat of the Glen.

"Since thy solemn vow is unfulfilled,
Though greater be thy fame,
Thou must a lofty chapel build
To the Virgin Mary's name.

"On nine generations of thy race
A heavy curse shall fall:
They may die in the fight, or in the chase,
But not in their native hall."

He builded there a chapel fair,
And rich endowment made,
Where morn and eve, by cowled monk,
In sable garb arrayed,
The bell was rung, the mass was sung,
And the solemn prayer was said.


Such is the tale which, in ages past,
On the dreary winter's eve,
In baron's hall, the harper blind,
In wildest strain, would weave;
Till the peasants, trembling, nearer crept,
And each strange event believe.

Such is the tale which often yet
Around the Christmas fire,
Is told to the merry wassail group,
By some old dame or sire.

But though they tell that the crystal well
Still flows by the lovely Wear,
And that the hill is verdant still,
His listeners shew no fear.

And though he tell that of Lambton's race
Nine of them died at sea
Or in the battle, or in the chase,
They shake their heads doubtingly.

And though he say there may still be seen
The mail worn by the knight,
Tho' the blades are blunt that once were keen,
And rusted that once were bright;
They do but shake their heads the more,
And laugh at him outright.

For Knowledge to their view has spread
Her rich and varied store:
They learn and read, and take no heed
Of legendary lore.

And pure Religion hath o'er them shed
A holier heavenly ray;
And dragons and witches, and mail-clad knights,
Are vanished away;
As the creatures of darkness flee and hide,
From the light of the dawning day.

But Lambton's castle still stands by the Wear,
A tall and stately pile;
And Lambton's name is a name of might,
'Mong the mightiest of our isle.
Long may the sun of Prosperity
Upon the Lambtons smile!

THE WORME OF LAMBTON.—'Orme or Worme, is, in the ancient Norse, the generic name for serpents.' The Italian poets, Dante, ('Inferno,' c.6.22,) and Aristo, ('Orlando Furioso,' c. 46, 78,) call the infernal serpent of old, 'il gran verme,' that great worm;' and Milton, ('Paradise Lost,' Bk. ix., 1067,) makes Adam reproach Eve with having given 'ear to that false worm.' Cowper, ('Task,' Bk. vi.,) adopts the same expression:—

'No foe to man
Lurks in the serpent now; the mother sees,
And smiles to see, her infants playful hand
Strecht forth to dally with the crested worm.'

Shakespeare, too, ('Cymbeline, Act iii., Sc. 4,) speaks of slander's tongue as 'outvenoming all the worms of the Nile.' To these passages, quoted in 'The Local Historian's Table-book,' may be added the following:—Shakespeare, ('Macbeth,' Act iii., Sc. 4,) 'There the grown serpent lies: the worm that's fled,' &c. Massinger, ('Parliament of Love,' Act iv., Sc. 2.

'The sad father
That sees his son stung by a snake to death,
May with more justice stay his vengeful hand,
And let the worm escape,' &c.

'Piers Plowman,' (iii. 1. Ed. 1561,) speaks of 'Wyld wormes in woodes;' and in the old ballad of 'Alison Gross,' (Jamieson's 'Popular Ballads and Songs,' ii. 187, Ed. 1806,) that 'ugliest witch of the north countrie' turns one who would not be her 'lemman sae true' into 'an ugly worm, and gard him toddle about the tree.' The word is also used in the same sense in the ballad, entitled 'The laidly Worm of Spindlestane Heughs.'

St. 27. 'A crystal well'—'known at this day by the name of the Worm Well.'

St. 38. 'Red-cross Knight.' According to a curious entry in an old Ms. pedigree, lately in the possession of the family of Middleton, of Offerton, 'John Lambeton that slew ye worme was Knight of Rhodes and Lord of Lambeton and Wod Apilton after the dethe of fower brothers, sans esshew malle.'

St. 46. 'The Hill'—still called 'The Worm Hill, a considerable oval-shaped hill, 345 yards in circumference, and 52 in height, about a mile and a half from old Lambton Hall.'

St. 56. 'All studded oer...with razors.' 'At Lambton Castle is preserved a figure, evidently of great antiquity, which represents a knight, armed cap-a-pie, his vizor raised, and the back part of his coat of mail closely inlaid with spear blades: with his left hand he holds the head of the worm, and with his right he appears to be drawing his sword out of his throat. The worm is not represented as a reptile, but has ears, legs, and wings.'

St. 88. If popular tradition is to be trusted, 'this prediction was fulfilled, for it holds that during the period of 'the curse' none of the Lords of Lambton died in their beds. Be this as it may, nine ascending generations from Henry Lambton, of Lambton, Esq., M.P., (elder brother to the late General Lambton,) would exactly reach Sir John Lambton, Knight of Rhodes. Sir Wm. Lambton, who was Colonel of a regiment of foot in the service of Charles I., was slain at the bloody battle of Marston Moor, and his son William (his eldest son by his second wife) received his death-wound at Wakefield, at the head of a troop of dragoons, in 1643. The fulfilment of the curse was inherent in the ninth of descent, and great anxiety prevailed during his life-time, amongst the hereditary depositaries of the tradition of the county, to know if the curse would hold good to the end. He died in his chariot, crossing the New-Bridge, thus giving the last link to the chain of circumstantial tradition connected with the history of 'The Worme of Lambton.'—L. H. Table-book.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: raredance
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 09:33 PM

Rank, excellent addition

rich r

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 10:27 PM

Wow, very interesting. Thanks for posting all of it!

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Fiolar
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 05:22 AM

Numerous "dragons" and "worms" are described in the book "Albion: A Guide to Legendary Britain" by Jennifer Westwood. Well worth searching for.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Naemanson
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 08:52 AM

Bill Sables, Sam Pirt, and Ian Stephenson included this song in their CD, Bridging The Gap. They performed it during their too short tour here in the Eastern US. They do a great job with it.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: MMario
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 09:21 AM

just goes to show you - sooner or later the questions get answered...

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 11:56 AM

So, is anyone going to mention Ken Russell's film, "Lair of the White Worm"?

Bat Goddess

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Naemanson
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 12:40 PM

Go for it Linn!

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 01:05 PM

Durham was noted for other Worm legends. ie The Stockburn Worm, The Lindley Worm and the Pollard Brawn.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: ard mhacha
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 01:24 PM

When I was working around the Sunderland area in the late 1950`s I remember a couple of girl folk sigers from around the Norh-East used to sing The Lambton Worm,They appeared on the local Radio and TV, anyone of you Makems or Geordies know who thet were?. Slan Ard Mhacha.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: John Routledge
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 03:39 PM

I have the words to the Lambton Worm engraved on a pewter beer tankard (1965 vintage)

The version quoted in first posting became popular generally after being first sung in Newcastle Music Halls around 125 yrs ago.

The story itself is much much older as already pointed out by RANK for which I give many thanks and "Broons aal roond" Cheers John

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: John Routledge
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 04:19 PM


Mistake in Haste!!

This version was first used in a Pantomime at the old Tyne Theatre in 1857. John

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: mbridgham
Date: 19 Jul 01 - 11:11 AM

Bat Goddess et al.

I first heard this song in the Lair of the White Worm film - and promptly fell in love with it. I would like the tune to this song. I've been singing the version from the film without the chorus and I don't know if the song in the DB is a different melody but I need to fit the chorus in, too. Can anyone point me to musical notation for it?

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,sinsull who lost her cookie
Date: 19 Jul 01 - 12:49 PM

Starred Hugh Grant with tongie planted firmly in cheek.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 20 Jul 01 - 03:34 PM

Some past discussions:

THE LAMBTON WORM  The DT text; no tune.

Lair of the White Worm  Inconclusive discussion with another duplicate posting of lyrics.

The Lampton Worm  Duplicate posting of lyrics.

Lambton Worm  Tune in ABC and (obsolete) link to midi.

Lambton Worm Info  Enquiry re. origins which got hi-jacked by somebody wanting a completely different song.

There is a midi at the Mudcat Midi Pages:

Lambton Worm

It's the usual tune; I can't remember for sure whether the Russell film used it.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,jayohjo
Date: 21 Jul 01 - 03:32 PM

Wow - my dad used to sing this, he says he even posted the words off to Lonnie Donegan one year. But he used to sing it to me when I was tiny, and I remember all of it! Jayohjo XXX

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: ard mhacha
Date: 21 Jul 01 - 04:26 PM

All you Geordie folk people, from the ancient brain cells and remembering back over 40 years, did the two ladies that sang the Lambton Worm go by the name of The Barry Sisters. Slan Ard Mhacha.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: ard mhacha
Date: 21 Jul 01 - 04:35 PM

I can remember that the Memorial that could be seen around Sunderland South was The Penshaw Monument, erected by the poor slaves for coal mine owner Lord Londonderry, the Lambtons were a few miles south of Sunderland Slan Ard Mhacha.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: IanC
Date: 06 Nov 02 - 08:53 AM

The basic plot of welding blades to your armour as a means of defeating a dragon is older than you might think. The song "More of More Hall", in D'Urfey's "Pills to Purge Melancholy" Volume 3 (1719) is one such example, probably a precursor of the long version above.


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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 01:59 AM

Ted from Australia----a grand old Northumbrian song. And I'll bet , from your posting you had many a visit to the King's Head---and maybe even heard me ould Marra, Terry Conway singing it!!

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: nutty
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 03:29 AM

I didn't see the original thread but no one else seems to have made a correction so I shall.

The three main rivers of the North-East of England are the Tyne, Wear and TEES.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,Mr Red in disguise
Date: 07 Nov 02 - 06:55 AM

nutty - they were only TEESing.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: BC
Date: 23 Nov 02 - 08:00 PM

The song quotes: "He'd had away 'n' wrap 'is tail 10 times roond Penshaw Hill".

It is a common misconception that the Penshaw Hill mentioned in the song is the hill where a mock Greek temple was erected by one Lord Lambton (19th century?). This monument and its hill used to be known locally as Lambton's Folly.

However, this particular hill has nothing to do with the song.

About a mile north and west of this more famous Penshaw Hill there is another (small) hill that my grandmother called Worm Hill. You can find it if you go from Penshaw village and down to the river Wear. Just over the river (at Fatfield bridge?) you will find Worm Hill. It is said that there is a circular path at its foot where the worm wrapped its tail, and where, to this day, the grass still will not grow. This is the 'Penshaw Hill' of the song.

Brian Childs

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: John Routledge
Date: 23 Nov 02 - 08:14 PM

Yes Brian. Just over Fatfield bridge over the River Wear about 100m on the left is Worm Hill of said Worm fame. Much smaller than Penshaw Hill;a worm could easily have wrapped it's tail 10 times round :0)

The monument on top of Penshaw Hill is the same shape as The Parthenon in Athens and unusually is about 50% bigger than the origional!!

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Mr Red
Date: 24 Nov 02 - 06:54 AM

correct pronunciation is Lambton Warm. **BG**

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 26 Nov 02 - 09:40 PM

There is a documntary about this on BBC Radio 4 Now.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: banjomad (inactive)
Date: 27 Nov 02 - 02:10 PM

The popular version of the song was written in the 1800s by C K Lemeune. The film 'Lair of the White Worm'was based on the book by Bram Stoker who based his book on the Northumbria legend.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Mr Red
Date: 27 Nov 02 - 03:32 PM

& the legend was based on?

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Cluin
Date: 27 Nov 02 - 05:27 PM

Some bad meat Lord Lambton ate during a weekend piss-up. ;)

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,Graeme Ross
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 08:30 PM

hi, i was looking on another site for this song as my grandad used to sing it for me as we bombed about in his knackered old cars. The other site had no chords so i found yours and its top. This is way more in depth. thanks a lot for the chords and links to midi files, great site.

check it out..

It states that the song was originaly code for the tax that the lord of lambton placed on his estate. the tax became cripling and the his lands suffered under a spiralling tax. On returning to the estate he halved the tax and the locals began building a monument for their lord and lands, on discovering this he raised the tax and the building was not completed. Its a great sight the monument and hill. ive been up there a few times. i like the bit about it being 50% bigger than the parthanon, seems like durham builders i know ("hew lads! ya knaa what laads? a reckon we'll make it bit bigger than theres shall wha? wah aye!!", then getting sick half way through and leavin the roof off...) worth a visit but dont go anywhere near night time. its beautiful but its bit rough round those parts..

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,Keith Ferret
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 04:49 PM

Correct pronunciation is Lambton in warm weather

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 06:14 PM

Already pointed out a few posts earlier in this thread (and 5 years ago; it's an old one). Why labour the point?

The file on the site Graeme linked to was copied-and-pasted (without acknowledgment) from the DT (see links at the head of the page); the same text and comments were also copied-and-pasted from the DT at the beginning of this discussion.

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,Frank Lee
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 08:02 PM

The girl singers who sang The Lambton Worm on radio and at local pantomimes on Tyneside were indeed The Barry Sisters; there were three of them as I remember, 'though I believe one was not actually related to the others. They used close harmonies similar to those of the Beverley Sisters and the Andrews (Boogey Woogey Bugle Boy) Sisters, and top class performers they were too. The Lambton Worm was also recorded by The Five Smith Brothers on a '78' some time in the '50s., with Blaydon Races on the flip side.
Frank Lee

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,Richard Sails
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 05:54 AM

Further to John Routledge's posting of July 18th 01 (!) I have just been involved in shooting a short film at the Journal Tyne Theatre in Newcastle and their historical display says that the song The Lampton Worm was written by C.M.Leumane for their first panto, titled The Lampton Worm, in 1867 (John's 1857 may have been a typo). See also .

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Subject: RE: Lambton Worm
From: Hamish
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 08:29 AM

Of course, it's been nicked for a recent storyline in the BBC radio-soap, The Archers.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,izzit
Date: 20 Jul 08 - 04:00 PM

The song was made famous nationally when it was recorded by that fine North East tennor, Owen Brannigan.

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Subject: RE: Origin: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,Peking Man
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 12:13 PM

To say that Penshaw Monument is bigger than the Parthenon is rubbish -- the Parthenon is vastly greater in size. Penshaw Monument is in fact modelled on the THESEUM in Greece, but on a smaller scale.

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Subject: RE: Origin: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,Steve Howlett
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 02:27 PM

Coming late to this thread in search of a tune for More of More Hall, which I thought was sung by the Songwainers. Can anybody help?
(And I think Owen Brannigan is a bass or b/baritone.)

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Subject: RE: Origin: Lambton Worm
From: Jane of 'ull
Date: 16 Mar 09 - 06:19 PM

I remember as a child in the 1970s reading a fascinating book about the Lambton Worm, and other Worms and legends. I don't know if this would have been "Albion: A Guide to Legendary Britain" by Jennifer Westwood mentioned by Fiolar on here, as when I looked it up it says published in 1987? I'd love to find the book I read, if anyone can shed any light on this I'd be grateful!

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Subject: RE: Origin: Lambton Worm
From: GUEST,Steve Howlett
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 09:58 AM

It might not have been the Songwainers. Strawhead?
I've got the words, just need the tune.

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Subject: RE: Origin: Lambton Worm
From: Alec
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 11:18 AM

Don't know if this helps or not but it is the version i have always been most familiar with

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Subject: RE: Origin: Lambton Worm
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 02:24 PM

From an article "Characters of Hunting Countries: No. VIII: Durham" in The New Sporting Magazine, Vol. IV, No. 24, April, 1833 (London: Baldwin & Craddock), page 410:

A very ancient tradition is attached to the house of Lambton, which, being somewhat in the sporting line, and admirably related by the historian, we perhaps cannot better employ our pen than in transcribing. It is as follows:—

"The heir of Lambton fishing, as was his profane custom, in the Wear on a Sunday, hooked a small worm or eft, which he carelessly threw into a well, and thought no more of the adventure. The worm (at first neglected) grew till it was too large for its first habitation, and issuing forth from the Worm Well, betook itself to the Wear, where it usually lay a part of the day coiled round a crag in the middle of the water; it also frequented a green mound, leaving vermicular traces, of which, grave living witnesses depose that they have seen vestiges. It now became the terror of the country, and amongst other enormities levied a daily contribution of nine cows' milk, which was always placed for it at the green hill, and in default of which it devoured man and beast. Young Lambton had, it seems, meanwhile, totally repented him of his former life and conversation, had bathed himself in a bath of holy water, taken the sign of the cross, and joined the crusaders. On his return home, he was extremely shocked at witnessing the effects of his youthful imprudences, and immediately undertook the adventure. After several fierce combats, in which the crusader was foiled by his enemy's power of self-union, he found it expedient to add policy to courage; and not perhaps possessing much of the former quality, he went to consult a witch or wise woman. By her judicious advice he armed himself in a coat of mail studded with razor blades, and thus prepared placed himself on the crag in the river, and awaited the monster's arrival. At the usual time, the worm came to the rock, and wound himself with great fury round the armed knight, who had the satisfaction to see his enemy cut in pieces by his own efforts, whilst the stream washing away the severed parts, prevented the possibility of re-union. There is still a sequel to the story; the witch had promised Lambton success only on one condition, that he should slay the first living thing which met his sight after victory. To avoid the possibility of human slaughter, Lambton had directed his father that as soon as he heard him sound three blasts on his bugle, in token of the achievement performed, he should release his favourite greyhound, which would immediately fly to the sound of the horn, and was destined to be the sacrifice. On hearing his son's bugle, however, the old chief was so overjoyed that he forgot the injunctions, and ran himself with open arms to meet his son. Instead of committing a parricide, the conqueror again repaired to his adviser, who pronounced, as the alternative of disobeying the original instructions, that no chief of the Lambton's should die on his bed for seven (or as some accounts say) for nine generations; a commutation which to a martial spirit had nothing probably very terrible, and which was willingly complied with."

Mr. Surtees* adds that the date of the story is of course uncertain, but that nine ascending generations from the late General Lambton (in whom popular tradition affirmed the curse to expire), would exactly reach to Sir John Lambton, Knight of Rhodes, the supposed worm slayer.

[*"Mr. Surtees, of Mainsforth, the accomplished historian of the county"]

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Subject: RE: Origin: Lambton Worm
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 22 Apr 09 - 02:43 PM

From The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham by William Hutchinson (Newcastle: S. Hodgson, 1787), page 493:

The Staiths called FATFIELD STAITHS exhibit a busy scene in the coal trade, where the keels come up to receive their loading for the port of Sunderland. The village is very populous. Near this place is an eminence called the Worm Hill, which tradition says was once possessed by an enormous serpent, that wound its horrid body round the base; that it destroyed much provision, and used to infest the Lambton estate, till some hero of that family engaged it, cased in armour set with razors, and when it would have crushed the combatant by enfolding him, sustaining a thousand wounds, fell at last by his falchion. We thought to have found intrenchments round this mount, and that the fable had reference to some Danish troop who kept the place as a station, from whence they could commit depredations on the country, and that the story of the hero imported some chief personage's victory over a public enemy: But there is not the least trace of any such matter, and the whole miraculous tale has no other evidence than the memories of old women. Our map makers have figured the place very significantly.

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Subject: RE: Origin: Lambton Worm
From: Mr Happy
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 05:38 AM

Good, raucous, unpretentious & natural version here

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Subject: RE: Origin: Lambton Worm
From: SunrayFC
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 05:54 AM

And at the Sunray Folk Club we had a rather different version of this from LANDERMASON. And it was recorded.

And it's not often you hear it in this dark depths of Dorset!

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