The Famous Lambton Worm

Are you planning a holiday in England? Instead of London and the south, why not try the north east of England? It is a region steeped in history, where the natives are friendly, the golden beaches are long and the countryside magnificent. If you like to shop, eat, drink and be merry, make Newcastle upon Tyne – the party capital of the north – your base. Visit China Town, Eldon Square, the Bigg Market and the quayside areas for your shopping, restaurants, and nightlife.

There are masses of places to visit nearby and one of them is Penshaw Monument. Travel south from Newcastle on the A1 or the A19 and if you haven’t been to the area before, you may be surprised to see a Greek temple dominating the skyline. The temple stands on Penshaw Hill and was built in 1844 by Thomas Pratt as a memorial to the first Earl Of Durham, John George Lambton. Follow the path that winds up the hill for magnificent views of Durham and the river Wear.

Penshaw, the Wear and the Lambton family in particular, feature in the legend of The Lambton Worm. The worm in question was no ordinary common all garden worm, but was, despite it’s small beginnings, a worm or wyrm that grew into a giant snakelike dragon. The local myth was adapted in 1867 from an oral tradition into a pantomime song, written by C. M. Leumane and performed on stage at the Tyne Theatre in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

There are at least two versions of the song, one in the Northumbrian dialect and the other in the Wearside dialect. One of which is below and since it is in dialect the following word translations may help.

whisht = quiet / haad = hold / yer = your / gobs =mouths / aa’ll = I’ll / ye = you / aboot = about, heuk = hook / thowt = thought / leukt = looked / varry = very / whatnt = what / oer = of / waas = was / waddnt fash = couldn’t be bothered / hyem = home / hoyed = threw / noo = now / gann = go / an = and / nowther = neither / seun = soon / growed = grew / greet = great / neet = night / coos = cows / swally = swallow / brairns = children / hed = had / craaled = crawled / gannings = goings / knaa = know / byeth = both / hoo = how / hev = have.

The Lambton Worm.

Whisht lads, haad yer gobs,

An’ aa’ll tell ye an awful story,

Whisht lads, haad yer gobs,

An’ aa’ll tell yer aboot the worm.

On Sunday morning lambton went,

A’fishing in the Wear.

And catched a fish upon his heuk.

He thowt leukt varry queer,

But whatnt kind oer fish it waas,

Young Lambton couldn’t tell-

He waddnt fash tu carry it hyem,

So he hoyed it in a well

Whisht lads, haad yer gobs,

etc, etc.

Noo Lambton felt inclined to gann,

An’ fight in foreign wars,

He joined a group of knights that cared,

For nowther wounds nor scars,

An’ off he went to Palestine,

Where queer things him befell,

An’ very seun forgot aboot,

The queer worm I the well.

Whisht lads, haad yer gobs,

etc, etc.

But the worm got fat an growed

and growed,

An’ growed an awful size,

Hee’d greet big teeth, and a greet big gob,

An greet big goggly eyes,

A when at neet he craaled aboot,

Ta pick up bits a’ news,

If he felt dry upon the road,

he sucked a dozen coos

Whisht lads, haad yer gobs,

etc, etc.

This fearful worm wad often feed,

On calves an lambs an sheep,

An swally little bairns alive,

When they laid down to sleep,

An when he’d eaten aa’ll he could,

An he had hed his fill,

He craaled away and wrapped his tail,

Ten times round Penshaw hill.

Whisht lads, haad yer gobs,

etc, etc.

The news ov this most aaful worm,

And his queer gannins on,

Seun crossed the seas an got t’ the ears,

Of brave and bold Sir John,

So hyem he came and catched the beast,

And cut him in two halves,

An that seun stopped him eatin bairns,

An sheep and lambs an calves.

Whisht lads, haad yer gobs,

etc, etc.

So now ye knaa hoo aal thu folks

On byeth sides o’er the Wear,

Lost lots o’ sheep an lots o’ sleep,

An lived in mortal fear,

So let’s hev one to brave Sir John

That kept thu bairns frae harm

Saved coos and calves

By making halves

Of the famous Lambton Worm.

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