Tales of Britain

By Jem Roberts

The finest, funniest stories of England, Scotland & Wales, refreshed for the 21st century. By Brother Bernard, as told to Jem Roberts.

Thursday, 18 October 2018


Howay, a f-f-f-frightful Samhain-ish Folklore Thursday to you all, lovely pledgers!

As we observed last week, our road atlas of 77 tales is bursting with beasts enough to terrify everyone to the grave and back, and we shall be featuring four such scary stories in our first ever Samhain/ Halloween show in Bath a week on Saturday! Brother Bernard and Sister Sal will share with you legends including Black Vaughan and Tam O'Shanter...

©Osweo on DeviantArt

… But today's folktale won't be one of them, no matter how tempting it is to attempt outrageous Geordie accents – but there are fewer tales more frightening than that Tyneside terror, THE LAMBTON WORM! Of all the dragon-slaying yarns in our collection, there's something uniquely gross about this big, fat, white, vicious demonic creature – it doesn't speak, there's no Smaug charm or exciting fire-breathing, just a nine-eyed, slavering, animalistic monster intent on nothing but churning human beings up for its tea. In our retelling there's a hopefully discernable tang of Viz comic, in the sheer ROCK-HARDNESS of the worm's slayer, the knight John Lambton, and it would be great fun to perform some day, dodgy vowels and all.

The Sunderland area where the events of the tale take place has been very thoroughly mapped out for folkloric visits for many year, and the National trust website for Penshaw Monument (see above), where the mighty dragon was said to have coiled its slimy body, even has a full map of where to visit, to walk in Lambton's footsteps, and try to find signs of the despicable worm. A journey so far North East in England may not most obviously be for the purpose of experiencing the sites of ancient folklore, but this one tale is the jewel of the whole countryside around here, and an unmissable part of any time spent in the Tyne & Wear region. 

Worms feel all the rage right now, as the latest tale we've retold (of course, too late for inclusion in the first edition) is THE LAIDLEY WORM, a very original take on the dragon-slaying plot, situated in nearby Bamburgh Castle, but Lambton's slimy, frightening beast takes the biscuit when it comes to blood-chilling horror. Yes, even when reimagined by Ken Russell in Lair Of The White Worm. Now, wouldn't you rather come to HALLOWEEN TALES OF BRITAIN than sit through that film again...? See you there. And bring spare trousers.

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Arnold Williams
 Arnold Williams says:

The folk song about the Lambton Worm is a popular part of the culture in Tyne/Wear and Durham.

posted 18th October 2018

Ruth O'Leary
 Ruth O'Leary says:

If I might make a correction - the Lambton Worm isn’t a Tyneside terror, but a Wearside one, so your dodgy accent wouldn’t be an attempt at Geordie but at Mackem!

posted 18th October 2018

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