I have just updated my about page, (Still needs some work), which got me thinking of the Lambton Worm. People may not have heard of the story so in a nutshell the story goes like this:
During the middle ages, the son and heir to the Lambton family skipped church one Sunday morning to go fishing. Despite tales that it was unlucky to fish on a Sunday. The tales turned out to be true, he caught nothing but a worm. The worm was about three foot long and was the ugliest creature he had ever seen. In his disgust young Lambton through the worm down a well. Years later young Lambton turned of age and was dispatched to the crusades. Meanwhile, the worm he had thrown down the well became fully grown, into a ferocious beast which came from the well. To satisfy its great hunger, it ate cows, sheep and even some small children in the surrounding villages. On his return from the holy land, hearing the stories, young Lambton set out to slay the worm. He sought advice from a local witch, who told him how to slay the dragon by wearing a suit of armour covered in spikes. So the worm could not wrap its coils around him, which being a constrictor, was the usual way the worm killed its victims. The witch gave a warning with her advice, that after he killed the worm he must kill the first living thing that he saw or a terrible curse would fall upon the Lambton household. Lambton told his family that after he had slayed the worm they are to release the hounds, in order that the first thing living thing he saw would be one of the family hounds. However, after Lambton slayed the worm, his father was so excited that he came running to congratulate his son. Lambton refused to kill his father and sacrificed one of the hounds as he had planned. This did not satisfy the curse and the Lambton family suffered untimely deaths for nine generations. A curse which wiped out the Lambton family line for ever.
The story comes from a time of the great oral tradition in the middle ages when stories were not written down. But were handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. People and places are real, however, as with all great legends how much has been changed over the years (ala chinese whispers) nobody knows. Still this is the story which captured my imagination as a child and has stayed with me throughout my adult life. A great story I can share with my own children, that teaches them to take their responsibilities seriously.