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“That our entire country has been pervaded by a belief in such terrible creatures we learn from the names of Wormshead, Great Orme’s Head, Ormesleigh, Ormeskirk, Wormigill, Wormelow, and Wormeslea, with others of a similar character scattered over the land, but in the main we must look to the North of England for legends of any remarkable vigour or beauty respecting them…

“Long, long ago, some say about the fourteenth century, the young heir of Lambton led a careless profane life, regardless alike of his duties to God and man, and in particular neglecting to attend mass, that he might spend his Sunday mornings in fishing. One Sunday, while thus engaged, having cast his line into the Wear many times without success, he vented his disappointment in curses loud and deep, to the great scandal of the servants and tenantry as they passed by to the chapel at Brugeford.

“Soon afterwards he felt something tugging at his line, and trusting he had at last secured a fine fish, he exerted all his skill and strength to bring his prey to land But what were his horror and dismay on finding that, instead of a fish, he had only caught a worm of most unsightly appearance! He hastily tore the thing from his hook, and flung it into a well close by, which is still known by the name of the Worm Well.

“The young heir had scarcely thrown his line again into the stream when a stranger of venerable appearance, passing by, asked him what sport he had met with. To which he replied, “Why, truly, I think I have caught the devil himself. Look in and judge.” The stranger looked, and remarked that he had never seen the like of it before; that it resembled an eft, only it had nine holes on each side of its mouth; and, finally, that he thought it boded no good.

“The worm remained unheeded in the well till it outgrew so confined a dwelling-place. It then emerged, and betook itself by day to the river, where it lay coiled round a rock in the middle of the stream, and by night to a neighbouring hill, round whose base it would twine itself; while it continued to grow so fast, that it soon could encircle the hill three times. This eminence is still called the Worm Hill. It is oval in shape, on the north side of the Wear, and about a mile and a half from old Lambton Hall.

“The monster now became the terror of the whole country side. It sucked the cows’ milk, worried the cattle, devoured the lambs, and committed every sort of depredation on the helpless peasantry…”

William Henderson, Notes on the Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties of England and the Borders (1879).

Tychy wishes everybody “Gong Hei Fat Choi!”

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