Lambton Worm ravaged on the local villages around County Durham, Northeast England, during the time of the Crusades. John Lambton, a scion of the Lambton Estate, skips church one morning to go fishing. An old man warns predicts dire warnings to him.
John catches an eel, either 3 feet or 3 inches long (stories vary), and tosses it down a well. The old man predicts even more dire warnings to him. So John heads off to the Crusades. He's gone for seven years and in the meantime, the worm grows and the well gets poisoned. When he returns, his estate is ravaged by the depredations of the worm.
John visits a local witch, who tells him that he's responsible for the worm. She also says that to defeat the worm, he's got to cover his armor with spikes and fight it in the middle of the River Wear. If John succeeds in killing the worm, he and nine generations of his line will be cursed unless he kills the first thing he spots after the battle.
So John arms up, tells his father that he's going to fight the worm and that he'll blow his horn three time if he wins and that his father needs to release his hound so that John can kill it to avert the curse. The battle at the river is fierce, as the worm encircles John and is cut by the spikes on his armor. John slays the beast and sounds his horn but his father, in excitement, forgets the curse and runs to his son.
Unable to slay his father, he and nine generations fall to the curse: never to die peacefully in bed.
The story was incorporated in the 1988 movie The Lair of the White Worm, starring Hugh Grant.
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