Nestled in the heart of Bellingham stands a church, a testament to the reverence for St. Cuthbert. Historically, it’s believed that during the tumultuous times following the Viking onslaught on Lindisfarne in the 9th century A.D., the remains of St. Cuthbert found temporary solace here. Lindisfarne, often referred to as the Holy Island, was a significant centre for Christian pilgrimage, making the Viking raids particularly devastating for the religious community of the time.
Within the hallowed grounds of St. Cuthbert’s churchyard, a peculiar elongated stone stands sentinel. This stone, steeped in the lore of North Tynedale, is the beacon for the ‘Legend of the Lang Pack’, a tale that has intrigued generations.
The Legend of The Lang Pack
Our story unfolds around the majestic Lee Hall, perched by the serene banks of the North Tyne, just south of Bellingham. Close by, the River Rede gracefully merges with the North Tyne at Redesmouth, creating a picturesque setting. Historically, Lee Hall was the cherished abode of the Ridley family. However, as winter’s chill set in, the Ridleys would migrate to the bustling city of London, leaving their beloved hall in the trusted hands of their servants. In the frosty embrace of 1723’s winter, the hall’s guardianship was entrusted to three diligent servants, bound by a strict edict: the hall’s doors must remain closed to outsiders.
On a particularly cold afternoon, a pedlar, bearing a curiously elongated package, sought refuge in the hall. The servants, ever loyal to their master’s decree, declined his request. Yet, they allowed him to leave his mysterious package behind as he ventured out into the cold in search of shelter.
As the shadows of night deepened, Alice, a young and observant maid, felt an uncanny aura emanating from the package left behind in the kitchen. By the flickering light of a lone candle, she was convinced she witnessed the package stir. Disturbed, she rallied her fellow servants, the pragmatic Richard and the cautious Edward. While Richard dismissed her concerns as mere imagination, Edward, trusting his instincts, took aim with his firearm, affectionately named ‘Copenhagen’, and fired upon the package. The ensuing scream and the sight of blood confirmed their worst fears.
Upon inspection, the package revealed a grim secret: a lifeless man with a silver whistle adorning his neck. The pieces of the puzzle fell into place. This man was to be the key to a grand heist, set to release his accomplices into the hall once night fell.
Foreseeing an imminent threat, the servants rallied the local community. Armed and vigilant, they awaited the gang’s approach. As the night wore on, the shrill sound of the whistle signalled the gang’s arrival. However, instead of an easy entry, they were met with a volley of gunfire. Four of the intruders met their untimely end, while the rest vanished into the night.
Dawn revealed another mystery: the bodies of the fallen intruders had vanished, leaving behind only the enigmatic man from the Lang Pack. His identity, as well as that of his accomplices, remained shrouded in mystery.
Today, it’s whispered that the Lang Pack man rests beneath that distinctive stone in the Bellingham churchyard, its shape eerily reminiscent of a pedlar’s pack, forever guarding the secrets of that fateful night.
Bellingham, often referred to as the gateway to Northumberland National Park, is a charming blend of history, natural beauty, and traditional English countryside. This picturesque town offers visitors a unique experience, from its rich heritage showcased in ancient landmarks like St. Cuthbert’s Church to the serene banks of the North Tyne River. Whether you’re an avid hiker eager to explore the surrounding lush landscapes, a history enthusiast delving into local legends, or simply someone seeking a tranquil retreat, Bellingham promises a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.