Landmark In Bellingham, Northumberland
An unusual gravestone marking the final resting of a burglar trying to rob Lee Hall.
If you have visited St. Cuthbert's Church in Bellingham then surely you will have noticed a rather odd looking gravestone in the graveyard. It's a long stone in the shape of a peddler's pack, lying flat, with a sign next to it titled The Lang Pack (also known as The Long Pack).
You might not think much of it, but it has a bit of an illustrious story behind it.
In 1723 a chap called Colonel Ridley had a canny bit of wealth he gleaned while in India and on returning to Bellingham he retired to the nearby Lee Hall. He also liked his holibobs too and was often away galavanting for the winter leaving his house in the hands of his servants. Now there must have been a bit of a criminal problem in the area as he left strict instructions that while he was away that absolutely no one should be allowed admittance to the house.
During his vacation a chap with a peddler's pack knocked on the door and asked if he could stay the night. The three servants, who were tasked with looking after the property, remembered their master's instructions and turned him away. However the chap asked if he could leave his pack there while he found somewhere to sleep, which they agreed to and brought the pack into the parlour.
During the evening Alice, the maid, was startled as she thought she saw the pack move and fetched the two other servants, Edward and Richard. They watched the pack and even poked it a bit, but nothing moved.
Now Edward was a bit of a "take action and ask questions later" kind of lad and fetched his blunderbuss gun (which he named Copenhagen) that he used for scaring the birds away from the cattle feed. Taking responsibility he shot at the pack and heard a yelp before blood started to seep out. The pack was quickly opened to reveal a small man within, packaged up, but with a cutlass to set himself free, along with 4 guns and a silver whistle around his neck.
The servants initially believed this chap to be a thief, but weren't sure how he could have burgled the house all on his own. They concluded that he must have been part of a gang, who were coming back later once their accomplice had unlocked the hall.
The three servants quickly rallied local townsfolk and managed to get 25 men with 16 guns (in addition to the four pistols from the pack) and various weapons to come to the hall. They positioned themselves around the front windows of the upper floors, but even into the early hours of the morning there was still no sign of the gang.
Then they remembered the silver whistle around the body's neck, which they assumed was to be blown to signal the gang. So they blew the whistle and out of the dark came a big gang on horseback.
The townsfolk in the hall let rip with their guns, startling the gang who expected to just turn up to the hall and take its treasures unhindered. The gang scarpered and when the dust settled four of the gang lay dead outside of the hall.
The people in the hall stayed put until daylight and when they went outside, there was no sign of the four bodies, apart from a frozen bloodstain where each of them had lain. The gang must have come back to retrieve them.
The body from the house was then buried in the church graveyard under a stone representing a peddler's pack. Rumour has it that the body was also retrieved so no one could ever identify anyone in the gang.
This is just a brief synopsis, but he you fancy more glorious detail into this fascinating story then head over to the blog of Linda Stratmann, who recounts it in a lot more depth.
How To Find The Lang Pack
Contributed by Simon Hawkins
Thanks for checking out this place on the Fabulous North! I do enjoy a wander out in to the countryside trying to find hidden gems that not many people know about. You can't beat a rogue Pele tower up a remote hill or a mysterious stone circle or a stunning waterfall secluded in a forest.More Places from Simon
More Places In Bellingham
Find more fabulous places in Bellingham, Northumberland and if you know of a place we haven't listed, then let us know.
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