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Old Spital, Durham
Old Spital
county:-   Durham
locality type:-   buildings
locality type:-   inn
locality type:-   hospital (once) 
locality type:-   religious house (once) 
coordinates:-   NY910121
1Km square:-   NY9112
10Km square:-   NY91

evidence:-   old map:- Saxton 1579
placename:-  Spittle on Stainmore, The
source data:-   Map, hand coloured engraving, Westmorlandiae et Cumberlandiae Comitatus ie Westmorland and Cumberland, scale about 5 miles to 1 inch, by Christopher Saxton, London, engraved by Augustinus Ryther, 1576, published 1579-1645.
Building, symbol for a hamlet, which may or may not have a nucleus.  "The spittle on stainmore"
item:-  private collection : 2
Image © see bottom of page

evidence:-   old map:- Morden 1695 (Wmd) 
placename:-  Spittle House
source data:-   Map, hand coloured engraving, Westmorland, scale about 2.5 miles to 1 inch, by Robert Morden, published by Abel Swale, the Unicorn, St Paul's Churchyard, Awnsham, and John Churchill, the Black Swan, Paternoster Row, London, 1695.
"Spittle house"
item:-  JandMN : 24
Image © see bottom of page

evidence:-   old map:- Jefferys 1770 (Wmd) 
placename:-  Spittle House
source data:-   Map, 4 sheets, The County of Westmoreland, scale 1 inch to 1 mile, surveyed 1768, and engraved and published by Thomas Jefferys, London, 1770.
"Spittle House"
circle, labelled in italic lowercase text; settlement, farm, house, or hamlet? 
item:-  National Library of Scotland : EME.s.47
Image © National Library of Scotland

evidence:-   road book:- Cary 1798 (2nd edn 1802) 
placename:-  Spittle Inn
source data:-   Road book, itineraries, Cary's New Itinerary, by John Cary, 181 Strand, London, 2nd edn 1802.
image CY38p281, button  goto source
image  click to enlarge
page 281-282  "Spittle Inn"
item:-  JandMN : 228.1
Image © see bottom of page

evidence:-   old map, road book:- Mawson 1890s
placename:-  Old Spital, The
placename:-  Spittle, The
source data:-   Road book, strip maps and descriptive text, Itinerary of the Great North Road, with sections in Westmorland, Cumberland etc, published by Mawson, Swan, and Morgan, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, late 1890s.
on the road map, and  "SPITAL.- An old hospital, was erected on Stainmore by the Abbot of Marrick; afterwards converted into inn - 'an homely hostelrie call'd the Spittle' (1610)"

Old Spital was once the homely hostelry called the Spittle-on-Stainmoor which was the successor to a medieval hospital built in the 12th century.
cf nearby Spital Grange and Spital Park farms. New Spital farm is now the Bowes Moor Hotel.
In 1797 the innkeeper was George Alderson, who had a maid called Bella. The lower parts of the building were stables etc, the upper part reached by a forestair from the road. On a wild Octeber evening the inn had been locked up for the night, George Alderson locking away a sum of money from his dealings at the Brough Hill Fair, when a knock was heard at the door. Bella opened the door to let in a bent old woman in cloak and hood. Wet and cold, she refused bed or food, and wanted just to rest by the fire as she had to start south early next morning. Bella had little luck making converstaion and worried by the stranger stayed in the room and lay on the settle feigning sleep. The stranger stood up, a tall man disguised in woman's clothes. From his cloak he took out a withered human hand and placed in it a candle. He bent over Bella muttering:-
"Let those who rest more deeply sleep;
Let those who awake their vigils keep;
O hand of glory, shed thy light,
Direct us to our spoil to-night."
The stranger then opened the curtains, returned to the hand and spoke again:-
"Flash out thy light, O skeleton hand,
And guide the feet of our trusty band"
The candle grew bright; the stranger opened the door, stepped out and whistled loud for his companions. But Bella stole to the door, pushed the stranger down the forestair, and bolted the door behind him. She tried to awake the family, with no effect until she doused the candle with a cup of milk. The innkeeper and his son rushed in; George Alderson fired his blunderbuss from a window into darkness - where there was a groan. After some discussion outside there was a shout:-
"Give up the Hand of Glory and we'll not harm you."
George's son fired again and no more was heard.
It is said the Alderson's kept the grisly hand for years after. A Hand of Glory is the dried and pickled hand of a hanged man; and the candle is made from the fat of hanged man. With the candle placed in the hand they make still a person to whom they are shown, by sympathetic magic. Milk is the only thing that can dowse such a light.

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