Jingling Geordie’s Hole is a cave that has inspired a legend in Tynemouth, England.
The cave is between King Edward’s Bay and Tynemouth Castle. It was originally known as “Jingling Man’s Hole”, the “Geordie” being a later addition. Some say that it was part of an underground passage with vaults, possibly dungeons, maybe connected to the priory itself. Some say that the “Wytche of Tinemouth” lived there, others say a wizard, or that the name came from an old man living in the cave who used to prowl around at night making a strange clanking noise, terrifying the local children.
According to an article on Tynemouth Priory in the Monthly Chronicle (1887), fairies were also said to live in Tynemouth:
“Tynemouth, in the olden time (and that not so far back either) is declared to have been a favourite haunt of the fairies. An old woman, whom a friend of ours visited the other day to gather any particulars she might know respecting the mythical Jingler, was told that her recollections went back at least sixty years, and that the story was already an old one when she was a girl, but that she had herself actually seen the fairies, so that was no mere hearsay.”
Jingling Geordie is reputed to have been a 17th-century pirate and smuggler who used the cave as a lookout for incoming ships. This gave him advance opportunity to lie in wait at the nearby Black Middens where he would lure the ships onto the rocks with lanterns placed to look like boats waiting safely at anchor. He would then plunder the strewn cargoes and hide his booty away in a labyrinth of tunnels running beneath the Castle. Legend has it that Jingling Geordie still had fetters fixed around his legs and the chains rattled everywhere he went. Supposedly the jingle can still be heard on some evenings around the castle walls as his ghost stalks the cliffs keeping a watch over the headland.
According to a poem in Hone’s Table Book (1827), the inhabitants of these mysterious cave are infernal beasts and demons who are guarding a great wealth of treasure. A boy named Walter, the son of a knight, went to look for the treasure when his mother told him the story. He resolved to make the finding of the treasure his “quest” as part of his knighthood. He began the quest on the Eve of St John (24 June, traditionally the day before Midsummer).
Down deep in the rock winds the pathway drear,
And the yells of the spirits seem near and more near,
And the flames from their eye-balls burn ghastly blue
As they dance round the knight with a wild halloo.”
Fierce dragons with scales of bright burnished brass,
Stand belching red fire where the warrior must pass;
But rushes he on with his brand and his shield,
And with loud shrieks of laughter they vanish and yield.
Huge hell-dogs come baying with murd’rous notes,
Sulphureous flames in their gaping throats;
and they spring to, but shrinks not, brave Walter the Knight
And again all is sunk in the darkness of night.
Walter seizes a bugle horn from the wall and blows into it a loud blast, 3 times, as it turns into a snake with the mouthpiece containing the asp’s poisonous fangs. A magic cock, perched on the gate, wakes and shakes its wings. It lets out a loud crow, and all the infernal demons vanish, leaving Walter to escape with all the treasure he can carry.
Illustration: Arthur Rackham