The Spital Inn And The Hand of Glory
A Hand of Glory was used by a gang of thieves in an attempt to rob the long gone Spital Inn, North Stainmore in 1797. The hand was brought into the Inn by a heavily dressed hag who arrived at the Old Spittal Inn seeking warmth from the fire, after which she promised she would be on her way. As it was getting late she was allowed in and promptly took up a seat next to the flickering flames. A maid thought that there was something odd about this woman and noticed that she had man’s trousers on under her skirt. She pretended to fall asleep, as the rest of the household had already retired for the night, and watched as the man arose and pulled a hand of glory from under his coat. He lit the taper gripped between the frozen fingers and chanted “Let those who sleep, sleep on, and those who are awake stay awake”, he placed the hand on a table and moved to open the door to let in his accomplices. The quick thinking maid ran to the door and slammed it shut locking the man and his friends outside the door. She then ran to the owners of the house and tried to wake them from their sleep, but discovered that the power of the hand had already taken effect and try as she might she could not rouse them. By this time the thieves had begun to break down the door, luckily the maid remembered the tradition about the hand of glory and threw milk over the still burning candle flame from the hand of glory. Suddenly the household awoke at the commotion and were scared away by the sound of the owner’s gun.
The hand was retained as a curiosity for many years afterwards.