The ‘Waste’ of Draycott

In St Margaret’s churchyard lies the forlorn grave of a young woman.  On the inscription it says she was just 25 when she died; and she came from Draycott-Waste.  But where and what was ‘Draycott-Waste’?

Nineteenth century

The full inscription on the young lady’s gravestone reads:  “Here lieth the body of Margaret, Daughter of John and Dorothy Jeffries of Draycott-Wafte, who died August 13th 1806 aged 25 years”.  (In the old days, an s was often written in the shape of an f).
Hers is not the only grave to refer to this place.

The grave of Margaret Jeffries in Draycott in the Moors

The grave of Margaret Jeffries

We know that by the time that Margaret Jeffries died in 1806, there was already a farm called WasteGate; and a farm of the same name is still there today – in the fields behind Rookery Crescent in Cresswell, near to Painsley Farm.
But is ‘Waste Gate’ the same as ‘Draycott Waste’?

The 1801 ‘Smith’ map of Staffordshire gives another clue.  According to this map, there definitely was a place called ‘Waste’ in the southern end of Draycott parish; but… it is a fifteen-minute walk from WasteGate Farm….

Draycott on the Smith map of Staffordshire 1801

Draycott on the Smith map of Staffordshire 1801

As you can see in our picture, the 1801 map shows ‘Waste’ as being where the old Bird-in-Hand pub was, and it seems to consist of just a couple of roadside buildings – probably the ancestors of the Bird In Hand!
So, maybe WasteGate and Waste are actually two different sites, though they are quite close.


The term ‘waste’ is actually an ancient one.  It pops up quite often in the Domesday Book of 1086: we are told that it comes from the Norman word ‘uastę’and was used to describe any open or uncultivated space (though not necessarily devastated land, as it does these days).
So that probably explains the name of the tiny settlement of Waste in south Draycott.

But what is the meaning of WasteGate?  Well, believe it or not, one man who studied Draycott’s history a good deal has an interesting theory about this.
Reverend Healey, who was the vicar of Draycott between 1966-1977, wrote a short history of the village, and in it, he entertains the thought that the term WasteGate goes back to Roman times.
It is known that the Romans established a small outpost in Draycott as one of the stops on the road they built between Chester and Uttoxeter, so, in his booklet, Reverend Healey speculates that ‘WasteGate’ might be a corruption of ‘West Gate’ – i.e. it marks a folk memory of one of the gates of the little Roman fort from 2000 years ago.
It seems a far-fetched idea, but if Reverend Healey likes the thought, who are we to argue?

This article was originally written by John Leavis.   If you have anything you’d like to see published on this website, just email it to us… and we’ll try to get it sorted. Do you know any other stories of Draycott-in-the-Moors?
(For more history stories of Draycott, click here).

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3 responses to “The ‘Waste’ of Draycott

  1. Draycott Waste resident

    John JENKINSON was described as a Farmer from “DRAYCOTT WASTE” in the birth entry of his daughter Ellen in the Hilderstone records of November 1836.
    Martin Feledziak


  2. Fascinating article on Waste Gate. Thanks for this and would love to see more of the same.
    Roger Holdcroft (Chair Parish Council)


  3. Dr Healey's history

    I remember the booklet you refer to. It was written by Rev’d Dr. Charles W Healey…a man of great distinction in his own right. There’s a memorial headstone to him near to the east end of St Margaret’s… as he was actually buried in his home town of Harrogate I believe.
    Nigel Peake


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