Here’s an idea: how about a ‘village sign’ for Draycott… in the shape of a dragon? The money is available to have it carved, so why not?
After all, village-signs are now very popular – neighbouring Fulford has had a very smart one since 2013. And we have the ideal site for it – on the roadside bank down from the church cemetery…
The money is available too. A community projects fund has been set up by the Draycott Council out of a grant from the Lower Newton Solar Farm, and, so far, there are only a few ideas of what to use the money for.
But why a village sign in the shape of a dragon?
Well… here we have to examine the murky past of the village – and we find out that dragons have been associated with the village for a very long time!
The first mention of a dragon in Draycott is to be found in an article of 1908 for a local history society, which tells the legend of an appearance of one in the village back in olden times.
The second dragon connection comes through St Margaret of Antioch, the patron saint of our parish church. If you take a good look at the head above the doorway leading into the church, you will see a carving of St Margaret, in which her head is appearing out of the mouth of a dragon. (The story goes that the saint was eaten alive by a dragon, who was the Devil in disguise, but that the cross she was wearing was too much for the beast – which then had to spew her out!)
In fact, if you go into the church itself, you will also see ‘churchwardens staves’ at the ends of some pews. These are wooden poles with medallions of enamelled metal at the top of them, which are held by the churchwardens as a symbol of their office.
And what is engraved on them? St Margaret’s dragon…
However, the main dragon connection with the village comes through the Draycott family. The original medieval family named itself Draycott after the village back in the 1200s, but, it seems they rather also liked the pun on the word – because the Latin word for dragon (‘draco’) fitted the family outlook nicely!
The most famous member of the family, Anthony Draycott, who lived in the 16th century, even had the family symbol of a dragon-head carved on his own memorial pew at Checkley Church just a few miles from here.
So, dragons do have an association with Draycott – but, is a dragon a suitable sign for a quiet village?
Well, dragons are not just devouring monsters, they are in fact known as guardians. The famous Welsh Dragon is a defender of the country, as well as a symbol of the inhabitants’ great spirit.
So, a dragon could be seen as the village guardian…
And what of the practicalities?
Well, we do have a local wood-sculptor who might be persuaded to carve a figure. Anthony Hammond is his name, and he is well-known to most of us in Draycott, being both a local man and someone who pops up regularly to show off his skills at the Draycott Summer Fayre.
Well… the community fund money does have to be spent on something, so it’s a thought, isn’t it?
If you too have ideas for what could be done with the Draycott Council Community Fund, just contact the council clerk; or come along to any council meeting – the public section starts at 7.30 – and make your suggestion to the councillors.
Reference: The story of the dragon that appeared in ancient Draycott appears in an article by Rev Thomas Barns entitled ‘On Some Ancient Sites in North Staffordshire’ which can be found in the Journal of the North Staffordshire Field Club Volume 42 (1908)