Category Archives: religion

NEWS: fayre surprises / new lighting / priest goodbye / Sir Bill

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-August 2018
In this post we have news of…: Draycott Fayre summary / new Church lighting / farewell to Catholic priest / is Sir Bill distracted?  …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including  a bank holiday food festival…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Fayre surprise

The organisers of the Draycott Summer Fayre have learnt to expect the unexpected (remember the year the field was sodden with torrential rain?) but even they were taken by surprise this year.

It was a boiling hot day, the list of events was as long as your arm… all was set fair.
Then the cancellations started coming in: the funfair, the quad bikes, the ferrets-show, the bouncy-castle, the fire engine, some of the stall-holders. These last-minute cancellations knocked out a lot of kids’ fun stuff.
Plus… one of the chief organisers fell suddenly seriously ill on the day, causing real concern.

But, basically – and it’s not often you say this about a British summer day! – it was simply too hot. Numbers at the gate were down, and a lot of parents took their kids home early to avoid sunburn. (This was a double-shame because very few were there for the highlight of the day, the medieval knights’ battle).

However, for those who braved the sun, it really was a relaxing day… picnics for all!
The Punch & Judy went down a storm; the Fayre bar did a good trade (of course!); and the Reptile stand was a huge attraction. You can see photos of the day by clicking here, and here, with a few others below.


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One stand must get special mention: the World War One dug-out re-construction.
Local historian Levison Wood was dressed up as an infantry captain of the time, and was over-heating in his heavy uniform as he gave his talks – but he never took off anything, not even the jacket, “out of respect” he said. You have to give him lots of credit for that.

In the end, £3000 was raised. Not nearly as much as in recent years, but still a valuable contribution to the upkeep of St Margaret’s, our village’s medieval church.
Congratulations must go to John Clarke and his team. When you think that the fayre, as big an event as it is, is put together by volunteers only, it’s quite a feat.

– – –
Church improvements

John Clarke, as we have just said, is a man who likes to keep busy, and he often has more than one project on at any one time.

For over two years now he and Bill Ward have been working on a scheme to install lighting on the paths around St Margaret’s Church. These are just dirt paths, so are a bit of a hazard, especially on dark winter days. It’s reported that, one year, someone actually fell into a grave when they couldn’t see where they were going… St Margaret's Church lighting posts lighting south side
They look pretty good (see above) but the scheme has proved incredibly expensive, nearly £10,000. If you intend any work in the vicinity of a Grade 2* listed building, it doesn’t come cheap – even getting the necessary permissions was a long, drawn-out process.
Thank goodness for local people’s goodwill: the funds were eventually raised through a combination of donations, fund-raising and grants, as well as work done by those who gave their labour & skills for free.
And, it’s now (mostly) done. To save energy, the lights are programmed to go on and off at set times depending on the time of year.

You can take a virtual walk along the paths and see the posts in more detail with this video.

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Farewell Pawel

Talking of churches, a number of residents took their chance at the Cresswell St Mary’s hog-roast last week to say their goodbyes to Father Pawel Przybyszewski (on right in pic below), one of the priests who looks after the combined parish.
He hasn’t been with us long, but he’s already heading back to his native Poland.
If you missed the hog-roast, there’s another opportunity to say your farewells at a special barbeque next week.
Fathers Kaz and Pawel
The other priest of the parish, Father Kazimierz Stefek (Kaz to his friends!) is staying on however.
Father Kaz is leading a refurbishment of St Mary’s, with a complete re-painting of the interior and repairs to the decoration.
He’s also fascinated by the church’s history, as you’ll see if you visit: hanging on the walls now are lots of tributes to the history of the last 500 years of Catholicism in Cresswell.

– – –
Brexit bother

We try not to mention Brexit on this website (!), but we saw an article in the papers recently about how a few MPs – those on the extremes of the debate -, are spending so much time on the issue, they are just not able to give as much time to their constituencies.
Can this explain why we see so little of our own MP Bill Cash?

Sir Bill CashSir Bill (pic right) has been a fierce opponent of EU membership since forever and was deeply involved with the Leave campaign. He says: “Brexit is ultimately about our democracy, our sovereignty and our self-government. All the other issues, including our right to free trade with the rest of the world, are subsidiary.”

However, is his time-consuming involvement with Brexit leading him to have to do less work in this constituency? Unlike his fellow Conservative, Karen Bradley in next door Leek (and Karen is a minister too, don’t forget), we rarely see him at public events in this area or even doing local surgeries. He has only been up here for surgeries four times in all this year.
(To be fair to Sir Bill, he has spoken in Parliament about one big local issue this year, the HS2 route).

So… what do you think? Is Brexit so important that Sir Bill would be right to put so much of his energies into it … or does he need to take back some of that time to spend on pressing constituency matters?
It would be interesting to hear what you think. Use the comments box below.

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment

NEWS: neighbourhood plan / church re-fit / bye to Bill? / Chandni 5*

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-January 2018
In this post we have news of…: repairs programme for St Margaret’s / Draycott to change MPs? / will YOU be part of plan process? / Chandni Cottage Restaurant report…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Valentines Ball…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Church’s birthday re-fit

You may have noticed that our parish church of St Margaret’s is currently covered in scaffolding. It turns out that this is all due to some necessary repairs ordered by the Church Of England authorities – and will cost a stinging £40,000…

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The 13th century church developed a leak in the roof a while back, which was fixed eventually by the church’s own volunteer project manager, John Clarke.  John is well-known for his unstinting efforts to keep the ancient church viable. (See the Saving The Bells story).

However, then along came the compulsory Church Of England ‘Quinquennial’ five-year review – and that report has demanded the repair of virtually the whole main roof. The trusted restoration experts, Midlands Conservation, are undertaking the work because of the great historical value of the building.
Fortunately, the church wardens at the church have been putting money by, so this won’t bust the bank, but it does mean fund-raising efforts (such as the Draycott Summer fayre) will have to be intensified.

Curiously, the refit comes just as the church is about to celebrate its 750th anniversary – which makes it a sort of birthday present!

– – –
Got a plan for our neighbourhood?

People in Draycott district have been kicking around the idea of developing a ‘neighbourhood plan’ for some years now.
Well, slowly, slowly, the Draycott Council has been progressing the idea. In fact, it now has formal approval for the project, and has been given a grant of £5000 to make it happen.

A ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ outlines what a local community wants to see for itself in the future – especially as regards large planning developments (for and against). The government supports the idea of NPs and gave them official backing in its Localism Act in 2011.
The most important thing about Neighbourhood Plans is that they give formal protection to what a district wants for itself – for the ways it views its green spaces and how new building projects should ‘fit in’ etc.

Next stage of the process here in Draycott is where YOU come in.
An open forum has been called for Fri 26 Jan (see details), and everyone in the district (including Cresswell, Totmonslow and Draycott Cross) is invited to come along to express views.
An expert will be on hand to explain more, and to outline how you can take part even more than just saying your piece, even how you can get to sit on the district committee if you want.checkley neighbourhood plan posterA number of other districts have already pushed ahead with neighbourhood plans and they say they do energise the community. Checkley & Tean have been particularly energetic (see pic above) – have a look at their website’s N Plan pages to find out more.

– – –
Goodbye to Sir Bill?

There now seems to be backing for a proposal to move Draycott district out of the Stone parliamentary constituency and into the Staffs Moorlands parliamentary constituency.
The government’s Boundary Commission has been taking public comments on the proposals and Staffs Moorlands councillors are the latest to come out in favour of the idea.

Sir Bill CashIf it goes through it would mean a change of MP for us, as we would move out of the remit of Sir Bill Cash (see pic right), and would find ourselves being represented instead by another Conservative MP, Karen Bradley, who currently holds the Staffs Moorlands constituency.

However – a lot of political commentators say the proposals have no chance of being accepted.
(So…bit of a waste of time really…!)

– – –
Chandni celebrates

Nice to see that Chandni Cottage, the Indian restaurant at the Blythe end of Draycott, has got a five-out-of-five rating for its food hygiene standards, following a visit from environment inspectors. It had a less than excellent rating the previous time inspectors visited, so they’ve done a fair job to turn it around.

Chandni CottageIt’s well deserved. Yasmeen Yacqub and her team have been in place ever since the restaurant opened in 1996, so they know the business well, and they know their customers well.
It was from listening to customer demand that they developed fat-free versions of most of their dishes, put together the recent refurbishment, and even organised a ‘diners club’ which enables members to taste cuisine from around the world.
Actually, the customers play a full part in the Chandni’s outlook – exemplified by one group of regulars, headed up by Andy Bird, who even go out on country walks to raise money for charity.
That would build your appetite up…!

Do you have news you’d like to see written up on this website? If so – email us

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment

St Margaret’s Church – full of facts!

Next year, our parish church, St Margaret’s, celebrates its 750th anniversary, and no doubt there will be a few events to mark this great landmark in time.
St Margaret’s is full of history and there are lots of things about the place that you might not know. So we thought we’d list a few of them now, as a sort of run-up to next year.

First – can we be sure that 1268 was when the church was built? Well, no…
Historians argue a bit about this, and some are sure that a wooden church must have been on the site before the current stone one. Whoever made the church sign (see picture below) certainly believed there was something before!
However, the first actual documented record is the one saying that a rector (priest) took office here in 1268, so, until some other papers are found, 1268 has to be the founding date.
(Incidentally, back then it was called St Peter’s, only changing name to St Margaret’s some 300/400 years later).

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The oldest living creatures in Draycott are to be found in the churchyard. The yew trees there are around a thousand years old! (see article)

The church also holds the oldest manmade object found in the village. The strange ‘Draycott sink’ which is stored there is around two and half thousand years old, ie way back in the Early Iron Age.
It’s called strange because even archaeologists are not sure what was used for. Best guess is that it was used for grinding corn or barley or some like.
However, even the old ladder (still used today) which is kept in the tower is thought to be 500 years old….

Up in the top of the tower, in the belfry, you will find some ancient, and very heavy, bells. One of them, created in the seventeenth century, weighs nearly half a ton; and interestingly has an inscription on its rim. The inscription reads: “I, sweetly tolling, men do call / to taste on meats that feed the sole (soul)”.

The most famous historical pieces in the church are the medieval Draycott Family tombs, the earliest of which is almost as old as the church itself; generations of the family rest here.
It’s fun to observe that, on the effigies of two ladies – who lived years apart -, you can see the same piece of jewellery carved – a rose ornament on a chain hanging from a belt. So, it must have been a family heirloom, and also a symbol that whoever wore it was the chief lady of the house.

Talking of women, the Draycott war memorial is one of the few in the country to feature a woman’s name – Joyce Atkins. But who was Joyce exactly? And what was her role in the war and how did she die? None of that is recorded anywhere.

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There are over a dozen ‘listed’ structures in the district – but not all of them are buildings. In fact, two of the large tombs in the churchyard are listed; for example, Jane Hancock’s memorial is grade-2.

And finally, staying in the graveyard, and only steps from the Hancock monument, lies Hannah Barnes in her grave. Although the words carved on her stone are worn away and impossible to read today, we know something about her from records. Everyone thinks that people died young 300 years ago, but it’s not quite true – Hannah lived to be 100!


Of course, there are many more strange-but-true and significant facts about St Margaret’s – these are just a very few of them.
And many more will come to light, we are sure, as the 750th birthday celebrations get under way…

Draycott and dragons

It’s a curious fact that the animal most associated with Draycott-in-the-Moors is… a dragon.

English: Picture of St. Margaret of Antioch co...

St. Margaret and the dragon. (Photo: Wikipedia)

According to legend, the last-ever dragon was slain here; the word Draycott has often been deliberately punned in the past with the Latin word for dragon, ‘draco’; and the symbol of our church’s patron saint (St Margaret) is … a dragon.
It’s all very intriguing!


But, the animal that really should be most identified with Draycott is the horse. Not only is it believed that the Romans had stabling facilities here (near where The Draycott Arms is now) 2000 years ago, but Draycott was once famous for its horse-races.

And the origin of the word Draycott in fact suggests a dray-horse. The most usual explanation of the name is that it comes from Old English ‘draeg’ (meaning to ‘drag close by’) and ‘cott’ – a dwelling place. In other words, a place where you (or your horse) had to drag heavier items up and over a stream or hill…. (probably right outside The Draycott Arms where the stream goes under the road and where the big hill starts).

But it’s dragons that appear most in our history.

In fact (maybe!) there is an alternative old spoken-language connection, this time between Draycott and dragons.
Some historians of old name-places have speculated that the word ‘Draycott’ could have come from the language of the old Britons – and dragon in old Welsh is draen, Old Irish draigen, old Breton drean. The suggestion is that these could have ‘evolved’ into Draycott.
The trouble with that suggestion is the name-place ‘Draycott’ does not appear until the twelfth century.


It’s hard to pinpoint the legend which says that Draycott is the place where the last dragon in England was slain, but the reference to it does come in a very scholarly journal – the Transactions of The North Staffordshire Field Club (1908).
The Reverend Thomas Barns wrote a piece for the journal back then describing the Anglo-Saxon myths surrounding this area, and, in that article, says that the legend was still current among older folk at the time. Unfortunately, the Reverend Barns says no more on the subject than just that!
So, where the myth comes from will need a lot more research.

However, the fact that the dragon is the symbol of St Margaret Of Antioch (the patron saint of the parish church) is easier to verify. The main legend around this 4th Century saint is that she was swallowed alive by the Devil (who had taken on the appearance of a dragon) – but she escaped through his mouth when the Devil coughed up the crucifix she was carrying…!
In St Margaret’s Church you can see evidence of this legend. The carving of her on the outside of the church shows her emerging from the dragon’s mouth.

Draycotts and the Dragon

The family that lorded it over the village for more than 500 years (having arrived with the Normans) was French in origin.  But when the branch of the family that took over the local estates in the 12th Century decided they needed an English name reference, they chose the place where they were based, i.e. Draycott.

However, it was not until centuries later that the dragon symbol came into play for the family – when Anthony Draycott became its head, in the sixteenth century.
Anthony was quite the intellectual, and seemed to like the way that Draycott sounded like ‘draco’, the Latin for dragon, and he adopted the symbol.

Anthony was rector of both Checkley and Draycott Church, and he did a lot of renovation works in Checkley Church. You can still evidence of the works – including the bench-ends there carved into his symbol, a dragon’s head..

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Strangely enough, these things persist and persist as part of tradition – even through to today.

The church at Draycott remained in the ‘patronage’ of the Draycott family for many years, and the small enclosed chapel at the church is still known as The Draycott Family Chapel – even though the main Draycott branch died out centuries ago.
But the dragon symbol itself carries on into the present day: at St Margaret’s Church you will still see some strange tall poles at the end of some of the pews. These are traditional ‘churchwardens staves’, carried by the wardens as an ancient sign of their authority. At the top of the staves are medallions of enamelled metal. And what is depicted on the medallions?
You guessed it: a dragon.

Thanks to Sarah Beardmore for all the research for this article.
If you too want to write an article for this blog, just email us.

We’d appreciate any more information too. Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.
(The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment

NEWS: Church histories / roundabout update/ Boundary event / car park solution

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late-June 2017
In this post we have news of…:  church histories on sale again / Draycott roundabout update / Boundary history event / cricket club solves car park issue…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Hog-Roast & Fete. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Church’s every nook & cranny…

It’s great to see the re-publication of three definitive booklets about the history of Draycott St Margaret’s Church. Very few print copies of these works are now available; even reference copies are hard to find.

Some history-buffs will be already aware of two of the booklets: ‘Parish Church of St Margaret’ by June Johanneson & Ken Burgess (1989); ‘and ‘A Condensed History of St Margaret’s Church’ written by Bert Spencer using researches of Ken & Mollie Burgess (publ 1995). Bert’s booklet is the one to look at if you are new to the church; it picks out the main features and is nice and short (20 pages).

St Margaret's Church 1967, Goodier

St Margaret’s Church 1967 – drawing by Goodier

Of course, both these histories are developments of an earlier, 1967 work by Rev Charles Healey (the rector here during the 1960s), called ‘A Short History of St Margaret’s Church’.

However, the document that hardly anybody has seen up to yet is the ‘NADFAS Guide to St Margaret’s’ (1996).  Only three of these were published – as it’s a whopping 200 pages long and full of the very deepest details.
If you want to know every last meaning in any one of the stained-glass windows, or the material used in every piece of stonework, or the date of every piece of furniture in the church, then this is the work for you!!

NADFAS book, tiles

Even each floor-tile is described & explained!

Vera Marsh, a local parishioner herself, was one of the fifteen volunteers who compiled the research, which took two years to complete. Vera, who wrote the section about the stained-glass windows (and still worships at the church), told us that she is absolutely delighted that the tome is now finally available to all…

All these three publications have now been copied digitally to CD – and the CD is available for £5. Income from sales will go straight into the church’s repair fund. Email John Clarke or phone him on 01782 396190 for details.

And, don’t forget…
If you do love old churches, all are invited to go along to St Margaret’s Open Days – on the first Saturday of July and August and September between 2 and 4pm. Look for the ‘church open’ sign. There is always someone to tell you about the church if you wish to know more.
If you do buy this St Margaret’s History CD, you may even be the expert in the building!

– – –
Methodist history too

It’s not just Draycott … many communities across the region are beginning to realise the importance of the history of their old churches. Now that local schools and post offices are closing, and even country pubs are feeling the financial heat, an old church is sometimes the only place remaining that links us to our collective past.

Boundary Methodist Chapel

Boundary Methodist Chapel

Our local Methodists too have realised this and are celebrating the history of their tiny historic chapel at Boundary (Boundary is next hamlet along from Draycott Cross, so quite a few Draycottians will know the chapel well).
Every Saturday afternoon during August, between 2pm-4pm, the chapel will be hosting a history display with photos and memorabilia going right back tot when the chapel opened.

Do you have stories to tell, or can you help with the loan of any photos featuring Boundary or its residents or the chapel? It’s not too late. Just email Jenny, or phone her on 01782 394983

– – –
Car parking – sorted!!

Well done to Blythe Cricket Club!
The gates to the club’s ground in Cresswell are right on the brow of a humpback hill and in the past, when the club’s car-park was full, visitors to the ground have parked on the roadside.

Blythe cricket parking overspill

New parking overspill site for cricket club

But, as everyone knows, parking on the top of a hill which has a blind brow can be dangerous; and residents did ask for the club to do something about the problem before an accident occurred.
A secondary factor is that the club is a victim of its own success. The First XI is doing so well in the NSSCL Division One that more spectators are attracted to come to watch – making a need for even more parking space. The club said they’d try to come up with a solution.

Well – true to their word, the club has now solved the problem.
What the club has done has got permission to use the field opposite the entry – which is now functioning as an overspill car-park.
Well played, Blythe CC!

– – –
Draycott’s central roundabout (planned)

One of the big shake-ups for Draycott will be the huge increase in traffic coming along Uttoxeter Road when the proposed housing-estate & industrial-estate are built.
Industrial vehicles will not be allowed to go south from the new business-park because the roads in Hilderstone (the next district along going south) are too narrow, so all the industrial traffic will have to come through Draycott Level.
Because snarl-ups will be inevitable otherwise (see VVSM Highways Report), a huge new roundabout is planned for the centre of the village.

Proposed roundabout for Uttoxeter Rd/Cresswell Lane

Proposed roundabout for Uttoxeter Rd/Cresswell Lane

The diagram that has been produced by the planners & developers (see pic above) is a bit confusing though, and back in January one of our district councillors, Dave Trigger, agreed to research the issue and get some answers.
Not surprisingly, residents are wondering where that research is. However, the bad news is that Dave has been very ill since the beginning of the year and not been able to fulfil more the most basic of his duties… so residents will have to wait.
Dave is a highways expert, so he really is the man for the job.
In the meantime, we send our best wishes to him and hope he gets better as soon as possible.

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

NEWS: council tax / St Mary statue / police investigation / telephone box

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early January 2017
A Happy 2017 to one and all!

In this post we have news of…:  local council tax rise? / future of Draycott phone-box / police investigation into Blythe Park plans / the statue of St Mary…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including the Cresswell Valentines Ball. Check out the Events page)

For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page which is open to all

– – –
Council tax

If you were hoping for a zero council tax rise from Draycott Area Council this coming year, you might be disappointed.  Some Staffordshire parish councils have already declared they will not put their ‘precept’ (share of the taxes) up, but Draycott councillors have indicated they might.

Two major issues concern our councillors: whether to give the parish council clerk a pay-rise; and secondly whether they wish to start paying for the services of a ‘lengthsman’.
A lengthsman is a person commissioned to do odd-job work about the area, like mowing of public areas, weeding etc etc.  In the past, such work was paid for with a grant from Staffordshire County, but parish councils have now been told they must fund the work themselves in future – if indeed they think it is worth carrying on with it at all.
(Incidentally, the parish already, separately, pays for the services of a litter-picker, out of its budget).

Of course, alternatively, the councillors could think about dipping into reserves to pay for additional costs and keep the tax rise as low as possible.

If you want to put your own viewpoint, or see the discussions on this issue, the council meets on 16th January.

– – –
Draycott kiosk – at risk?

Is the phone box on the Draycott Arms junction at risk?
British Telecom has announced that it is ‘decommissioning’ a lot of local phone-boxes, as they claim they are hardly being used any more. BT quotes the usage of the phone box at Tean Village, which was only used three times in the last twelve months.

Phonebox at old post office, Draycott-le-Moors

Phonebox at old post office, Draycott-le-Moors

So far, BT has not said it will decommission the Draycott one – but the writing is on the wall.
At the moment, this phone-box only accepts credit-card payment (not cash), so it’s not a lot of use … but … it is on a dangerous stretch of road – so should we try to retain it as an ‘emergency’ recourse, especially as mobile coverage is so limited at that dip in the road?
If you have thoughts, email them to Draycott Parish Council, which is taking up the issue.

As for the only other phone-boxes in the Draycott district, the one on Draycott Level was knocked down in a car accident a while ago and never replaced, and the Cresswell one – threatened with decommission – was taken on by the VVSM local community action group, who now maintain it as a site for a public defibrillator, and as an information point, though you cannot make calls from there anymore.

– – –
Police investigation

You may have wondered why there should now be a police investigation into the Blythe Park planning application – as it was approved way back in 2015.
(The approval meant that a huge new housing estate is to be built in Cresswell, and that the Cresswell industrial complex is set to double in size).

Well, it has been explained somewhat in this article. Click on the link to read it – and see what you think.

– – –
End of a good year

It’s clear that 2016 was a good year for the church of St Mary’s in Cresswell.  It is the oldest Catholicc church in Staffordshire, and celebrated its 200-year anniversary with a good knees-up, a listing from Historic England, and a great history exhibition.  Sadly, the church lost a very charismatic priest, Father David Hartley, but managed to get replacements in very quickly.

One part of the anniversary was the refurbishment of the statue of the Virgin Mary which stands on the front of the building.  Frankly, it had started to look its age, and needed a clean-up, which it got last summer, and it looks brand-new now.

Statue on the front of St Mary's Cresswell

Virgin & Child statue on the front of St Mary’s

You can now even clearly read the inscription under the statue which was obscured before.

Dedication on the Our Lady statue at St Mary's Cresswell

Dedication on the Our Lady statue at St Mary’s

Our Latin is not so good – so, can anyone translate this inscription for us please?

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

UPDATED… NEWS: S106 surprise / Sultan closes / council tax explained / new priests

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid June 2016
News of…:  News of: cricket club deal – or not? / council tax rise explanation / what next for Sultan? / new clergy for Cresswell …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a tennis festival… Check out the Events page)

– – –
Sticky wicket
(this section has been updated since it was first published)

A ‘Section 106’ agreement for the new Cresswell housing estate has now been signed off, and lots of people have been studying it.
The S106 is the agreement between officers from the district council (Staffs Moorlands DC) and the developer (Scentarea/Malcolm Barrett); and is about all the nitty-gritty things that must be done before the development can go ahead – stuff like provision for proper transport links, playgrounds etc.
The negotiations are carried out behind closed-doors, and no community leaders are allowed to have any input.

Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council discussed it this week at their meeting; and there was quite a lot of surprise at one unexpected clause.
The S106 indicates that Blythe Cricket Club, which is just up the hill from the planned housing estate, will stand to gain hundreds of thousands of pounds if the estate is built. In the document, it states the developers are putting forward this sum, to be paid over for the use of the cricket club’s playing fields for the incoming population.
HOWEVER … the cricket club’s chairman has since vehemently denied that they have ever even been approached over the matter!!!

Blythe CC cricket shed

Space at the east end of the cricket ground

The councillors were – whatever the situation – still surprised, and a bit dismayed, that no one who signed off this S106 had approached them, even out of courtesy, to at least inform them that this agreement was in the air.

The council (and local community groups) have been active in supporting the cricket club during its successful application for lottery funding.
Other local land-owners have been reluctant to strike deals with such an unpopular project without first talking to community leaders.
It will be interesting to see how the cricket club chases down this matter – and what explanation is eventually offered for this quite bizarre situation.

To read the clauses about the cricket club money yourself, click here (see page 11).
To see the whole S106 agreement, click here – and then scroll to the bottom of the page.
To see our guide to the other highlights of the agreement, and to see what local people are thinking about it, click here

– – –
Council tax

Talking of the parish council, you may have been as puzzled as we were to see that the Draycott Parish Council part of the council tax bill had risen by 2%.  The councillors had sworn blind that they would not raise their part of the tax at all this year…

Well, it turns out it was a weird administration thing.

Our parish council did not seem aware that the annual grant that they receive from Staffs Moorlands was being reduced (– part of the cuts that SMDC is implementing across the board).
So, just by asking for the same money in council tax as it received in the previous year, the parish council… accidentally, it’s said … ensured immediately that we would have to pay more in tax to them.
Accounts are slippery things, huh?

– – –
New clergy

The Catholic Church has worked quickly to find new clergy for St Mary’s in Cresswell.
At Easter-time, Father David Hartley, who was very popular round here, was promoted to a new parish down south, and no-one thought we’d see new priests in the parish for a while.

Hog Roast at St Mary's, Cresswell

Hog Roast at St Mary’s, Cresswell

However, it has just been announced that Father Kazimierz Stefek is to be the new priest for the combined parishes of Meir, Caverswall & Cresswell. He will have an assistant too: Father Pawal Przbyzewski.  They will be based in Meir, and will arrive in August.
Both men are of Polish origin, as you can guess from their names, but Father Stefek knows the Midlands well, having served before in a parish in Wolverhampton.

We wish them luck.

– – –
Sultan shut

What’s happening at the local Pakistani restaurant, the Sultan Buffet (formerly The Mango Tree, and, a long time before that, The Plough)?
The restaurant shut suddenly last month without much explanation, though it did say that it was looking for a new chef.
It has had problems in the past, including a poor review from the hygiene inspectors, but it seemed to have turned that corner, and was getting recommendations from its regulars.

Sultan Buffet Restaurant

The Sultan Buffet

The building is now “to let” – with planning permission for a restaurant of course. Anyone know what is likely to happen next?

– – –

Don’t forget that the village Facebook page is the place to go for the very latest updates on life in Draycott / Cresswell / Totmonslow, as well being the place for discussion and instant comments.  It has over a hundred active members.
You don’t have to be a member of Facebook to look at the page, so just bookmark the page and take a look every so often if you are interested but not yet a Facebook member.
However, you can’t make a comment on the page until you actually join the group.  To join, just click on the, umm, ‘Join’ button at the top of the page…!

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.      (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

NEWS: travellers’ site / college’s promise / bad bad driving / sudden collapse

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid April 2016
News of…:  travellers’ site by Draycott / Draycott College ‘on the mend’? / crazy driving in our lanes / collapsed (and collapsing) structures…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including the annual village assembly… Check out the Events page)

– – –
Badly-planned planning!

Well, it has been a confusing few weeks and no mistake.  Staffordshire Moorlands District Council could not have handled matters worse!
Issues like where new housing is to go and where a new travellers’ site is to go have to be sorted – of course – but these are sensitive situations.
All the leaks to the press, all the councillors wringing their hands with dismay (but still voting for the proposals to be pushed ahead) and the way that information has been released slowly then quickly really do make SMDC look amateurish and, worse, uncaring.

Anyway…  it looks like the district council has now settled on one of two spots for the area’s travellers’ site – on fields behind the petrol station in Blythe Bridge or a site opposite Chandni Cottage restaurant (known as site TR002). Both sites are on the very edge of Draycott.
Some keen-eyed folk have already pointed out that the former is currently Green Belt land, so it will take a while for permission to be granted for that – if it ever is.
The Blythe Bridge website already has a petition up and running.

This will be mixed news for the folks of Draycott Old Road, as they are just a skip away (across fields) from the proposed two sites. However, some of the other possible proposed sites (especially the one near Draycott College) were probably not their first choice either…

Taking of Draycott Moor College, there was a good meeting last week held by Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council to discuss the ongoing issues of bad behaviour by pupils there.  The new head turned up for the meeting and was quite convincing; and the college has said it will clear up problems “not in months, but in weeks…”
However, we have heard much of this before.  The proof will be in the pudding as they say…    And some people were definitely not convinced by the college’s attitudes – see our Comments section.


If you feel you have not had a chance to put your point of view about local matters yet, you still have a chance, at not just one – but three open meetings!
The first one (our annual Draycott Village Assembly) takes place this coming Monday; the local community action group have theirs in ten days; and people worried about the travellers’ site have yet another one they can go to (on May 3rd).
Check our What’s On page for details of all these get-togethers.

– – –

A lot of people have now reported the perimeter wall, by the Cresswell garages, that collapsed ten days ago (see pic below).
It seems like it was simply cement-fatigue – as the wall, more or less, seems to have collapsed as one item, before breaking up on impact. It’s just fortunate that nobody was ‘on the wrong side’ of it as it fell…
It would take an expert to work out if it was deliberately pushed over.

Collapsed wall at Cresswell garages

However, it’s certainly now a hazard; so let’s hope that the council gets someone out to sort it quickly.  The garages there are no longer for rent, so it won’t affect any householders.

Oddly, a similar issue has come up, at much the same time, warning parishioners at St Mary’s Church in Cresswell about the state of some of the old gravestones there – which are leaning over a bit too much.

Headstones warning sign at Cresswell Churchyard

This is not the first time that Cresswell Churchyard has had discussions about the gravestones.  Older parishioners will remember that, in the 1960s, the late Father Meagher (an Irish parish priest of the ‘old school’, who took no nonsense!) wanted the gravestones in the ‘old’ part of the cemetery removed and re-situated.  He wanted them placed up against the walls of the cemetery (as they are at so many churchyards now), leaving most of it as just lawn – also making it easier to maintain…

However, for once he did not get his way, and after fierce objections, fewer than half-dozen headstones were eventually taken up.
We shall wait & see if Father Meagher (looking down from above) gets his way this time!

– – –
Crazy driving

It would be nice to finish this post with good news, but sadly, no.

You may have read on the village Facebook page about Shelagh Wood, who was incredibly lucky not to be injured by a crazy driver tearing down Draycott Old Road.  If you don’t know the lane, it’s barely wide enough to fit two cars, so it’s best to be slow along there.

However, at the weekend, early in the morning, someone came down there so fast, he scratched all along the side of Shelagh’s car as they passed each other, ripping her wing-mirror back and peeling back paint on the car’s side and twisting her door edge.  Presumably, his car looked as bad as hers afterward… so – if you see a silver saloon car (with a Y in the numberplate) suddenly looking the worse for wear on its passenger side, ring the Police on 101.

There has been a spate of these minor (fortunately) accidents recently on our narrow lanes – there have been a couple of incidents on Cheadle Road, near Brookside, too.
Why are so many people in such a rush?

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

NEWS: Father D going / job vacancies / buy a barn! / can you vote?

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late February 2016
News of…:  Cresswell’s priest is leaving / parish handy-person post / grassland & barn up for sale / are you registered to vote?…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including lunches for Lent… Check out the Events page)

– – –
Popular priest to leave

Well, the bad news (for us, if not for him perhaps) is that Father David Hartley, who has been priest at St Mary’s RC Church in Cresswell for the last six years, is moving on.
Father David is returning to his roots by taking a new parish in Oxfordshire – but he will be sorely missed here.

How will he be replaced?  The fact is that Father David looks after three parishes (Meir and Caverswall, as well as Cresswell) and holds down a number of official (voluntary) posts, so he’s one of those people who often needs to be in two places at one time…   However, he also takes a keen interest in community affairs – he was even asked if he’d consider being a Draycott parish councillor – but he simply didn’t have the time!

Cresswell Information Centre opening

Father Hartley cut the ribbon for the Cresswell Information Centre opening

Draycott’s historians will miss him too, as he has enthusiastically carried out researches into the Catholic history of this ‘Paynsley district’ – as Catholics used to call it.

It’s not clear when exactly Father David will be going.  Though his new role down south commences at Easter, he expects to be here in Cresswell for the main 200th Anniversary Celebrations of St Mary’s in May 1st.
Let’s hope a grand Farewell Party for him will mark the occasion too!

– – –
Want a derelict barn of your own?

Talking of history, there’s a chance to own a little bit of our local history – if you have £150,000.  If you ever walk up the bank past The Draycott Arms, you’ll have noticed a derelict old long barn on the right-hand side of the road.  No-one is quite sure how old it is, but it is now part of the sale of five acres of land there.

The barn and the huge, empty field around it are currently on the market, and being handled by Eaton & Hollis.  See the details.

– – –

If you’re looking for part-time work, two local opportunities have come up.

In the next village along going south, the parish council there are looking for a handyperson.  They want someone to carry out regular maintenance of public benches, notice-boards, planters and bus shelters, and also carry out minor repairs.  Altogether, the contract pays £2970 a year (equipment provided).
See the details here, or take a look at the council’s notice-boards (nearest one is in Saverley Green).

Our own Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council could take a lesson from Fulford, because our parish council has been saying it wants to employ a ‘lengthsman’ (aka a handyperson) for the last four years, but doesn’t seem to have figured out that advertising the post might be one solution to the problem.

Draycott Arms

Want to work at The Draycott?

Also on the local vacancies list is an opportunity for a sous-chef at The Draycott Arms. The pub is willing to see the right candidate as soon as they apply…

– – –
In… out?

Finally, don’t lose out on your chance to cast a ballot in what David Cameron has called the “biggest vote in our lifetimes”.  Yes, the European Referendum vote is now set for June 23rd; and you need to make sure you are properly listed on the Electoral Register if you wish to take part.

All you need to know about being on the Electoral Register can be found on the SMDC Elections Page.

Incidentally, on the same day we will all be being asked to vote for who should be the next Staffordshire Police & Crime Commissioner.  Already a number of candidates are lining up for this one – even the Green Party is putting forward a nomination.

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

NEWS: great history / church meet / daffodils! / council tax / no postbox

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid February 2016
News of…:  successful history exhibition in Cresswell / parish council sets tax / crunch meeting for St Margaret’s / missing postbox / flowers in bloom…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a talk on wartime fashion… Check out the Events page)

– – –
History exhibition brings up rarities

The history exhibition in Cresswell at St Mary’s Catholic Church on the weekend was a real revelation, and, if you missed it, you missed a treat (and we’re not just talking about the cakes!)

There was a marvellous display of artefacts, some of them 500 years old, and lots to learn about the history of Cresswell and the church – with some very friendly guides.
Rose Brooks, who used to be a teacher in Tean, did a ‘powerpoint presentation’ which was very informative; and there were some modern picture-scenes, sewn and stitched by members of the congregation.
There was even an ancient phonograph, which played wax-cylinders of the greatest hits of Gilbert & Sullivan!

For many local history enthusiasts though, it was a real eye-opener, as many of the items had never been seen in public before, having been donated especially or been found in attic-searches.

Complete Works of Drexel, book

A little damaged, but looking not bad for 350 years old

A seventeenth century book, which was in surprisingly good condition, seeing as it had been subject to damp, took second pride of place (after the vestments, which dated back to Tudor times).
The Complete Works of Jeremias Drexel’, published in 1643 (in Latin), was one of the items stored in an ancient oak-chest that was discovered by accident, hidden behind a wall in a local farm over a hundred years ago. It’s since been lying around in a box in the jumble in the St Mary’s Church attic since, so this is the first time it’s seen the light of day in many years.

We’re told that the exhibition, which was set up as part of the church’s 200th anniversary celebrations, was so successful that it might be repeated – especially for all the people who missed it this time around.

– – –
St Margaret crunch meeting

Talking of local churches, our other one, St Margaret’s CoE, hosts a very important meeting next month.  It concerns nothing less than how local Anglicans wish to define a vision for themselves over the next few years – in other words, how they see their role in Draycott in the 21st Century, and what they intend to do about it.

The new vicar, Revd Jonathan Roberts, has been in post only a few months, but it’s clear that he wants to sort the ‘Big Stuff’ quickly.  If you are a practising Anglican, you’ll want to be there.
The meeting takes place on Wednesday 16 March at St Margaret’s from 7.30.

– – –
Weather talk

Well, we love nothing more than talking about the weather – so there’s been plenty to talk about recently, though some of it quite worrying.

Daffs in Cresswell

However, Nature can be relied upon to be cheerful too.
We’ve never seen snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils all blooming at the same time, but if you take a quick walk around Draycott area, that’s exactly what you’ll see.
It cheered us up.

– – –
Anyone seen a post-box?

The missing post-box near the old Bird In Hand Pub on the road south to Hilderstone is, umm, still missing.
It was stolen in November, and has never been recovered.
The Royal Mail did say at the time it would be replaced, but no new one has appeared.

At least Draycott Level was more fortunate when its post-box was knocked down by an errant motorist back last year. It was replaced in just days.
Maybe the Uttoxeter Road postmen and women put in a good word for us!

– – –
Council tax

Something we don’t like to talk about (unless we have to) is council tax.  Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council has been wrestling with what level their part of the tax should be set at.

As we know, Staffordshire County Council  was going to set it at a 1.95% rise, but has taken advantage of the government’s permission to add on an extra 2% (for increasing costs in adult care), meaning we all will be paying an extra 3.95% to them as of April.  Meanwhile, the Staffordshire Police Service will be charging no extra for their portion of the council tax.

So… what did Draycott Parish Council set their rise at?  As the clerk, Kate Bradshaw, explained to the councillors, the parish currently raises £8000 in tax every year and usually spends £8000 a year.  The councillors decided, as there is £2000 in the reserves, that therefore it will be a zero rise in their portion of the council tax this year.

This sounds sensible, but the CPALC, an advisory body for parish councils, always warns that local parish councils’ reserves should try to anticipate the cost of a snap by-election (as well as emergencies).  The last by-election in Draycott cost £3000 to mount, so… you do the math, as they say.
It’s a slightly risky decision.

Meanwhile, it’s strange to hear that a south Staffordshire parish council, Burntwood Town Council, is raising its council tax by a whopping thirty per cent.
The last council to raise tax by a similarly huge amount (25% in this instance, in 2014) was … Draycott Parish!

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)