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

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NEWS: no more buses / new use for barn / local budget talks / sports sponsor

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early-January 2018
In this post we have news of…: Draycott to lose its last bus / 19th century barn to be home / council discusses budget / sports centre gets new sponsor / footpaths survey…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a winter ball…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Bye bye buses

Plans have already been approved to remove the last bus service from Draycott.
Sadly, cuts to bus-subsidies by the county council mean that the No 12 route (run by D&G Bus, from Stone through Cresswell and Draycott along to Longton), is for the chop, as, without subsidies, it would be no longer viable to run.

Cresswell bus-shelter

Cresswell bus-shelter – soon to be redundant

In a statement to us, D&G confirmed the bad news, saying, “Due to the low numbers of passengers that service 12 carries, it is highly likely that the service will be withdrawn entirely once the funding is taken away on April 1st 2018.”

It’s a sad decline for the district.  Only a few years ago, the Hanley–Uttoxeter Express ran through the village! And now we will be reduced to nothing.

There is still an outside chance something can be worked out before April, and we will be looking to our community leaders on Draycott Council for some ideas. However, the authorities at Stafford would want some really strong or innovative suggestions from our councillors to make them alter their course. Based on recent experience of our councillors, one can’t see that happening…

– – –
Budgeting issues

Draycott councillors also have another big issue on their minds, which should make their next meeting (on January 15th) a tense one.

For years now, the council has been underpaying its clerk (a council clerk is a sort of executive, non-elected administrator to a council). It turns out that the clerk – according to the guidelines laid down – should have been paid for nearly a quarter more hours than she is currently getting.
As you can imagine, this increase in her wages will cause a large hike in the council’s expenditure – and, as the council is funded by us, the taxpayers of Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow, it could mean in turn a large percentage hike in our ‘parish’ council tax.
Alternatively, the councillors could raid the emergency reserves to make up the deficit, or cut some of Draycott’s already thin services…

What will they do?
Decision-time for them is Monday 15th.

– – –
Nineteenth century barn gets new life

At last, planning officers at SMDC have given a decision on the future of the old barn (see pic below) that stands just opposite the Draycott Arms.
A local farmer, George Plant, had put in an application to turn the building (which is pretty run-down now, and was used for hay-storage in the past) into a smart new home.
Well, George has his wish, and has been told he can now go ahead.
Rocks BarnHowever, those in that part of the village who were worried about a ‘loss of character’ may be pleased to learn that the present structure, which goes back to the 1880s, will not be demolished. Part of the planning permission is that builders must retain the walls and the ‘look’ of the old barn.
It will live on…!

– – –
New support for sports centre

Yes, we are going through bad times at the moment in this part of the world: inflation is creeping up, there is a stagnant housing market, and there isn’t much left over at the end of the week to play with.

This is why the recent news that Draycott Sports Centre has attracted a new sponsor is definitely a positive story. In just the last few months the centre has worked out a deal with A-Star Tutoring, a company that provides private teaching to kids of all ages.

The company, which is based in Newcastle under Lyme, believes that sporting ambition is a good match to education prowess. We were told by them: “As educators, we strongly believe that sporting activities have a direct effect on the ways in which individuals perform in the classroom… Students with sporting backgrounds tend to extend their sense of competition within the context of academic subject areas, which encourages them to set high targets for themselves.”

In the near future at Draycott Centre expect to see the likes of tennis tournaments etc bearing the name & logo of A-Star Tutoring.

– – –
Improve our footpaths

Even though we have miles and miles of footpaths in our small district, we have no regular maintenance of them by a recognised volunteer group. So, apart from the little bit that individuals do to care for stiles & destroyed signs and to report blockages, we have to rely on county council ‘rangers’. And the fact is that the environment department has taken a hammering in terms of cuts, so the rangers are doing less and less.

Oak Hill, Totmonslow stile

Near Oak Hill. Some landowners do make an effort to maintain stiles… nice one!

So, our nearest campaigning group, the Leek Ramblers, is urging everyone who loves walking in the countryside to complete the survey currently on offer from the county council – the Staffs Rights Of Way Consultation.
The Ramblers are warning that paths may close unless our voices are heard, so, if, like them, you want to keep the local countryside fully open, you need to complete it.

This consultation was due to have been halted by now but, under pressure, the county has extended the deadline to January 15th.

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

Happy angelic Christmas

It’s that time of year again! May we wish all our readers …
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS
(and A HAPPY NEW YEAR) !!

Our photo here is of a 600 year-old Christmas Angel – whose home is in Cresswell.

Cresswell orphrey (angel)

The angel forms part of some fourteenth century embroidery (called an ‘orphrey’).   This embroidery was sewn onto priests’ vestments, which have been used over the centuries in church services at St Mary’s in Cresswell as well as at St Margaret’s in Draycott.
Beautiful, isn’t it? And we hope your Christmas angels are just as lovely…!

To find out more about this local historic artefact and its companion pieces, click here

NEWS: VVSM end / Anthony exhibits / best to Dave / trees success

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-December 2017
In this post we have news of…: VVSM action group disbands / Anthony Hammond exhibition / Dave Trigger’s operation / Xmas Tree fest goes well…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including loads of carol-singing get-togethers!!..  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
VVSM no more

One bit of news that residents may not welcome, but will certainly be welcomed by all the developers who want a bit of Draycott, is that the local community-action group VVSM has decided to disband (see their announcement).
It seems like not enough people were coming forward to help keep the group running, and the weight of work was just too much for the few people left.

It’s a great shame, as VVSM can rightly claim much of the credit for the fact that, back in 2009, the developers who wanted to build a gas power station in Cresswell eventually withdraw their application.
The group went on to hire legal teams to fight the next big problem, the Blythe Park housing estate application, and managed to expose an awful lot of facts that had been kept hidden and even misreported, thus slowing down the progress of those plans.
They also contributed to the general life of the community, installing a defibrillator in Cresswell among other achievements.

However, as VVSM say in their latest post, it does seem as though everyone in the district, from householders to politicians, now just think that there is very little that can be done about development issues… and have given up. This may explain why no new members have come forward.

It may be something we regret though. The housing-estate at Blythe Vale has now been approved as well the one at Blythe Park, so the developers will now next be looking hungrily at Cresswell ridge (on the skyline above Uttoxeter Road) where outline planning permission for further development is already approved.
Without VVSM in place, those developers will certainly have a much easier ride.

– – –
Fun with trees

Congratulations to Pauline & John Clarke, the organisers of the Draycott Christmas Tree Festival. Once again, they created an event that really did try to pull the local community together – and there really aren’t enough of such events in Draycott.

Among the groups that decorated, themed, and submitted trees were the Draycott Women’s Institute, the local cricket club, the bellringers group, Forsbrook School, the Draycott Brownies and more. Draycott Manor School did the event a compliment by putting in four trees!
The most thoughtful tree (we think) was the one from Forsbrook Primary, which was a Poet-Tree (geddit?) with poems written by the children hanging from the branches.

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However, as usual, it’s a shame that more groups, families and businesses did not take part.
Community spirit does seem to be declining in Draycott, especially compared to all the wonderful things happening in the villages surrounding us. What can be done to improve it?

– – –
Anthony gets exhibited

It’ll soon be the kids’ holidays, so if you’re looking for a quick trip out, why not try Newcastle-under-Lyme Museum? There is lots of stuff for kids there.
But the reason we mention the museum particularly is because local man, Anthony Hammond, has an exhibition on there at the moment; it runs until January 8th.

Anthony Hammond soldier sculptureAnthony specialises in carving sculptures out of tree-trunks, which he does with a specially adapted electric saw. Many of us will have seen him doing his stuff at the Draycott Summer Fayre.
He was recently in the papers for a fantastic carving of a World War One soldier (see right), which you can also see at Newcastle.
Well worth a visit.

Incidentally lots of you ask after his grandmother, local-legend Betty Hammond. Apparently, she is doing well at the moment, even if she is less mobile than she was. This Christmas will be her 104th!

– – –
Best wishes

One person who has been sadly absent from village activity for quite a while is Dave Trigger, one of the three councillors who represent this district on Staffordshire Moorlands Council.

Dave has a wealth of knowledge about local government and about engineering (his specialist subject) and he often brings a lot of common sense to the table whenever he has got along to a Draycott Council meeting in the past.

He has faced a major operation, which – everyone hopes – will go some way to getting him back on his feet.
If you still haven’t completed your Xmas card mail-out, you could add him to it…

***
Do you have news you’d like to see written up on this website? If so – just 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: Xmas fest / Blithe project / darts! / community cash

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late-November 2017
In this post we have news of…: Christmas tree festival / River Blithe clean-up / 50 up for Phyllis / darts at the Arms / community fund pay-out…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including loads of Xmas events!!. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Get in the Christmas (tree) spirit

The people of Draycott come together as a community too little sadly, but one time they definitely do bond is for the annual village Christmas Tree Festival.
This is a great project – as it allows anyone from the district & surroundings to decorate a small Christmas tree and enter it into a display.

A lot of people who enter into the spirit of the project have a theme in their decoration, whether it’s to highlight the good work of a local organisation, or to spread general thoughts of goodwill. It’s not a religious thing necessarily – you choose the look and the ‘message’ for yourself.

Draycott Christmas Fest 2014 6

The trees are along the two side aisles of the church making them easy to see

There’s no big hassle to it either. Your family could decorate a small tree (real or artificial, but it must be under 4 feet high) any time over the next day or two – and then simply deliver it to St Margaret’s Church during Saturday (2nd December) – the day the organisers are accepting the trees.
The exhibition of trees then stays up in the church (during which time the building is open to the public during the afternoon) from Sunday 3rd until Sunday 10th.

It’s all free too: no fee to enter a tree, and no fee to get into the church to see the exhibition. If you need more details email Pauline Clarke, but, really, it’s as easy as that.
To see the full details of ‘rules’, click here.
Go on. You know you want to!

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Money in time for Christmas

It’s taken quite a while, but at last money from the ‘Newton Solar Array Community Fund’ is being distributed. This is the money set aside by the company that runs the solar farm near Totmonslow, as a sort of gift to our community for any disruption caused, and comes to about £2000 per year.
The company has entrusted Draycott Council with the cash, to hand out as the councillors see fit.

Well, the first round of applications has now been completed, and the winners are:
Draycott Church & Community Hall, which receives £500 toward the cost of new fireproof curtains
Lee Warburton, a local resident, who has asked for £285 toward the cost of installing new floral planters in the village
The Draycott Speed Watch Group, which will get £350 to purchase a radar-gun when it formally starts up
Councillor Steve Jones, who asked for £300 to be used to fund a project in Draycott for children
Another request for £1000 as part-payment against Mary Edwards’ project to re-surface part of Church Lane (see our story about this) was put on hold while more information was sought
Some other requests were either withdrawn or postponed until the next round of applications.

Steve’s project is probably the most intriguing one. He has set up a youth group called ‘Gaming Potion’, which aims to get kids off smartphones & gaming consoles and into ‘real’ hands-on games.  The idea is to arrange occasional day-long events over the next year or so, to be held at Draycott Church Hall – one is already arranged for late December (see our Events page) .  He’s also looking for volunteers who like tabletop gaming to help out.

It’s great to see the community-fund being taken up like this. If you feel that you have a project which would benefit, just click here and fill out the form.
The next lot of applications will be considered in the new year.

– – –
A different kind of streaming

Officials from the South Staffordshire Water Company may have been reading this website when they came up with their latest idea.
We wrote a story last month mentioning that the River Blithe (which runs right down from Draycott & Cresswell to Tittesworth Reservoir and then to Rugeley), was not in great condition.

Cresswell Bridge silt

River Blithe passes under Cresswell Bridge

Well SSW are now offering grants up to £10,000 to farmers who have land around the course of this river – if they take part in a land improvement scheme.
It sounds really worthwhile.

For more info, phone Nina at SSW on 01922 638282; and if you are a farmer who decides to take part, will you let us know how it goes?

– – –
Arrows at the Arms

The refurbishment at the Draycott Arms pub has been moving along nicely – so much so that a darts team is now making regular use of the snug.

The Draycott Arms team is doing rather well too, holding a mid-table position in the Ipstones Darts League – though organiser Andy Bird does point out that “we don’t take it TOO seriously; it’s more about fun and getting together really”.

The team, which is made up of both men and women, could do with a couple more members in the squad however.
Are you free on occasional Tuesday evenings? Do you think you could throw an ‘arrow’ straight enough? (Well, straight enough not to damage the surrounding paintwork..?!!).
Just email Zara at the Arms, or just drop in, and you’ll get a friendly welcome – as well as more information.

– – –
Fifty years in the Institute

And finally… congratulations to Phyllis Sales, a lady who, when she commits to something, really does commit!

This month, Phyllis celebrates fifty years as a member of the Draycott Women’s Institute. Being a member has probably kept her as young as she is…
(Wouldn’t it be great if other members collated some of her memories, to add to the village’s treasure trove of recent history?)

The Draycott branch of the Women’s Institute meets monthly to hear talks and organise worthwhile projects.
It’s been expanding recently, so if you’d like to join up with a nice bunch of people, just email them for information.
Only one membership rule though: you do have to be a woman…!

***
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: car fireball / Blythe Vale go-ahead / footpaths concern / baby ballet!

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid- November 2017
In this post we have news of…: car in explosion at Draycott Cross / approval for 118 new homes / footpaths consultation / ballet for babies…
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including Remembrance Sunday events. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Car in fireball

Details are slowly emerging of the weekend’s horrific car-crash at Draycott Cross.
On Friday evening, two cars collided near to Field’s Farm on Cheadle Road (half a mile up from the Draycott Arms) and, minutes later, one of them started into flames.
Fortunately some other, very courageous motorists at the scene managed to drag the young woman who was driving the car out of the vehicle … but only moments before a sudden fireball explosion.
The young woman, who has not been named yet, has severe injuries to her legs and is being treated in hospital.

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A local well-known couple, Karen & Tony Buckle, were in the other car – luckily, the pair were not injured.  In fact, Tony was one of the brave rescuers who – probably – saved the young women’s life.
A full account of the incident is on the front page of The Stunner newspaper, including a dramatic photograph of the blazing car.

What’s not clear is how the accident occurred.  Although the incident took place not far from a bend, in the darkness of night-time, yet it is a clear stretch of road just there.  Modern cars rarely burst into flame, so the police are also looking into why that happened.

– – –
Disappointment – with result, with council

Many local residents are expressing their disappointment at the result of last week’s SMDC Planning Committee decision over the Blythe Vale housing estate application.  The developers, St Modwen, got the go-ahead they were looking for (with just one vote against), so we can expect work on building the 100+ homes (behind the Chandni Cottage restaurant) to start sometime next year.
It was always going to be a tough proposal to fight, as it had the full recommendation of local planners and is part of a national scheme – both of which facts mean that it would have taken a strong team-effort to have seen it overturned.

However, there is also great disappointment about the role of Draycott parish councillors – who did almost nothing to oppose the application, even though they claimed to be fully supporting the local residents who feared it.
Not only did our own council not even put in a formal comment on the planning-application website (even though distant Checkley Council did!), none of them even turned up to speak against the application at the decision meeting  … A spokesperson later claimed that all seven councillors had busy lives, implying that this made it too hard for even one of them to get there.

The residents of this district have a right to wonder if these people should even be on the council, if their ‘busy lives’ make it too difficult for them to make some effort over what is the biggest thing to happen to Draycott for the past 25 years.  We shall see: elections are due in 2019.

– – –
Footpath maintenance under threat

Draycott & Cresswell are fortunate in having an extensive network of miles of public footpaths.
If one uses local footpaths regularly, the science says you’ll be healthier, happier and more at peace with yourself – great for thinking-time!
However, budget cuts mean that maintenance of our paths network is declining.Footpath fingerpost at CresswellUndergrowth is nearly choking this stile at Cresswell

Staffs County Council, which is responsible for local footpath maintenance, recognises that this problem has now turned into a major issue, and has started a public consultation to see what we all think about the current state of our footpaths & bridleways – and their future. However the county’s proposals are already causing concern; the Staffordshire Area Ramblers has filed comments already, not all favourable.
If you want to take part in the consultation yourself, click here  – you have until December 25th to put in your thoughts.
We wrote up a recent article on our local footpaths – it might give you a few ideas to go on with.

The local Draycott parish council has a special responsibility for monitoring foortpaths in our district; let’s see what response they make.

– – –
Babies get balletic

Finally, this is a sentence we never thought we’d write: “baby ballet is coming to Draycott”…     But, no, not a performance by a troupe of six-month old prima ballerinas, but … some lessons for them!

We are not exactly sure what ‘b-b’ is but babies apparently get quite a kick (or a pirouette?) out of the classes.  Children up to six years can take part.
The classes get under way in January at Draycott Sports Centre.
So, we look forward to a fully staged performance by the pupils in twenty years time!

***
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!

Birthday

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…

NEWS: speedwatch group / money available / fun nights ahead / history book

In this post we have news of…: Speedwatch group for Draycott level / community fund deadline / a rockin’ time for all coming up! / local history book is back … …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a Remembrance Poppy Ball. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

– – –
Draycott speed watch

Good news! Enough people have now volunteered in order to make the formation of a Draycott Speedwatch group possible. Although Cresswell has had a Speedwatch group for over five years, so far it’s been hard to raise the necessary enthusiasm for a sister one in Draycott.
This good news because if there’s one thing that residents report a lot it’s the excessive speeds of some motorists roaring along Draycott Level.

Speedwatch groups work with the local police, and are issued with official jackets and radar guns. This gives them the right to stand on the roadside and monitor the speeds of local passing motorists. They report the worst offenders.

You may have seen the thoughtful comment by Zara Hutson, the owner of The Draycott Arms. She says: “We are the only village in the area that doesn’t have some form of speed-reducing features – along the straightest and fastest stretch around! Everywhere else has humps, bumps, islands and lights, but Draycott doesn’t even have a mid-point (traffic island) for crossing halfway at a time.
“The speed some people abuse this at is terrifying.
“For me the new housing development itself are good things – a slightly bigger population will hopefully kick start a community that has stagnated. However, the access for the development at that (eastern) end of Draycott needs reviewing first, along with traffic calming measures throughout.”

If you think you can spare an hour every fortnight and join the Speedwatch group, contact Kate Bradshaw. Kate, who lives on Draycott Level herself, has very strong views about speed, and also thinks extra houses at Blythe Vale will cause an issue. The development, she says: “…would cause carnage … it is totally in the wrong place because of its proximity to traffic coming off the roundabout.”

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History book re-issued

As we reported before, all the books about the history of this district (a History Of The Parish of Draycott-en-le-Moors by Matthew Pointon) recently sold out.

Cover of Draycott history bookHowever, Mathew tells us he is still getting requests for copies, so he is now doing his best to satisfy the late-comers. He’s arranged an account on Lulu.Com (the self-publishing website) – which means the book is newly available!
Fortunately for us, Matthew is disregarding inflation rises since the first publication and is keeping the cover price at £10 – though VAT and p&p will push the cost up slightly. To order a copy, just click on here and follow the prompts.

Those of you who would prefer an e-book/Kindle version may want to wait a couple of weeks though. Matthew is in the process of figuring how that might work!

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Lots of local events to go to

As is usual at this time of year, suddenly there are loads of events being announced. As most of them are in walking distance (almost), you don’t even need a car to get to them!

Half-term is always good for kids round here of course with kids’ sports camp days in Cresswell, and soccer sessions in Blythe Bridge. (This latter venture is being funded by Forsbrook parish council – nice to see a parish council being so pro-active).
However, it’s not just about kids: for the adults, there are quizzes, dances, rock concerts, talks and more, all within a three-mile radius. Don’t forget the fireworks display at Forsbrook too.swinging sixties band with dr shevlin

And if you want a night for memories: howazbout a Swinging Sixties gig? If anybody remembers Doctor Shevlin, who worked at both Tean and Blythe Bridge surgeries, it’s good to report that retirement has not slowed him down – he is the guitarist with the ‘Swinging Sixties’ band (see pic above)…!

To check all the details of all the local events over the next couple of months, just click here.

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Apply now to community fund

It has been a long time in coming, but finally money from the local Solar Farm Community Fund is going to be handed out.
This is the money donated every year by the owners of the solar farm in Newton (Cresswell), to be used to underwrite community ventures across the Draycott civil-parish area (which includes Totmonslow, Cresswell, Draycott Cross etc).
Our local area-council has the task of sorting through the applications and choosing the best initiatives.

So far, only one set of applicants has managed to meet all the criteria: the committee of the Draycott Community Hall (aka the old Church Hall) in Church Lane has asked for £500 to help them install some insulating & flame-proof curtains. Anyone who knows the church hall will know how huge those windows are, and £500 won’t even pay half the cost of curtains for them, though it will help of course.

Draycott Church Hall windows

One of the Draycott Church Hall windows

If you thinking that you have an idea to improve the local community, the deadline to apply for the current round of grants is November 10th. Check out how to apply by clicking here.

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NEWS: repairs / illegal planter / lots of industry / river trouble

In this post we have news of…: volunteers do self-help repairs / illegal planter / industrial hubs dumped in Draycott / River Blithe in trouble …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a harvest supper. Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Doing it for themselves

Well done to those folk who have recently decided not to wait for whatever authorities to act, but to get out and fix some local street items themselves. According to a correspondent on the local Facebook page, it was all done by “community-minded” residents.

So… one of the parish council notice boards – the one on Draycott Level which was kicked over some time at the beginning of last month – now stands again! Its legs are a little shorter now, but as they are buried up to their top in soil, no one notices.
The torn felting on top of the Cresswell bus-shelter roof has been waiting a little longer for repairs, some six months or more, but it too has had a repair in the past week and now has a lovely new covering tacked on to it.

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The government is very much saying that local people must now volunteer to get out there and fix things in their communities themselves if they want them done – and it looks like someone is taking that advice to heart.

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Illegal weeds

One little job that, sadly, hasn’t been done by the authorities is the removal of the old planter (on our main junction, of Uttoxeter Rd and Cresswell Lane). A year ago, Draycott Parish Council promised to remove this eyesore, which has broken legs and is full of weeds, but so far they seem unable to locate a man & van to do it.Planter Draycott Junction

It further turns out, as the council’s clerk revealed at the last meeting, that it is probably illegally sited. It seems that you can’t just plonk a planter down in a public space – you need permission, and a licence to say you have permission. (Who knew?)

Maybe the news that it is an illegal will hurry along said removal.

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Pity the poor Blithe

We had an interesting email from Nigel Peake the other week. There are probably very few people who know this village as well as Nigel, and he says that in all his days he has never been so concerned about the river.
He wrote:  “Sit on the bridge and watch the river go by??! A joke!!!! The river is virtually weed bound, hardly any river to see. I’ve mentioned this to a Parish councillor in the past, and as usual, naff all done. I was born and bred in Cresswell, and I’ve honestly NEVER seen the river in such poor condition.”

The River Blithe runs into Draycott from Blythe Bridge, before going on to Tittesworth reservoir and eventually meeting the Trent at King’s Bromley near Rugeley. It’s quite a significant river, and is the real reason that Blythe Colours settled here over a hundred years ago.

Nigel is right of course. It’s partly the invasion of Himalayan balsam – the weed that spreads like wildfire – which is choking the river, and partly the constant need to keep de-silting the water-course, which isn’t happening.

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Even the tributary into it, which runs from The Hunter pub through Paynsley fields and meets the main Blithe at the Blythe Business Base, is virtually invisible right now.
Further up, near to Wastegate Farm/The Hunter, the landowner is even now putting in extra drainage pipes, presumably to help it along.

Anyone got any ideas on how to save the Blithe?

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Bringing industry to Draycott

The chance to comment on the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s ‘Local Plan – Preferred Options 2017’ has now passed. The results of the feedback should be known in the New Year, but we already know that many of the comments were deeply unfavourable.

Residents in both Draycott and Cresswell felt a bit frustrated that any comment by them objecting to the Blythe Park expansion, or to the Blythe Vale development, would be ignored – as the approval for both has already been passed, and the Local Plan only looks at future scenarios.

But, surprisingly, there was a mention of the developments in the council’s documents. They figure in the section on the council’s industrial strategy policy: –

•   8.26          Note that: no rural employment allocations are proposed … given that in May 2016 the Council granted outline approval for a major residential and industrial scheme in the countryside at Cresswell (Blythe Park expansion) covering approx 8.58ha of employment land.  This satisfies the District’s residual employment land requirement for 2016-2031.
And –

Note that: the 48.5ha allocation of land at Blythe Vale (Policy DSR1) for mixed uses responds to a special regional requirement for high quality, employment development independent of the general employment land requirements for the District set out in Policy E2.

In other words, ALL the region’s industrial development, for rural areas, for the next 15 years is allocated to … Cresswell & Draycott !

So, expect the fields along the ridge overlooking Uttoxeter Road to be changing over the next few years – from quiet arable land to widespread warehousing and more.
And none of our political representatives, from local level to Parliament, seem that bothered.

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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!

Horse?

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.

Legends

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.

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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