Tag Archives: St Margaret’s Church Draycott

Memorial (4) – Joyce Atkin

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

But neither the rector nor the church wardens of the time left any record identifying who these servicemen & women were… so we started a project to find out somethign about them.
Having already identified those who died in WW1, we have finally identified in this year, the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2, who the four men and one woman from 1939-45 are.
Week by week, up to VJ Day in mid-August, we’ll be publishing their stories. Fourth: Joyce Atkin.
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Joyce Atkin (not Atkins) was a nurse, and is the only woman on the Draycott memorial.

She was on a troopship, part of an Allied convoy sailing from East Africa to southern India in February 1944, when her ship, the SS Khedive Ismail, was attacked and sunk by an enemy submarine. The ship went down almost immediately, with a terrible death toll – only some 200 people survived, less than one-eighth of those on board. It was Britain’s third worst mercantile disaster in the Second World War.
She was just 28 years old.

Brookwood Military Cemetery

Joyce’s official stone is at Brookwood in Surrey

The role of women who die on active service in war is often overlooked by those who construct war memorials, so it is to the credit of the Draycott memorial committee that they ensured Joyce’s name would be there too.

Bromley Wood

Joyce was born to a farming family in the spot known as Bromley Wood, which is halfway between Cresswell and Hilderstone. Her parents Sidney and Annie had married in Uttoxeter in 1913, and she was born two years later.
(Sidney and family later moved a few miles to nearby Morrilow Moor Farm; he died in 1957).

Leigh Church War memorial

We think Joyce worshipped at Leigh village church as a girl

Joyce seems to have had an adventurous spirit, as, in 1936 at the age of 21, having left Bromley Wood Farm and her parents and three brothers, she enrolled at the Colindale School of Nursing in north London.
Qualifying in 1941, at some point she joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and later took on war duty, in the course of which she met her tragic death.

Shock

The incident in which Joyce died brought home to the British public just how involved women had become in the frontline effort in the last years of World War Two.
More than eighty service-women, including medical staff, died in the attack on the ship – and this turned out to be the highest ever death-number of British female military personnel in one single attack.

An extra tragedy in this event was that, although the ship that Joyce was on had already been sunk, the other ships in the convoy were still of course just as much at threat from the enemy submarine; and so two warships in the convoy immediately went after it. The depth charges these warships used against the submarine may well have injured or killed some of the survivors of the SS Khedive Ismail who were still in the water. It was one of those terrible dilemmas of war.
The submarine was eventually forced to surface, when it was destroyed by the warships’ torpedoes.

The news came as a terrible shock to the nation – so much so that the incident became the basis of an incident in The Cruel Sea, a best-selling book by Nicholas Monserrat (which was later adapted into a film of the same name).
Since then the full historical account has been written up in the book Passage to Destiny’  by Brian Crabb.

Remembrance

Though Joyce’s body was never found, she does have an official war-marker. You will find her memorial stone at the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey.

Interestingly, Joyce, as well as being remembered at Brookwood and at Draycott, is also remembered on the war memorial in Leigh village (near Tean). The parish of Leigh is adjacent to the parish of Draycott.

Joyce Atkin's name on Leigh War memorial

Joyce Atkin’s name is also on Leigh War memorial

It is not unusual for someone to be on more than one war memorial: most village war memorials were erected, not by the local authority, but by local people, who would nominate any war-dead who had been born or lived in and around the district. Joyce had lived on the ‘border’ between Leigh and Draycott.

With thanks to Bill Pearson and David B Atkin for researching the records.

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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Joyce’s service number was 270574

For the stories of all the other service-people whose names are on the war memorial plaque in St Margaret’s, click here

Memorial (3) – Paul Dobson

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

But neither the rector nor the church wardens of the time left any record identifying who these servicemen & women were… so we started a project to find out somethign about them.
Having already identified those who died in WW1, we have finally identified in this year, the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2, who the four men and one woman from 1939-45 are.
Week by week, up to VJ Day in mid-August, we’ll be publishing their stories. Third: Paul Thomas Dobson.
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The story of how Paul Thomas Dobson comes to be on the Draycott War Memorial is also the story of his cousin, Barbara Dobson (married name Black).

On Armistice Sunday, Barbara, who was a standard bearer for the Royal British Legion in the 1970s, did not go straight to the main RBL Remembrance procession – which, in our district, is held in Blythe Bridge.
No, she went up to Draycott Church, in uniform (she had been in the ATS in the war), and paid her respects there first… to her cousin “our Paul”. And she did this faithfully each year as long as she was able; she died in 1997.
And… it is possibly because of Barbara that Paul Dobson is on the Draycott memorial at all…

Parachute Regiment

We still know very little of Paul Dobson’s life and death, though his father and brother are recorded as living in Cheadle in 1939, which was the year that war broke out; Paul was just 14.

He probably joined up soon after turning eighteen, in 1943, and the next we come across him is in the March of 1945, the last year of the war, as the huge armies of the Allies move across Europe, slowly pushing back the enemy forces, fighting every inch of the way, making the final assault on Nazi Germany.

Paul is a young sapper in the Royal Engineers, attached to the Airborne (Parachute) Regiment. He is now just 19 years old – and has been thrown into this absolute maelstrom of conflict.

His was a short war. It seems he was killed parachuting into Germany as part of a forward operation during Operation Plunder.  Operation Plunder was the (successful) attempt to cross the River Rhine under the overall command of General Montgomery.

Reichswald Cemetery

Reichswald Cemetery, where Paul is buried

Paul is now buried not far from where he died, in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, the largest war-graves cemetery in western Germany.

Draycott Memorial

One little mystery is: why is Paul on the Draycott Memorial? He never lived in the parish, and his name was already on the Cheadle Memorial; and he was most likely born in Cheadle.
However, when the memorial at Draycott was erected in the 1960s, his cousin Barbara Black happened to be living here, at Draycott in the Moors (in Cresswell), with her husband Robert Black.

So … could it be that Barbara heard of the project to erect a plaque in Draycott, and pleaded for Paul’s name to be listed on there? She seems to have been very proud of her cousin. Also her father (and Paul’s uncle) Harold Dobson, who had died in 1960, was already buried at St Margaret’s.

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This story is quite possible. You didn’t always have to have been living in the parish or even born in the parish to have your name on its memorial; you only had to have a family ‘association with the parish’.
Anyway, we like to think it is because of Barbara that Paul is on the plaque.  And to think of Barbara going on her own to the plaque to remember him each year – because she was responsible for him being on the plaque – is a touching image.

With thanks to Bill Pearson for researching the records
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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Paul’s service number was Sapper 14429264

For the stories of all the other service-people on the war memorial plaque in St Margaret’s, click here

NEWS: traffic flow / tea club? / ‘new’ graves / saintly connection

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid October 2019
In this post we have news of…: roadworks progress / teas anyone? / graves appear at St M’s! / new saint’s connection (NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a fireworks display …  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Settling down (?)

Well, ten days into the St Modwen Roadworks project, things are settling down, and, if they continue like this, matters may work out better for everyone than we had hoped for.
Only the one lane through the works is to be available at any one time, but, with patience, it might work.

What we’ve seen is that, as the ‘outgoing lane’ (i.e. the one on the way to the roundabout) is the open one at the moment, traffic is moving relatively smoothly.

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(It might not be so good though when Phase Two arrives in mid-December – which is when the open lane will be the eastbound one, ie for incoming traffic, not outgoing).

It seems like all the publicity that we as a community have generated (the local newspaper has had the roadworks as its lead story three weeks in a row!) has made a huge difference. Motorists are clearly avoiding Draycott Level, and so the general flow of traffic is lighter at the moment, which is a big help.
People we know are also getting up earlier to go to work, and using diversions, which is all sensible.

However, St Modwen/Staffordshire Highways say the open lane could be “closed at any time” if circumstances require it.  It is a bit of a shame that they can’t promise to give full notice about which lane (incoming or outgoing) is going to be free at any one time – and we would urge them to think how they can do that better.

In general though, if everyone crosses fingers for the next four months, we might be okay.
Might...

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Tearoom group

The new HideOut Tearooms in Forsbrook, which are attached to the Roebuck pub, are now up and running, and the owners have come up with a really nice opening offer: if there is a community group that wants to put on tea&sandwiches sessions for elderly residents, the tearooms will supply the food gratis.

There are already ‘friendship groups’ in Blythe, organised through HomeLink or at the village hall, but this would be the first in Forsbrook (we believe) if it comes off.

No such venture exists in Draycott/Cresswell – even though we have some suitable venues, including the church hall and the new refurbished snug at the Arms, and even the under-used ‘community hub’ at the Cresswell cricket ground.

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Churchyard revelations

Some cutting-back has recently taken place in the ‘old churchyard’ at St Margaret’s – and graves that have not been seen for years have been revealed.

Whoever did it (probably pruning experts from the diocesan authorities, but no one seems sure) has cut a man-sized hole through the foliage of the giant yew-tree in the churchyard’s south-west corner. (The yew is reputed to be around one thousand years old!).
This hole enables a person to get right inside the branches & foliage towards the main trunk; and see the graves there that had been grown over.

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Almost nineteen old graves have been newly revealed.
Inevitably, there is a Bagnall there, as Bagnall has been such a common name down the years in this district, but there is also a Weston. Family historians will be pleased to see them.
They have been covered over so long that it’s not clear if they are on the official graves-list, which was drawn up in the 1980s.
It all adds to the account of Draycott’s history, and it’s good to be able to see these stones again.

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Cresswell and Saint Henry Newman

Talking of local churches, not many people will know that Cresswell St Mary’s has a slight relevance to the news that Britain has a new saint.
Last Sunday, the Pope said that, after a deal of research, it was now believed that the nineteenth century English cardinal, Henry Newman, was holy enough during his life to now be declared a saint.

Dominic BarberiIt’s interesting though that the priest who converted Newman to Catholicism was a Father Dominic Barberi (pic right), who lived in Cresswell for a while during 1844.
The former priest at Cresswell, David Hartley (who has since moved on) wrote an account of Barberi’s achievements for this village website. If you want to know more of that story, click here.

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If you’d like an email from us each fortnight alerting you to the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

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

NEWS of: church funds / Totmonslow housing / police Facebook / footpaths

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early August 2019
In this post we have news of…: parish council doze through Totmonslow development / report those footpaths / police join Facebook / fayre funds for church… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a Sausage & Cider Festival…  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Village council lack of action

The recent news that a development for five houses at Totmonslow has finally got planning permission launched a surprising discussion at the last Draycott parish council meeting.
Pete Wilkinson, one of our newly elected district councillors, had dropped in to observe the meeting. He expressed his deep unhappiness with the Totmonslow news, saying that the new cul-de-sac which will be built for the development is too dangerous: the cul-de-sac will exit straight onto the main Draycott-Tean road, too close to the brow of the hill for Mr Wilkinson’s liking. In fact he said accidents would be the inevitable result.

He is not the only one who feels this way. Among the official objections to the original proposal were comments from half-a-dozen residents and from Checkley Parish Council too (even through the development is inside Draycott-in-the-Moors area, and only borders on Checkley’s area).

Then Mr Wilkinson asked how Draycott Council had responded.
Silence.
It turned out that, though our village council were aware of the application, and its various updates, even discussing the issue a year ago, they had just … forgotten to make a response.
So what we see here is that the neighbouring parish council and a number of local residents had managed to put in official responses, but our own council, whom we depend on, had failed to.

It seems to us that this really is not good enough. Village councils should be there in the front-line, battling away on issues that affect the community, not dozing on the sidelines. Whether they agreed with the Totmonslow proposal or opposed it, their first duty was to make some sort of response. And they failed.
Ad this is not the first time (see Council’s dismal record).
So, again, we would ask Draycott Council to … just please wake up.

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Watching the detectives

According to surveys, the main public issue that bothers small communities like ours is crime. This is quite surprising, as small districts don’t usually suffer a lot of crime.

Moorlands Police logo
Our local Moorlands police are aware of this concern; and put on monthly meet-the-PCSO sessions at both Blythe Bridge and Tean to try to reassure residents.
But they have now gone a step further and last month launched their own Facebook page. It will list traffic reports, news of convictions & arrests, diary dates for consultation events and so on.

In one way, this doesn’t seem like a big contribution to crime-fighting – but it is part of the drive by local police to publicise what they do, in order to make us feel safer.

But, what do you think of this latest move by Moorlands Police? Is it just a gesture, or a useful initiative? Use the comments box on this webpage to express your thoughts.

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Hurrah for the fayre

The final receipts are in for the annual Draycott Fayre, which was held just a few weeks ago. Once all costs are taken out, the fayre raised a handsome £4000-plus for the parish church fund. St Margaret’s is nearly 800 years old, and, without such donations, would simply start to crumble.

In fact, the last annual report for the church tells us that it spent a staggering £50,000 in the twelve-month on maintenance (which admittedly did include major roof repairs). Fortunately, some grants had become available, and there were donations of £12,000 from local well-wishers, but you can see how money can get swallowed up very quickly.
(Surprisingly, this current annual report for the church has not been made available online, even though previous reports have been. A copy is available in the church itself though).

So, if you went to the fayre (see highlights below), you can have the satisfaction of knowing that a great heritage & community asset is safe for another year, thanks to your support…

 

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By the way, an even better series of photos of the day than the ones above has been created by Neil Archibald, and is available online for all to enjoy – check out the Draycott 2019 Fayre Album

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Report blocked paths a new way

Most footpaths in Draycott-in-the-Moors are maintained very well (though there are some problems in Cresswell where overgrown and blocked paths continue to be a long-standing and thorny issue).

It has been very frustrating trying to report problem issues over the last few years. Staffordshire County Council (who are responsible for path maintenance) have set up easy online ways of reporting potholes, flytipping, problems with bins etc – but not an online way to report footpath problems.
Until now.

Near NewHouse track

A blocked footpath

At last, you can report local footpath and bridleway problems on a custiomised webpage, thanks to a newly set-up and simple online process.
Click on Staffs Public Rights Of Way Issues.
Having created your online account, you can also track the issues you have reported (to make sure they do get fixed); and also can see matters reported by others.

Lots more people are walking for health – and our district has plenty of good countryside footpath routes (see some examples by clicking here and here) – so let’s make it as easy as we can for us all to keep walking.

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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 address, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight alerting you to the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

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

Happy Christmas!

Season’s greetings!
And the very best for a peaceful and contented 2019…

St Margarets Church in snowIn the absence of traditional Yuletide weather, we thought we’d put you in the mood with this old photo of St Margaret’s under snow.  Enjoy.

Our Remembrance

This weekend sees Remembrance Sunday, which by chance also falls on the same day as Armistice Day – November 11th. This particular Remembrance Day is extra special, as we all know, because it is the 100th anniversary of the day the Great War came to an end in 1918 – when peace was declared, and “the guns fell silent”.

All over the country, villages have been pulling the stops out to ensure their own war-dead and war-wounded are remembered; and to remind the young that war is a terrible thing, with a terrible cost.
The main event here in Draycott will the peal of bells for peace (see below for details).

War memorial

The folks who put this website together decided to make research into Draycott-le-Moors Parish’s war memorial our contribution to the Great War Anniversary project.
It was a big surprise to us that almost no-one knew much about how the memorial had come to be, nor about those whose names are commemorated on it, so we have been working on it (see our research).  Though research never really gets ‘completed’, we are happy that a lot more is now known about the memorial because of our efforts.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial inside St Margaret’s

This month we also got the good news that the Imperial War Museum has crowned our hard-work by approving our application to include it in its official listing of memorials. Check out the new entry – click here.

Efforts

Sadly however, the businesses, voluntary groups and institutions of Draycott district  don’t really seem to have risen to the great challenge as they have in other areas – with one honourable exception.
(As far as we know… though, if you know of other significant commemorative efforts in Draycott, please contact us).

Other Moorlands villages have: designed huge, creative poppy displays; put together commemoration gardens; arranged lectures & readings & concerts; commissioned sculptures; supported history publications; built beacons; and organised exhibitions about their community at time of war.   Even in villages next-door to us you will observe:  wonderful commemorative gates (Forsbrook); ghostly soldier figures (Dilhorne); a remembrance garden (Fulford); a cenotaph poppy display (Blythe Bridge); a ‘Poppy Party’ (Tean).
But here in Draycott, sadly, nothing to compare – bar the one we will now highlight.

(At least, someone has put up poppies on a dozen of the lampposts along the main section of Uttoxeter Road – thanks to them.)

However, back to the honourable exception.
For a major gesture, once again we have to thank John Clarke.  John, who seems to leads so many community projects here in this district, has worked with the bell-ringing team at St Margaret’s over the last six months to ensure that Draycott is part of at least one set of national celebrations.
At 7pm on Sunday evening (November 11th), the bells of St Margaret’s will ring out in a long peal, as part of the nation-wide ‘Ringing Remembers’ event – when thousands of church bells across the country and across other Moorlands villages will ring out, all exactly at the same time.

Not only will the action echo the bells that rang out for peace exactly 100 years ago, it will also be another formal moment to remember those who were mown down in the slaughter of World War One.  Everyone who wishes can attend, and all are invited to light a candle, as a commemoration, and as a hope for peace.
So it should be an emotional few minutes for all those who can be there, either inside or outside the church.  Thanks to John for making it happen.

Services

Of course, St Margaret’s Church will also be holding, as usual, its annual remembrance service. For details, please see our What’s On pages.

Grave of Bede Vavasour

Grave of Bede Vavasour at St Mary’s Church, showing the RAF symbol

As for observances at war graves, across Draycott district there is only one official war grave (see pic above) – that of Bede Vavasour, the young pilot who died in World War Two. He was descended from the Vavasour/Stourton family, who were the major ‘lords of the manor’ round here in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.  His grave can be seen in the cemetery at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Cresswell.  Each Remembrance Sunday, his grave is formally blessed by the church priest.

Inspiration needed

It’s a shame that Draycott’s efforts – apart from the admittedly wonderful bell-ringing event – have been so slim.
The village really does need some inspirational and energetic community leaders, ones who could come forward to make things happen on occasions such as these.
Cross fingers that there are, and that they will appear soon.

Remembrance display by Draycott Manor College

Remembrance display by Draycott Manor College

NEWS: vacancy deadline / council tax mess / banner of history / Local Plan debates

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late October 2018
In this post we have news of…: the council needs you! / council tax mess-up / Draycott’s history banner / debates at Local Plan inquiry …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a talk about World War One…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Be a councillor… for six months…

Following the death of its vice-chairman, Draycott in the Moors Parish Council has announced that any resident who feels themselves suitable to fill the post should come forward and apply for a place on the council.
There won’t be an election; instead, any resident should just drop a line to the clerk explaining why they think they could be good in the role.

There are a few stipulations: you must live or work locally, be an elector etc (see councillor stipulations), but it’s all fairly straightforward.
Your note to the clerk should give a brief description of yourself and what your connection with the Draycott-Cresswell-Totmonslow area is and a line about why you want to be a councillor. If you are selected to the short list, you’ll be expected to make a short presentation about yourself to the councillors too. The councillors will then make a choice.

This is a great opportunity for someone who just wants to see up-close how local government works at the village level. So…. why not give it a go??
As there will be full elections next May, this post is only for six months (though the candidate can seek re-election then if they want, of course).
You have until November 9th to email the clerk (draycottparishcouncil@aol.co.uk); and you should be available on the evening of November 12th to see the councillors.

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Banner of history

The History Weekend at St Margaret’s Church was a great success, with dozens of people coming from far and wide to check out the ancient building and also to join in the celebrations for its 750th anniversary.
There were some really interesting discussions too on the extremely unpredictable future of the St M’s: what really is going to happen to it over the next twenty years…and what can be done about it?

But the highlight of the weekend was the unveiling on the Sunday (Oct 21st) of a specially-made banner.

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The Draycott Craft Club – especially its leading lights, Jackie Knott, Pauline Clarke and Pam Hibell – had created it as a tribute, and it was unveiled by the bishop, who had arrived for the day.  It really is a simply terrific piece of work, outlining the history of the village over the last millennium, and has been beautifully made.  A credit to the makers, it now has pride of place in the church.

Unfortunately the church is kept locked most of the week, although the church is open for services on Sundays, so it can be seen at those times.
For more pictures of the history weekend, click here.

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VVSM gets a hearing

Well done to Jacquie Leach (a VVSM supporter), who made sure that the controversial issues regarding Draycott & Cresswell did not just get swept under the carpet at the recent Moorlands Local Plan inquiry. The inquiry, based in Leek and headed up by a government-appointed inspector, took place over seven days at the beginning of this month.

Jacquie LeachOn the day appointed for discussion about Draycott district, Jacquie (pic, right) was there to speak up and debate the issues with the inspector. Jacquie told us that she felt compelled to give it one last shot.

She stood up and told the inquiry that that our district was in danger of being swamped – with 500 new houses in the pipeline and a large expansion of industry on the way, all of which would lead to a near-doubling of the population (and traffic) over the next ten years. She pointed out that much of the development was contrary to the regional Core Strategy guidelines. For more of how the day went, click here.

Let’s hope the government inspector listened, and gave her arguments full consideration.

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Council tax mess up

We know now how much the new clerk at Draycott village council is to be paid. This was kept under wraps at first (why, who knows?) but it was bound to come out eventually because it has to be mentioned in the monthly accounts, and so it has.
(A council clerk is basically the ‘manager’ of the council’s business and, amongst everything else, also has to deal with all the new government legislation that keeps coming in).
Denise, who was appointed in May and will be part-time (4.5 hours a week), is to be paid £10 an hour, i.e. £200 a month.

Last year there was much discussion at village meetings over the rate of pay & hours for the clerk, (which has not gone up in many years). It’s a responsible, legally-fraught position, but while some felt that a clerk was not worth much more than the national living wage, others felt that the job had become much more demanding and therefore wages should be more in line with what other parish councils do (who pay up to £12 an hour).

person holding black pen wrting 'TAX'

Which leads us to … the council tax mess-up.

At the January meeting of the council, it was decided to go for a very large increase in the parish council’s demand for council tax – a jump of almost 12%… (!!) to cover an increase in pay & hours for the clerk. (It was pointed out at the time that it wasn’t strictly necessary, as there was enough money in the reserves to cover it, but the councillors went ahead anyway).
All over the rest of the country, austerity was still in place and other councils were deliberately trying to keep their council tax down – but Draycott Council went ahead anyway with this massive increase.

And then… the councillors changed their minds about the clerk’s pay-rate.

Again, we’ll never know exactly what happened – because the councillors’ discussion was in secret (why… who knows?) – but a few weeks later, the councillors reverted to offering £10 an hour. The then-clerk Kate Bradshaw resigned in disgust (not just about pay, but a number of matters); so a vacancy had to be announced – but a number of new suitable new candidates walked away when they learned the rate on offer.
Fortunately, eventually, Denise, a very able candidate, came along, and she accepted the rate of pay.

So… why exactly did we have to have the increase in tax foisted upon us???
In the end, the residents of Draycott parish were forced to pay considerably extra in their council tax for something that never happened.

It’s not even the first time that Draycott councillors have put large increases in council tax on us.  Over the last ten years, there have been inflation-busting demands for increases of 9.9% (2007), 11% (2009), 4% (2011), 14% (2012), a staggering 24% (!!) in 2014; 6% (2015); and this year (2018) 11.8%.
Don’t forget that, over this period, inflation was running only at rates between zero to 2.5%…

Roll on the elections next May!  We need new, common-sense, thoughtful representatives to come forward, stand for election and shake Draycott Council up; we really do.

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750th birthday for village church

A milestone event for Draycott takes place this weekend – the 750th birthday party on Saturday (20th Oct) when there is a history day, with speakers and displays and refreshments; while on the Sunday there is a special church service, at which a banner outlining the village’s history will be unveiled.
Click here for details of these events.

Saving our heritage

Until recent years, it’s been assumed that parish churches are the responsibility of no one but the church congregations.
But nowadays it’s different – parish churches, especially one as ancient as St Margaret’s, are seen to be part of all our comon communal heritage, so all us local residents (believers or not) have a part to play in saving that heritage.
Draycott Church postcard

At St Margaret’s, a small team of such dedicated volunteers have been doing amazing stuff to preserve the church.
The ancient bells have been renovated (some of them are 500 years old!); in and around the churchyard, the pathways have been upgraded, including the public footpath; the leaking roof has been fixed, at great expense; open days are now held once a month over the summer; and the chimes were restored only a few months ago, to now make a lovely sound on the hour.

Cresswell resident John Clarke is the ‘front-man’ on many of these projects, but he is flanked by quite a few other hard-working locals. For instance, one reason that the ‘new’ churchyard is so well maintained is that a Church Lane resident voluntarily hauls his lawn-mower over there to cut the grass every so often!

Research

The church’s local historians never stop their work either.
We have reported down the years on the research documents compiled by enthusiasts about the church, not to mention the church guides (see list of documents).
One of the most interesting of these was very hard to get hold of up to now; but, the good news is that it has now become much more accessible. We’re referring the record of the gravestones in the churchyard. This might sound like a morbid read, but to a family historian it is fascinating!

The original project to record all the St Margaret’s gravestones and their inscriptions goes back to 1982 when members of the Draycott Women’s Institute got out their wellies and their magnifying glasses to go study the nearly 300 gravestones – every one of them – and faithfully record what they saw.
This document was only photo-copied into four brochures however (then sent off to various libraries) and it has been very hard for the ordinary person to get hold of it. Well, that’s all changed now: if you have a computer, you can now download the whole document for just £3 ! (Click on this link to see).

Just a casual read of the record throws up all sorts of quirky history. For example, the record for Gravestone 228 reads: “Here lieth ye body of ELLIZ daughter of NATHANIEL TAYLOR Rector of Checkley. Of ANN dau; JAMES WHITEHALL Rector of Checkley of JOHN SHERRATT Rector of Draycott who died July 1725.” It certainly sounds like the families of these various rectors (i.e. vicars) were very close!
The record has since been updated by Annita Mobbs (1988), Alf Beard (2002) and Marion Hall (2010); and now includes burials in the ‘new’ churchyard as well.

Fundraising

All these projects, whether structure projects or research projects, have not cost the tax-payer a penny. The money to achieve them has been raised through donations, grants and the sheer hard work of fundraising.
(The only input by the Staffs Moorlands district council is that they cut the grass in the ‘old’ churchyards.)

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Donations are becoming a big thing. You’ve probably noticed in the local newspaper-obituaries how a few folk now are leaving something in their wills “for the upkeep of the parish church”. The same is happening here in Draycott: the late Jean Edwards (born a Shelley, a family known for its support of the church) even wanted donations to the church at her funeral instead of flowers – a generous gesture.

These days, the history of our local villages is fast disappearing. Historic buildings are being pulled down (remember what happened to Painsley Hall?) or ‘renovated’; pubs are closing all the time (remember the Izaak Walton?); long-established village societies just fold; and even old schools disappear (e.g. the one that used to be in Church Lane).
Parish churches are often all that’s left intact of a village’s communal past.

So… if you ever find yourself with an extra few quid, and you want to see the collective memories of this village preserved, why not think of dropping a cheque off to St Margaret’s? If you want the money used only for repairs and restoration, simply mark your cheque “for the repair fund only”.
And… you never know… St Margaret’s might even make it to its 1000th birthday!

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History Day Event details

History Open Day at Draycott St Margaret’s Church on Sat 20 October from 1pm, with displays marking the church’s 750th anniversary, including photos from the last 100 years. Local historian Levison Wood will also guide a group around the village from 2pm; and another local historian Matthew Pointon will gave a talk in the church from 3pm.
Refreshments will be available. Free; no booking required.

Service of Celebration at Draycott St Margaret’s Church on Sunday 21 October at 10am, marking the church’s 750th anniversary. The Bishop Of Stafford is attending. All welcome, whether regular attenders or not.
Refreshments follow the service.
A specially-made banner, outlining the village’s history will be unveiled after the service.

NEWS: sporting success / Local Plan inquiry / councillor vacancy / History Day

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid-Sept 2018
In this post we have news of…: successful summer of sport / vacancy on Draycott Council / Local Plan inquiry to start / Church history day / A50 closed for weekend   …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including  a WW1 Evening…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

_ _ _
Sporting summer

By any standards it has been a good summer of sport in Draycott&Cresswell. The cricket club led the way, but there was good news all round for our sportsmen and women.

Blythe Cricket Club’s First XI (based in Cresswell) surprised all the pundits with a hugely impressive first season in the NSCCL top division.
Despite being newly promoted, they ran neck and neck with the leaders right up until the last month, putting up some stunning performances. Even the last day of the season was a nail-biter – being an away match at local rivals Checkley for the honour of securing third place in the league… but captain Peter Finch and his boys overcame that hurdle, to cap a great run.
Well done to them – and there is a bonus, in the fact that the greatly experienced overseas player in the team, Jalat Khan, has settled in so well this season that he’s agreed to rejoin Blythe next year too.

At the Draycott Sports Centre, the men’s tennis side had an average season by their standards, but the actual sports centre itself has gone from strength to strength with the recent opening of a completely refurbished new gym (see pic below).
There are lots of offers on at the moment, so remember – you can now stay fit in comfort even when the weather turns lousy!

Fitness Club spinning bikes

The green-bowls side based in Cresswell (Checkley A), like Blythe CC, finished high up their division, ending the season as runners-up. After an indifferent first half of the summer, they raced through the second half with an amazing six wins from seven… !

Well done to all…

_ _ _
Councillor needed

Even though Councillor Steve Jones only died last month, process grinds on; and already Draycott Council is advertising the vacancy. Seems hard to be so quick at it, but it’s a legal requirement.

However, it’s not so simple as just holding an election.
For community councils like Draycott, an election has ‘to be called’ first, which means that ten people (who must all be on the local electoral register) must sign a document to say that they want an election.

The alternative is that the existing councillors will simply decide among themselves who should fill the spot (this is called ‘co-option’).
Usually ten electors would ‘call’ an election because they don’t trust their current councillors to make an intelligent or an unbiased co-option.

The notice-of-vacancy has now been published (see Draycott PC Website), and the deadline for an election to be ‘called’ is October 1st.

If you’re wondering what the requirements to be a village councillor are, and what the tasks entail, click here

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Local Plan

It has now been announced that the formal inquiry into the ‘final’ version of the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Plan will get underway in the first week of October.
[The ‘Local Plan’ is the framework for what will happen, planning-wise, in this Moorlands region over the next decade and more.]

Members of the Draycott community action-group, VVSM, have applied to address the inquiry, but it all depends on whether they get an invite – and that is in the lap of the gods. (See the article: VVSM hopes…)
They want to protest at the fact that 300 homes are to be built over the next five years in this small area, not to mention that there will be a large escalation of industrial factories. The Local Plan also sets out space for even further development in Draycott!

Our own local Draycott Council did not actually make a response to the final draft of the Local Plan (no one seems to know why!), so there is no chance of a representative from them being invited to speak, despite the massive issues facing our village.
One of the issues that should have been addressed by our council is the odd way that the planners are trying to change the ‘settlement boundaries’ around us. It looks like part of what was within the Draycott Settlement-Area appears to be being shifted into the new Blythe Bridge settlement area. Now, why is that happening?

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750 counting down

The celebrations for the 750th anniversary of St Margaret’s Church are hotting up: with the announcement that there is to be a History Day, during which the ways the church has been central to how this village’s growth since the thirteenth century will be outlined.
The event takes place on October 20th.

Draycott tomb ornament

This rose ornament seen here on an ancient tomb in the church was an heirloom worn by the women of the Draycott family down the years

Signed up to lead the day will be our two most prominent local historians – Matthew Pointon (who wrote the definitive book of the history of this area) and Lev Wood, the ‘face’ of the local history society.
We’ll bring you the details as they transpire.

Lev also has hit the limelight in a second way. Everyone who attended the Draycott Fayre this year will have seen his amazing World War One re-enactment complete with trench dug-out.
Well, Lev is also the man who has been credited with re-discovering an amazing, huge canvas on which is painted lots of scenes of battles from the Great War. It was painted by soldiers of the North Staffordshire Regiment, many of whom were recuperating from wounds themselves. It has a sad thrust though – along its base are listed over 900 names of the men’s comrades who had died in the conflict.
Click here for all the details.

This banner was stored away from sight for decades just decaying, but is now somewhat restored, and part of it can be seen in the special WW1 exhibition currently on at the Potteries Museum.
The exhibition is on there until November 11th, and includes other artefacts too, and it really is worth getting along as soon as you can.

_ _ _
Finally … (but not totally finally…)

Don’t forget… the A50 is completely closed – in both directions – from Blythe Bridge roundabout to Uttoxeter from 8pm on Friday 28 September through until 5.30am on Monday 1st October.

A50 stretch

The bridge that stands there at the moment (by the JCB factory) should be fully demolished by the end of the weekend; and the adjacent new bridge finally up and working fully – so you’d think that that would finally be an end of the ‘A50-Growth-Corridor’ roadworks, wouldn’t you?
But, we’re told it won’t be. We can expect more disruption on the Uttoxeter end of the A522 until the end of the year.

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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: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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