Tag Archives: St Margaret’s Church Draycott

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.

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

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

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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…

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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.

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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.

***
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.

***
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: Council resignation / N Plan pops up / Songs Of Praise / community police / council indifference

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late March 2018
In this post we have news of…: resignation of council chairman, neighbourhood plan sessions, council indifference to Cresswell, police surgeries, church sing-along …
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up in our locality – including a family tennis tournament…  Check out the Events page)
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Council resignation

Just one month after the Draycott Council’s clerk resigned, so does the council’s chairman.
Roger Holdcroft, who is highly respected, and who has hardly put a foot wrong in his time on the council over the last three years, felt he could no longer carry on in the chairman position.
So, a fortnight ago, he issued a resignation letter – which you can read by clicking here.
It all follows months of unheard-of scenes.

Roger HoldcroftAs you can read in his letter, Roger (pic, right) felt that he was being undermined by some of his fellow councillors, and even worse, was being unfairly slandered and ‘trolled’ by them or their supporters.
With that kind of atmosphere, it is clear he felt there was just too much disrespect, and that it was too unpleasant, as chairman, to be in the middle of it.
It is fair to say that some of the shenanigans that this council gets up to didn’t meet with his full approval either.
Mr Holdcroft remains an ordinary councillor though.

Oddly enough, this is the third resignation in eighteen months. In Jan 2017, another Draycott councillor resigned her seat altogether, after saying she had experienced “harassment” at the hands of other councillors.

Amazingly, there has been little or no reaction from any other councillor to the resignation, who all remained stony-faced as the letter was read out at the latest meeting of the council.

(NB — the chairman of a parish council is not its ‘leader’ or spokesperson – this is a misconception. The chairman’s role is little more than managing the council’s meetings, but is nevertheless a responsible position).

– – –
Time for a sing-song

Is the popular BBC programme ‘Songs Of Praise’ really coming to our district?
Well, no, not really – despite the posters you will see around the place…

The fact is that one of the members of the Draycott St Margaret’s Church congregation thought it would be a lot of fun to have a localised Songs Of Praise, as a chance for the community to come together for a sing-along of favourite hymns and tunes.
We don’t get the chance these days for a good sing-song, do we?, so this should be a happy event.

You too can also get extra-involved by suggesting a favourite hymn to be sung on the day. Contact Kate on 07715 284580 if you have ideas about one.

The event takes place on Sunday 29 April at 6pm at St Peter’s in Blythe Bridge (the sister church of St Margaret’s) – and all are welcome.
But… no, the BBC won’t be there!

– – –
Planning neighbourliness

Another call for community involvement is seen in the growing desire to put a local ‘neighbourhood plan’ into place.
After a failed attempt here in Draycott two years ago, it looks like this time the idea has a bit more steam to it: the volunteers of the working-group behind it have been given grant-money and are a bit more confident of success this time around.

(A few semi-rural areas like ours already have neighbourhood plans either established or almost established.
Nearby, both Checkley (see pic below) and Forsbrook real are well on the way to getting their plans ratified).checkley neighbourhood plan poster

Our own plan is still at the baby stage, so nothing has yet been decided – which means you still have the chance to influence it. Over the next fortnight, there will be three ‘pop-up’ open sessions, where you can go along and have a chat, and say your piece.
It’s worth putting in your penny-worth, if you are interested in the future of our district, as, once a plan is set up, local authorities and developers must (yes, must) take notice of it.
Check our What’s On page to see dates and times of these sessions.

If you really can’t make the sessions, at least fill in the form – it’s only half-a-dozen questions long – and get it back to the working-group.
Click here to see (and print off) the form.

– – –
Getting down with the police

A few years ago, there were regular crime & order ‘community surgeries’, which our local PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) put on for us every month. It was a chance to talk about issues from dog-mess in public places (illegally left) to more serious problems such as drugs and more.
Sadly, they were discontinued when there were changes in the personnel of our local police.

However, along has come a new PCSO, Daniel Nettleton, and he has restored the sessions. Every month now, you can meet up with PCSO Nettleton at Blythe Bridge Library and chat about matters. If it’s very serious, there is even a closed room at the library for confidential chats.

Daniel is very keen to see folks, so make a note of the dates he is going to be there (though you can phone him at any time too, of course).
He’s at the library 10am-noon on 14th April, 12th May, 9th June, 14th July – and so on.
He’s a nice fellow too, and may even make you a cup of coffee!

– – –
Council Shenanigans

(Our local Draycott Council gets up to so many odd tricks that we simply haven’t been able to keep up, so we have given the council its own little section -‘ Council Shenanigans’. If you are fed up with our council, you might want to look away, as this section will just make you feel worse…)

What’s the biggest infrastructure project prospect for our district at the moment? Yes, it’s the Cresswell Blythe-Park roundabout (which is planned to be just 100 yards from the railway crossing). It will bring significant disruption to the residents of Cresswell.

Blythe Park Roundabout Development pic 2017

This artist’s impression shows the roundabout and planned houses in bright colours; and the existing buildings in lavender shades (pic: SMDC Planning website)

In fact, it has been deemed such a major set of works that the planners at Staffs Moorland Council decided they couldn’t pass it without the approval of the Planning Committee.
Then, the planning committee in turn deemed it so important that they have asked for more time to determine it, and now it won’t be discussed until May. The local MP, Bill Cash, has got involved too.
It’s a big one!
On the consultation web-page, nearly two-dozen residents (and Bill Cash) have put in their formal comments expressing their concerns.

And what has our Draycott Council done?
Erm.
Nothing.

Despite being on the list of official consultees, the council has made… no response on the consultation web-page,
When the matter was put before the councillors at their meeting in February, they made … er… no comments.

No wonder some residents of Cresswell feel this council is not taking any notice of them and is just indifferent to their problems.

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

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

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

– – –
Church’s birthday re-fit

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

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

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

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

– – –
Got a plan for our neighbourhood?

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

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

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

– – –
Goodbye to Sir Bill?

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

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

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

– – –
Chandni celebrates

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

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

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

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

St Margaret’s Church – full of facts!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

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.

***
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