1:- Legend says Saladan give Richard 1st the gift of a crocodile which
was housed in the Tower of London, amongst King's Beasts, and escaped
into the marshy lands of Essex. There is no record of such an anmal in
the papers of the Tower or in those of the Zoological Garden. Had there
been such an animal it could have escaped from the Tower several times
between 1200 and 1400 as the bulwarks of the Tower were repeatedly flooded
or destroyed by angry Londoners,
There is a slight tie-up with Richard I and the Crusades. Guy de Lusignon
of France, an ally of Richard I during the Third Crusade, collected exotic
beasts and, it is said, a woman changed into a crocodile lived in a small
hut by the river on his French estate. He and his family quarrelled with
the French King and came to England. One became steward to the Abbey of
St. Edmundsbury and the others married into the English aristocracy. The
only written record is the tale of a Monk, John de Trokelowe.
The tale is amongst the 1401 St. Alban papers at Cambridge. It in itself
is undated but this is a monk's tale and could have been written more
than a hundred years later when only the event was remembered, the name
of the Lord forgotten and the then owner recorded.
Winifred Beaumont, Wormingford Historian
Reference 2: The tale of the Monk John
de Trokelowe, 1405.
"Close to the town of Bures there has lately appeared... a dragon
vast in body with crested head, teeth like a saw and tail extending to
an enourmous lenth. Having slaughterd the shepeherd it devoured very many
sheep. There came forth an order, to shoot at him with arrows, to the
workmen on whose domain he had concealed himself being Sir Richard de
Waldegrave, Knight, but the dragon's body although struck by the archers
remained unhurt, for those arrows bounced off his back if it were been
iron or hard rock. Those arrows that fell upon the spine gave out as they
struck it a ringing or tinkling sound just as if they had hit a brazon
plate and then flew away off by reason of the hide of the great beast
being impenetrable. There was an order to destroy him in all the country
people assembled. But when the dragon saw he was again to be assaulted
he fled away into a marsh or mere and was no more seen."
"Close to the town
of Bures, near Sudbury, there has lately appeared, to the great hurt of
the countryside, a dragon, vast in body, with a crested head, teeth like
a saw, and a tail extending to an enormous length. Having slaughtered
the shepherd of a flock, it devoured many sheep"
".... In order to
destroy him, all the country people around were summoned. But when the
dragon saw that he was again to be assailed with arrows, he fled into
a marsh or mere and there hid himself among the long reeds, and was no
Reference 4 :-
Dragon emerged from the River Stour near Clappits (possibly Claypits).
Proving impervious to arrows etc, it was driven off by the villagers extreme
agitation, disappearing into the mere near Wormingford.
refers to a `fighting dragon` in and around Bures. It was said the dragon
was brought to Bures by a Crusader returning from the Holy Land, Many
people went from Bures on the Crusades. It was not a very well behaved
dragon, indeed it was very nasty piece of work.
It terrorised the villagers and eventually dived into the river and swam
downstream towards Wormingford, never to be seen again.
is a Crocodile Legend in Lusignon, France. The Lusignon Family collected
strange beasts and Guy de Lusignon, who was with Richard I on the Third
Crusade, is said to have kept a 'woman changed into a crocodile in a hut
on the river bank.' Guy quarrelled with the French King and his family
fled to England. One became steward to the Abbey of St. Edmundsbury and
the others married into the English Nobility
Reference 7:- Bill Cooper
published a book called "After the Flood" where he gives
several accounts of man and `dinosaurs` living together :-
Bures gets a mention
15th Century tale
However, there is also a
more mythical origin for the names of these places. There is supposed
to be a 'warden's small leather-bound book' to be found in the Library
of the Dean and Chapter at Canterbury, which contains the following
"Memorandum that on
Friday the 26th of September in the year of our Lord 1449, about the
hour of Vespers, two terrible dragons were seen fighting for about the
space of one hour, on two hills, of which one, in Suffolk, is called
Kydyndon Hyl and the other in Essex Blacdon Hyl.
One was black in colour and the
other reddish and spotted. After a long conflict the reddish they had
come, that is to say, each to his own place to the admiration of many
'Kydyndon Hyl' aka Killingdown
Hill is now Kedington Hill in Little Cornard parish, with Shalford or
Sharpfight Meadow (opposite the Henny Swan) below it beside the river
Stour. 'Blacdon Hyl' is Ballingdon Hill a mile away across the river,
partly in Essex.
Roger Frith: 'Dragons in Essex', in 'The East Anglian
Magazine', Vol.21 (Nov.1961-Oct.1962), pp.523-4
Later in the fifteenth century,
according to a contemporary chronicle that still survives in Canterbury
Cathedral's library, the following incident was reported. On the afternoon
of Friday, 26th September, 1449, two reptiles were seen fighting on
the banks of the River Stour (near the village of Little Cornard) which
marked the English county borders of Suffolk and Essex. One was black,
and the other, reddish and spotted. After an hour long struggle that
took place "to the admiration of many [of the locals] beholding
them, " the black monster yielded and returned to its lair, the
scene of the conflict being known ever since as Sharpfight Meadow.
Extract from :- The fighting dragons of Little Cornard. In: Folklore,
Myths and Legends of Britain,
Reader's Digest, 1973, p. 241
There are two possible
explanations for this tale:-
1. This legend
could stem from the time of Richard 1, the Crusader (1157 -1199)?
Although the dates are incorrect.
He was given a gift of a crocodile by Saladin. After the King
returned from the Holy Land the crocodile was housed in the Tower
of London. This housed a menagerie for over 500 years, eventually
closing down in 1831.
One fine summers day it smashed the cage to pieces with its mighty
tail and escaped into the Thames. It was not heard of for months
but for some unexplained reason, appeared in the marshy fields
of North Essex..
A monk `John de Trokelowe` told of this `green dragon` near Bures.
The locals organised a search in order to find this beast and
kill it with arrows. However, it avoided any serious injury and
escaped into the marsh, never to be seen again.
2. or even......
When Bures Lake was excavated the
remains of a monster were found.
Could it have been the dragon?
Unfortunately not, Colchester Natural History Museum thought it
was most probably, a prehistoric elephant.
CHURCH - between Bures and Nayland also depicts images
of the dragon on its interior church wall.>>>>
All references to the Dragon which I have sourced, clearly state `Bures`
where it was first seen, although it swam off in the direction of Wormingford
- trust Wormingford to actually claim they slayed it !!
Continue Part 3
WORMINGFORD - our adjacent village also lays claim to the
However both the Bures and Wormingford accounts agree, it was most probably
the escaped crocodile given to Richard 1st.
Alan Beales, revised 25.05.10
Acknowledgement to the "Villager" for the Dragon
by Winifred Beaumont
Eileen King the Lt Cornard Recorder