Reference 1: This is the oldest recorded
account of the dragon.
The tale of the Monk John de Trokelowe, 1405.
This text has been translated from the original Latin text, extracted
from the "Chronicles of Johannis de Trokelowe and Henrici de Blaneforde"
held in the British Museum
John of Trokelowe was an English Benedictine of the fourteenth century.
He was a monk of St Albans Abbey, who in 1294 was living in the dependent
priory of Tynemouth, Northumberland.
Under the common in these days, the
great dragon, the body of the muscle, a crested head but with jagged teeth,
the length of the tail, stretching out too much, who had lately appeared,
to the hurt of cattle, According to the villages of the Buryram close
to Sudbury, who crucified a shepherd, he destroyed the flocks, of the
sheep in abundance, and slew him.
But to which of practicing archery, AERVA of the Lord Richard de Waldegrave
his, a soldier, whose Temple is in the dominion of the dragon cast out
this secret, and not go out with; But the body has eluded all of his shots
from the archer, spring back arrow from his ribs like a knife or a hard
stone; and encroach on the spinal column fell, banishment and rattling
as the rendering of fendissent plate shrinking, and the distance flown,
the skin will become unworkable monstor killing the country as a whole.
assailed by arrows, when he saw himself again to the truth, he was summoned,
he fled to the swamp, and lay hidden among the reeds; nor was seen any
( "Aerva and fendissent", unable to find english equivalent
The modern translation of the Latin text,
Somewhat embellished !
"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 enormous length. Having slaughtered
the sheepherder 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.
2:- 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 animal 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. Albans 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
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 5:- Bill Cooper
published a book called "After the Flood" where he gives
several accounts of giant reptiles seen in the UK.
However, these are reprints of previously documented sightings
The giant reptile at
Bures in Suffolk, for example, is known to us from a chronicle of
'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
After an unsuccessful attempt by local archers to kill the beast,
due to its impenetrable
'...in order to destroy him, all the country people around were
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 more seen.'
Later in the 15th 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 giant 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.
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 !!
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
Updated with original latin text 14/12/2018
Acknowledgement to the "Villager" for the Dragon
by Winifred Beaumont
Eileen King the Lt Cornard Recorder