Rotten barge 4 web


Back in the mists of time a serpent washed up with the tide at Tilbury. The local folk don’t mention the serpent killing people but it ate animals like sheep and cattle. The people in the villages and towns around were scared and didn’t go near the waters edge. After a time the serpent just vanished during the night. Letting the area get back to normal. 


Legend, has it that in the 1400s, a dragon with scales for skin, and fearsome to look at, terrorised the local village of Bures, until it moved onto the next village of Wormingford where they say the local knight killed it.


The last tale I would like to tell is that of a great serpent the Barbary merchants brought to this country from the Mediterranean. Once they moored in London the serpent escaped and made its way down the Thames, “sounds familiar” and came ashore, but instead of staying on the estuary it made its way to a place between East Horndon and Herongate where it took up residence, happily eating people. Sir James Tyrell decided that he needed to dispose of this great creature and so Early one morning (without waking his wife) he dressed in his armour and on leaving the house pick up a mirror and hung it round his neck, one of his knaves asked why the mirror, his reply was that all everyone knows serpents are very vain. The knight reach the serpent and called the animal to come out as the serpent was hungry and already thinking of something to eat, it saw the knight in the morning sun and rose up for battle when it saw itself in the mirror and stopped to admire itself, at this point Sir James Tyrell stabbed the serpent then cut its head off, taking this prize home to his wife. Its not recorded if she was pleased or not…


When we started this commission Syd Moore an author from Leigh on sea told us the story of the Tilbury Serpent, we then asked others if they had heard of the Tilbury Serpent and so we heard more stories from Mervyn Linford a poet, and finallymwhen we interviewed Mike doddsworth, a story teller from Chelmsford, who told us the tale of Bures, he spoke about the history of the Crusades, where Richard the Lionheart was given a gift of a Crocodile by Saladin. On his return, he set up a menagerie in the tower of London to keep all the animals. Over time the crocodile grew and then escaped, so we can assume the crocodile, Serpent or Dragon would have came down the Thames so could have stopped at Tilbury and then went north through the Essex marshes to the river Stour onto Bures and Worminford.

Lastly if you look on the internet and type in the Wormingford Dragon you'll get the following pdf.

Saint George and the Dragon transcription of the Wormingford Dragon

It is said that after the siege of Acre, the King of England embarked for the Adriatic, taking with him a curious little “ cokadrille” which was given to the King with other gifts in return for the support given to the claim of Lusignan to the throne of Jerusalem. These serpentes or cokadrilles were later described as“ Zalowe” and raised above 4 feet with short thighs and great nails and talons. At the time of the gift it was thought to have been a dragoun or insec and was less than a span long. 

When the King, disguises as a pilgrim passed through Germany he carried this “ dragoun” with him and very inconvenient it must have been as it waxed greater. Fortunately the King had ample funds, indeed it was in consequence of his lavish expenses that he was unmasked and thrown into prison by Leopold, Duke of Austria. He seems all though his difficulties, to have prescribed his “ dragoun” — presumably Leopold did not think it worth taking and was actually glad to be rid of this troublesome pet and prisoner. 

Anyway, the King ultimately brought the beast to England and lodged it in a strong cage at the Tower of London. It is thought to have been the beginning of that menagerie which was lodged there for about 550 years and only removed in 1831.

Meanwhile the “ cocodrille” had grown enormously and one summer day a few years later lashed out with its ponderous tail, smashed the cage to bits and escaped into the Thames. For weeks or months nothing was heard of the “ insec” despite proclamations and offers of reward. Time passed and swimming, crawling, ravaging it found its way to that small settlement on the banks of the Stour called Withermundford. The few natives were terrified at the new arrival and a rumour spread among them that it could only be pacified with human sacrifice and so long as the supply lasted they fed the creature with virgins.

Doubtless the temporary prodigality of food kept the “ cocodrille” well and happy — but the supply of food gave out and the natives, at their wits end sent to sir George of layer de la Haye, son of Eustice Earl of Boulogne telling the gallant knight that their was a fierce dragon which had settled with them and which they had tried, in vain to slay with arrows which bounce from its hide and then had pacified it with virgins but, alas, there were no more virgins in the hundred.

The villagers besought Sir George to travel through the forest and slay the ravenous beast. Sir George, accordingly armed himself and his horse and cam to the succour of the much suffering community.

The brave knight attacked the dragon at the place where the bridge now stands and an ugly bridge it is now compared to the picturesque bridge it replaced. Sir George chased the dragon, which really put up a poor fight, and slew it, according to tradition about where the Grange now stands. From then to this day, the Parish has been called Wormiton, Wormington and Wormingford in memory of the “Worm” or early word for Dragon. It may be that the “ insec” was wounded in that part of the glebe the children now call “ Bloody Meadow”.