In the 13th century a terrible Dragon was terrorising both livestock and villagers in Dinder in Somerset, fortunately for them though they had a Bishop not far away (not something I ever thought I’d say!).
Bishop Jocelyn of Wells rode out with his men, but commanded them to remain at a distance while he rode on and single-handedly beheaded the beast. Now whilst there were no witnesses apart from the Bishop to the slaying, there is evidence this happened. The names of Worminster (nearby hamlet) and Worminster Sleight (hill above Dinder) refer to the dragon and its slaying, the Old English word for a dragon is “wyrm”.
There is even documentary evidence as one of the monasteries recorded the event, and the document is now held by Eton College library. So it must have happened! No wonder every 50 years, since the slaying in 1240, a celebration has been held.
Legend has it that should this celebratory tradition be forgotten and the slaying not re-enacted by a left-handed man of the cloth the Dragon may return. The next celebration is due to take place in 2051, so probably not one many of us will make. However you can see an image of the dragon whenever you visit Wells (and it is well worth visiting, check out Gilly’s recent post). You will find the dragon in a fabulous mosaic, created in 2001 by schoolchildren from six local schools with the help of artist Kate Rattray.
It is located on the wonderful Moat Walk immediately south of the Bishop’s Palace, and if you are up for an adventure you can easily walk from here through the palace fields to Dinder. There seems to be a circular route, and if you visit before the end of January it’s a great place to photograph light squares. Just keep a look out for the dragon!
Beware the Dragon of Worminster Sleight
To Dinder, Dulcote and North Wootton
Every 50 Years