St Osyth’s Dragon
There is a tradition that a Dragon prowled the area around St Osyth in the 12th Century. According to Sir Richard Baker (born 1568 – died 18 February 1645) ‘In the seventeenth year of his (King Henry II) reign, there was seen at St. Ofyths in Essex, a Dragon of marvellous bigness, which by moving burned houses and the whole City of Canterbury was the same year almost burnt.’ [Chronicle Of The Kings Of England From The Time Of The Romans Government, Unto The Death Of King James]. As King Henry II (born 5 March 1133 – died 6 July 1189) reigned from 25 October 1154, this dragon would therefore date from around 1170 – 1171.
A broadside or broadsheet published in 1704 also refers to the dragon, using the same descriptive terms as Sir Richard Baker. ‘Before Henry the second dyed, … a Dragon of marvellous bigness was discovered at St. Osyph in Essex.’
Again the same information is repeated in Dr William Howell’s Medulla Historiae Anglicanae: Ancient and Present State of England (1712), ‘At St. Osyphs in Essex was seen a dragon of marvellous bigness, which by moving burned houses.’
I dare local stories will have developed involving the dragon and I have come across references to it having lived in the cellar of the priory in St Osyth. It would be interesting to gather these and also try to identify any sources earlier than Richard Baker.