Tales of the Surrey Hills

Tales of the Surrey Hills

As I walk in the Surrey Hills, I am always amazed at the variety of stories that there are about the place. Some of them come down from history as facts. Some of them are remembering of things that did happen but perhaps not exactly as told. Some of them are stories that people made up to try to understand the landscape. Historians and folklorists have recorded these stories in books but have intended them for adults and not for children. As a storyteller, I feel it’s important that children and families have a chance to read and tell these tales for themselves. So that as they walk the Surrey Hills, they can look in the landscape for the giants, dragons, winged horses, magic fish, the odd witch or two, even the devil, not to mention the flying pigs!

I have chosen eight stories that I have researched, told and retold in schools in Surrey and I know that they are popular with children who are surprised to hear that these stories are set so close to them in real places that they can visit. I have tried to be faithful to the recorded versions so I haven’t strayed too far from the original story or included in too many new things.

I have also included a new story about something that happened to me while I was preparing these stories just to illustrate how stories are a remembering of things that happen, but not exactly as told.

I am grateful to Matthew Alexander, John Janeway, W.H.Chouler and Eric Parker for their previous work in collating the stories in their different collections. However there are even more stories out there just waiting to be told and retold, and some just waiting to be made up!

Permission is granted to tell and retell these stories.

Janet Dowling
Story Teller

Matthew Trigg and the Pharisees

Surrey has its own name for fairies, the Pharisees. They like everything to be just right and when Matthew Trigg stumbles into their dancing ground, they take their revenge. But the children of Ash realise he is missing and enlist the help of the wise old woman to get him back again. But just how does the steeple of Ash church get dented?

Pharisees is the old Surrey name for fairies. And the Pharisees in Surrey are most particular about the right and proper way to behave. Sometimes they were helpful on farms and mowed the hay at night, leaving drying in the morning sun. Sometimes they came into the houses at night, and played in the embers of the fire. If they found it neat and tidy and a bowl of water left out for them, then they would leave a silver sixpence. But if it was left dirty and untidy- the fairies would find the people responsible and pinch them black and blue as they slept!

But mostly the Pharisees were particular about their special places!

Now, back in the old days, there was a man called Matthew Trigg, and he lived in the village of Ash. He was a grumpy old man, and as he walked in the village the children would dance around him, and tug on his sleeve, asking him to tell them a story. But he would wave them away, shaking his walking stick at them.

One day he went for a walk in the woods. And he didn’t come back.

It was the children who first realised he was missing.

“Where is Matthew Trigg?” they asked their parents. “We haven’t seen him today.” Their parents went to check on Matthew’s house. He wasn’t there. They asked all round the village. Nobody had seen him since the morning.

“That’s strange” they said, “It’s not like him to just go off without a word to anyone, even if he is a grumpy old man.”
Then one little boy spoke up. “I saw Matthew go into the wood.”

Well, as soon as they heard that, they started a search party. They all stood in a long line, and went into the wood, calling out “Matthew. Where are you?”

He wasn’t anywhere. Then one girl called out “I have found his walking stick.”

And there was the walking stick. Right in the middle of a ring of toadstools. And some of the toadstools were broken. Matthew must have stumbled into them. The ring of toadstools was a fairies’ dancing ring. And all the adults looked at each other and knew that the Pharisees have taken him.

How can they get Matthew back?

The children knew what to do. They went to find the wise old woman who lived on the edge of the village and asked her. The old woman took out a basin, and poured some water into it. The she looked very hard into it.

“Ah yes” she said, “I can see him now. He is at the court of the Pharisees. And for punishment for breaking their dance circle, they are making him dance and dance and dance. It’s on the far side of Surrey. We must hurry; he will die from exhaustion if we don’t help him!”
But what to do? The wise old woman said “I have a plan but I need a special ingredient. It has to come from you children. What will you give up, so that Matthew can come home?”

The children were surprised. Then the littlest one said, “I will give up my doll to bring him home.” The another said, “I will give up my bat”, another “My beautiful hair ribbon” and so it went on until all the children had given up something.

“Well done” said the wise old woman. She took all their offerings, and placed them in a cauldron, and dropped a flame in they all went up in smoke. “Now the ash is full of your good intentions” she said. She took some oil and mixed it up with the ash.

“Now let’s see if we can borrow old Dobbin the horse.”

She put some of the potion on the back of the old Dobbin, and it began to grow wings.

“Now go,” she said to old Dobbin, “Bring Matthew Trigg straight back here!”

Old Dobbin flew up into the air, and was away. The wise old woman and the children waited.

Matthew Trigg was very, very tired. He had been dancing non stop for such a long time. “Please let me stop, “he cried, “I’m sorry that I stepped on your Toadstool ring.” But the Pharisees just laughed and shook their heads.

Then, just above him, he couldn’t believe what he saw. A flying horse. Come straight towards him. It swooped down, and as it passed him, he saw it was old Dobbin.

“Here boy” called out Matthew and he reached for old Dobbin’s mane, tightened his fingers around it, making knots. As old Dobbin began to fly up, Matthew scrambled on to his back. Away from the Pharisees, Matthew’s legs stopped dancing, and as he looked down he could see the Pharisees shaking their fists at him. But he didn’t mind, He was on his way home.

As the wise old woman and the children waited one of them saw something move in the sky. “Look, there he is!”
Sure enough, there was old Dobbin, and that looked like Matthew on his back.

Now there was just one problem. The wise old woman had told old Dobbin to come straight back to her. And old Dobbin was going straight in to the church steeple and ……… Crash!

Old Dobbin and Matthew tumbled to the ground, and luckily landed safely. But the church steeple was bent!

Well, there was such a fuss and a bother when all was told but Matthew was back safe and sound and that was what mattered.

Now when the children tugged his sleeve and asked him for a story, Matthew had a grand one to tell, and could point to the bent steeple tower to prove it.

And that steeple was bent for a very long time but in the 19th century someone paid to have it repaired. But just remember the Pharisees are on the look out for people who don’t behave right and proper so just look out where you are stepping!

St Martha and the Dragon

Outside of Guildford, there is a hill, and on the top of it is a church called St Martha’s. If you go in there you will see a standard with a picture of St Martha and a DRAGON at her feet! This is their story.

A long time ago, in France, in a place called Nerluc, near Avignon, the people were very scared. Animals were disappearing – and no one knew why.

First it was just a lamb. Then a sheep, and then a cow. All the people were worried what would be next? They began to lock their animals up at night, but then they found scratches on the doors, and sometimes the doors broken open, and more animals taken.

“What is happening? What kind of monster is doing this? Who will find out?”

Ten brave men agreed to stay awake all through the night and see what they could see. Outside the town they tethered a few goats as bait. And they waited.

And waited. It was a long night and as the sun came up, they began to think the monster had left, when all of a sudden they turned and there it was. Just in the shadows in front of them. The monster roared at them, bared its teeth and lunged its claws at the nearest man, who just got away in time.

They had all seen the monster in the shadows. The trouble was they had all seen something different. One man said it was like a bear. Another man said it looked like a big ox with a huge turtle shell on it.

“No, No,” said a third, “It had a lions head.” Two people whispered that it had a scaly tail, just like a scorpion’s. They didn’t know what to think. All they knew that there was something big and strange in their forests, and it was threatening themselves, and their families.
“What if it kills a man, a woman or a child?”

The mayor of Nerluc put out a reward, and many people came to try and kill the beast. But I have to tell you, they all failed and many of them died when they were attacked by the monster.

The people of Nerluc were in despair. They didn’t dare come out of their houses their animals were all locked up. People were too scared to leave their homes to even look after the crops and harvest. They would starve. What were they to do?

Into the town came a young woman called Martha. She had travelled a great distance. She had come from the Holy Land in a boat without a sail, or oars or a rudder and with her faith and a good wind, and she was brought to shore to Marseilles in the south of France. There she had travelled preaching the message of peace and tolerance of Christ.

When the townspeople told her about the beast she knew she had heard about it before. It was the Tarasque a dragon from Turkey. And she knew what must be done.

All by herself, she walked into a clearing in the woods, singing songs. The dragon heard her, and came rushing into the clearing. Its teeth were bared, and he was ready to plunge his claws into her. Exactly the same as he had done with all the other people who had come to trap him.

Martha kept calm, and steady. Singing her song. The claws of the dragon came towards her. But her song was so gentle and sweet that it touched the dragon and calmed him down. He stopped, looked at her, and then knelt before her. When she took off her belt, he allowed her to put it around his neck, and as she sang softly to him, the tamed dragon followed her out of the woods into the town.

The townspeople were amazed to see that this young woman had done what many knights had failed to do. And they were frightened to see the dragon coming towards their town. That fear took hold of them so strongly that they picked up their picks, and shovels, and spears and anything that they could get their hands on.

And they did a dreadful thing.

While the dragon stood there peaceful and calm those terrified townspeople attacked the dragon, and killed it. They were so scared of it.

When it was all over, the people began to realise what they had done. And some people began to feel very sorry and wanted to make up for it. To remember what they had done, they changed the name of the town to Tarascon, and they decided to celebrate the taming of the dragon by St Martha. And that is how St Martha is remembered until today that you can overcome your fears and worries by facing up to them and taming them.

The Flying Pig of Whitmoor House!

Sometimes, when people say something that they don’t believe will happen they say “and when pigs fly!” For some reason they don’t think pigs can fly!

And yet….

Captain Salvin lived at Whitmoor House, near Woking. He had fought in the wars, and when he came home all he wanted was peace and quiet. He was very interested in hawking and fishing, and became very famous. But he was very good with animals, and even had two otters that he had from babies. They followed him everywhere, and even sat in his lap just like a cat.

But he had one special pet. It was a wild pig called Lady Susan. A Maharajah had given it to him as a present, but soon afterwards the piglet had fallen sick, and Captain Salvin had looked after it until it was better. That pig loved Captain Salvin, and thought she was a dog. He gave her a collar and a bell and every where Captain Salvin went, Lady Susan went with him, trotting on behind. If they were walking in the fields he had to be careful that she didn’t squash the crops she grew so big.

When strangers saw them walking together, they would stand and stare and their mouths would fall open, so that they had to be careful they didn’t swallow a fly.

Then Captain Salvin decided to train Lady Susan. On their walks, if they came across a log, he would get her to jump over it. She couldn’t do it at first, so he would run and jump over it himself, and then run with her. When she did it he gave her an apple for a treat. Then he trained her to jump over the streams. The first time he tried to get her to do it she just walked into the stream and followed him across. So he went back, and did it again and again until she got the idea. Then she had many apples.

She got very good at jumping higher and higher over logs, and further and further across the streams. Soon Captain Salvin and Lady Susan could be seen running through the woods and Lady Susan almost flying through the air over tree stumps and across streams.

One day, Captain Salvin decided to show off Lady Susan to his friends. He asked a blacksmith to “come and ring a pig”. In the old days they would put a ring through a pig’s nose to stop it digging in the ground. The blacksmith came along, and went into the pigsty to find the pig. Captain Salvin and his friends hid to see what would happen.

When Lady Susan saw the blacksmith, she started to run towards him, and just as a dog does, she tried to jump up at him to say hello. The blacksmith was so surprised, that he turned round, and tried to get out of the pigsty. Lady Susan chased him all around the pigsty. The blacksmith began to get a bit scared of this pig, and tried to get out the fastest way he knew how. He climbed over the wall of the pigsty. Now that wall was about four feet high, and the blacksmith stood back relieved that he had got away from this very strange pig.

But Lady Susan hadn’t finished with him. As the blacksmith stood there, wiping the sweat off his face, he could hear a “rum ti tum, rum ti tum” and all of a sudden, there was Lady Susan flying over the wall of the pigsty!

Captain Salvin and his friends were laughing and laughing! The poor blacksmith didn’t know what to do, and Lady Susan was running backwards and forwards between the blacksmith and Captain Salvin. The captain paid the blacksmith some money, and he and his friends went to celebrate.

But after that day the blacksmith had a good story of how he truly did see a pig fly!

Old Mother Ludlam and the Frensham Cauldron

Once upon a time there was an old woman who lived in a cave. Some times people called her a henwife; sometimes they called her a witch. But whatever they called her, she was very clever and very wise, and learned all the healing ways of herbs, and trees and plants. She had a very big cauldron, a large cooking pot that she would make her potions in. With a lot of hard work, a few words, and a little healing magic she could make a potion to ease aches and pains. She was called “Old Mother Ludlam”, and the villagers would come and ask her for help. Sometimes they asked for potions to help with their pains and aches, sometimes to make themselves pretty or handsome, or sometimes to make themselves clever. Old Mother Ludlam would always try to help either with words or with some potion.

Sometimes people were too shy to ask her, so they would ask to borrow something, like a pot or a ladle, and she would smile and say “Of course, and while you are here, would you like to try one of my lotions and potions”. When they brought back the pot or ladle, there would always be a small gift like a chicken, or some vegetables like carrots or onions. It was a good way to live.

One day, she was sitting by her fire warming herself, and she heard a noise in the front of her cave. She turned around and there was a man standing there. He was tall and stayed in the shadows. It was a bit late in the day, but people came at all times to see her

“Hello” she said “how can I help you?”

The tall man stayed in the shadows.

“Oh” he said, “I want to borrow your cauldron that you make your potions in.”

Old Mother Ludlam was used to people asking to borrow many things, but nobody had ever asked to borrow her cauldron. She wasn’t happy with that.

“I’m sorry” she said, “No, I can’t lend you that one, but I have another smaller one you can borrow.”

The tall man in the shadows shook his head. “No, I want your cauldron that you make your potions in, it has a magic that will be useful to me.”

Now, Old Mother Ludlam definitely wasn’t happy with that, and so she said, politely “I am happy to help you maybe you would like a potion? But No, I can not lend you my cauldron.”

As she said that, the fire crackled and something went pop, and the tall man stepped out of the shadows. Old Mother Ludlam could see his footprints in the dirt floor. They looked like cloven hooves, and she could just see the tips of small horns on the top of his head, and behind him, beginning to swish a bit, was a pointed tail.

It was the Devil! Come to take her cauldron.

He most definitely, absolutely not was going to have her cauldron, not with all her healing powers put into it over all the years. What kind of a mess would the devil make with that? So she stood up and said “NO!”

With that the devil gave a shout, and lunged forward, seizing the cauldron from over the fire. It was hot, but the devil didn’t care, and he turned and run out of the cave with the cauldron in his hands. On his feet he put on a pair of seven league boots, and he was able to take huge strides to get as far away from Old Mother Ludlam as possible. And as his feet came down to the Earth, the Earth rose up to meet him, and there was a pathway of hills where the land had been flat before. And today they are known as the Devil’s Jumps just at Churt, and you can see them for yourself.

But Old Mother Ludlam wasn’t going to let the devil get away like that. And summoning all her energy, she took hold of her broomstick, and muttering a few words, the broomstick rose up in to the air with Old Mother Ludlam on it.

And so there was the devil on his last jump, just about at Kettlebury Hill. He stopped to catch his breath- and held up the cauldron to look at it in the light of the moon when Swoosh! Down came Old Mother Ludlam on her broom and snatched it out of his hands and she was away!

Now the devil was so furious that he stamped his foot so hard that he fell back down into hell!

Old Mother Ludlam wasn’t going to risk taking the cauldron back to her cave. Now where could she keep it so that the devil couldn’t get it? Then she saw Frensham Church, and knew that was probably the safest place. So she landed in the church yard, and very quietly slipped into the church. And right next to the font was a space just the right size. So she left it there without even a note.

And when the good people of Frensham found it the next day, they thought the fairies had brought it. So they used it in their weddings and celebrations to bring them luck.

And Old Mother Ludlam was happy that the healing magic in her cauldron was safe and sound.

The Giant Sisters

An old man and his grandson stood at Newlands Corner, looking at St Martha’s Hill. It’s a beautiful sight on a sunny day, and even better in the middle of winter with all the snow. And far on the other side, if you just stretched a bit, you might just see St Catherine’s Hill.

The old man pointed toward St Martha’s Hill.

“Can you see, “he said, “on the top of St Martha’s is a church, and on the top of St Catherine’s was a priory, a holy place for monks to live. Some people say that in the old days there were two giant sisters – each one was trying to build a church on top of the hills one on St. Martha’s and one on St Catherine’s.”

The grandson thought for a moment and asked “The giants.

Would one be called Catherine, and maybe the other called Martha?”

“Perhaps” said the old man.

The boy asked again “How did they build the churches?”

The old man smiled. “They were very strong, and able to carry all the wood and stone that they needed to the top. They would have had big hands to put things together.”

The boy thought about the way his father made things. “And how could they fix the tricky bits together?”

The old man chuckled and said “They had a hammer and nails of course. But they only had one hammer between them.”

The boy was puzzled. “How did they build the churches if they only had one hammer? Did they fight over it?”

The old man shook his head. “Well, they could fight,” he said, “but they wouldn’t get their churches done. They started off taking turns, one have it one day, the other the next. But that didn’t work out, because one was always a bit ahead of the other and they both wanted to finish first. Then they tried having it for an hour each. But they were always running up and down the hills to handover the hammer when they needed it.”

The boy looked concerned. “So how did they do it?” he asked.

The old man laughed. “Well, in all the rush to build their churches, they had forgotten the one thing they were good at. They were giants, and they were very strong giants they had good strong arms. And they put those strong arms to good use. They still took it in turns with the hammer but this time they would strike the nail in, and then throw it across the valley to the other sister.

So Martha puts her nail in a beam in her church, then calls out “Here sister”. With all her strength she throws the hammer to her sister. The hammer flies across the valley to Catherine. She grabs it, uses it to hammer in the next nail, and then calls out “Here sister!” Then using all her strength throws the hammer back across to Martha. That hammer goes backwards and forwards all day long.”

The boy was still thinking. He asked “But supposing someone is very short-sighted, gets in the way and gets hit on the head?”
The old man roared with laughter. “Well, in that case DUCK!”

The Magic Pike

Parents want only the best for their children. But sometimes, if you are poor, it can be very difficult. A long time ago there was a cloth-maker called John Abbot. His wife was called Mary, and together they lived in a cottage in Guildford. They were expecting their first child. They were poor, but they were happy.

But Mary had a strange dream. She dreamed that if she ate a kind of fish called a pike, then when her son was born, he would grow up to be a great man. When she woke up, Mary decided that she would get a pike and eat it.

In the River Wey, there was a pike that everyone had seen, but no one had been able to catch. Mary asked her husband to catch it for her. He tried very hard, lying down on the river bank trying to catch the fish with his fingers, but it was very slippery and he fell into the water. He was very wet and muddy!

She asked the local boys if they could try and catch it. They tried with rods and nets, but still they couldn’t catch it.
Mary was very upset. Her baby was very nearly due and she hadn’t eaten the fish. What was she to do?

She thought to herself “If I am really supposed to eat this fish, then I will have to catch it myself.” She didn’t have a rod, or a net and she was not going to lie down on the bank. So she got a bucket and a piece of string. She tied the string to the bucket, and then just let the bucket drift in the river while she held the string tight.

And she did it! She caught the pike in her bucket! It jumped around and tried to get out, but she put her apron over the top of the bucket and went home to cook it. It was a bit tough but it tasted delicious to Mary. Soon all the neighbours heard that she had managed to catch the fish, and they told their friends and their friends told more people. The entire town soon knew that Mary had caught the fish and ate it because a dream told her that her son would be a great man.

When her son was born they called him George. Now some of the townspeople had thought to themselves – “If this boy grows up to be a great man, how grateful will he be to the people who helped him when he was young.”

To John’s surprise and Mary’s delight (because she wasn’t surprised), several people offered to help pay towards George’s education in school and onto university. On his christening day his parents chose three of the people “of quality” to be his sponsors.

John and Mary had two more sons and other people “of quality” offered to do the same thing for each of them. For a poor cloth-maker and his wife this was very welcome.

And when George grew up he became Archbishop of Canterbury one of the greatest posts in the land. And when his brothers were older, one became Lord Mayor of London and the other became Bishop of Salisbury.

Mary’s dream about eating the pike had come true, and she had not one but three great sons. The greatest of them all, George, did not forget he had come from a poor home and he knew that there were not enough magic pikes for everyone. He established Abbot’s Hospital in Guildford to help the poor who needed somewhere to live. You can see his tomb today in the Holy Trinity church, just opposite the Abbots Hospital on Guildford High Street.

William Cobbett and the Red Herring

Once upon a time there was a boy named William Cobbett. He lived with his parents and his three brothers. Some days he would visit his grandmother, in her cottage with two windows. By one window there was a damson tree, and by the other a hazelnut tree. He would visit her and she would give him milk and bread for breakfast, apple pudding for dinner, and for his supper he would have bread and cheese.

He loved sitting in the garden watching the animals, and birds and insects.

One day the hunt harriers came riding by. They were chasing a hare.

Now William was only eight years old, but as he watched the dogs surround the hare, he suddenly wondered what it would be like to be that hare.

“I bet it’s very scared, and wants to be at home. That’s not fair!”

William jumped up, and without thinking, he ran towards the hounds, shouting and waving his hands.

“Leave him alone, don’t touch him, you bullies!”

Then hounds were so surprised, that they stopped barking, and looked at William. He dashed into the middle of them, and picked up the hare. He could feel the hare’s heart beating very fast, and he held him very tight. His own heart was beating very fast too, and he wasn’t sure what to do next.

The master of the hunt came up, and saw what William had done.

“How dare you!” said the master of the hounds. He raised his whip in the air, and brought it down on William, just cutting his face. William cried out and held on tight to the hare. The master of the hounds then called the hunt and the hounds away. William stood there with blood coming from his forehead. Then very carefully William released the hare, which run away back to its home.

Now William wondered what to do. He didn’t think that it was right that the huntsman should strike him just because he tried to save the hare. He thought that the man was a bully, and somehow he didn’t feel that was right. How could he try and get his own back some how? He was only a small boy how could he stand up to the bullies?

He thought and thought. Then he had a bright idea. He would use a red herring to put the hunt off the track of the hares. Now a red herring is a fish that has been smoked, and is very, very smelly. He waited until his grandmother had some red herring, then he sneaked some out of kitchen. It was so smelly that William had to hold his nose until he could put it in a hiding place.

So on the next day of the hunt, William waited. He knew where the hunt started, and he knew where the hares were likely to go. When he heard the cry of the hounds, he started off, trailing his red herring across the field, at right angles to where the hare would go. Up, up a steep hill so steep that the horses would have to slow down. Then he dragged it over to the roughest part of the common, twirling it around so that the dogs would go in circles. Finally, he dragged it to the edge of a swamp, and he tossed it in.

He quickly washed his hands in the swamp water to get the smell off himself, and then he stood behind a tree. And waited.

It wasn’t long before the hunt and the dogs came. William could hardly stop himself laughing watching the hunt go round and round, and then some of them ended up in the swamp. The hunt master even fell off his horse into the mud!

William learned an important lesson that day. He learned that any kind of bullying must be challenged, and more importantly that you can use your cunning and not your fists to overcome it.

And he used those two lessons for the rest of his life – and was famous in England, France and the USA for the way he always spoke out and acted against bullying, corruption and unfairness. And most of all- he is the reason why people talk about a red herring- as being something that misleads people – just as William did!

The Dragon at West Clandon

Once upon a time there was a soldier. He had fought hard and strong for his country in many battles in many wars. But there comes a time when even the bravest of men can not face another fight, and he left the battlefield without permission, and tried to make his way home.

It was very difficult. If he was caught he would be sent to prison as a deserter. He would hide in ditches, or caves, and try to find any scraps of food that people had thrown away. One day he saw some meat bones that had been left out, and he was so hungry that he tried to get them. But as he put his hand on them, a dog appeared and tired to take the bones away from him. The soldier was so hungry, that he wrestled the dog for the bones. Then the soldier started to laugh so much that he let the dog have the bones. The dog chewed all the bones, and as the soldier started walking off, the dog followed him.

And that’s how the soldier found his new friend.

The two of them travelled together and snuggled close together at night to keep warm. Sometimes the dog would catch a rabbit and they would both have something to eat, sometimes the soldier caught a fish. But one day the soldier made a silly mistake, and he was caught, just outside Clandon and he was put into prison for being a deserter. The dog ran away and the soldier didn’t know where he had gone.

In prison, the soldier began to hear stories. Everyone was talking about it. In the west part of Clandon, down one of the back lanes, there was a dragon. People were afraid to go there, and parents kept their children close to them just in case the dragon tried to eat them. Soon the whole town was at a standstill. No one could go anywhere. They were all so afraid. And no one knew what to do.

The soldier knew what he could do. He sent a message to the magistrates that if they released him, he would try to kill the dragon.

The magistrates were not sure at first, but when another cow disappeared they soon agreed. The soldier was released and given a bayonet. He walked very carefully down the back lanes of west Clandon, listening for clues of where the dragon was. He sniffed the air and found some spoor dragon’s poo – in a field known as Deadacre.

He stood in the middle of the field with his bayonet ready, and called out “Dragon, where are you! I have come to find you!!”
He turned in a circle one way, and then the other way.

Where was the dragon? He looked in front of him. All he could see was some bushes and a small mound of earth and grass.

Suddenly, the bushes shook, and the small mound began to move and he realised that they were not bushes or a mound, but the dragon.

And it was big. Much bigger than he expected. It had long claws, teeth that were yellow and sharp, and a long spiky tail that unfurled out of the bushes.

This was definitely more than he had bargained for but the soldier stood his ground. The dragon came roaring towards the soldier. He was ready with his bayonet, and he thrust it at the dragon. It went into the dragon’s skin, just under the ribs but didn’t seem to do anything. The dragon was almost on top of the soldier, and had its claws ready, just to slash out at him. The soldier thought he was going to die.
Suddenly, there was an almighty sound. Something flew across the field, and fastened onto the dragon’s neck. The force of it was so fierce, that the dragon toppled over. As he did so, the soldier could see where the dragon’s heart was beating under the skin, and he thrust the bayonet in. The dragon writhed, squirmed, gave out a loud shriek and was dead!

Then the soldier heard another sound. Barking! It was his dog that had toppled the dragon over, the dog had come to help him. The dog jumped up at the soldier barking and yelping, and trying to lick him, and they fell to the ground wrestling together just as they had when they first met.

The people of West Clandon were so relieved to be rid of the dragon. They thanked the soldier and his dog, and offered him a place to stay. But he said he needed to go, and left with his faithful companion.

And I don’t know if he went back to the battlefield, or whether he did just go home, but I do know that the people of West Clandon thought he was so brave, that they commemorated it with a carving in wood that was kept in the old parsonage house. And in recent years, the people of West Clandon have engraved the dragon into the hillside and sometimes you can just get a glance of it as you drive along.

FacebookTwitterPinterest