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Whatever it was

Whenever I mention of St Leonard’s (the painting in yesterday’s post was sold out of a charity shop there), I think of this guy: the St Leonard’s Dragon.

Someone published a pamphlet in England in 1614 describing a nine-foot-long four-legged serpent with lumps on its back that left a stinky slime trail and could spit poison in a 64-foot stream. It lived in the forest and killed two people and two dogs.

God knows what it was – no other accounts appear anywhere and it’s never mentioned again – but I love this woodcut from the pamphlet. The mild look on the faces of the two corpses, and did you notice the dog’s shadow is pasted on backwards? The Seventeenth C was a funny time for art.

When I reread the article, though, it said this was near Horsham. St Leonards is nowhere near Horsham.

Sure enough, St Leonard’s Forest is a totally different place. According the article, it always had a reputation as a bad spot for serpents, ending with the 1614 account. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle, 770AD, says “Monstrous serpents were seen in the country of the Southern Angles that is called Sussex” and St Leonard was a dragon slayer.

It’s still a forest. Huh.


Comment from durnedyankee
Time: November 22, 2023, 9:03 pm

Pull the other one, it’s got bells on it.
Serpents have dry skin! Whence did come the stinky slime trail?
Only 2? What kind of terrible monster kills but 2 people?

And who measured how far it could spit poison, eh? eh?
I can see that now I can. “Here! Try again! See if you can hit yon oak!”

Call that a monster? I don’t.
Nothing like the dreaded crawly beast of Bennenden Moore!

Here! I’ll have another pint!
Oi, I’m short, make it a gill.
Oi, uh, let us borrow a ha’penny?

(and this is why my maternal ancestors fled England with the other disagreeable Pilgrams).

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: November 23, 2023, 12:02 am

@durnedyankee — Perhaps the beast was a Draco Incontinentis Foetora.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: November 23, 2023, 11:34 am

All those dragon sightings and nary a fossil anywhere.
We have a tiny dragon here. A horny toad! And a huge red ant buffet to support it. (Who would have thought that I’d be thrilled to find red ant beds in my yard!)

Happy Thanksgiving Stoaty and Uncle Badger. I’m cooking a turkey today for the first time in years. A small plump Butterball. My darling niece said she’d cook all the sides if I cooked the turkey and set the table—Deal!

Happy Happy to you all 🙂

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: November 23, 2023, 12:15 pm

We’re doing our part to test and reduce the number of every dang type of squash known to Sprouts.

Have a nice day over there in the UK and to the rest of you pilgrims have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Comment from p2
Time: November 23, 2023, 5:09 pm

2 people & 2 dogs. Said woodcut shows the people: one clad in black, t’other in not black. Methinks the “shadow” is indeed the missing demised pooch…one black, one not black….with the not black one not yet having snuffed it. 17th Century version of security cam footage showing a crime in progress.

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