“….CPR, 1401-5, 377, 482. In 1405, according to the St. Albans chronicler who was suitably impressed by the event, a dragon appeared near Sudbury, hard by the vill of Buryra (probably Bures), and the serfs of Sir Richard de Waldegrave, on whose demesne it was found, shot at it with arrows, but with no effect. After the whole patria had been summoned, it made off into a marsh and was not seen again. (Annales Johannes de Trokelowe, etc. (Rolls Series), ed. H. T. Riley, 402)….”
I came upon the above reference at this site while searching for information about the Waldegrave family of Bures St Mary, which is near Sudbury and is where the “dragon” was supposedly seen. But it seems the story may be from the 1300s, for it was originally recorded by Trokelowe, circa 1307/23. Sir Richard Waldegrave may have been added when the tale was resurrected in 1405.
Whatever, I was intrigued and looked further, finding this site Bures Online which goes into the story in great detail, It’s fascinating, and maybe the dragon was indeed a crocodile, although I don’t know that it could be one of Richard I’s crocodiles – surviving from the time of the Lionheart until 1405? Aha, but there’s another story, this time of two dragons fighting for an hour on Friday, 26 September 1449. This happened on the banks of the River Stour, on the boundary between Suffolk and Essex, and was watched by an admiring crowd. If there were two, then maybe crocodiles were breeding in Suffolk in the medieval period? Or…perhaps they really are dragons!
Anyway, beware if you go to these areas. Maybe such fabulous beasts are still lurking! One of them is certainly commemorated to this day, as you can see in the illustration above. Or maybe it’s a Welsh invader….