Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Wallington Dragons (NZ030842)



Sitting by the roadside in the grounds of the stately home from which they take their name lie one of the region’s most unusual little landmarks: the Wallington Dragons. In a site filled with interest, both inside the hall and without, the dismembered heads are perhaps the biggest oddity of them all.

They sit by the B6342 at the end of a long lawn which rides up to the east face of the hall, but are invariably missed by those unaware of their presence; which is a shame, as they are a delightful ‘find’ for youngsters, whilst leaving us adults flummoxed. 

Though they seem utterly out-of-place, their presence is actually very easily explained. Among Wallington Hall’s many esteemed owners was the Blackett family (late 17th – late 18th centuries), during which time Sir Walter Blackett (there were a few of these, but this was the one who lived 1707-77) substantially restructured the hall. The Blacketts were big players in the coal trade and it is said that the stone heads were brought north from London in 1760 as ballast in one of Sir Walter’s coal ships. Sources vary slightly as to their exact place of origin, with Bishopsgate or nearby Aldersgate being the likeliest spots, and they probably date to the 16th century.

Quite what the dragon heads’ original purpose was down in London we can only guess. They look suspiciously like gargoyles, of course, but who knows? However, as dragons adorn the City of London’s coat of arms it is, perhaps, no surprise that oddments of this type were to be found lying around the streets when ballast was being sought out in days of old.

Anyway, after their journey north to Wallington a use was eventually found for them. More than a century after their arrival, the slightly oriental-looking affairs were dug out of storage and placed in their present location in 1928, and are now Grade II* Listed.



2 comments:

  1. Fantastic - I had never heard of these before. They look quite big - or is that just the photo? I am wondering if they were once part of much larger statues, maybe too big to be gargoyles, which operate was water spouts. Is there a 'spout' in the mouth to drain water away from a building?

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    1. Thanks HJ. Yeah, they're about 18in or so high, as I remember. Not sure about the 'spouts' thing - can anyone clarify?

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