Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dragon of Wantley

June 26 [1830].—Miss Kemble and her father breakfasted here, with Sir Adam and Lady Ferguson. I like the young lady very much, respecting both her talents and the use she has made of them. She seems merry, unaffected, and good-humoured. She said she did not like the apathy of the Scottish audiences, who are certain not to give applause upon credit. I went to the Court, but soon returned; a bad cold in my head makes me cough and sneeze like the Dragon of Wantley.

In Walter Scott's journal  entry of June 26, 1830, he refers to the dragon from an old poem.  The dragon lived in a cave in Wharncliffe Crags, and Scott introduces the dragon's turf in "Ivanhoe":

'In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by the river Don, there extended in ancient times a large forest, covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster. The remains of this extensive wood are still to be seen at the noble seats of Wentworth, of Warncliffe Park, and around Rotherham. Here haunted of yore the fabulous Dragon of Wantley; here were fought many of the most desperate battles during the Civil Wars of the Roses; and here also flourished in ancient times those bands of gallant outlaws, whose deeds have been rendered so popular in English song...'



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