Village Life: Drayton
- Credit: submitted
In our special series Andrea Cowan takes a look at village life in Somerset. This time she visits Drayton
Drayton is a picturesque village on the Levels situated just five miles from Somerton in South Somerset.
It's a small village with a population of 379 and a lovely mix of houses centred around the parish church, St. Catherine's, on the main street. Built from blue lias and golden hamstone in the perpendicular style, the church dates back to the 15th century. It was dedicated to St Catherine, who is said to be patroness of philosophers and preachers. Inside it has some magnificent stained glass windows and the tower has eight bells. In the churchyard there is an ancient 15th century cross and two giant yew trees, originally grown to provide bows for soldiers and apparently mentioned in the Doomsday book.
Opposite the church is the pub, the Drayton Crown, which was bought by a local couple and underwent a major refurbishment before re-opening a couple of years ago. There is no longer a school in the village, although schools, shops and other amenities can be found in the neighbouring village of Curry Rivel and the ancient town of Langport, just two miles away.
For lovers of the outdoors, there is a Forest School in Drayton woods that provides nature-based educational activities and experiences. The village also lies by the River Isle, a tributary of the River Parrett, providing plenty of walks and trails. This is also part of the Somerset Level Angling Club waters.
The roads are lined by a mix of period cottages and impressive larger houses. At the edge of the village is Midelney Manor, a Grade I manor house set in stunning landscaped grounds. Originally the property of the Abbots of Muchelney, it passed to the Cely Trevilian family during the Dissolution of the Monasteries which began in 1536 and has remained within the family ever since. The current owner, Alice Trevilian, has breathed new life into the manor.
Drayton Village Hall, housed in the old parish school building, is a well utilised community amenity. A popular monthly market and café is held in the hall, along with the well-attended Harvest Supper and Race Night. It also hosts a wide range of clubs and organisations.
Normally, the biggest event in the calendar is the street fair which is held on the first weekend of September. In the past it has featured stalls, street performers, entertainers, food, a grand prize draw and a classic car show, raising lots of money for local causes. But it is taking 2019 off, returning refreshed and rejuvenated on 5 September 2020. See you there next year!
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The annual wassail is one of just a handful of 'house-visiting wassails' that still exist in the country. Wassailers visit houses and bless the people of the village.