The Dragon of St Leonards Forest

Dragon Saint Sussex Folklore

Long ago, in the land of Sussex, there lived a great dragon. Its claws could slice through rock, and its mouth could engulf a village whole. It dwelled in the local forest, terrorising the nearby villages. It would destroy crops and eat livestock, destroying the local farms and causing famines and plagues. The villagers cried out for Gods help to smite the mighty beast, and he answered. God sent a small hermit, named Leonard to kill the beast, and save the people of Sussex. The villagers laughed at Leonard, asking how a man cloaked in rags and carrying a walking stick would have the strength to kill the beast. Not dismayed by their taunts and laughter, Leonard set of into the woods, in search of the cave where the beast dwelled.

After a day of searching, he found the beast asleep, lying on the rotting carcasses of cows and sheep. “I am Leonard and I have come to slay you”, said Leonard in a calm and collective manner. The dragon awoke with a start, trying to see who spoke. Leonard repeated, “I am Leonard, and I have come to slay you”. The dragon let out a roaring laugh, “You! You would try to defeat me!”. He began to stand up, ready for a meagre fight. However, Leonard drew his sword, and charged headfirst at the beast, with an amount of power unproportionate to his figure. The dragon soon realised he had a fight on his hands, and began to try and stop the small man. But Leonard was quick and agile, dodging the dragons every attack. The battle drew on for hours, with both sides sustaining wounds. Leonard however, managed to take the upper hand, stabbing the beast in the heart and killing it instantly.

The fight, however, had wounded Leonard causing him to bleed a considerable amount of blood. But wherever the blood fell, pearly white lily’s came into bloom. God then asked Leonard (who was later revered as a saint) what he wanted as a reward for slaying the dragon. Leonard responded saying he would like two things. He wanted the adders to no longer poison the nearby people and the blackbirds not to sing, so they could come to the forest and pray. God granted him this request.

The people where so thankful to St Leonard, they decided to name the forest after him, as an everlasting tribute to the man who slayed the dragon.

Dragon St Leonard Sussex Folklore

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