The Durham Dragon

Many people in the Northeast grow up hearing the story of the Lambton Worm, but this is just one of a number of local legends featuring worms and dragons.

One particular example discovered by Records of Early English Drama North East comes from 1569, when a “certain Italian” came to Durham, putting on show “a very greate, strange & monstrous serpent in length sixteene feete… greater than a great horse”. This monster allegedly came from Ethiopia, where it had “devoured more than 1000 persons and also destroyed a whole countrey”. However, it’s most likely that this claim was an exaggeration designed to draw an audience for what was essentially a medieval stage dragon.

To commemorate this spectacle, as part of the Theatrum Mundi 2016 show we called on Phenix Studios Hexham and Miscreations Theatre to bring the Durham dragon back to life, by creating an authentic 16-foot long version as might have been used on stage. Subsequently, the team produced a smaller puppet sibling, again drawing on contemporary images and documentation.

The two dragons have made mischief in several different shows, including:

  • Dragons! Tales and Music from the North East, June 17th 2019
  • Durham Halloween Parade, October 31st 2018
  • Washington Carnival, September 2016
  • Theatrum Mundi, Durham, July 2016

Dragons! Tales and Music from the North East, June 17th 2019

England’s North-East is uncommonly rich in legends about monstrous ‘worms’ which haunted humble villages as much as grand castles. This free show presented local tales with folk music, Renaissance instruments, rich costumes, pantomime, and puppetry.

Courageous members of the audience were invited to take selfies with our dragons at the end of the show, when in the antechamber to Prior’s Hall, Durham Cathedral, regional artists showcased automatic monsters and other creepy objects.

Durham Halloween Parade, October 31st 2018

Our dragon had been a good boy all year, so on Halloween we decided to let him out for a bite to eat and a drink in some of the local pubs.

Washington Carnival, September 2016

Theatrum Mundi, Durham, July 2016

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