1Picture of wyvern in catalogue2Picture of wyvern in Ibstock
3Picture of wyvern in NewWalk4Picture of wyvern in NewWalk
5Picture of wyvern in NewWalk6Picture of wyvern in East Avenue
7Picture of wyvern in Knighton Park Road8Picture of monster in Wigston
9Picture of wyvern in Dunton Bassett10Picture of wyvern in Dunton Bassett
11Photo of dragon in Stratford12Photo of dragon in Carisbrooke Rd

Wyverns

Wyverns are associated with Leicester via the seal of Thomas of Lancaster, a former Earl of Leicester. They can be seen in different forms all over the city and differ from a dragon in having two, rather then four, legs. Unfortunately for Leicester, the wyvern is a malicious creature. There is more information is at this Baronage site - http://www.baronage.co.uk/2002c/corner10.html
Various wyverns, dragons and monsters can be found in Victorian builders' catalogues such as that for the Haunchwood company of Nuneaton, Warwicks (1). The only wyvern identical to the example in their catalogue that I've photographed is on a building by the A10 in Tottenham, London (although I've spotted another example in the suburbs of Nottingham). A similar wyvern in Ibstock, Leics, (2) has scales on its neck, feathered ears and a thick tail.
For those who live in Leicester and know Upper New Walk it will be no surprise to see the next two, identical, wyverns. These are fibreglass replicas and you can read how they were created on page 14 of this University of Leicester bulletin - http://www.le.ac.uk/bulletin/bulletinmay2000.pdf. Positioned on gables high above the corner with University Road (3-4) and further towards Victoria Park (5), these two poke their tongues out from between sharp teeth and have had their bodies scored for extra texture.
On East Avenue (6) the wyvern looks less aggressive and has the same ears as the Ibstock example (an almost identical example can be seen in the centre of Salisbury, Wilts), while that on Knighton Park Road (7) is certainly as fearsome looking as those on New Walk but lacks the protuding tongue and textured body. There is also a bizarre creature to be seen in Wigston (8) which is clearly not a wyvern - what is it?
In Dunton Bassett, Leics, there is a house which has a different wyvern at either end of the roof. Although the circles on the wings indicate the beasts are related, they are far from identical and are positioned so that one can spread its wings freely (9) while the other is cramped against a chimney (10). I have also found identical sets of wyverns on houses in Woodville, Derbyshire, and South Knighton, Leicester; these are very similar to, but different from, those pictured here. However, the record for most wyverns on one building goes to Hughendon Manor, Salisbury, where there are four wyverns, one of which is the same as (10).
Finally, to show that dragons also make it onto gables, here is one of a pair from Stratford upon Avon (11) and one from Carisbrooke Road, Leicester (12).
For examples of dragons (and wyverns, although the company calls them dragons) which are currently available have a look at this website: http://www.rooffinials.co.uk/dragon-finials/view-all-products.html and this website: http://www.roofdragon.com/index.html . It is clear from the photos on these websites that many people still enjoy decorating theor homes with dragons, wyverns and assorted mythical beasts.
This video from Australia gives a brief idea of how these dragons and wyverns were made:
 
This website is part of the East Midlands Oral History Archive and has been compiled by Colin Hyde. Any comments can be sent to him via the 'Contact us' button at the bottom of the page. Last updated 22/01/2013.
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