By Dan Coles
Christmas pranksters have transformed a village statue into a different character ever year in a tradition which has been going on for more than half a century.
Erected in the village of Dunchurch, Warwickshire, the grade 11 listed statue of Lord John Douglas Montague Scott, who was the old landlord of the area, is dressed in the costume of a different pop culture character in the run-up to December 25.
Every year, an unknown prankster works in the night to stealthily decorate the statue in a new outfit – with previous incarnations including a snowman, Santa Claus, Mr. Blobby, Noddy and Woody from Toy Story, while this year it’s The Grinch.
The bizarre tradition is beloved by the residents of Dunchurch, which has a population of roughly 2,800 people and is located four miles south-west of Rugby, as it gathers onlookers from all over desperate to see Lord Scott’s temporary new look.
Dunchurch resident of more than 40 years, retired Ann Wright, 69, said: “The community absolutely love it.
“It’s always a huge talking point in town, none of us ever know what it’s going to be.
“The magic of it is never knowing what it’s going to be.
“Nobody knows who it is.
“Over the years I was told it was Student Nurses.
“That’s all I’ve heard, but the local pantomime group are accused of doing it too.
“It’s the best kept secret I’ve ever known.
“It’s a Dunchurch tradition that as far as I know doesn’t happen anywhere else.”
Lord John Douglas Montague Scott was the younger brother of the 5th Duke of Buccleugh, Grenadier Guards officer and Scottish MP, with some of his relatives still living in the area.
The statue has been decorated as a mixture of different characters since its beginning which often match with popular news events or releases of the year including Pokemon’s Pikachu, a Stormtrooper, a Minion, Prince George, a superhero, a Smurf, Bob the Builder, Prince George, an Olympic runner to celebrate the London 2012 games, A snowman, Santa Clause, Mr. Blobby, Noddy and Woody.
Retired mum-of-two and grandmother-of-three Ann said: “My 15-year-old grandson always asks me what it’s going to be.
“This year he thought it would be The Grinch, to his delight that’s what it was.”
Rumour has it that it was first started in the 1960’s by student nurses from the local hospital of St Cross, or apprentices from the old GEC college that was nearby and some think it is done by the Dunchurch pixies.
Ann moved to the community in 1974, and she noticed it happened when she moved here, but she can’t remember the first display she had seen.
Whoever is behind the sneaky tradition has caught national attention this year which is sure to encourage the tradition to carry on for many years to come.
The local police, now knowing that a known thief is in town for the holidays, have assured the public that ‘The Grinch’ won’t be stealing anyone’s presents this year.
Ann said: People come from miles away to see the statue, as soon as word gets out that it’s dressed.
“It’s a unique tradition that we have always enjoyed as a community.”