One of the earliest references to the village is a recorded in the Doomsday Book commissioned by William the Conqueror under the name of Draitone.
It has also been referred to as Estdrayto, Great Drayton, Drayton Magna and Drayton-cum Membry..
At the time of the Norman invasion, the King was the main landowner in Nottinghamshire and therefore of the land in the vicinity of the village.
Drayton was a ‘Soke Holding’ of Dunham with the Berwicks of Ragnall and Wimpton. At this time Dunham was one of the King’s most important manors listed in Nottinghamshire and continued to be of major importance for a considerable number of years.
East Drayton (a ‘soke’ ) In some cases soke denoted the right to hold a court, and in others only the right to receive the fines and forfeitures of the men over whom it was granted when they had been condemned in a court of competent jurisdiction. Its primary meaning seems to have involved seeking; thus soka faldae was the duty of seeking the lord's court, just as secta ad molendinum was the duty of seeking the lord's mill) was encompassed within the Manor of Dunham and therefore was subject to its jurisdiction. The Church of St Peter and St Paul is of the ‘gothic style’ and is dated as 13/14 century. The Methodists also had a place of worship in the village and the 1853 White’s Directory records the presence of a ‘Preaching Room in the village’. Extensive history of village and church through the centuries.
A windmill ( a post mill with a full width enclosed porch and posthole like windows with shutters) was recorded in 1712 having possibly been transferred to village from Lincolnshire. (Wikipedia)
East Drayton is also the home of the eminent 18th century architect Nicholas Hawksmoor who worked with Christopher Wren on such projects as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace and Greenwich Hospital and became the ‘Surveyor of Westminster Abbey on the death of Wren. In the 19th century East Drayton in 1832 was identified as a large village consisting of 55 dwellings, housing some 256 inhabitants and is recorded as having 2 shoemakers, a grocer, a wheelwright, 8 yeoman farmers and 4 hop growers, whilst the host of the Blue Bell was also recorded as being the blacksmith. The vicar was the Rev. Chas J Sympson and was supported by the curate the Rev Archibold Galland. (White’sDirectory of Nottinghamshire 1832)
The 1853 White’s Directory of Nottinghamshire describes the village as having ‘been greatly improved’. The records show that the land which was enclosed in 1819 was 1,520 acres. The ‘living’ is a vicarage, valued in the King’s books as £9 3s 4d was then valued at £240 and had annexed to it those of Askham and Stokeham. At this time the vicar is named as the Rev John Goodacre and the Lord of the Manor, John Parkinson Esq. is shown to own nearly half of the land in the village, with a small number of freeholders (Rev Henry Hutchinson, John Thomas, William Bryon, John Scott, George Salmon and George Ward) owning the remainder.
Over the last two centuries the population of the village has fluctuated in 1801 from 226 to 212 in 2001 but was recorded at 161 in 1901. In the most recent census information (2001) there are 92 households comprising of 108 males and 104 females. Like many villages the number of dwellings has increased whilst the number of residents has remained somewhat static.
Since the early 1970's the village has won the Best Kept Village Competition under the category for 'under 300 residents'.
The winning years were : 1974: 1975: 1976: 1977: 1978: 1979: 1980: 1991: 1997: and 2014. In 2017 the village came second in category.