Drayton is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Draituna, meaning place where logs are dragged. However, the area seems to have been settled much earlier. In 1849, Roman pottery was unearthed in the village.
Between 1432 and 1459 the village was in the possession of Sir John Fastolf, a prominent soldier in the Hundred Years’ War who gave his name to Shakespeare‘s character Sir John Falstaff. He built Drayton Lodge, a red brick ‘plaisance’, as a lookout overlooking the river Wensum and the main road into Norwich. Its ruins are still visible today.
On Falstolf’s death in 1459, his properties passed into the hands of John Paston. His inheritance soon became the subject of bitter litigation from the Duke of Suffolk, who owned the neighbouring village of Costessey, leading to violent clashes between the two landowners (described in the Paston Letters).
A large new housing estate, Thorpe Marriott, was built partially within the parish of Drayton in the late 20th century.
Drayton has a petrol station (all night), Barclays Bank, two post offices, butcher, doctors’ surgery and late night pharmacy, Lloyd’s chemist, baker, patisserie, florist, four hairdressers, beautician, dress shop, two industrial estates and several public houses including the Cock Inn and the Red Lion, and Stower Grange hotel and restaurant. It also has three Tesco outlets.
There are two schools (First and Middle), a village hall, Longdale and King George V playing fields, the Bob Carter Sports and Community Centre and an insurance broker (Drayton Insurance). Drayton also has Low Road Potato Farm which serves the local community and businesses with potatoes and vegetables. R G Carter construction and farms’ businesses are located here.
The parish church of St Margaret’s  was built in the 13th century, but was substantially rebuilt in the 19th century, after the tower collapsed in 1850.
Part of Thorpe Marriott lies within the ward of Drayton North. Thorpe Marriott is a late 1980s early 1990s residential community covering parts of Drayton and Taverham parishes. It has its own shopping centre at Acres Way, including a fish shop, mini Tesco, the Otter public house and an estate agent.
Thorpe Marriott is served by Trinity Ecumenical Church (Methodist & Anglican) and by St Margaret’s Drayton and St Edmund’s Taverham, partner churches with local Methodists in the Trinity LEP (Local Ecumenical Partnership). St Margaret’s, together with Drayton Methodist and Trinity Church  are members of ‘Churches Together in Drayton, Taverham & Thorpe Marriott’.
Drayton was once served by its own Drayton railway station on the now closed Midland and Great Northern line into Norwich from the north. Today, the track bed forms part of the Marriott’s Way, a long distance footpath.