Cry ‘God for Harry, England and Saint George’!
Today is St George’s Day, and I thought that rousing quote from Shakespeare’s Henry V was a good reminder of England’s patron saint, as well as remembering that this is the day we celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday in 1564*. George appears to have been adopted by Richard the Lionheart during the Crusades and thus went on to become the emblem of chivalry and victory of good over evil. He is also recognised by many other countries, as either their patron saint or, as being an important figure in legend. There are therefore many images of him, sword in hand, slaying the fearsome dragon.
Fellow blogger Brett Payne provided this first photo, taken in Plaza de San Marcelo, Leon in 2013, when Brett was walking the Camino de Santiago. I was holidaying with my husband in Northern Spain at the time and we had engineered an historic meeting in Burgos with Brett. We went on to visit Leon the next day whilst Brett took a short break from the Camino to see Madrid and arrived in Leon a few days after us. I had failed to get a decent image of George and so Brett kindly shared his own great photo. St George and his strange looking dragon were over the entrance to a bank; perhaps as a warning not to try any funny business. The building, Casa Fernandez y Andres, also known as Casa La Botines, was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi, famous for the Cathedral La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. His friend, Llorenc Matamala executed the wonderful sculpture, preparing the plaster model on the Sagrada site, to Gaudi’s instructions and under his watchful eye. When the statue was taken down for restoration in 1951, a lead tube was found behind it, inside of which were the original plans for the whole complex and signed by Gaudi.**
The following year I noticed George in Cordoba, Andalusia, on the walls of the Cathedral. Now I shall be on the lookout for him everywhere. I haven’t seen him in Lanzarote, and don’t think that’s very likely, but I hope to spot him when we return to Northern Spain later in the Summer.
Salisbury is also home to the giant Christopher and the beadle Hob-Nob, who are now part of the St George’s Day parade in the city. The Giant has a long history, the roots of which are uncertain but seem to be linked to folklore. The original was paraded on many historic occasions and is now housed in the city’s museum; his modern contemporary joins the Sarum Morris men for Riding the Jorge, a re-enactment of a medieval pageant when George fought and valiantly killed the dragon.
|St George’s Day celebrations in Salisbury 2007 by Steve Elliot via Flickr Commons|
There will be celebrations and parades all over England over the next few days. Have a great St George’s Day/Weekend wherever you are, and may the sun shine on your parade.
This is my submission for Sepia Saturday. Join the parade and see what others have contributed there in the way of old photos and history.
* "Partly because many babies died soon after they were usually baptized, as the Prayer Book recommended, no later than 'the Sunday or holy day next after the child be born’. for centuries now, Shakespeare’s birthday has been celebrated on 23 April, which happens to be St George’s Day, and is also the date on which he died.” Professor Stanley Wells ‘Shakespeare For All Time’.
** 'Antoni Gaudi, 1852-1926, From Nature to Architecture' by Maria Antonietta Crippa