23rd April is a very special day in these parts. We’re celebrating not one but two great British heroes as it’s Shakespeare’s birthday, as well as St George’s Day.
“Cry God for Harry, England, and St George!” ~ William Shakespeare (Henry V)
Myths and legends about the ‘facts’ of St George’s life abound, including his reputed slaying of the dragon. But it’s widely accepted that he was born to Christian parents in 270 A.D. in Cappadocia (now Eastern Turkey) before moving to Palestine where he rebelled against Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians.
Saint George never visited the British Isles during his lifetime. But as English crusaders returned from foreign shores, they brought with them tales of his exploits and subsequent martyrdom. English soldiers in the 14th century regarded him as a special protector of the English, and chose to wear his emblem – the red cross of a martyr on a white background. In 1348, St George was acknowledged as patron saint of England.
Kenilworth Castle is celebrating St George’s Weekend with two fun-packed days of family-oriented activities on 23rd and 24th April. Young dragon slayers can discover the legend of St George, with his story brought to life in the grounds of the spectacular castle ruins. Junior knights will be spoilt with a feast of hands-on fun and games, while history hunters of all ages can cheer on our champion as he battles a mighty dragon to save the fair maiden.
Although Warwick Castle isn’t hosting a specific event for St George, there is plenty on offer for would-be knights, especially if you take part in the Devile Warwicke Trail. This guided tour by the castle’s History Team will take you along the mediaeval ramparts, towers and chambers to reveal the bloody history of the fearful Beauchamps – mediaeval England’s most influential knights of the realm.
If you fancy a bit of a knees up, the historic Fleece Inn near Evesham is holding its own St George’s Day Revels. This quintessential English pub – the first in the UK to be owned by the National Trust – will be celebrating the occasion with traditional Morris dancing, a medley of English beers and locally sourced foods.