This St George’s Day, the main man himself will be galloping towards Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens in Northumberland to slay the dragon in a Medieval Pageant in honour of England’s patron saint.
On Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 April (the weekend prior to St George’s Day on 23 April), a full size smoke breathing 3metre high dragon will be terrorising the Medieval townsfolk of Belsay and visitors can meet the mysterious knight himself, mounted on horseback in shining armour. Mini St George’s will be invited to join the charge to hunt down and defeat his famous foe.
While at Chesters Roman Fort & Museum, over the same weekend, English Heritage is celebrating St George’s Roman origins with a special dragon hunting trail.
Jon Hogan, events manager for English Heritage in the north said: “St George’s Day is 23 April but we’re celebrating his life at English Heritage properties the weekend before so that more people can enjoy our events. At Belsay, you can join the Medieval townsfolk, musicians and nobles celebrate St George’s Day with military drill, mounted skill at arms and a pageant in his honour including a full scale battle with a smoke breathing dragon!”
The story of Saint George is so wrapped in myth and legend that it's difficult to extract the historical facts. Many people may be surprised to know that St George wasn’t actually English at all. He was originally an officer in the Roman Army and thought to be from the region now known as Turkey.
The image of George most familiar to us today, the saint dressed in a white tunic bedecked with a red cross, astride his stallion, and skewering a dragon as he rescues a fair maiden.
From the 14th century Saint George was regarded as a special protector of the English. English soldiers were called to wear "a sign of Saint George" on chest and back. He became, in the popular imagination, English.
In 1940 King George VI inaugurated the George Cross for 'acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger'. The award is usually awarded to civilians. Saint George slaying the dragon is depicted on the silver cross.
The Medieval Pageant Weekend in honour of St George is at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens in Northumberland Sat 20 & Sun 21 April. For opening times and admissions prices visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/belsay The Dragon Family Fun Trail is at Chesters Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall Sat 20 & Sun 21 April For opening times and admissions prices visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/hadrianswall