Happy St George’s Day!

Amid the celebration of Easter and the flurry of preparations for the upcoming Royal Wedding, you could be forgiven for overlooking the fact that today was St George’s Day.

Hard to do in central London, however, where Trafalgar Square was the centrepoint for celebrations of a musical kind.

Held on the 23rd April each year, St George’s Day – a national day of celebration in England although not yet a national holiday – commemorates the death of St George in 303 AD.

Tradition says St George was a Roman soldier who served the Emperor Diocletian before he was executed for refusing the adjure his Christian faith.

His story – which gradually morphed into a tale in which he defeats a dragon in a symbolic triumph of good over evil – came to England with returning crusaders during the Middle Ages.

He was later adopted as the country’s patron saint (it has been suggested this took place after King Henry V’s victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 but while his feast day was made a national holiday in 1222, it remains a matter of conjecture as to when he become the country’s patron saint).

As one would expect of a national saint, there are numerous depictions of St George around London – the image above is of a massive bronze sculpture by Michael Sandle (1988) which sits in Salisbury Court in the City of London.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s Valentine’s Day, so we’re pausing from our usual updates to give you a couple of interesting historical titbits…

• The first recorded written Valentine’s Day card is generally attributed to Charles, the Duke of Orleans, who wrote it to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London following King Henry V’s defeat of the French at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415;

• Geoffrey Chaucer, author of 1382 text Parlement of Foules – a poem written in honor of King Richard II’s engagement to Anne of Bohemia which is generally attributed with first linking St Valentine’s Day and romantic love, was born in and lived in London (although it should be noted that many don’t believe Chaucer was referring to 14th February in his reference but to another day associated with a different St Valentine).

PICTURE: Andrew C. (www.sxc.hu)