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Museum News

St George’s Day: Tudor Celebrations

St Georges Meal

Named after St. George, the patron saint of England, St. George’s Day is a cultural and national holiday marked with events and celebrations, including parades, music, and traditional English food. It is an important part of English culture and heritage, and is a time for people to come together and celebrate their country and its history.

Although St. George is an English national hero, he has no real connection with the country. He was born during the 3rd century in Cappadocia, Turkey and died on the 23rd April 303 AD in Lod, Israel, known at the time as Lydda.

St Georges Demo 2Despite never visiting England, St. George was a popular saint throughout the Christian world – it is believed he was sentenced to death for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. His reputation for virtue and holiness spread across Europe and he became known to English people by at least the 8th century. For many he became the personification of Christian ideals and during the Middle-Ages was revered for his bravery and selflessness.

St. George’s Day has been celebrated in England for hundreds of years. His feast day on the 23rd April – the anniversary of his death – was acknowledged in England from the 9th century and he was officially named the patron saint of England during the 12th century after King Edward III made him the patron of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

St. George rose to the height of his popularity in the 15th and 16th centuries, when 23rd April was celebrated with parades featuring a model dragon and actors portraying the roles of St. George and St. Margaret in the legendary story of Saint George and the Dragon. The blessing of St. George on crops was invoked during Rogationtide processions, and visits were made to wells of St. George on Ascension Day, where his intercession was sought for sick horses.

St Geprges PrepWith the passing of the chivalric age and finally the Protestant Reformation, the cult of St. George dwindled. Around 1542, there was a shift in which St. George’s Day moved from being an important religious event, to more of a holiday. Nevertheless it was still perceived as a “high day” and thus merited a meal with some extra treats.

On Tuesday 23 April, Weald & Downland Living Museum will be hosting a celebration meal in honour of St. George’s Day in our Bayleaf Tudor Farmstead. Our interpretation team will be wearing replica historic clothing, and preparing a meal in the Winkhurst Tudor Kitchen which will include roasted meat, fine breads, pottage and a traditional custard dessert.