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Saint George Sent to the Tower

Fri, 9 October 2015

Saint George

Saint George Sent to the Tower

A late 14th century statue of Saint George from St Albans Cathedral has been transported to the Tower of London to star in an upcoming exhibition.

The statue, which stands at 1.2 metres, has been loaned to the Tower for its exhibition commemorating the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. Henry V, whose military success against the French at Agincourt was made famous by Shakespeare’s play, consciously promoted Saint George as a national icon, dressing his soldiers in his red cross, reflecting an increased enthusiasm for the saint across England at the time.

The Cathedral’s statue was lost for several centuries following the Reformation, but eventually rediscovered – in several pieces – on a heap of rubble by Charles Ashdown in 1872. It is thought to date between 1380 and 1410, and experts agree that George’s armour matches the style likely worn by soldiers at Agincourt.

Since being pieced back together, albeit missing both hands, George has stood at the East End of St Albans Cathedral, his signature red cross somewhat faded but still recognisable. The missing hands may well once have held a sword and shield. Julia Low, Chair of the Cathedral Guides, admitted her concerns for George’s safety since the statue remains precarious, with severe wounds to both legs. She commented, “He was incredibly well packed into his crate for the journey to the Tower, we look forward to his safe return next year. He could have been a very expensive jigsaw!”

However, some wonder whether there is an ulterior motive at play. St Albans Cathedral is a shrine to Britain’s first saint, Alban. Members of the Cathedral, local community and people nationwide have more than once suggested that Alban might be a better choice of English patron saint than George, who was likely killed in Palestine, and has divided loyalty as patron saint of Georgia, among other European countries. Perhaps this is the beginning of an Agincourt-esque campaign to remove Saint George and slot Alban in his rightful place. Should we worry whether George will return in one piece, or whether he will return at all?

 
The Tower’s Agincourt 600 exhibition is open from 23rd October 2015 - 31st January 2016. 
 
For more details go to:

 

http://www.agincourt600.com/event/royal-armouries-exhibition-tower-of-london/

 Alban for Patron Saint of England

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1429251/St-Alban-slays-St-George-to-be-our-favourite-saint.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-393651/Will-George-slayed-Englands-patron-saint.html

The Story of Alban

https://www.stalbanscathedral.org/history/story-of-st-alban

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