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Every year on 23rd April, England celebrates St. George’s Day – a day where revellers will commemorate the country’s rich heritage and culture
Yet, street parties, festivals and parades are not the only way to mark this day, others around the country will perform re-enactments of the legendary tale of Saint George.
In a legend that dates back to the tenth century, the story of Saint George slaying a dragon has been told and retold by generations. In the tale, George, a Roman soldier, is said to have come across a town plagued by an evil dragon about to kill the King’s daughter. The hero that he was, George slayed the dragon, freed the town and rescued the princess, and thus became the patron saint of England.
This year, Forest Holidays is celebrating St. George’s Day by sharing some of England’s most infamous myths and legends.
King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone
Although his existence is debated, the tales of King Arthur live on in British folklore. He has become the centre of numerous stories for centuries, achieving mythical status across the country amongst children and adults alike. Arguably the most famous of all King Arthur tales is the Sword in the Stone. The legend says the magician Merlin placed a sword in a stone and whomever was able to pull it out would be the rightful king. Arthur drew the sword, called Excalibur, from the stone and thus became the King of England.
Robin Hood and his Merry Men
Credit: Kelvin Stewart
The foundation for many myths and legends is the triumph of good over evil, and the tale of Robin Hood is perhaps one of the most well-known in history. His story has all the ingredients for great legend – his skills in archery and sword-fighting, his love for Maid Marian, his loyalty to King Richard and his bravery for standing up for the poor again the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. The Mighty Oak, which stands tall in Sherwood Forest, is still a popular attraction amongst both tourists and residents, and is said to be the hideout for Robin and his Merry Men.
The Beast of Bodmin Moor
Credit: “Beast of Bodmin Moor” by Kevin Levell
The Beast of Bodmin Moor is a myth that began in the 1970s. Over the years there have been over 60 sightings of the Beast, said to be a black panther-like big cat. Although the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food declares there is no verifiable evidence, long-held theories suggest that big cats may have escaped from (illegal) private collections of the rich when it was fashionable to keep big cats, or even have been set free by their owners when they could no longer handle them.
The Grey Lady at Longleat House
Whilst many myths and legends lend themselves to victory of good over evil, others focus on our love of mystery and romance, and the tale of The Grey Lady (sometimes referred to as The Green Lady) is one of love and loss.
Shortly after her marriage to the 2nd Viscount of Weymouth Thomas Thynne, Lady Louisa Carteret was accused of having an affair with a footman. Known for his short temper, Thomas confronted the footman and in a fit of rage, Thomas pushed him down the stairs, breaking his neck. Thomas was said to have had the body buried in the cellar and told Lady Louisa that the footman left without a word. In disbelief of her husband’s story and thinking the footman had been imprisoned in the house, Lady Louisa searched each room every night until she died. Legend says that Lady Louisa still wanders the corridors in search for the young footman, and has been seen by numerous staff and visitors.