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Sing out for Shakespeare, England, and Saint George: celebrating St George’s Day

St George in front of the English flag

Sunday 23 April is St George’s Day, the patron saint of England famed for his dragon-slaying. It’s also the “official” birthday of William Shakespeare. That’s a double excuse to dig out the bunting, and celebrate everything quintessentially English! Here are five top tips for a St George’s Day to remember:

1. Slay a dragon

4 tudor minstrelsOK, this might be tricky given that dragons are extinct/mythical, but we’ve a couple of ideas to make up for the lack of real fire-breathing beasties. Why not combine cultures with a sinuous Chinese dragon weaving tis colourful way through your event. Or discover the music of Shakespeare’s times with Dragonsfire, playing music of the 16th century on authentic instruments and dressed in their Tudor/Renaissance best!


2. Ring your bell(s)

Handbell ringing was developed in England by the Cor brothers in Wiltshire at the turn of the 18th century. So what better way to celebrate your Englishness than with a handbell taster or team building session! Gay and Alan Cooper offer taster sessions, workshops, performances, and even a Britain’s Got Talent style contest for wannabe and never-tried-it handbell rings alike.


3. Sample some Turkish delight

Brace yourself for a shock, St George certainly wasn’t English, and he was most probably a Turkish soldier. Despite being in the Roman army, he refused to take part in the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian, and was executed in AD303. So, why not celebrate with the sounds of George’s homelands, as performed by our talented Turkish performers. Ali Turkish Musician or a Turkish Band.


4. Create your own Dead Poet’s Society

William Wordsworth died on St George’s Day (1850), as did WWI poet Rupert Brooke (in 1915). As if acting out the sentiments of his most famous poem,”The Soldier”, Brooke died of sepsis from an infected mosquito bite and is buried on the Greek island of Skyros.


“If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.”

So, why not take time to read some English poetry this Sunday? There are thousands of volumes available for free at Project Guttenberg including eight volumes of Wordsworth’s poetry – daffodils, clouds and all!


5. Enjoy some very English entertainment

Victorian England was alive with the sounds of entertainment, from the music halls to the pubs, the smartest concert halls to the sing-alongs around the pianoforte. Duo Alcock and Brown celebrate the songs of the era, from the sentimental to the downright bawdy, and you’ll be amazed how many you know!


And finally…

If you want to celebrate English eccentricity at its finest, watch the London Marathon. The spectacle of people running in the most outlandish fancy dress never fails to impress. The iconic BBC theme music for the event, entitled “The Trap” was written by one of England’s finest light music composers, Ron Goodwin. You may not know his name, but you’ll know his scores for films including Where Eagles Dare, Force 10 from Navarone, Battle of Britain, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing , The Day of the Triffids, and the simply splendid 633 Squadron.