Cathedral’s St George heading from St Albans to the Tower of London

St George is taken to the Tower

St George is taken to the Tower - Credit: Archant

St George has been taken from St Albans Cathedral to the Tower of London - for an exhibition not a beheading.

The late 14th century statue of St George from the cathedral 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.

Standing at 1.2 metres, 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 the 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, expressed some concern for George’s safety because 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!”

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Ironically, there have been calls in recent years for Alban to become the English patron saint instead of George. The latter was probably killed in Palestine and is the patron saint of Georgia and other European countries while Alban was Britain’s first saint,

The Tower’s Agincourt 600 exhibition is open from next Friday, October 23, until January 31 next year. For more details click here.