St George’s Road, TW9

Place Name

Despite appearances the name may be a reference not to a saint but to King George III who bought the land on which this road was laid out in 1767. However, it may also be an oblique reference to the thanksgiving service held at St Paul’s Cathedral on April 23 (St George’s Day) for the monarch’s recovery from his first bout go mental illness in 1789. Alas, although the name was mentioned in the Vestry minutes on February 21, 1882 there was no explanation. As for the subject himself, little is known of St George, the warrior saint of the Middle East who lived sometime in the 3rdCentury. He rose in prominence in Middle Ages’ England as knights returning home from the crusades spread tales of his (much exaggerated deeds). Tradition holds that he was a high ranking Roman soldier who was tortured and decapitated under the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians in 303. To this was added in the 12thCentury the legend of his rescuing a Libyan king’s daughter from a dragon and then slaying the monster in return for a promise by the king’s subjects to be baptised. It is thought this may be a Christian version of the legend of Perseus, who was said to have rescued Andromeda from a sea monster near Lydda… and at some point the whole story was transferred to the flat topped Dragon Hill in Uffington, Berkshire. King Edward III made him the Patron Saint of England when he formed the Order of the Garter in St George’s name in 1350, and the cult of the Saint was further advanced by King Henry V, at the battle of Agincourt in France. His fixture as the Patron Saint of England replaced St Edmund, or Edmund the Martyr, King of East Anglia in the 9thCentury. Various relics are said to be housed in both Western and Eastern churches worldwide. St George’s Chapel of Windsor Castle is said to have once held two fingers, part of the heart, and part of the skull of the saint.


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