St George’s Day in Nunney wouldn’t be the same without the Bathampton Morris Men performing, in the Market Place at 7.30pm on Tuesday 23 April.
St George’s Day is the feast day of Saint George and the National Day for England. Ireland has St Patrick’s Day, the Scottish have St Andrew’s Day and the Welsh have St David’s Day.
St George’s Day is celebrated on 23 April, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George’s death in AD 303. Saint George became the Patron Saint of England in 1348 and 23 April was declared a National Feast in 1415.
St George was born to Christian parents in 270 AD (3rd Century) in Cappadocia, now Eastern Turkey. He moved to Palestine with his mother and became a Roman soldier, rising to the high rank of Tribunus Militum.
He later resigned his military post, however, and protested against the Emperor Diocletian (245-313 AD). Diocletian was a pagan who led Rome’s persecution of Christians.
His rebellion against the Emperor resulted in his imprisonment, but even after torture he stayed true to his faith. The enraged Diocletian had St George dragged through the streets of Nicomedia, Turkey, on the 23 April 303 AD and had him beheaded.
The Emperor’s wife was so inspired by St George’s bravery and loyalty to his religion, that she too became a Christian and was subsequently executed for her faith.
As the Crusaders returned to England from foreign shores, they brought with them tales of St George, and his reputation grew.
A church in Fordington, Dorset, records the ‘miracle appearance’, where St George presented himself outside Jerusalem in 1099 and led the Crusaders into battle. The story is etched into stone over the southern door of the church which still stands today. It is the earliest known church in England to be dedicated to the patron Saint
William Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616, which is why UNESCO declared this day the International Day of the Book.
St George’s Day is traditionally marked in Nunney by flying the red and white St George’s Cross flag and with morris dancing.
The Bathampton Morris Men perform in Nunney on St George’s Day and at Nunney Street Market and Fayre.
Established in 1934 by a Bathampton village teacher, the Bathampton Morris Men in recent years toured in England, Wales, Ireland, France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Bathampton is a small village by the Kennet and Avon Canal on the outskirts of Bath.
The Bathampton Morris Men will perform in the Market Place in Nunney from 7.30pm on Tuesday 23 April.
In previous years we have been asked why the Parish Council or Nunney Community Association don’t organise morris dancing elsewhere in the village. The answer is that this event is nothing to do with them.
The Bathampton Morris Men organise their own events and perform on St George’s Day free of charge. If you’d like them to perform near you, just ask them directly.