Previous Events


Although there has been no official St George in Southwark Festival this year, there have been plenty of opportunities to celebrate him. 23 April was very close to Easter this year so he has been remembered on a variety of days -the pubs led the way on Wednesday 23.

The BBCRadio 4’s had a discussion about St George as a multicultural saint, including a report from St George’s church in Bethlehem

Borough Market have continued their link with the Catalan government and gave out red roses on Sunday 27.

St George’s RC cathedral’s Chapter Mass was on Monday 28 April, the transferred date fro the Feast after Easter. Children at St George’s School wear red and white and have a special ‘English’ lunch.

23 April is also Shakespeare’s Birthday




In 2013 events to celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday and St George’s Day will be held at:


The Great Southwark Dragon Quest

12.30pm-2pm with Mental Fight Club and Southwark Mysteries. Meeting place Red Cross Garden, Redcross Way [map], £3 donation, book via or call Declan on 07813 900062. Find 10 Georges and Dragons hidden around Borough High Street and learn of the traditions and folklore associated with them. (Also Sunday and Monday)

St George Festival Fun Day

2pm – 5pm at St George the Martyr Crypt [map] with contributions from Southwark’s many varied communities, including MIA dancers, Blackfriars Nightingales, LSBU Confucius Institute, BOST making mini greenhouses (to plant firey chilli peppers!), Ethiopian coffee ceremony and display of Ethiopian Christian art. See Facebook event.

  • 2pm Movement into Age dancers
  • 2.30pm Rockingham Somali Group
  • 3pm Blackfriars Nightingales
  • 3.30pm Ethipopian Music and Dance
  • 4pm Peformances from Confucius Institute, London South Bank University

Sunday 22 April

Festival Eucharist

11am in St George the Martyr Church: all welcome

Celebrate St George’s Day at Borough Market

12 noon-4pm in the Jubilee Market (Winchester Walk)

Many only think of St George as the patron saint of England, but the dragon-slayer is also the patron saint of many other communities, including Catalonia. In celebration of this, the market has teamed up with the Government of Catalonia for a special day to honour our shared saint, diverse cultures and traditions. Borough Market traders will be showcasing the best of their produce including a special English charcuterie platter from Cannon and Cannon, dragon-themed baked goods from Bread Ahead and specialities from Brindisa.

There’ll also be demonstrations throughout the day focusing on English and Catalan dishes, including from the popular Catalan Cooking, alongside a traditional performance from Passamezzo.

The exchanging of roses and books is a Catalan custom on St George’s Day and the UK delegation of the Government of Catalonia will perform the ritual with members of the public, while traders will hand out roses throughout the day.

The Great Southwark Dragon Quest

12.30pm-2pm with Mental Fight Club and Southwark Mysteries. Meeting place Red Cross Garden, Redcross Way [map], £3 donation, book via or call Declan on 07813 900062. Find Georges and Dragons hidden around Borough High Street and learn of the traditions and folklore associated with them. (Also Saturday and Monday)

1.00pm Festival Lunch at St George the Martyr.

Monday 23 April – St George’s Day

Dragon Cafe

10am-10pm in the Crypt of St George the Martyr Church

Come and see us and have a cuppa, a St George themed snack, and explore the creative space, the exhibition of images, performances and ‘son et lumiere’ projections.The Dragon Cafe should open regularly from 1 October 2012.

Tours of St George’s RC Cathedral

11am & 3pm Tours of St George’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Lambeth Road, free.

Book Sale at Southwark Cathedral

11am-6pm Book Sale organised by the Friends of Southwark Cathedral in SW churchyard at the cathedral. Buy a book and receive a rose!

The Great Southwark Dragon Quest

12.30pm-2pm with Mental Fight Club and Southwark Mysteries. Meeting place Red Cross Garden, Redcross Way [map], £3 donation, book via or call Declan on 07813 900062. Find Georges and Dragons hidden around Borough High Street and learn of the traditions and folklore associated with them. (Also Saturday and Sunday)

Mass for St George’s Day

12.30pm Mass for St George’s Day (with relic) at St George’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Lambeth Road, SE1

The Ballad of St George & the Dragon

Musical open-air theatre with the Lions part at four locations around Borough & Bankside.

  • 2.30pm at St George’s Roman Catholic Primary School playground (entrance Lambeth Road, SE1)
  • 3.45pm at Red Cross Garden, Redcross Way, SE1 [map]
  • 4.45pm at Millennium Courtyard, Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge [map]
  • 5.45pm next to St George the Martyr Church, Borough High Street [map]


6.30pm Meditation on theme of St George and Identity with Fr Ray Andrews, St George the Martyr Church

St George’s Day Vigil

6.45pm for 7pm  at Crossbones Graveyard, Redcross Way

A vigil to honour the outcast dead of Crossbones Graveyard has been held on the 23rd of every month since 2004. Every April 23rd, St George is honoured at Crossbones as ‘Our Lady’s Knight’ and as the protector of spiritual works. There’ll be poetry, songs and simple participatory rituals led by John Constable (‘The Southwark Mysteries’) and other local artists. Bring a flowers or a memento to renew the living shrine at the gates, and a poem, song or something else to share. A celebration of Englishness at its most diverse and inclusive. Meet at the gates in Redcross Way, SE1 (opposite The Boot and Flogger).

Morris Dancing

Finally: from 8pm New Esperance Morris and Hammersmith Morris start a tour of pubs in Bankside and Borough at Old Thameside Inn.



In 2011 St George’s Day coincides with Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Day. The church moves the liturgical celebration to 2 May.

This year St George in Southwark festival invites supporting organisations to organise their own celebration if appropriate. Events can be listed on this website.

St George in Southwark Lecture Thursday 12 May 2011

‘There is no Spring without St George’: England’s patron saint in the folk traditions of Europe and beyond.

Dr Sam Riches, Lancaster University.
doors open 5.30pm
Events Theatre, LSBU Keyworth Building, Keyworth Street, SE1

Supported by London South Bank University

To reserve a place email or leave a message on 020 7193  1845

Dr Sam Riches is a cultural historian with a particular interest in pseudo-historical saints, especially those who encounter monsters. She has published extensively on the late medieval cult of St George, and is the author of St George: Hero, Martyr and Myth (Sutton, 2000/2005). Based at Lancaster University, Sam is the  main author of an educational website developed for Cumbria and Lancashire County Councils:


The fourth St George in Southwark Festival started on Thursday 22 April and ran till Sunday 25 April 2010.

Thursday 22 April



  • Service for Eve of St George’s Day

6pm-7pm at St George the Martyr Church (map)



  • Opening of Southwark Mysteries by John Constable

Doors open 6.45, performance begins 7.15pm at Southwark Cathedral

see or go to Southwark Cathedral shop to buy tickets

    • Opening of Photographic Exhibition

St George the Martyr Church, Borough High Street time tbc

Signs of Ethiopia / Znaki Etiopii:  Photographs of Ethiopia by Richard Szydlo

Ethiopia is the one African country which celebrates St George as a patron saint. Runs until Sunday 25 April.






Friday 23 April :: St George’s Day

Local shops and stalls in Borough Market will be decorated to celebrate St George.

From 12noon  stalls will be selling themed foods, including St George magic cakes from Konditor & Cook to take away and street musicians will entertain.

    • Guided Tour of St George’s Cathedral

      11am & 3pm at St George’s RC Cathedral, Lambeth Road, SE1 7HY (map)

      Learn about Southwark’s Roman Catholic Cathedral on the feast day of St George, its patron saint.

    • St George’s Day Mass

      6.00pm at St George’s RC Cathedral, Lambeth Road, SE1 7HY (map)

      Mass attended by the Chapter and Cathedral Friends. The relic of St George will be on display.

St George’s Lunch

12.30pm at Blackfriars Settlement, Rushworth Street, SE1 0RB (map); £3.50

Roast lunch followed by open-air theatre performance (see below). Phone Tina Johnston on 020 7928 9521 to reserve a place for lunch. Supported by United Charities of St George the Martyr.

The Ballad of St George & the Dragon

2.30pm outside Blackfriars Settlement, Rushworth Street SE1 0RB (map)

4pm at Red Cross Garden, Redcross Way, SE1 1HA (map)

4.45pm in Southwark Cathedral churchyard, SE1 9DA (map)

5.30pm  outside the Market Porter, Stoney Street

Open-air theatre with the Lions part. Featuring our hero St George and a magnificent dragon created by the company, the Ballad celebrates our national day in 12 exciting musical minutes

  • ‘Bright Unconquered Sons’ Fragments from Shakespeare

    6.30pm In celebration of Shakespeare’s Birthday the Bankside Gallery is hosting  a 45 mins performance by Part of the Fever of some of the bard’s best known verse -as universal and relevant to today’s audiences as it was in its day. Full listing here

  • New Esperance Morris

    New Esperance Morris plus Hammersmith Morris Men will be touring Borough Pubs

    Listen out for them at approx 7.45 at Old Thameside Inn, 8.30 Brew Wharf and 9.15 at the Market Porter

  • Southwark Mysteries

    by John Constable

Doors open 6.45, performance begins 7.15pm at Southwark Cathedral

see or go to Southwark Cathedral shop to buy tickets


  • St George’s Day vigil

6.45pm Gather at the gates of Crossbones Graveyard, Redcross Way, SE1 - a simple ceremony to remember the ‘outcast dead’ of our Borough.

Saturday 24 April

Mosaic Workshop run by Janet & John Mosaics

10.30-1.30pm, St Hugh’s Church, Crosby Row, SE1

Make your own St George ‘keepsake’.

book a place in advance, or 020 7633 0766, free

Supported by CCF Grassroots Grant.

2pm St George Festival Fun Day

Come and discover what St George means to some of Southwark’s diverse communities. With dance, music, food and gardening.

St George the Martyr Church, Borough High Street, SE1

Crypt Events (map) from 2pm

  • 2.30pm     Blackfriars Nightingales    English songs
  • 3.00pm     Ethiopian Music and dance
  • 4.00pm     Rockingham Somali dancers and ‘Courage’ poetry book launch
  • 4.30pm     Competition Prize Giving
  • 4.45pm     SE1 United/Mayhem Theatre poetry and dance

Other happenings

  • Display of competition entries
  • Tea tasting by LSBU Confucius Institute
  • Ethiopian Coffee ceremony
  • Exhibition of Ethiopian artifacts
  • plant baby snapdragon seedlings with BOST, plus dragon making
  • St George the Martyr Church Stall
  • Chinese calligraphy with Confucius Institute
  • Largactyl Shuffle St George and the Borough walk with Cooltan Arts 3pm-4pm
  • Signs of Ethiopia photographic exhibition
  • refreshments including St George cake donated by Konditor & Cook

Last night of Southwark Mysteries by John Constable,

Doors Open 6.45, performance starts 7.15pm, Southwark Cathedral

see or Southwark Cathedral shop to buy tickets




Sunday 25 April

  • Festival Eucharist

    11am at St George the Martyr Church, Borough High Street (map)

  • Festival Sunday lunch

    1.30pm Festival lunch in crypt  with Blackfriars Settlement, £5


Download a report of the 2009 festival [PDF]

With the Lions part

The energetic players gave 4 performances of the Ballad of St George & the Dragon around the Borough. Surprised people came to doorways in Rushworth Street as the drums and violin heralded their arrival at Blackfriars Settlement. Here 60 or so ‘Older persons’ and friends and neighbours, after a good roast beef lunch washed down with St George’s beer from Ethiopia, watched as St George tackled the dragon for the first time and the spring princess was released from his belly.

Then a short walk to Red Cross Garden, filled with families and children, just out of school, for 2 more performances – here the small boys learnt to encourage the dragon.

Finally a procession to Southwark Cathedral, gathering people as it went, where tourists, visitors, office workers and a surprised group of clergy from Norway cheered on St George and good will spread around.

At St George’s RC Cathedral

Alex Scott gave a Guided tour of the cathedral before the 12.30 Chapter Mass at which 3 new canons were installed. The relic of St George was carried in procession.

At Southwark Cathedral the focus was on Shakespeare’s nephew and Nell Gwynne rather than St George as Arthur Smith and Rick Jones gave their annual presentation of words and music. However, the cathedral now sells a fine fridge magnet in the shop. The design is from the roundel of St George and the Dragon on the First World War memorial in the retro choir (price £2.99)

Back in Redcross Way John Constable hosted a gathering of those concerned about the future development of the Cross Bones Grave Yard, who remembered the ‘outcast’ poor’ with words and music.

Other evening events included traditional Morris dancing by the local New Esperance Group, Hammersmith, a St George’s Day after work bike ride organised by Southwark Cyclists and Silver, and story telling of tales of courage by Vayu Naidu and Craig Jenkins and others at the Leather Exchange pub.

On Saturday the weather was a bit chilly for a picnic and eventually everyone retreated to the warmth of St George’s Crypt.

Here we enjoyed dances from the Moving Into Age group from Peckham and the Rockingham Somali ladies group. Several Ethiopian ladies prepared coffee in the traditional manner of roasting the beans over a flame first. Activities included making your own St George cake and BOST had brought tiny seedlings of snapdragons to plant up and grow at home.

On display were the entries for the St George Festival competition on the theme of ‘Courage’. Fr Ray Andrews presented the prizes, donated by the Southwark Chamber of Commerce.

On Sunday there was a rousing Eucharist to celebrate St George’s patronal festival – in his sermon Bishop Tom mentioned the themes of Charity, Chivalry and Courage which had featured in entries for the Competition and there was marvellous singing from the City of London Choir, Leoa Academic Male Voice Choir and the St Jude’s School choir.

Before an expansive buffet lunch the Bishop blessed and Bob Skelly, a former mayor, officially opened the new St George Community Space in the crypt of the church.

Over at Blackfriars Settlement the Older Persons were enjoying another lunch and danced their cares away to the strains of the band.



The 2008 festival ran from 19 to 26 April. Download a report on the 2008 festival [PDF].

The Ballad of St George & the Dragon

Ballad of St George & the Dragon

On St George’s Day itself local theatre group the Lions part gave three highly enjoyable performances of their specially written Ballad of St George & the Dragon, the first in Red Cross Garden, the second in Borough Market and the third at the meeting of the Borough & Bankside Community Council. Each performance had a different audience.

Great Southwark Dragon Quest

The Southwark Mysteries and Mental Fight Club combined to run their popular Dragon Quest on the mornings of Saturday and Sunday. Dragon hunters gathered in Red Cross Garden in Redcross Way and began to search for the many dragons to be found, while learning about the folklore and mythology of dragons and the stories of St George. They ended at St George’s Garden where the dragon danced.

Southwark, Shakespeare and St George Lecture

Local resident and actor Robert Pennant-Jones skilfully linked the three themes together with the help of RSC actors Michael Burrell and Richard Earthy for a rehearsed reading of Henry IV part II and helped by the audience in ‘Cry God for Harry, England and St George!”

St George the Martyr Church

On Saturday Stephen Humphrey of the Southwark Local History Library gave a talk about the history of the church and on Sunday Fr Ray Andrews presided at a Festival Eucharist.

St George’s RC Cathedral

As well as two guided tours and a special Mass for St George’s day the cathedral showed a new painting by Scott Norwood Witts of St George and the Dead Soldier – a contemporary meditation on St George and nationalism.

Southwark Cathedral

To celebrate another of the borough’s literary connections, Arthur Smith and Rick Jones commemorated the 600th anniversary of the death of poet John Gower who is buried in the cathedral.

Southwark Local History Library

Southwark Local History Library prepared a display of St George places in Southwark and the Children’s Library hosted two sessions for schools with story telling and music from the folk tradition of England by the Askew sisters.

Blackfriars Settlement

Blackfriars hosted a traditional Sunday Lunch, a St George’s day lunch and quiz and a Community Lunch with International Tea Dance, enjoyed by members of the Blackfriars Seniors and Crusoe club for the visually impaired and local residents.


This was the first ever St George in Southwark Festival. Follow these links:

for stories and pictures.


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