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Archive for May 21st, 2016

20160423_161749 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip

Dover Castle and St George’s Day 2016

Having my birthday on the same day as St George’s Day certainly opens it up for attending amazing events.  No less this year.  Since I wasn’t in the mood for the long train journey to London to watch the Morris Dancers at Leadenhall Market, or attend the St George’s Day Festival at Trafalgar Square, (as well as which I’ve done that before a few times), I decided instead to head over to Dover Castle for the St George’s Day Festival. It also helped that I have an English Heritage membership 😉20160423_154929 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip

Dover is not too far from Broadstairs by train, so early on the morning of Saturday 23rd I hopped onto the train and made my way there. I’ve visited the castle before and ohmyword, it is extraordinary. England’s biggest castle, the size of the place leaves you breathless, both with wonder and physically! It takes a good few hours to explore all the nooks and crannies and walk the perimeter.  And there is so much to see.

20160423_115012 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip

The Constables Gate, Dover Castle. constructed 1220-1227

The blurb promised an action-packed knight vs dragon festival.  It didn’t disappoint. Starting at 10am the events ranged from horsemanship, swordsmanship and medieval music,

St Georges Day Festival Dover Castle

medieval musicians

to a mock up village with craftsmen and women going about their medieval business.  We were treated to live cooking demonstrations, archery, swordsmanship displays, medieval music and jesters plying their trade.

I got there really early and made my way into the castle grounds, this time approaching from the top of the cliffs via bus, rather than walking up like I did the previous visit (insane idea).  Have you any idea just how high those cliffs are? You can see France from the top…hello!!!!

20160423_161448 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip

across the English channel to France

A cluster of medieval tents were set up here and there, and the villagers were chatting to visitors and demonstrating their trade and crafts. A colourful medley of sounds and colours – although I’m sure it smelt a lot more fragrant than it did during medieval times.

20160423_122613 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip

…medieval streets were most certainly not paved with gold!

The costumes were beautifully done, flags flapping gaily in the ever present wind – which at times can almost blow you off your feet.20160423_123748 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip High above the castle keep, the flag of England with the cross of St George flapped wildly in the wind alongside the Union Jack.

20160423_121623 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip

St George’s Day Festival at Dover Castle

I meandered here and there, exploring the interior and precincts of the castle enjoying the different displays before settling down at the west end of the green to watch the displays of swordsmanship as knights in their armour valiantly fought one another.  They are marvellous, although it does look awfully tiring.

20160423_123605 - 23.04.16 Dover Castle & Road Trip

the knight’s fight

Afterwards I made my way to the jester’s encampment for what was to be an hour of sheer and unadulterated fun and silliness.  Whoever they were, they were fantastic. A lot of the quips were definitely aimed at the older generation, but the visuals and tricks appealed to all ages…I was laughing so much at one stage I could barely hold the camera still as I was recording.

Then the coup de grace and finale; a titan battle between St George on his sturdy mount

St Georges Day Festival Dover Castle

St George on his trusty steed

and the fearsome dragon!!! LOL – right???!!!

This epic display filled the spectator stands (wet grass) as we waited breathlessly while St George fought off the evil Black Knight on his stallion….

St Georges Day Festival Dover Castle

The Black Knight and St George do battle

….before tackling the effervescent dragon. St George is his eagerness to slay the dragon raced up to the horrible green creature intent on murder!! His not so sturdy mount objected to the sudden halt, skidded on the wet grass, and reared up so high that St George’s rump met the ground with a thump!!

St George's Day festival at Dover Castle

St George lands on his rump with a thump!

The horse was retired, and on foot St George raced after the dragon, his armour rattling, wielding his mighty sword to rescue the virgin, and slayed the fearsome creature.  Hoorah! The battle was won.

St George's Day festival at Dover Castle

…and so the dragon is slewed!!! LOL

The weather as usual managed to provide 4 seasons in one day and we had a mix of sunshine, howling gales, a shower of rain and heavy black clouds that hung menacingly over the castle….threatening to lash down but not quite getting there. All we needed was a smattering of snow (not unheard of) and hail and we would have had a typical spring day in the UK. LOL

In all a brilliant day and superb way to celebrate my birthday. Thanks St George 😉 nice to have you on board.

I can highly recommend a visit to Dover Castle. It is by far one of the most awesome castles I have visited to date.  Mind you, to be fair, most of the castles I have visited are amazing…..all in their own special way.

Visit Dover Castle

St George is the Patron Saint of England

The horses used during the events were Atkinson’s Action Horses

You can reach Dover Castle via car, on foot (if you have the oomph to climb the hill), by bus from the city centre. The station is Dover Priory

 

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