George and William

Shakespeare wore a gold hoop earring – or so we think … and a bit about St. George.

23 April – St.George’s Day

One of the earliest depictions of George slaying the dragon. 10th or 11th century – artist unknown

St. George’s day April 23, is supposedly England’s special day. Actually, we have no official national day and it largely goes uncelebrated, which is a shame as George is our patron saint. His emblem, a red cross on a white background, is the flag of England and part of the British flag. It is believed that George was a brave Roman soldier who protested against the Romans’ torture of Christians and died for his beliefs. The popularity of St George in England stems from the time of the early Crusades when it is said that the Normans saw him in a vision and were victorious. His image appears on many of our UK coins.

Finger Ring

Few examples of medieval finger rings depicting St George and the Dragon are known.
© PAS

This rare 600-year-old gold finger ring, complete with a St. George and the dragon engraving, was unearthed by a detectorist in Norfolk. The Guild of St. George operated in Norwich between 1385 and 1548 and the ring demonstrated his popularity at the time.

The bezel is engraved with the figure of St George standing on the Dragon, with a spear held almost vertically in his right hand and thrust down the monster’s throat, and with a shield in his left hand bearing his cross. He wears a pointed bascinet (a close-fitting helmet, typically having a visor).

The Bard

Historians believe William Shakespeare was born on this day in 1564, the same day he died in 1616. This year we celebrate the 404 anniversary of his death. And it is that fact which I will also note in this post.! It would have been much easier to stick with George and his link to metal detecting, but he has blanket coverage on the different forums, so here’s a few fast facts about Shakespeare, courtesy of the History Channel.

In 2016 The Royal Mint, on the occasion of Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary of his death struck three official £2 coins in the Bard’s honour – a first for the United Kingdom. Each coin celebrates an aspect of Shakespeare’s famous work:

The coins pay tribute to each of Shakespeare’s major genres and the reverse designs take inspiration from his most famous plays, including Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth. Courtesy of The Royal Mint.

Detectorist Finds with Shakespearian Connections.

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy and links to the Bard are tenuous, to say the least. Scouring databases will bring up trade tokens issued by John Shakespeare, a rope maker of Middlesex, fob seals with a bust that may represent our man (doubtful) and some with a more positive connection … like this example below, a medal from the PAS database.

The incomplete cast pewter (white metal) medal commemorating 300 years since the death of Shakespeare, found by a detectorist in 2013. More details from the PAS database HERE.

© PAS WMID-6FD0B6
How the 1864 medal, commemorating the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, originally looked. G. Dowler of Birmingham. © ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND

Also from the PAS we have an unidentified object  – probably of a mount of some kind – with a profile bust of the Bard … or is that Oliver Cromwell?

My final example is a shield shaped harness pendant from the UKDFD and, as you see, I am clutching at straws to get the Shakespeare connection, so I’ll finish.

It is thought that the pendant once belonged the de Bohun family. Humphrey de Bohun died in Pleshey castle and Shakespeare talks about Pleshey In Act 1, Scene 2 of ‘Richard II’. Gloucester’s widow sighs, “With all good speed at Plashy visit me”. All that remains today is a 50 foot un-castled and overgrown motte, surrounded by a watered moat populated by reeds, ducks and fish.

UKDFD No. 13447- SEE ALSO 11677

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2 thoughts on “George and William”

  1. I was just complaining yesterday to my other half that St. George’s day has not been mentioned and the only reference I have seen of it is on your blog, so I thank you for that. In my youth I always wore a red rose pinned to my school uniform on St. George’s day…….that was over 40 years ago, it’s sad that more reference is not made of it, so it is so interesting to read a little more history about the day on your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Margaret.
    I try to make my scribblings relevant.
    Not much on George this year. Concentrated mainly on Shakespeare.

    Like

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