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Good triumphs again over evil on St George’s Day in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 07:27 23 April 2016 | UPDATED: 08:13 23 April 2016

St George slays the dragon in Downham Market to mark St George's Day - The dragon (Cllr Frank Daymond) is seen off by St George (Cllr David Sharman). Picture: Matthew Usher.

St George slays the dragon in Downham Market to mark St George's Day - The dragon (Cllr Frank Daymond) is seen off by St George (Cllr David Sharman). Picture: Matthew Usher.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2016

As Norfolk traditions go, it is not the most deep-seated, with roots going back just a decade.

But what it lacks in history, Downham Market’s St George’s Day celebration certainly makes up for in drama.

The town square yesterday staged its annual “fight” between a brave St George and a dragon, who had came marauding into Downham from the surrounding fens.

The event is usually staged on St George’s Day itself, but when April 23 falls on a weekend, it is moved to the nearest school day.

This is to allow pupils from surrounding schools to be bused in to enjoy the spectacle. They cheered the knight and booed his dragon foe throughout the feisty duel.

After he finally emerged triumphant, St George banished the dragon back from whence he came - Hilgay Fen.

St George was played by town councillor Dave Sharman, and the dragon by the town’s deputy mayor Frank Daymond, who had the original idea for the event.

He said: “I always thought that while everybody was celebrating St Patrick, St David and St Andrew, nobody was celebrating St George, who is England’s patron saint.

“Each year the dragon creeps out of Hilgay Fen to come and hassle market traders and the local kids in Downham, and then he’s sent back to Hilgay Fen.

“There were about 120 people watching. Everybody loved it. The fight only lasted about 10 minutes. It was not very warm, but it was okay for me, as I had a woolly suit on.”

Children from Downham schools, Hillcrest Primary and Nelson Academy, watched the fight. With her charges in tow, year one teacher at Hillcrest school, Elizabeth Freeman was making her first visit to the event.

She said: “They really enjoyed it. They liked the dressing up side of it and we told them a few facts about St George. I think it’s good that they are learning about our patron saint.”

Have you organised a special event in your town for later this month? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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