Ahh, the legends. They get told, re-told, embellished and re-embellished. Like St. George and the Dragon, Robin Hood and his Merry Men (Catch the Disney song here at 0.34 seconds in), King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone, The Ghost of The Grey Lady and Longleat House and, of course, Lady Godiva’s naked ride through town to make the Greatest chocolates ever!! (I’m pretty sure. But read on to see for yourself)
Preparing for this week’s blog post, I was surfing the web looking for some fun stuff that happened on this day, when I came across a famous legend from English history. As the story goes (it’s been rewritten a number of times over the centuries) on today’s date, July 10th, about 900 years ago, an infamous young woman named Lady Godiva, wife of Leofric, the powerful Earl of Mercia and Lord of Coventry, took a rather remarkable early morning horse ride. As the story goes, Godiva was troubled by the crippling taxes Leofric had levied on the citizens of Coventry. After she repeatedly asked him to lessen the burden, Leofric quipped that he “would lower taxes only if she rode naked on horseback through the center of town.” Determined to help the public, Godiva stripped off her clothes, climbed on her horse and galloped through the market square “clad in naught but her long tresses” – only her long flowing hair to cover herself. Before her ride, she ordered the people of Coventry to remain inside their homes and not peek. But one man, named Tom, couldn’t resist opening his window to get an eyeful and, upon doing so, this “Peeping Tom” was struck blind (bet you didn’t see that coming…). After finishing her glorious ride, Godiva confronted her husband and demanded that he hold up his end of the bargain. True to his word, Leofric reduced the people’s debts. (scroll down to the bottom for more LG trivia). In a country laced with myths and legends, England’s folklore has made its way to storytelling, storybooks and for some, Hollywood blockbusters. Here’s a few of the more famous, weird, wonderful and downright spooky tales. Hope you enjoy, and thanks to visitbritian.com, Wikipedia, The History Channel and godivachocolates.eu for the info.
St George and the Dragon – On St George’s Day (April 23rd) the legend goes that Saint George, a Roman soldier in the 10th century, came across a town plagued by an evil dragon about to kill the king of England’s daughter. George is said to have slayed the dragon, freed the town and rescued the princess, thus becoming the patron saint of England. And a little extra trivia:
– Did St George really exist? Not necessarily… Despite popular belief, St George is not English. Very little is known about the actual man. If he ever existed (and there’s no proof he did), George would likely have been a soldier somewhere in the eastern Roman Empire, probably in what is now Turkey. According to legend, he was martyred for his faith under Emperor Diocletian in the early fourth century, and his major shrine is located in Lod, Israel.
– St George’s earliest legends were so outlandish that the Pope condemned them … Early Christians were known to exaggerate the tortures endured by their martyrs, but St George is in a league all of his own. According to one source, St George was torn on the rack, hit on the head with hammers until his brains oozed out, forced to drink poison, torn on a wheel, boiled in lead, and much else besides – all over a period of seven years.
– St George is also connected to agriculture … His name means ‘earth-worker’ – that is, farmer – and his feast day of 23 April is in the spring, when crops are starting to grow. Many people throughout European history have prayed to St George for a good harvest.
– The dragon was not always a part of St George’s story…The earliest legend that features St George rescuing a princess from a dragon dates to the 11th century. It may have started simply as a way to explain icons of military saints slaying dragons, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil.
Robin Hood and his Merry Men – A story much-loved by Hollywood, the English legend of Robin Hood became a figurehead for the triumph of good over evil – the foundation for many a tale since. This lovable outlaw and his band of Merry Men were praised for robbing the rich to give to the poor, outwitting the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and remaining loyal to their beloved king – King Richard. You can still visit The Mighty Oak, which stands tall in Sherwood Forest, to this very day. And a little extra trivia:
– The first known literary reference to Robin Hood and his men was in 1377, and the Sloane manuscripts in the British Museum have an account of Robin’s life which states that he was born around 1160 in Lockersley (most likely modern day Loxley) in South Yorkshire. Another chronicler has it that he was a Wakefield man and took part in Thomas of Lancaster’s rebellion in 1322.
– One well known story about Robin that places him in Whitby, Yorkshire, is about him and Little John having a friendly archery contest. Both men were skilled at archery and from the roof of the Monastery they both shot an arrow. The arrows fell at Whitby Lathes, more than a mile away. Afterwards the fields where the arrows landed were known as Robin Hood’s Close and Little John’s Close.
– All versions of the Robin Hood story give the same account of his death. As he grew older and became ill, he went with Little John to Kirklees Priory near Huddersfield, to be treated by his aunt, the Prioress, but a certain Sir Roger de Doncaster persuaded her to murder her nephew and the Prioress slowly bled Robin to death. With the last of his strength he blew his horn and Little John came to his aid, but too late.
– At the death of Robin Hood Little John placed Robin’s bow in his hand and carried him to a window from where Robin managed to shoot one arrow. Robin asked Little John to bury him where the arrow landed, which he duly did. A mound in Kirklees Park, within bow-shot of the house, can still be seen and is said to be his last resting place. Little John’s grave can be seen in Hathersage churchyard in Derbyshire.
– But what of his lover Maid Marion? Not much of Robin’s career is known, but nowhere in the chronicles is Maid Marion mentioned, so we must assume she was ‘added’ to the stories at a later date.
King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone – The many legends of King Arthur have captured imaginations for centuries. The most famous of British kings, Arthur was said to have defended the country against Saxon invaders and is at the center of numerous tales, achieving mythical status in Britain. Arguably the most famous of all tales is the Sword in the Stone. Legend says the magician Merlin placed a sword in a stone and whomever was able to pull it out would be the rightful king. Arthur pulls the sword called Excalibur from the stone and becomes the King of England.
– But, who heat treated the sword? Legend has it, Sir Stefon Kowalski, Earl of Killingham Hamlet Town (precursor to KHT Heat today) spent hours hand forming and heat treating the mighty sword and quenching it in the finest wine of the land before inserting it into the stone.
The Ghost of The Grey Lady and Longleat House – the tale of The Grey Lady (sometimes referred to as The Green Lady) at Longleat House is one of passion, love and loss. The wife of the 2nd Viscount of Weymouth Thomas Thynne, Lady Louisa Carteret was rumored to be having an affair with a footman. After discovering the affair, the Viscount in a fit of rage pushed the footman down the stairs, breaking his neck. Thomas was said to have had the body buried in the cellar and told Lady Louisa that the footman left without a word. She didn’t believe it and, thinking the footman had been imprisoned in the house, searched every room each night until she died. Legend says that Lady Louisa still searches for her true love and has been spotted by staff and visitors to the house…
– The estate, named after the stream of Long Leat, was bought by Sir John Thynne in 1568. During the 18th century, the Thynnes’ acquired the title of Viscount Weymouth, such was their wealth and social standing.
– The 2nd Viscount Weymouth was Thomas Thynne, a hot headed young man, who married the beautiful and gentle Lady Louisa Careret in 1733 and, as part of the wedding arrangements, Lady Louisa brought her own servants to Longleat House.
– The house is most famously known for the safari and adventure park that are present on the grounds. These features were first opened in 1966, and it is considered to be the first drive-through safari park outside of Africa. The safari park is considered to be a remarkable attraction, unique from other events located elsewhere. The animals are able to freely roam the grounds where they are contained, and the visitors are the ones who are in cages, or in reality, cars.
And a little extra Lady Godiva trivia:
1 – While most historians consider her nude horseback ride a myth, Lady Godiva—or “Godgifu” as some sources call her—was indeed a real person from the 11th century.
2 – The historical Godiva was known for her generosity to the church, and along with Leofric, she helped found a Benedictine monastery in Coventry. Contemporary accounts of her life note that “Godgifu” was one of only a few female landowners in England in the 1000s, but they make no mention of a clothes-free horseback ride.
3 – The story appears to have first cropped up some 100 years after her death in a book by the English monk Roger of Wendover, who was known for stretching the truth in his writings.
4 – The legend of “Peeping Tom” didn’t become a part of the tale until the 16th century. The Godiva myth was later popularized in songs and in verse by the likes of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who wrote a famous poem called “Godiva” in 1840.
5 – Yep, Godiva Chocolate is named after the good Lady – learn more HERE
DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I. Love. My. Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good. :-))))