When town councillors first started the St George’s Day festival in Morley, they did not expect that just over a decade later it would be the biggest in the country.
But it is.
This year, more than 800 people turned out to the two-day event, which is held on the nearest weekend to April 23, St George’s Day.
Morley town councillor Judith Elliott, a former president of the Leeds Branch of the Royal Society of St George, was instrumental in setting up the festival with fellow town councillor Joe Tetley more than a decade ago.
She told the Yorkshire Evening Post why the event was so important: “It has become such a big event on the calendar for Morley and this year we had more than 800 people turn out.
“We had a huge parade from the town hall up to the rugby ground, led by an armour-clad St George, who was riding a horse.
“It’s a celebration of English life and customs.
“We are already planning next year’s event.”
Leeds City Coun Bob Gettings (Ind, Morley North) said: “Last year we earned the tag ‘most patriotic town in the country’ and that’s something we are proud of.
“The event is supported primarily by the council but also local businesses and people. There’s an archery competition, which involves around 50 archers and next year we are introducing a youth talent contest and our charity will be St George’s Crypt, which seems fitting.”
The two-day event begins on the Saturday with an outdoor market and a craft fair in the town hall.
On the Sunday the parade begins at Morley Town Hall and follows a route down Queen Street, along Queensway and then up Scatcherd Lane to the rugby ground.
The Royal Society of St George is a national organisation which traces its origins back as far as 1894. It’s patron is Her Royal Highness, the Queen.
A spokeswoman for the organisation said: “The Royal Society of St George was founded with the noble object of promoting ‘Englishness’ and the English way of life.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in 1963, bestowed a notable honour by granting the society its own Royal Charter, a distinction of which its members are justifiably proud.
“The word ‘England’ conjures up many different images: from our great cities with their imposing Georgian and Victorian architecture to the Medieval castles and cathedrals of our country towns and the delightful villages and tranquil meadows of the rural shires, England’s green and pleasant land. It is however our distinctive culture, values and traditions which are the unmistakable marks of English nationhood.”
“Even today, though some of the old glories and certainties may have dimmed, England still maintains her inner strength, her quiet dignity.”
Next year’s event will take place on April 20 and 21.