AHEAD of St George’s Day on Saturday, April 23, people have been challenged to find 22 dragons across Coventry.
The mythical creatures can be found on historic buildings in the centre and elsewhere in the city.
Mary Courtney, Coventry artist and dragon hunter, said: “Despite Medieval writers’ claims that St George was a ‘Cov Kid’ (some thought he grew up in Caludon Castle) – he was actually born in fourth-century Turkey, and famously never set foot in England.
“Nevertheless, St George has been celebrated in Coventry for hundreds of years.
“From the 16th century there were Saint George parades in the city, and he remained a central figure (with his dragon) in the later Godiva Processions in which he appeared in full armour on horseback.”
She added ‘nearly everwhere you turn in Coventry’ there are references to St George – from churches and chapels dedicated to him (at Coundon, and formerly next to Gosford Gate but demolished in 1822), to several George and Dragon pubs and eateries.
An equestrian statue of St George also stood in the Common Chamber of the soon-to-reopen St. Mary’s Guildhall.
Dragon detectorist and historian Danny Reed added: “Our search for the ghoulish and grotesque in Coventry has turned up dozens of dragons.
“They perch on the roof-lines of churches, and guard the entrances to restaurants.
“These include some being vanquished by St George – from the striking etching by John Hutton on the Great West Screen of the new cathedral, to a former pub sign at Creams Coventry, by Swanswell Park.”
Offering advice to fellow dragon hunters, Mary said Coventry Cathedral was the best place to begin with several on the outside walls of the ruins and three on an etched glass window at the entrance to the new cathedral.
“If you can lay your hands on binoculars you can see another four high on the tower of the ruins – you might also notice a very rare nose-picker carved in stone, whilst you’re looking.”
One of the dragons looks like he is scratching his head.
Mary added she had asked children what they thought that particular dragon was doing with the two most popular answers surmising he was ‘on a mobile phone’ or ‘on the toilet’ whilst adults have said ‘he looks like he’s lost on the ring-road’.
Other places where dragons can be found are on NatWest bank’s doors in Broadgate, Holy Trinity Church – the outside walls on the side near Turtle Bay, on King Henry VIII School – the tower above the entrance door on Warwick Road, the Thai Dusit restaurant, outside, London Road and on the side wall of the Herbert Gallery.
Mary and Danny are collaborators in finding and documenting the rarely noticed dragon carvings on buildings in Coventry.
The pair started the ‘Coventry Grotesque’ project which reveals where to find the scores of dragons and demons, skulls, tongue-stickers and face-pullers across Coventry.
Click here for the Coventry Grotesque map.