George and Dragon, Salisbury

George and Dragon, Salisbury

George Street and George Street South are to the north of Salisbury’s city centre. George Street was one of two roads that is bisected by the western part of the ring road.

The Victoria County History tells us that:

Churchfields Road was partially built by 1864. Further development east of Wilton Road followed the closing of the county gaol in 1870; by 1879 part of its site, bounded by Gas Lane, Meadow Road, and St. Paul’s Road, had been built with terraces of small houses, and these were extended east to Middleton Road by the 1890’s.

George Street is between Meadow Road and Middleton Road, so it would have been built during the period 1879 and ‘the 1890s’[1].

I don’t know why it’s called George Street – there are a couple of roads in the area with male Christian names James Street and Sidney Street, but I can’t see a connection.

Etymology of ‘George’

The name ‘George’ comes from the Greek ‘Georgios[2], which means ‘farmer’ or literally ‘somebody who works the earth’. The two elements are ‘ge meaning ‘earth’ and ergon meaning ‘work’. ‘Ergon‘ is one of the roots of the rather uncomfortable word ‘ergonomics’.

The name became popular in England after Saint George became the country’s patron saint.

The Catholic Encyclopaedia sums Saint George up as follows:

Martyr, patron of England, suffered at or near Lydda, also known as Diospolis, in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine.

According to the very careful investigation of the whole question recently instituted by Father Delehaye, the Bollandist, in the light of modern sources of information, the above statement sums up all that can safely be affirmed about St. George[3]

It is sometimes said that the cult of Saint George travelled back with the Crusaders from the Middle East. This could be true, but Saint George was venerated in England before the time of the Crusades. Bede mentions Saint George as a Christian martyr, and King Alfred referred to a Saint George’s Church at Fordington in Dorset in his will[4].

Charles III or George VII

3 American Presidents[5], 6 kings of England and 1 Beatle have been called ‘George’.

As far as I’m aware the three Presidents and the Beatle were all christened ‘George’[6], but George VI[7] was originally called ‘Albert’. He adopted the name ‘George’ on becoming king[8].

In 2005 there were news reports which suggested that Prince Charles might also take the name ‘George’. Various reasons were advanced for this[9]:

  • Neither Charles I nor Charles II were seen as great successes. Charles I was killed by Cromwell, and Charles II has been seen as being ‘a playboy king
  • Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Jacobite rebel, was called ‘Charles III’ by his supporters
  • Adopting the name ‘George’ would be a tribute to Charles’ grandfather George VI and by extension his grandmother the Queen Mother

The official position is that ‘No decision has been made and it will be made at the time[10].’

Footnotes

  1. I did wonder whether ‘George’ might have been a reference to a King George, but this is not the case. King George IV died in 1830, and George V did not come to the throne until 1910 []
  2. George Michael, whose father is Greek, was originally Georgios Panayiotou [BBC News - George Michael: A colourful life] []
  3. Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/St. George – Wikisource, the free online library []
  4. Who is St. George? []
  5. The Presidents | The White House []
  6. The first George Bush was actually George Herbert Walker Bush. I’ve not been able to determine whether this family naming was originally a reference to Salisbury’s George Herbert or not. There’s more discussion of this on the page for Herbert Road []
  7. George VI was the father of Elizabeth II. He was the king in the film ‘The Kings Speech’. In the film the family call him ‘Bertie’ []
  8. George VI – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia []
  9. BBC NEWS | UK | Charles ‘considers name change’ []
  10. Charles denies planning to reign as King George | UK news | The Guardian []

1 Comment for this entry

  • Lou says:

    In 1908 in Meadow Road, there was a murder – nothing to do with the road name!, but in a book about this murder there is background information about the area. I think the book is called ‘If I did it I don’t remember’ (which is a quote from the accused at the trial). Also, ‘Haunted Salisbury’ has useful information about the area.

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