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The return of Henry V to London after the battle of Agincourt

It is very surprising that the oldest ancient London parish church dedicated to England's patron saint is at the end of Borough High Street, south of the river. Although records state it was founded by the Arden family sometime prior to 1122, it was only adopted as such by Edward 111 in the late fourteenth century. St George the Martyr situated at the junction of two of our most ancient highways from the Roman period, "Stane Street' and "Watling Street" was the first church to be encountered just prior to crossing the Thames. It has Livery connections with the Skinners, Drapers and Fishmongers companies having strong links with the church over the centuries.

The fact that the church occupies such a strategic position meant that when the City Fathers wanted to formally welcome someone of importance, notably royalty, travelling from the south or south eastern ports his party was met at the church.

The most celebrated such occasion, fully chronicled in church records, was the greeting of Henry V after his victory at Agincourt. This took place on the steps of the church of the Patron Saint of the Knights of the Garter and now the formally adopted patron of the English Army.

Although not definitively recorded it is tempting to believe that the famous "Agincourt Song" was first rendered at the steps of St. George the Martyr Southwark as part of the celebrations.

The Agincourt Song

Doe gratias Anglia redde pro victoria! Owre Kynge went forth to Normandy With grace and might of chyvalry Ther God for hym wrought mervelusly; Wherefore Englonde may call and cry

Deo gratias: Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria.

He sette sege, forsothe to say. To Harflu towne with ryal aray; That toune he wan and made fray That Fraunce shal rewe tyl domesday.

Deo gratias: Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria

Then went hym for the, owre king comely, In Agincourt Feld he faught manly; Throw gace of God most marvelsuly, He had both feld and victory.

Deo gratias: Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria.

Ther lordys, erles and barone Were slayne and taken and that full soon, Ans summe were broght into Lundone With joye and blisse and gret renone.

Deo gratias: Deio gratias Angelia redde pro victoria.

Almighty God he keep owre kynge, His peple, and alle his well-wellynge, And give them grace wythoute endyng, Then may we call and savely syng:

Deo gratias: Deo gratias Angelia redde pro victoria.

Michael Wren

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