Translation of St Thomas Becket 2018

A candle marks the site of Thomas Becket’s shrine in the Trinity Chapel

Details of events at Canterbury Cathedral on the Translation of St Thomas Becket, Saturday 7 July, are now available.

The Translation marks the day in 1220 when St Thomas Becket’s body was moved upstairs from the Cathedral crypt to the shrine built in the Trinity Chapel behind the high altar.

Saturday 7 July

11am Medieval Pageant featuring historical characters, mounted warrior , East Kent Giants , local schools and re-enactment groups sets out from the city’s West Gate.

12:30pm  Festal Anglican Communion in the cathedral’s Trinity Chapel.

3:15pm Choral Evensong in cathedral’s Quire.

6:30pm Cathedral Lodge Summer Party Night at The Canterbury Cathedral Lodge.

8pm Roman Catholic Mass in cathedral’s Quire.

Details of the annual St Thomas More lecture at St Dunstan’s Church on Friday evening 6 July have yet to be announced.

St Martin-in-the-Fields: 28th Pilgrimage to Canterbury

Eynsford, where Thomas Becket clashed with the King, is a resting point

Each year a hundred people walk from St Martin-in-the-Fields to Canterbury over four days.

The Pilgrimage along the Pilgrims’ Way is a sponsored event raising thousands of pounds for the work of The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

It begins at the steps of the church in Trafalgar Square and ends in the Canterbury Cathedral cloisters.

There, where St Thomas Becket took his last walk just before death, pilgrims gather in front of the memorial to St Martin’s most famous vicar Dick Sheppard who became Dean of Canterbury.

To join the 28th pilgrimage over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend you must register by 30 April using the special form.

Canterbury Cathedral cloister

Lesnes Abbey stamping Pilgrim Passports

Abbey Good Coffee

From today you can have your Pilgrim Passport stamped at Lesnes Abbey.

The monastery was opened just eight years after Thomas Becket’s murder by his supporter Richard de Lucy who dedicated it to the martyr Archbishop.

Today its ruins remain in a delightful woodland setting famous for its daffodils which are now appearing.

Passports should be presented at the new Abbey Good Coffee refreshment kiosk in the monastic garden.

Open hours during British Summer Time, staring this weekend, are Tue-Sun 10.30am-4pm.

Lesnes Abbey is between Shooters Hill (Red Lion for stamp) and Dartford and is usually reached on the second day of walking from Southwark.

*** Passports are included in a Pilgrim Pack which are available to walkers for £1 when setting out from Southwark Cathedral; ask in the shop where the first stamp is obtained.

View from the outdoor cafe seats
Lesnes Abbey cloister doorway

Daffodils at Lesnes Abbey

Windows at the viewpoint across the capital

Lent Lilies, or daffodils, are out at Lesnes Abbey as the garden and woods recover from the snow.

Pilgrims from Southwark pass through Lesnes Abbey on their way from Shooters Hill to Dartford on Day 2.

The Abbey, now an outline of stones, is dedicated to St Thomas Becket.

Tradition holds that the daffodils are descendants of those planted by the Augustinian monks. Although daffodils were brought to Britain by the Romans there is no record of when they first appeared  in the Abbey grounds.

The wood round the Abbey’s south side is also noted for its bluebells which will appear shortly.

The monastic farm site on the west side now has a garden and a cafe counter called Abbey Good Coffee (open Tue-Sun until 4pm in summer).

***Pilgrim parties wishing to book lunch or tea should email:

Daffodils on the wooded hill above Lesnes Abbey
Daffodils in the wold
Wednesday’s lunch menu at Lesnes Abbey
Lesnes Abbey garden
Daffodils appearing around the Augustinian monk statue

From Cloud to Washing: Doubt to Suspended

Doubt in Southwark Cathedral

With the hint of warmer weather pilgrims are starting to set out from Southwark Cathedral for Canterbury Cathedral.

Those making the pilgrimage in Lent, that is before the end of this month, will see a huge dark cloud in Southwark Cathedral.

This is the Lent installation by Susie MacMurray which is called Doubt.

It hangs over the choir like a heavy rain cloud.

It could represent your feeling of gloom about the future, about the unknown implications of Brexit or something very personal.

It is there to make you think.

On arriving at Canterbury Cathedral pilgrims will find washing hanging in the nave.

This is another Lenten installation to make us think.

Suspended by Arabella Dorman is comprised of real washing.

The items are refugee clothing retrieved from the Island of Lesbos beaches and the makeshift camps in Calais.

The artist has used special lighting which as it dims is intended to remind the viewer that refugees may be left unseen and in darkness if their situation is forgotten.

Doubt is at Southwark Cathedral until Good Friday but Suspended will remain in Canterbury Cathedral until Wednesday 16 May.

Suspended in Canterbury Cathedral


St Mary Magdalene Wandsworth Common: First parish on pilgrimage

Vicar Philippa Boardman in the cathedral shop where passports were stamped

A group from St Mary Magdalene Church Wandsworth Common set out today from Southwark to Canterbury.

This is the first parish party of the 2018 season. They left London, with their vicar Philippa Boardman, two weeks ahead of Chaucer’s recommended April.

The pilgrims received a blessing at the early morning Eucharist in Southwark Cathedral before having their Pilgrim Passports stamped in the shop.

First stop after passing through Borough Market was The George Inn where a large temporary outdoor TV screen was broadcasting a weather forecast featuring some rain.

The party plan to reach Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday in time for Evensong.

The effort is in aid of funding improvements to their 150 year old church building so that it can be a vibrant focus better serving the community.

Standing on the parish’s own stone in the cathedral
Some of the Wandsworth walkers at The George Inn in Southwark’s Borough High Street

Guy Hart Dyke RIP

Lullingstone Church seen from the Castle gatehouse

Expect the flag to be at half mast today at Lullingstone Castle where the funeral of Guy Hart Dyke is being held at the church in the grounds.

He celebrated his 90th birthday a few days before a peaceful death on Monday 12 February.

The church is St Botolph’s, known as ‘the church on the lawn’, and funeral is at 12.30pm.

The family has requested no flowers and suggested donations to the church instead.

Guy Hart Dyke was living at the Castle in 1969 when he unexpectedly inherited the historic property after his brother Sir Derek Hart Dyke decided to remain in Canada after the death of their father.

The Pilgrims’ Way passes the Lullingstone Castle castle gatehouse which has been the home of the heir Tom.

Tom Hart Dyke is well-kown as a horticulturist and plant hunter who created Lullingstone’s World Garden of Plants. He devised the plan whilst being held hostage by guerrillas in South America.

Guy Hart Dyke is survived by his wife Sarah, son Tom and daughter Anya.

Muriel Spark centenary

Muriel Spark’s first novel

This year is the centenary of the Muriel Spark’s birth.

The novelist was born in Edinburgh on 1 February 1918.

She died in 2006.

Her complicated and at first stressful adult life saw her living at many addresses.

One was Aylesford Priory on the Pilgrims’ Way where she arrived in October 1954.

After a short time at the guest house, where pilgrims stay today, she moved to  cottage owned by the monastery at nearby Allingtron Castle.

By the middle of the following year she had completed five chapters of her first novel The Comforters which is loosely based on Aylesford.

She went to Aylesford at the suggestion of Graham Greene who she never met although he sent her money to help her recover from nervous collapse.

Aylesford Prior Fr Francis Kemsley recently wrote in The Tablet that Muriel Spark was captivated by his predecessor Fr Malachy Lynch.

In later years she often visited Aylesford when returning to England from her home in Italy.

Most centenary events are being held in Scotland where there is  special exhibition at the National Library.




Practical Pilgrimage in the 21st Century

Old Kent Road mural

Pilgrimage can be made in many ways, by luxury group travel, on foot or by bike. But it does not need to be expensive or painful.

A free one day event at Southwark Cathedral on Saturday 24 February will offer advice from experienced pilgrims on  how to prepare yourself physically and practically with suitable kit, how to pack a rucksack and how to prevent blisters.

Pilgrim routes to be discussed include the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain.

During the morning there will be a showing of the film The Way: Camino de Santiago.

An illustrated talk on the Winchester to Canterbury Pilgrims’ Way route, by Pilgrims’ Way author Leigh Hatts, follows the lunch break at 2pm.

Free places can be booked via the Southwark Cathedral website.

To Canterbury from Winchester and London / Leigh Hatts