A recent addition to information relating to the Pilgrims’ Way is an online guide to Lesnes Abbey.
But for the Coronavirus lockdown this is a site which would have been having much traffic in this Becket 2020 year.
Lesnes Abbey, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and St Thomas of Canterbury, lies on the north side of the main road between Shooters Hill and Dartford.
It was founded by Richard de Lucy who had been close to both Henry II and Thomas Becket.
The website is the work of Chris Hawkins and a Lesnes Abbey book based on the content is also available.
The illustrations show how the abbey once looked and maps explain its setting on the marshy bank of the River Thames.
The abbey was a day’s journey from London and it is good to read the author’s firm view that ‘pilgrims had always been important to Lesnes Abbey’.
We know that in 1300 Edward I visited on his way from London to Canterbury as did the Bishop of Worcester who also stayed the night in 1313.
Chris says that there would have been ‘a steady stream of poorer pilgrims’.
Although Geoffrey Chaucer does not have his pilgrims call at Lesnes in The Canterbury Tales he did visit in the company of The Tabard Inn landlord Harry Bailey.
The book cover shows the doorway below the guest house.