Tabard Inn stamp available

The Old Talbot pub building in Talbot Yard off Borough High Street

A Tabard Inn Southwark stamp is now available for holders of the Pilgrims’ Way passport.

The successor to the Tabard Inn was the Old Tabard built in 1875 and still in business during the last century. It occupied a small portion of the original site being confined to the northern corner of the Talbot Yard entry off Borough High Street.

This Old Tabard building survives with its ground floor now occupied by the London Bridge Local convenience store selling sweets, snacks and even woolly hats.

In Talbot Yard, the former Tabard yard, there is a plaque recording the Tabard Inn and its association with Geoffrey Chaucer. The inn opened about 1310 when it was owned and run by Hyde Abbey near Winchester.

Passports are obtainable at the nearby Southwark Cathedral shop which can also provide a cathedral stamp as the first for the Southwark to Canterbury pilgrimage route.

The Tabard Inn stamp is obtainable in the London Bridge Local shop.

Tabard Inn plaque in Talbot Yard unveiled in 2003 by former Monty Python team member Terry Jones
London Bridge Local in Borough High Street occupies the ground floor of the Old Tabard
Tabard Inn stamp is one of the first when starting from nearby Southwark Cathedral

Geoffrey Chaucer opens The Canterbury Tales by having his characters gather at The Tabard:

‘It happened that, in that season, on a day
In Southwark, at the Tabard, as I lay
Ready to go on pilgrimage and start
To Canterbury, full devout at heart,
There came at nightfall to that hostelry
Some nine and twenty in a company
Of sundry persons who had chanced to fall
In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all
That toward Canterbury town would ride.’

The one character who has been identified as a real person is the Tabard’s landlord Harry Bailey who once accompanied Chaucer to Lesnes Abbey where pilgrims often spent their second night. This is probably why Chaucer chooses to put the Tabard in his story rather than the better known Bell opposite which he mentions.

The inn during the mid 19th century shortly before its final rebuild as a small building without stables. A similar gallery is found almost next door today at The George.
‘In Southwerk at the Tabard’ wrote Chaucer in about 1387 (Picture: Kelmscott Chaucer)

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