Royal Oak landlords Frank Taylor and John Porteous have left after years of playing a pivotal role in the community by supporting the arts, heritage and Pilgrims’ Way.
The Royal Oak in Southwark’s Tabard Street now starts the new year with a new team.
This is the first pub out of Southwark on the Pilgrims’ Way. Its address may be Tabard Street but the road is really the start of the original Old Kent Road trod by travellers and pilgrims to Canterbury and the continent.
The Royal Oak, as a Harvey’s of Lewes house, is the successor to a pilgrim inn on Tooley Street owned by Lewes Priory.
You can get a pilgrim stamp at the Royal Oak’s bar.
Harvey’s is 2017 and 2018 UK Brewer of the Year.
The new team is headed by Ryan and assistant manager Adam.
Tony makes two interesting observations. One is that John Hughes, the last person to be hanged for stealing horse, is buried nearby. This was 1825 and the vicar promised to place his body under the ancient tree.
The other is that the lovely ’12th-century’ Hampshire church is really Victorian. The original may have been built in 1092. But today’s church is fully carpeted.
Hilaire Belloc, who walked the Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester in 1899, thought that yew trees were significant markers.
Friday 21 December is St Thomas Becket’s birthday.
He was was baptised Thomas because his birth was on the Feast of St Thomas the Apostle. The naming after Thomas was always a matter of great importance to the archbishop.
The apostle is now remembered on 3 July rather than in Advent.
Thomas Becket was born in Cheapside on a site now occupied by Mercers’ Hall.
But what year was he born in?
Some historians claim that it was 1118 which would make today the 900th anniversary of the birth.
But others suggest that it was 1120 which makes 2020 into an even more significant anniversary year.
2020 will be the 850th anniversary of Thomas Becket’s murder in 1170 and the 800th anniversary of the Translation of Thomas Becket’s body from the Canterbury Cathedral crypt to his shrine at the cathedral’s east end.
So it looks as if the key dates during the 2020 anniversary year will be Tuesday 7 July (Translation); Thursday 10 December (last visit to Southwark Cathedral); Monday 21 December (birthday) and Tuesday 29 December (martyrdom).
John Butler’s book on Archbishops of Canterbury is now out.
This is a 112 page Pitkin paperback.
Professor Butler is a Canterbury Cathedral guide and the author of The Quest for Becket’s Bones so the chapter on Thomas Becket is especially interesting.
We know that Henry II probably did not say: “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”
The author says that the King cursed his knights as “a nest of cowards and traitors who had allowed their lord to be treated with contempt by a low born priest”.
This was the outburst which triggered the unauthorised murder of the Archbishop.
The cover picture is a portrait in a medieval window now reproduced as the pub sign at the St Thomas A Becket pub in London’s Old Kent Road.
Another figure familiar to those on the Pilgrims’ Way is Archbishop William Warham. It’s the remnant of his great palace which we visit at Otford.
The book’s portrait of Warham is by Hans Holbein the Younger and is described as the first realistic representation of any Archbishop of Canterbury. His face is captured in 1527 showing the strain of dealing with Henry VIII’s divorce and the coming Reformation.