Charing Diversion

Starting shortly this month there will be an occasional diversion on the Pilgrims’ Way above Charing in Kent.

The route does not pass through the village which is downhill to the south.

Just before the turn off it will be necessary to divert right down to the main road where there is a pavement. The road curves to cross the Pilgrims’ Way a little further on.

There is a turning off the road to Charing.

The closure, which is expected to be on and off during the summer, is to enable work to take place on improving the path.

Charing Church and Palace

Upper Froyle teas

Cream teas are available every Tuesday during June at Upper Froyle Church.

Upper Froyle is a handy stop between Alton and Farnham.

The church has a rare dedication to the Assumption of Our Lady, a collection of Venetian vestments and a modern Pilgrims’ Way window..

The village is known for having statues of saints attached to many of the houses.

The teas are served from 2.30pm to 4.30pm.

A statue attached to a house on Upper Foyle

New low cost pilgrim accommodation

St Katharine’s Church Merstham
Quality Street in Merstham leads to St Katharine’s

Quality Street in Merstham, which has links with the Quality Street play and bow fronted houses as on the sweet tin, is on the Pilgrims’ Way.

Immediately afterwards you cross high over a surprise motorway to St Katharine’s Church which is offering overnight sanctuary in its hall.

This is just one of several places where, thanks to the efforts of the British Pilgrimage Trust, pilgrims can enjoy basic accommodation for a donation. You only need a sleeping bag.

Another village ready with sanctuary is Boughton Lees where a 15th-century building, which a church seventy years ago, is available for a night.

Both venues have lavatory and washing facilities with food nearby.

For contact details along with news of any further sanctuary churches look at the British Pilgrimage Trust website.

But the Trust is making it clear that sanctuary should not be confused with the more luxurious champing being offered by some churches elsewhere although not yet on the Pilgrims’ Way.

Get your Shooters Hill stamp at The Bull

The Bull stamp available from today on Shooters Hill

A stamp is now available at The Bull on top of Shooters Hill for those carrying a pilgrim passport.

The hill is 8 miles out of London and has a spectacular view back to the city.

The Bull, a CAMRA star heritage pub with a grade II listing, dates from 1881 and is the successor to an 18th-century inn which stood 100 yards to the east as indicated by a surviving mounting block.

The pub, on the corner of Shrewsbury Lane and in the shadow of the huge water tower visible from London Bridge, has just relaunched with a redesigned hidden garden.

The Bull is open daily from 11am with food including pizzas from 4pm.

All day food will available at the new adjoining Hill Top Coffee Shop opening this Friday.

*** Pilgrim passports can be obtained from Southwark Cathedral Shop.

The sig and two dates
See the mounting block as you walk on down the east side.
The new Hill Top Coffee Shop (right) next The Bull.
The Hill Top Coffee Shop is almost ready for opening on Friday morning.
Looking back to London

Romero Way: Linking Southwark’s Cathedrals

The Óscar Romero national shrine at St George’s Cathedral

A new mile long pilgrim route known as the Romero Way links Southwark’s St George’s Cathedral to Southwark Cathedral.

Some will wish to begin their pilgrimage to Canterbury at St George’s where there is the national Oscar Romero Shrine. Relics of the saint, a 20th-century Becket, are also found in Canterbury.

ST GEORGE’S CATHEDRAL, since 1852 the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark which embraces Canterbury, was completed in 1848 to a design by Augustus Pugin. His was the first wedding. The planned but never added spire is reputed to be the one now above Edinburgh’s Tolbooth Kirk. Second World War bombing resulted in massive rebuilding of Pugin’s church. A window depicts Pope John-Paul II’s 1981 visit. The Óscar Romero national shrine was placed here in 2013.

A stamp can be obtained here for your pilgrim passport which is available, along with the Pilgrims’ Way guidebook, in advance from the Anglican Southwark Cathedral shop.

Leave St George’s Cathedral by the west doors. You can turn left and go directly to St George’s Circus. The official route circles the building by turning right in order to pass the house of Pugin’s builder George Myers (left) before bearing right round Archbishop’s House designed by FA Walters of Buckfast Abbey fame. Pass Romero House, the CAFOD HQ (right).

Keep ahead across St George’s Circus into Borough Road.

Go left into Milcote Street and right by the Diversity Garden along King James Street. Just after Lancaster Street crossroads there is Mathieson Court (right).

MATTIESON COURT, on the site of the lost St Alphege Church (1880-1991), is named after the last parish priest Eric Mattieson who was also National Theatre chaplain. The foundation stone survives at the end of the brick wall (right).

Walk under the railway line to go left and, almost at once, right into Webber Street. At Great Suffolk Street bear right to the crossroads and turn left up Southwark Bridge Road.

On the double bend pass the Welsh Chapel.

BOROUGH WELSH CHAPEL dates from 1872 having replaced an 1806 Congregational chapel.

At the Union Street traffic lights go right into Flat Iron Square. On the far side turn left into O’Meara Street. The Church of the Precious Blood is on the right.

PRECIOUS BLOOD CHURCH was built in 1891-2 to a design by F A Walters who was responsible for Archbishop’s House. He described the church as ‘an extremely simple style of Romanesque or Norman’. The baldacchino over the high altar is modelled on the one at San Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome. Since 2013 the church has been in the care of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

At O’Meara Street’s far end is Southwark Street. Use the crossing to the left to go right. Turn left into Redcross Way. At the T-junction go right to follow Park Street. As the street bends Southwark Cathedral’s tower can be seen ahead on the far side of Borough Market.

Walk through the Market and turn left past Bread Ahead to reach Southwark Cathedral. The main entrance is on the north (river) side.

SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL was an Augustinian Priory when visited by Thomas Becket weeks before his death in 1170. The saint and pilgrims are depicted in windows. Shakespeare knew the building as a parish church when he buried his brother here in 1607. This has been the Anglican cathedral since 1905.

The Borough Welsh Chapel in Southwark Bridge Road
The restored Church of the Precious Blood is lovingly cared for.
Cheese in Park Street as the route reaches Borough Market
Southwark Cathedral’s Tudor tower and Borough Market seen from Park Street

Abbotts Barton: Nuns Walk management

A path being laid this week alongside the Nuns Stream at Abbotts Barton.

It is encouraging to see the often muddy Nuns Walk out of Hyde at Winchester being cared for after some years of neglect.

Abbott’s Barton Farm suffered huge neglect earlier this century when abandoned but recently it has become a family farm.

Its new name is Winchester Farm.

The new owners, having it seems given up on much promised public contribution to Nuns Stream and water meadows management, are themselves engaged in restoring nature.

The path has new deer fencing.

Grazing has been re-established on the water meadows with the help of The Hampshire & Isle of White Wildlife Trust.

This comes at a time when the Nuns Walk is not just the Pilgrims’ Way track out of Winchester (waymarked as St Swithun’s Way) but also the Porchester to Winchester Allan King Way.

It is now likely to see even more walkers as the latest way marking has seen Camino Ingles to Santiago disks appear. Nuns Walk is also part of the St James’s Way from Reading to Southampton.

Canterbury bound pilgrims on the Nuns Walk can see Spanish bound pilgrims coming the other way. This is interesting as some pilgrims walk on to Santiago from Canterbury.

Nuns Stream alongside Nuns Walk near Hyde
At Abbott’s Barton the Reading to Southampton St James’s Way shares the PW.

Franks Lane closed

Walkers from London will find the River Darent is running high along the valley from Dartford.

A crucial section of Franks Lane between Horton Kirby and Farningham is closed due to flooding.

Even the alternative triangular footpath diversion is also flooded.

On arriving at the bridge in Franks Lane check to see if the ‘road closed’ sign is still displayed on the far side. If so do not cross the bridge but turn right to walk up the hill past Franks Hall gates (left) to the main road.

Turn left to follow the pavement, for much of the way set back from the traffic, to the roundabout outside Farningham. Continue ahead downhill to reach the village main street by the Chequers pub.

Puttenham Barn’s green stamp

Puttenham Barn stamp for pilgrims

The eco Puttenham Barn reports an increase last year in pilgrims walking from Winchester to Canterbury enjoying a night’s stay.

The discount for pilgrims arriving on foot or bicycle means that you can stay for under £20 and enjoy, a bunk, hot shower and use the communal kitchen.

The pilgrim stamp is added to passports in an appropriate green ink.

You will need a sleeping bag and due to its popularity booking is essential.

Puttenham lies between Farnham and Guildford. Food is available at the Good Intent pub which is also in the village.

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)

New Bishop of Winchester Enthronement

The Great Screen at Winchester Cathedral

The new Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, will be formally welcomed at Winchester Cathedral on Saturday afternoon 13 January.

But first Bishop Stephen will take the necessary oaths and make the declarations required in the tiny church of St Lawrence.

This is the first church on the Pilgrims’ Way near the archway at the Buttercross. The church was originally William the Conqueror’s chapel attached to his palace.

When the bishop emerges from St Lawrence’s he will be greeted by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Philip Egan, whose own diocese embraces Winchester.

The two Bishops Philip, together with others, will walk in procession to the cathedral’s west door on the Pilgrims’ Way outward route.

Philip Mountstephen will be installed in his throne, or cathedra, during the welcome service and afterwards he will appear again outside to bless the Winchester and the diocese.

Seats are available from 12.45pm until the cathedral is full.

The procession and service can be viewed live on the Winchester Cathedral website from 1.45pm.


To Canterbury from Winchester and London / Leigh Hatts