Just as the Translation of St Thomas at Canterbury earlier this month fell on a weekend so St Swithun’s Day 15 July is a Monday.
The focus is now Winchester Cathedral where Saturday 13 July is the annual Friends of Winchester Cathedral Festival.
Saturday’s Festival Evensong at 4.30pm is followed by a procession to the shrine of St Swithun.
The St Swithun’s Eve Evensong is on Sunday afternoon at 3.30pm.
This First Evensong of St Swithun will also be the occasion for the installation of the new Bishop of Southampton Deborah Selling, a suffragan of Winchester.
Bishop Deborah was consecrated bishop at St Paul’s Cathedral on St Thomas Day 4 July.
On St Swithun’s Day Monday 15 July the Cathedral Chapter will be present at the 11am Choral Eucharist. The setting is Haydn Missa Sancti Joannes de Deo and the Dean will preach.
Monday’s Festal Evensong is at 5.30pm.
Those starting their pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury on St Swithun’s Day may be thinking about the weather.
St Swithin’s day if thou dost rain For forty days it will remain St Swithin’s day if thou be fair For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.
At the moment the forecast is sunshine on Monday and for the rest of the week but not too hot for walking.
The Winchester to Canterbury walk or ride was once also a Swithun pilgrimage for his head used to be in Canterbury having been taken there by a Bishop of Winchester who became Archbishop of Canterbury. The skull is now in Évreux Cathedral in Normandy although not displayed.
There is a ‘food court’ and beer tent selling local ale. Also lots of stalls where you may have to resist buying temptations such as jam if you are walking on and uphill to Chaldon.
The fayre is the successor to a horse fair operating under a charter granted by Edward III. Today it is in aid of the 13th-century pilgrim church of St Katherine now marooned on the far side of a motorway but reached by a path and footbridge from Quality Street -part of the PW.
Quality Street is named after the 1902 stage play Quality Street which eventually gave rise to the Quality Street sweet tin.
The 2019 Translation of St Thomas Becket day falls at the 6/7 July weekend and marks the moving of the saint’s body from Canterbury Cathedral crypt to the shrine upstairs in 1220.
The main events and services in Canterbury are below:
Saturday 6 July, Eve of Translation
11.15am Pageant enters West Gate to pass along High Street.
12 noon Angelus at St Peter’s Church: Canterbury Gregorian Music Society.
3.15pm Choral Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral.
7.30pm St Thomas More Service at St Dunstan’s Church. This annual ecumenical service marks the anniversary of More’s execution in 1535. The saint is a martyr in the tradition of Becket.
Address by Prof Jackie Eales, Director of Research for Canterbury Christ Church University’s Faculty of Arts & Humanities, on The education of Margaret More and the Humanist context of support for female education in the early 16th century.
Followed by refreshments in hall.
Sunday 7 July, Translation of St Thomas
3.15pm Choral Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral followed by procession to shine site.
After hearing her considered and original answers to questions during the Pilgrims Festival workshop it was time to read the book.
Her description of walking the Pilgrims Way before the guidebook was available is especially interesting and even inspiring.
The St Swithun’s Way and North Downs were Cecilia’s guideline to follow the Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester to Canterbury.
Her description of familiar places, how an early stretch was overgrown (not now), the beach experience near Guildford, flooded stepping stones, a deserted station, bad weather and relief at arriving at key stages will resonate with readers familiar with the way.
The book also includes following St Augustine in Kent and St Hilda in Yorkshire. A good starter pilgrimage is the very short but so rich in faith and heritage Walsingham pilgrim path involving an old railway line.
The final chapter takes us back to the Pilgrims’ Way to recognise that Southwark next to London Bridge to Otford via the delightful Darenth Valley is also the ancient road to Canterbury.