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.
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.
At St George’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Southwark on Thursday 28 September at 6pm there will be a Solemn Ecumenical Vespers to mark the tenth anniversary of the shrine installed in honour of St Oscar Romero.
The preacher will be Dr John Hall, former Dean of Westminster Abbey where a statue of the saint is found above the west door.
Oscar Romero was Archbishop of San Salvador when martyred by government agents as he celebrated Mass.
The shrine is a huge 3-dimensional cross, designed in El Salvador by artist Fernando Llort. Inside a reliquary contains a fragment of the blood-stained alb that Archbishop Romero was wearing when murdered.
Some pilgrims like to start at St George’s Cathedral and visit St Thomas of Canterbury Church immediately after arriving at Canterbury cathedral so as to acknowledge both saints.
The Romero Way is a short route linking St George’s Cathedral (RC) to Southwark Cathedral (Anglican/CofE) which provides a start for the Pilgrims’ Way without losing the experience of walking down Borough High Street as pilgrims of old including Chaucer’s fictional characters.
Thursday’s vespers will be followed by a reception for the congregation in the Amigo Hall.
We had the warning in Winchester on a rainy St Swithun’s Day 15 July:
St Swithin’s Day, if it does rain/Full forty days, it will remain
So on St Bartholomew’s Day 24 August we hope to say:
All the tears St Swithun can cry /St Bartholomew dusty mantle wipes dry
You come across a St Bartholomew church after just half a mile on your first day out of Winchester. The church, ‘the active remnant of Hyde Abbey’, is holding an open day on Saturday 26 August 10am-4pm. This will also be the first day of the annual Community Dig to uncover more of the abbey buildings.
The other St Bartholomew church is at Otford where the Winchester and London Pilgrims’ Way routes meet. The church is usually open weekday mornings and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9am-12 noon the office can provide a stamp for your pilgrim passport.