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.


29 December: St Thomas of Canterbury Day at Canterbury

The site of the destroyed shrine of St Thomas Becket is marked by a candle.

Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral on Friday 29 December, St Thomas of Canterbury Martyrdom, will be at 5.30pm.

This is a little later than in past years but 5.30pm is now the daily time for evensong which is broadcast live via the website.

The service is being branded Memorial Service for the Martyrdom of St Thomas. The liturgy includes lines from TS Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral and a dramatic slamming of the cloister door.

The guest preacher is the Bishop of Chelmsford.

Solemn Vespers will be sung at 8pm.

On 29 December 1170 Archbishop Becket was murdered at about 4.30pm whilst Vespers was being sung in the choir.

Otford Palace tower has windows

Otford Palace tower with windows (Photo APCT)

Scaffolding was removed from Otford Palace’s tower last week to reveal window frames.

The Archbishops Palace Conservation Trust‘s £2m restoration programme continues with a submission for funding to the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Pilgrims can view the tower exterior daily.

The next big public event will be at May Day weekend next year.

The Pilgrims’ Way routes from Southwark and Winchester merge at Otford.

The tower in 2018.

St Oscar Romero shrine anniversary

The dedication of the Oscar Romero shrine by Archbishop Peter Smith in 2013

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.

Oscar Romero has been likened to St Thomas Becket and Romero relics are found at each end of the Pilgrims’ Way -at Southwark’s St George’s Cathedral opposite the Imperial War Museum and in St Thomas of Canterbury Church next to Canterbury Cathedral.

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.

A picture of St Oscar Romero above his stole at Canterbury.

St Edith’s Day 2023

St Edith depicted in a window at Kemsing church

Saturday 16 September is St Edith of Kemsing memorial.

Edith, sister of Ethelred the Unready and also known as St Edith of Wilton, was born in the Pilgrims’ Way village of Kemsing in 961.

Today the Kentish village, which has her statue above the hall, maintains her well which is always decorated with flowers on her big day.

This year Devotions at the well are on the following day Sunday 17 September at 10.30am and 3.30pm.

The Anglican Eucharist is at 9.30am (preceding morning Devotions) and Vespers at 4pm (following afternoon Devotions) in St Mary’s Church.

After Vespers there are refreshments including cake in The Bell.

St Edith’s Well

40 days after St Swithun is St Bartholomew

St Bartholomew’s church at Hyde Abbey. Sunday service is now at 10am.

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.

St Swithun, Bishop of Winchester, died in 862.
St Bartholomew’s at Otford in Kent. Pilgrims walk down the right side to reach St Edith’s Well at Kemsing.

St Martha’s Day this weekend

A church with the very rare dedication to St Martha is found on the top of a hill on the Pilgrims’ Way between St Catherine’s near Guildford and Shere.

Saturday 29 July is St Martha’s Day.

The church is celebrating on Sunday at 11.15am and teas will be available in the afternoon.

St Martha knew Jesus in his last week on earth when he stayed with her family at Bethany. Her supposed relics are in another ancient pilgrim church: Sainte-Marthe at Tarascon in Provence.

Surrey’s St Martha’s church is 570 feet above sea level and on a clear day affords a view of seven counties. It features in the opening sequence of the 1944 film A Canterbury Tale.

St James’s Day 2023: Patron of all pilgrims

St James depicted as a pilgrim

Tuesday 25 July is St James’s Day when many pilgrims aim to have arrived in Santiago de Compostela and enjoyed the eve of feast fireworks.

St James the Great, bother of St John and an Apostle, is the patron of pilgrims everywhere as well as Spain and lost souls.

The only St James’s church on the Pilgrims’ Way is at Shere in Surrey. Inside is displayed a tiny 13th-century Mother & Child which may have fallen from a pilgrim staff.

Did pilgrims to Santiago as well as Canterbury pass through the village on their way to Santiago?

(A little further on the path touches the edge of Abinger Hammer which has an even older church dedicated to St James in the 13th century but it lies on a hill more than a mile away.)

Cicerone Press has a St James’s Day competition open for a week.

St James the Great Church at Shere where the Pilgrims’ Way passes the south door.
St James the Great above St James Garlickhythe in the City of London

To Canterbury from Winchester and London / Leigh Hatts