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.
Pilgrims sometimes wandered off the main route in bad weather to seek less muddy tracks. In some places it became general to take a parallel path in order to visit a holy place or accommodation such as Boxley Abbey.
It is for such reasons that the guidebook will in future advise walkers to take a new way out of Otford despite the main road being proudly called Pilgrims Way. This change will spare pilgrims the need to take a busy road without a pavement.
But it also makes sense to use the direct route through Kemsing rather than having to drop down to visit St Edith’s holy well and the lovely church with its ancient door marked by medieval pilgrim staves.
This alternative is no modern substitute but an ancient road dating from Roman times.
New directions out of Otford:
At the Otford pond roundabout walk over to the church.
Go down the the right, or south, side of the church and follow the path ahead.
This soon runs past roses below a long brick wall (left) to leave the churchyard at a gate. The way at once double bends before continuing east as a hedged path. Later there is a view (right) across a meadow where St Thomas Becket’s well is located on the far side.
At the end of the path go ahead only for Otford Station forecourt.
The route continues sharp right on a still enclosed path. At the next junction go left over a stile leading to the railway line. (Before crossing the track look and listen.) On the far side a passage leads to a road. Cross over to find the way continuing.
The metalled way is enclosed before running along the edge of Oxenhill Woods (right). Ignore all turnings and stay on the path which eventually joins Dynes Road.
Still keep forward to reach, after almost a mile (1.49km), St Edith’s Well at the junction of High Street and St Edith’s Road (left) by the The Bell in Kemsing.
Take the footpath north of the well to climb up to the church.
Leave the churchyard by the lychgate and turn left through a gateway. Pass a playground (left) and walk ahead over the grass expanse with trees on both sides. Pass tennis courts (right) to reach the far corner where a short woodland path leads to steps. Go left to the road which is the Pilgrims’ Way and turn right.
The PW continues ahead and over a crossroads. At a second junction there is a view of St Clere.
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.
To Canterbury from Winchester and London / Leigh Hatts