St Edith’ s Well at Kemsing

Flowers on the well last year

If passing through Kemsing in Kent between this weekend and St Edith’s Day Monday 16 September you may find flowers next to St Edith’s Well.

On Sunday afternoon 8 September there will be devotions by the well at 3:30pm followed by Vespers in the church at 4pm.

The Vespers of St Edith will premiere new settings of the Latin texts of psalms and canticles by composer Angus McPhee in memory of local artist Mary Tyler.

St Edith’s hymn and the Magnificat will be sung in English.

Edith, born and raised at Kemsing, was sister of St Edward the Martyr and Ethelred the Unready. Her sister-in-law was Queen Emma whose remains are in Winchester Cathedral.

Kemsing is just beyond Otford which is best reached on the also ancient quiet lower path starting in Otford churchyard.

The path from Otford to Kemsing used again by pilgrims

Becket 2020 at Southwark

Tour opening at Southwark Cathedral

Next year 2020 is the 850 anniversary of Archbishop Thomas Becket’s murder in Canterbury Cathedral.

St Thomas was killed in his cathedral during Christmas week 1170.

Just two weeks earlier the Archbishop had visited Southwark Cathedral, then a priory, and spent the night next door at the Bishop of Winchester’s house.

Thomas already knew Southwark well having been born over the river in Cheapside and often crossed London Bridge for the road south.

Southwark Cathedral, where many today start their Canterbury pilgrimage, will begin its Becket 2020 programme in November this year with performances of Scena Mundi Theatre Company’s production of Murder in the Cathedral by TS Eliot.

The opening night is on Monday 4 November.

TS Eliot knew Southwark Cathedral which he visited in 1957 for the opening of the Shakespeare Festival.

Booking (£10-£45) now open at Experience Tickets.

The first edition of the text published for the premiere in Canterbury Cathedral in June 1935

St Bartholomew’s Day

St Bartholomew’s Church at Otford where the PW runs along the side side

How has the weather been this month on your walk to Canterbury?

St Bartholomew’s Day is Saturday 24 August which is forty days after St Swithun’s Day.

An old saying claims that if it rains on 15 July it will rain for 40 days but if it’s fine it will be dry for forty days.

You will find a St Bartholomew’s church at Hyde Abbey as the Pilgrims’ Way leaves Winchester and at Otford in Kent where the two branches of the Pilgrims’ Way come together.

St Bartholomew is one of the Apostles and his relics are on an island in Rome’s River Tiber. An arm was for a long time at Canterbury Cathedral having been given by Queen Emma whose own remains are in one of the newly restored chests in Winchester Cathedral.

St Martha’s stamp

St Martha-on-the Hill has a pilgrim stamp.

The church, dating from 1100, is on a hill 570 feet above sea level with a view over several counties.

It’s the next objective after crossing the River Wey outside Guildford. Afterwards you head for Shere where St James’s Church has the next stamp.

St Martha-on-the-Hill is open in summer on Saturdays (11am-2pm), Sundays (11am-4pm) and Wednesdays (11am-4pm).

St Martha-on-the-Hill

Lammas at Southwark

Bread Ahead team with Sub Dean Michael Rawson

Lammas Day is on Thursday 1 August.

This is the original ‘harvest festival’ dating from Anglo-Saxon times when thanks is given for the first fruits rather than just in the autumn when all is gathered in.

“It provides us with time to pause and reflect on our connection with the agricultural world and the source of our food,” says Southwark Cathedral which will mark the occasion at lunchtime this Thursday.

“We recognise bread as a central element in our worship – a staple of both altar and table.  As we gather as a Eucharistic community and share the Lammas loaf, we give thanks to God, the giver of all good things.”

12:15pm Blessing of the first grain at Borough Market‘s Bread Ahead bakery opposite the Cathedral. 

12:30pm Procession from Bread Ahead to the Cathedral.

12:45pm Eucharist using the Lammas loaf baked by Bread Ahead. Loaves are placed in front of the altar.

St James’s Day

St James’s Church in Shere, Surrey

St James’s Day is Thursday 25 July when many pilgrims will be attempting to arrive at Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Some of those pilgrims start out from England on the Pilgrims’ Way to go via Canterbury.

St James the Great is the patron of pilgrims and his shell is a universal pilgrim logo seen a lot along the Pilgrims’ Way.

There will be a 10am Eucharist on St James’s Day at Shere parish church which is dedicated to James and has a stamp is available.

St James’s Church at Titsey is marking the day on the following Sunday 28 July with Evensong for the Feast of St James at 6.30pm.

It’s a chance to see inside the often locked JL Pearson church with the architect’s familiar Victorian floor tiles. The church stands on the Pilgrims’ Way and is the successor to a 13th-century building of the same dedication.



St Swithun’s Day 2019

St Swithun (15th-century)

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.

Southwark Evensong on radio 3

Peter Wright

Choral Evensong at Southwark Cathedral this Wednesday 10 July will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

The cathedral  will be closed over lunchtime from 12.45pm to 2.30pm for rehearsals.

Those wishing to be present for the broadcast at 3.30pm should be seated by 3.10pm.

The broadcast marks the retirement of Peter Wright who has been Director of Music since 1989. 

Quality Street Fayre 2019

Quality Street at Merstham

If you are walking from Winchester to Canterbury today and are about to reach Merstham in Surrey you will find lunch available as you pass along the usually quiet Quality Street.

The annual Quality Street Fayre is today Saturday 6 July

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.

Lavender in the Darenth Valley

Lavender by the path in the Darenth Valley

Lavender is beginning to appear in the fields of Castle Farm in the Darenth Valley.

The path from London to Canterbury runs past the lavender south of Lullingstone Castle near Shoreham.

The annual July purple spectacle has only been enjoyed in recent years as the lavender was planted at the beginning of this century.

Lavender and refreshments are on sale at the Castle Farm Hop Shop.

Honey is the next harvest
Lavender in the Hop Shop
More to come soon (Pictures: James Hatts)

To Canterbury from Winchester and London / Leigh Hatts