There are plans for the former Kentish Drovers pub building in Old Kent Road, part of the Pilgrims’ Way, to be restored.
The pub, on the corner of Commercial Way, has been a landmark since at least 1838 due to having England’s longest pub sign.
This takes the form of a curving mural of extremely rare ceramic block Doulton tiles. The signed picture, depicting a rural Old Kent Road, is by a female artist although the name ‘ALICE D…’ has become indecipherable.
Work will include the conservation and restoration of the mural which is damaged
The pub’s original name was The Kentish Drovers and Halfway House being halfway between Deptford and London Bridge. Drovers and their flocks of sheep and cattle once came over Shooters Hill and up the Old Kent Road from Kent on their way to Smithfield. Nearby Drovers Place may indicate the site of a field used for resting and grazing.
The corner building is now occupied by the New Saigon restaurant. The interior retains late 19th-century carved mahogany fittings and engraved glass.
The frame of the Truman’s pub sign remains on the pavement.
The restoration of the building exterior, along with its deteriorating mural, is being made possible with the help of a £15,000 grant from the Heritage of London Trust as well as Community Infrastructure Levy payments.
A window has been unveiled at the City of London’s Brewers’ Hall to remember the Brewers’ patron St Thomas Becket.
It was commissioned from the Stained Glass Studios at Canterbury Cathedral and designed by its director Léonie Seliger whose work is seen in the Pilgrim’s Way churches at Boughton Aluph and Godmersham.
The design features the Brewers’ Company’s current coat of arms, granted in 1544 following the Reformation when Henry VIII expunged the Becket name from the calendar and banned pilgrimage. But the ‘new’ arms managed a subtle reference to their now secret patron by including a female moorish figure with golden hair to represent Becket’s step mother from North Africa.
Thomas Becket’s father was a malt merchant known as Gilbert the Brewer.
The original Brewers’ shield incorporating Becket’s archbishop arms, with its three choughs proper and pallium, is depicted below.
The Company’s Master Jonathan Neame, the Clerk and the Beadle, together with a number of volunteers from Shepherd Neame Brewery, walked the Pilgrims’ Way to collect the glass. This was handed over to the Master by the Archdeacon of Canterbury on the martyrdom site in Canterbury Cathedral.
The unveiling in London was performed by the Master who is also Shepherd Neame chief executive. His brewery produces the Bishops Finger ale which takes its name from the finger-shaped signposts pointing pilgrims the way to Canterbury and the tomb of Thomas Becket. It is one of the UK’s oldest bottled beers.
Further east the Kingston Spring Grove Morris, Ewell St Mary Morris Men and the Rampant Rooster Morris are meeting at the Box Hill viewpoint at 5am. Note that this top viewpoint is higher than the Pilgrims’ Way which runs round the south side of the hill.
In Rochester the rising sun is welcomed a little later at 8am with Jack in the Green making an appearance for the Awakening. There will be music and dancing around the cathedral for the rest of the day.
At Otford, where pilgrims from Southwark and Winchester meet, there is a fair on Palace Field with maypole dancing at 11.30am and 1pm.
Southwark Council has named a new building on the Old Kent Road after a Pilgrims’ Way village.
The residential development, on the corner of Mina Road opposite The Dun Cow, is to be called Wouldham Court.
Canterbury-bound pilgrims, when walking along Tabard Street, already encounter buildings bearing the names of pilgrim villages they will later visit. The Old Kent Road is also part of the ancient trail.
Wouldham village in Kent faces Halling across the River Medway and was reached by ferry. Although pilgrims now use the nearby Peters Bridge they can still pass through Wouldham when visiting Rochester Cathedral.
Southwark Council’s Wouldham Court is providing 17 flats and four three-bedroom houses for local people as well as a new community hall and a commercial space.
The church survived to feature in Four Weddings and a Funeral and its infirmary is now the famous Bart’s Hospital.
A silver chalice being used during this afternoon’s anniversary Eucharist, celebrated by the Bishop of London, was recently discovered at the back of a cupboard.
Engraved on it are the words ‘For the use of ye Lock in Kent Street Southwark’.
This cup recalls the Lock Hospital which stood by the Pilgrims’ Way from at least 1350, but probably the 1240s, until 1760.
The Lock, or Hospital of St Mary & St Leonard, stood on the right as you reach the end of Southwark’s Tabard Street (formerly Kent Street) where it merges with the Great Dover Street -created the 1750s just before the hospital closed.
Here the pilgrim would have passed its long wall and courtyard gateway before crossing the Lock stream flowing towards St Saviour’s Priory (now Bermondsey Square) and the Thames.
A milestone opposite the Lock indicated that the isolation hospital was safely a mile from London Bridge.
It appears that Henry VIII, who dissolved the Smithfield priory, did not also close this tiny leprosy and contagious diseases hospital. In 1549 the Lord Mayor of London and City aldermen, who three years earlier had reopened the monastic Bart’s Hospital, stepped in and placed Lock Hospital under Bart’s care.
Bartholomew Street at the junction (south side) recalls the Bart’s association.
To Canterbury from Winchester and London / Leigh Hatts