Teas at Abinger Hammer’s Old Post Office

Abinger Hammer in Surrey was recently listed as one of the most idyllic English villages.

The pub has closed and its church is two miles away from the main street and the Pilgrims’ Way route.

But the village is attractive and just near its famous hammer clock, where the trail turns uphill, is Abinger Hammer’s Old Post Office.

It still has a lovely wall post box and at the doorway there are fishing nets for children to use in the Tilling Bourne across the road.

This is the village newsagents open from 6am to 5.15pm with a tea room attached.

You will find homemade cakes in the front room overlooking the green.

Picnic sandwiches can be made on the spot.

With the sub post office part of the shop having been closed in 2004  there is no stamp available for stamping pilgrim passports but staff will sign and date a square for you.

Abinger Hammer is just east of Shere. The Old Post Office is the last refreshment stop before Box Hill.

Lavender fields now turning purple

The lavender fields between Lullingtone and Shoreham in the Darenth valley are beginning to turn purple.

They should be in full bloom during the first week of July.

The Pilgrims’ Way runs along the bottom of the fields and close to Castle Farm’s hidden Hop Shop selling lavender products.

There is already a haze of red poppies opposite Lullingtone Roman Villa.

The Roman Villa will stamp your pilgrim passport in the shop. Ye Old George Inn opposite Shoreham Church also stamps pilgrim passports.

Remember as a pilgrim that Lullingstone Church, ‘the Little Church on the Lawn’ just inside Lullingstone Castle gate, is open 10am-4pm for prayer.

Poppies near Lullingstone Roman Villa

Harrietsham’s Good Shepherd Church

This month’s issue of The Pilgrim, the Archdiocese of Southwark’s newspaper, has a feature on the Pilgrims’ Way guidebook.

You will find copies of the newspaper (50p) in Roman Catholic churches south of the Thames in the capital and in Kent.

By chance the paper also carries a fascinating news in brief item on a flower festival at Harrietsham’s Roman Catholic church. The event  marked the publication of a history of the little church.

The delightful black weather boarded church of the Good Shepherd is south of the railway in Rectory Lane ME17 1HS.

It was erected in 1881 for men engaged in building the Maidstone to Ashford railway which today’s pilgrims find so handy.

The tiny chapel was at first Anglican but after many years as a mission church it is today in the care of nearby St Peter’s Bearsted Roman Catholic Church.

Sunday Mass is at 8.45am. Handy if you are staying at The Roebuck in West Street.

Cream Teas at Wouldham

Wouldham Church

On leaving Halling and crossing Peters Village Bridge over the River Medway on a Sunday afternoon you might find tea available at Wouldham.

Turn left, or north, for Wouldham and Rochester.

Cream teas are served at All Saints’ Church Wouldham on Sundays 18 June, 16 July, 20 August and 17 September; 2-4.30pm.

This might also be handy for those wishing to walk south on the path out of Rochester.

Wouldham  Church dates from at least 1058 and has purser Walter Burke, who was present at Admiral Nelson’s death, buried in the churchyard.

Opposite the church lychgate is 16th-century Wouldham Court but note that bed and breakfast has ceased to be available there.

Old Kent Road pilgrim mural listed

Old Kent Road mural

An outdoor mural on the front of the the former civic centre in the Old Kent Road has been given a Grade II listing by Historic England.

The work, completed in 1965, is by Adam Kossowski whose mosaics can also be seen further along the Pilgrims’ Way at Aylesford Priory.

The panels depict pilgrims to Canterbury as well as famous figures who have entered London by way of the Canterbury road.

The initiative for listing has come from the Twentieth Century Society.

Pilgrims’ Way talk at Southwark Cathedral

There will be an illustrated talk on the Pilgrims’ Way from London to Canterbury as part of Pilgrimage Today: Four Ways to become a Pilgrim on Saturday 13 May at Southwark Cathedral.

Four talks will look at different aspects of pilgrimage:

Brian Mooney: Via Francigena: Pilgrimage before Ryanair – On Foot to Rome and Back.

Neil Tryner: Boccadillo, Blisters and Baggage.

Leigh Hatts: Following Becket from Southwark to Canterbury.

Guy Hayward and Will Parsons (British Pilgrimage Trust): Reviving British Pilgrimage: Making the Movement Happen!

Refreshments available in Cathedral Refectory and nearby.

£5 for the day – booking with Eventbrite.

Jane Austen’s 200th anniversary service

Those wishing to follow the Pilgrims’ Way for its many associations with Jane Austen may want to start on or just after Tuesday 18 July.

This is the 200th anniversary of her death which is being marked by a special service of Evensong at Winchester Cathedral.

Jane Austen is buried in the cathedral where another is St Swithun whose day is observed four days earlier.

Jane had an affinity with Swithun whose feast falls a few days earlier on Saturday 15 July. Her parents were married at St Swithun’s in Bath in 1764. Jane worshipped there and her father is buried there.

The anniversary service at Winchester will begin at 5.30pm and include contributions from invited guests.

Tickets are free but should be booked in advance.

Pilgrims’ Way guide published today

Publication day for Cicerone’s Walking The Pilgrims’ Way has been rainy. But that is appropriate since Chaucer wrote about April showers.

It has been great fun marking the book’s launch by visiting the London starting point.

First to Talbot Yard where a blue plaque on the site of The Tabard from where one early spring morning Chaucer’s characters set out in The Canterbury Tales.

Tabard Inn plaque in Talbot Yard off Borough High Street

Then a short walk through Borough Market to Southwark Cathedral for a celebratory lunch.

The good news is that today the cathedral shop has sold all its stock of The Pilgrims’ Way and  more have been ordered.

A good sign I hope for interest in the Canterbury pilgrimage.

At Southwark Cathedral with the new book

To Canterbury from Winchester and London / Leigh Hatts