Canterbury Cathedral and My Own Canterbury Tale

June 4, 2018

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Canterbury Cathedral

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_0364

Brian and I celebrate our 100 mile walk in front of Canterbury Cathedral.

What is the Canterbury Cathedral? What is the Pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral all about and what does it have to do with Chaucer’s Classic, “Canterbury Tales.” And who is Thomas Becket?

If you can answer those questions, read no more, skip down to the photos of the Cathedral. For others, let’s have a little review of medieval English History.  William the Conqueror defeated the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, Harold Godwinson in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings, becoming King William I of England, the first Norman king of England.  Four Norman kings later Henry II is on the scene. (1154-1189) Henry II believed in centralized royal power and passed many judicial reforms. He  attempted to restore the close relationship between church and state but with royal supremacy.

Thomas Becket was the son of a wealthy London merchant. Well educated, he became an agent to Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent him on several missions to Rome. Becket’s talents were noticed by Henry II, who made him his chancellor and the two became close friends (some historians call them carousing chums).

When Archbishop Theobald died in 1161, King Henry made Becket archbishop. Henry assumed that Becket, who had served efficiently as chancellor, would continue to do so as archbishop. Becket, however, disappointed him. Once appointed archbishop, Becket transformed himself from a pleasure-loving courtier into a serious, simply dressed cleric. (a personal conversion or a power grab?) He became a militant defender of the church against royal encroachment and a champion of the papal ideology of ecclesiastical supremacy over the lay world.

Henry and Becket’s friendship was put under strain when it became clear that Becket would now stand up for the church in its disagreements with the king. On December 29, 1170, four knights, believing the king wanted Becket out of the way, confronted and murdered Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.

Becket was made a saint in 1173 and his shrine in Canterbury Cathedral became an important focus for pilgrimage. Christians from around Europe flocked to the shrine where many miracles were happening.

Because the martyred Thomas became a saint in the eyes of the people. Henry, full of remorse, did penance imposed by the pope. He walked to Canterbury Cathedral barefoot (some say from Chilham) in sack cloth and ashes and allowed himself to be flogged by the monks.

Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “Canterbury Tales” in the late 14th century. It is a story of a group of pilgrims traveling from London to Canterbury and telling each other “tales” for entertainment as they journeyed together.

The pilgrimages were outlawed in 1540 by King Henry VIII. So, now we know why people walked to Canterbury;  either to honor St. Thomas Becket for his service to the church and God in defiance to the king, or in need of divine intervention.

As you know, our pilgrimage started in Reigate, 100 miles to the west of Canterbury. Was it a hike? A pilgrimage? A spiritual journey? When I read the history of Thomas Becket, I could see two Becket’s. One is a man who got too big for his britches when he was appointed archbishop and defied his former friend to one-up him because Becket could never be Henry’s social equal. The other Becket is a man who came back to his faith when he was given the new assignment and was following the convictions of his heart in his communications with his God. That is the Thomas Becket I wanted to honor, a man who got a second chance and honored God before King. God before self.

At the present time Canterbury Cathedral is covered in scaffolding and my photographs will reflect that. It is still a house of worship, filled with beauty, awe, wonder, majesty and stories, stories, stories. Brian and I took two educational tours; one on Henry I and the other on Thomas Becket which intertwined history and the Cathedral with enthusiasm.

History of the Cathedral: In 597 AD, Pope Gregory sent a monk, Augustine, to England as a missionary. After converting the King of Kent to Christianity, Augustine established his seat and monastery in Canterbury and became England’s first Archbishop. The Cathedral has been the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury ever since. It is very much a working , living church where services take place every day. For millions of Anglicans worldwide, the Cathedral is their Mother Church.

We enter Christ Church Gate:

“This gate is the principal entrance to the cathedral, from whose dedication to Christ it takes its name, and forms the dramatic highlight of the Buttermarket over which it stands. Cathedral records,indicate the gate  was built between 1504 and 1521 with funds provided by Priors Goldstone and Goldwell.  This is despite the inscription of 1507 on the stonework “Hoc Opus constructum est anno Domini  millesimo Quingentesimo decimo septimo,” – a matter of ongoing dispute between historians.  It was probably built in honour of Prince Arthur, Henry VIII’s elder brother who married to Catherine of Aragon in 1501.  He died the following year aged just 16, allowing Henry VIII to become King and marry Katherine himself in 1509.  Imagine the consternation of the sculptors responsible for the heraldry trying to keep up with changing family dynamics! The original statue of Christ and the wooden gates were destroyed by the Puritan iconoclast Richard Culmer in 1643. The gates were restored by Archbishop Juxon in 1660 and still bear his arms.  The original towers were torn down in 1803 by Jesse White, the surveyor to Cathedral, at the request of Alderman James Simmons. He wanted to see the Cathedral clock from his bank Simmons & Gipps, now the Lloyds Bank building on the High Street! The towers were replaced in 1937 during another restoration, this one funded by Dame Janet Stancomb-Wills (of the Wills tobacco family) and her sister.  The statue of Christ was replaced in 1990 after a gap of 347 years.”  Ref: CANTERBURY HISTORICAL  & ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY (CHAS)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Nave, built in 1422

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Martyrdom

The cloister

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking at the Quire (choir) and Trinity Chapel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Would love to know what they were talking about . . .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_0362

The Jesus Chapel – eastern end of the Cathedral

The candle is the spot where Thomas Becket’s shrine originally was.

C68274C4-503B-4749-9F91-6767770F22FC1BFCAFC6-4455-43B0-AB76-D6D885214317

The neighborhood around the Cathedral:

We returned to the Cathedral that at night for “Evensong,” their evening vespers. It was a sweet way to end the day with a beautiful male choir, Scripture readings from the Old and New Testament and inspiring prayer for the spiritual and physical needy in the world and their own community. I was quite moved. It completed the pilgrimage for me.

And my Canterbury Tale? While we were taking a teaching tour about Thomas Becket, a man asked the tour guide if he still sees many Pilgrims. “No, we don’t see Pilgrims any more.” I was standing right next to them and interjected. “I am a Pilgrim. My friend and I walked here today.” The guide looked at me and said kindly but dismissive, “Yes, I suppose so.” “No, I repeated again. We walked here . . .”  he interrupted and said. “Yes, yes, I suppose we are all pilgrims of a sort.” By now I was speechless and quit talking. True, we didn’t see many pilgrims on the trail like on the Camino de Santiago. but we were pilgrims right here in his group and he couldn’t acknowledge it. That’s my tale.

Thanks for sharing this experience with me. Tomorrow we go to Dover before returning to the United States.

 

Advertisements

Day 10 – The heat, the humidity, the yew. the village, the legs, the hills and the finish! – Kennington to Canterbury – 16.2 miles

June 3, 2018

Sunday morning, June 3 was the first and only sunrise I saw while on this pilgrimage to Canterbury. It had been daylight as early as 4:15 am but the sunrise had been hidden under the gray skies. This morning I saw  red and gold streaks through the eastern window of the hotel room. It was my warning that this was going to be a clear, hot day.

By the time the luggage was picked it up it was 9 am and we were walking down the street away from the Conningbrook Hotel and towards Canterbury. We had come “off” the trail to get to the hotel, now the trick was to pick up the trail without having to backtrack too far and then head east to Canterbury avoiding the heavy traffic on the direct route of Canterbury Road.

On our way out of Kennington we passed by the Eastwell Towers (built in 1848) – the original entrance to the Eastwell Estate, which I believe we walked through the day before. The original country house was built for Sir Thomas Moyle between 1540 and 1550. One of the men employed on the estate was the bricklayer Richard Plantagenet, who claimed to be an illegitimate son of Richard III. Through the years the estate was a part of and visited by royalty. Today it is a magnificent hotel surrounded by cultivated farm land.

Right after the little village of Boughton Lees, we saw the split between the Pilgrims Way and the North Downs Way. The Pilgrims Way went to Canterbury and the North Downs Way bypassed Canterbury and went east to Dover on the coast.

About a mile later, we see the sign:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here we leave the North Downs Way and will be solely following the Pilgrims Way

For awhile we are spared from the heat by the shade of the trail. About 10:30 we cross this field and walk up this not so very steep hill and I know I am a goner. I am hot, my legs are refusing to lift my body. The only thing that kept me from desperation is when we got to the top, Brian was just as over heated and we were both needing the shade to cool down. Under the shade in the last photo below I took my back pack off and laid across the path to feel the coolness of the earth only to have to quickly move when I heard the sound of  motor cycles coming down the narrow path straight at me. You have got to be kidding, off-roading on the Pilgrims Way? It wouldn’t be the last that we would see and hear motorcycles on this day.

The trail opens up to pastures large and small connected by “kissing gates” and footpaths. Some of the gates had to be climbed over which was sometimes challenging with my short hot legs (hot like in temperature).

This sign lets us know we are 5 miles from Chilham, which we believed was half way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chilham – 5 miles

We go through a grove of yew trees. What is a yew tree? I never knew until I read about them on this trip and we saw them everywhere.

(an aside):

Yew trees have long been associated with churchyards and there are at least 500 churchyards in England which contain yew trees older than the building itself. It is not clear why, but it has been suggested that yew trees were planted on the graves of plague victims to protect and purify the dead, but also that graveyards were inaccessible to cows, which would die if they ate the leaves.

Yew trees were used as symbols of immortality, but also seen as omens of doom. For many centuries it was the custom for yew branches to be carried on Palm Sunday and at funerals. In Ireland it was said that the yew was ‘the coffin of the vine’, as wine barrels were made of yew staves.

The yew tree was held sacred by the Druids in pre-Christian times. They no doubt observed the tree’s qualities of longevity and regeneration (drooping branches of old yew trees can root and form new trunks where they touch the ground), and the yew came to symbolize death and resurrection in Celtic culture. They will also have been familiar with the toxicity of the tree’s needles in particular, which can prove fatal, and which may have further contributed to its connections with death. Shakespeare too was familiar with these qualities when he had Macbeth concoct a poisonous brew which included “slips of yew, silvered in the moon’s eclipse”.

The yew’s toxicity has somewhat limited its practical uses to humans, though a homoeopathic tincture is made of young shoots and the berry flesh to treat a variety of ailments including cystitis, headache and neuralgia. The very hard, close-grained wood was used in furniture making, but yew wood is probably best known as the material from which the medieval English longbows were made and used to such devastating effect during the Hundred Years War. The Scots too used yew longbows and Robert the Bruce ordered bows to be made from the sacred yews at Ardchattan Priory in Argyll, which were then used during the Scots’ victorious battle at Bannockburn in 1314.

The shape of the wondering branches and knotted wood can look frightful when blowing in the wind even to the modern mind.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yew forest

We are welcoming the shade and come out of the yew forest into the King’s Woods. These woods were considered dangerous during the medieval pilgrimages, filled with robbers and trouble makers and are mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

It was near here in medieval times that pilgrims would see the Canterbury Cathedral for the first time but we could not see it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The white chalk of the soil

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chalk surface on the trail

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By now we are hot and tired, knowing we are getting closer to Chilham and are only half way to Canterbury. It was 2 pm when we walked into Chilham. We stopped in a pub  for cold drinks and a snack (Coke or Pepsi for Brian and ice water with lemon for me). That cold water was the best thing I had tasted in hours and refreshed me and lifted my spirits. We took a one hour break in the pub and then another half of an hour walking around the unique village of Chilham. This village with its stunning fifteenth century square of black and white timbered buildings has been chosen as a film location movies such as by  Top Gear (2011), Emma (2009) and Miss Marple – The Moving Finger (2005).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chilham Castle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pilgrim art

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chilham village square

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chilham village church

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We left the village of Chilham at 3 pm. We had left the trail to go into the village and now we had to pick up the trail again into Canterbury and avoid the cars. Brian pulled out his big guns to find our way, paper map and digital.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As we left Chilham we began walking back up into the hills. Within a half hour of leaving I had lost all the momentum that the “break” had given me and every step uphill became a struggle. There were many hills (some quite steep) between Chilham and Canterbury.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The signs are becoming increasingly harder to find and harder to read.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Even in my weariness I noticed the distinctive color of this tree.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Long stretches in the sun, but as the day gets longer it begins to cool down.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A long steep hill where I was really struggling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We walk through orchards, up and down hills.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Orchard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This did not look like Kent – a trailer park?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Industrial buildings near the trailers where I went looking for “facilities”. I ran into a woman who spoke no English, only Romanian but she was able to show me where the ladies’ room was. (international sign language)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More agriculture

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Only 3 1/2 more miles to Canterbury – the longest 3 1/2 miles I have ever walked.

Although I am beat up and weary I can’t help but feel the cooling temperature and slight breeze. I also notice as we go through “No Man’s Orchard” (a community orchard) that we are going downhill more than up, a chance for my legs to get some rest. There are many trails in this recreation area and we are having a hard time finding “our trail” with the sign of the acorn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have circled the sign, see it down under the bushes.

In the shady woods of the orchard we run into a friendly Irishman that tells us how to follow the path into Canterbury. I am filled with hope when I see this sign:

fromIphone01 copy

On this path we find a sign about “Bigbury Camp” – It is hard to read the photo, but basically recent excavations of the area reveal a hill fort here is believed to be the site of Julius Caesar’s first battle in 54 BC as he led his forces in the Roman invasion of Britain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now I know I can make it. One more mile . . . . and it is “mostly” downhill. The Irishman promised me so.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One more mile

fromIphone02 copy

One more mile

 

One moment we are walking in a wooded residential street and the next moment we are in the city of Canterbury walking on a sidewalk along the busy A2050 roadway. We get our first sight of the Cathedral over roof tops.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Canterbury Cathedral

The Irishman also warned us that the GPS was very spotty in the city of Canterbury. Brian found it so, as we walked up and down streets and strange neighborhoods trying to find our hostel. I just shuffled my feet behind him. It was an anti-climactic entrance into Canterbury but I was too tired to care. We finally found Kipps and were welcomed into the hostel by a kind and friendly young man.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The pilgrimage was not complete yet; it would have to wait until tomorrow when we would go to the Cathedral. It was 7 pm.

Day 9 – Heat, Peace and a Maze – Lenham to Kennington (Ashford) – 10.8 miles

June 2, 2018

This was another day of sheer tranquility off the grid as we walked, away from the byways but not without its humor and adventure.

We left Lenham at 8:15 a.m., wanting to beat the promised heat. I was wearing short sleeves and ready to turn my hiking pants into shorts if need be. I knew Brian had been working diligently to navigate our trail away from the highways which meant I may be walking in weeds or jumping mud puddles and might need my legs covered. The weeds that bit Lee and I on Day 2 are everywhere and by now we could recognize them, knowing they would bite us with a sting similar to a bee or ant. They are stinging nettles.

From Wikipedia: Urtica dioica, often called common nettle, stinging nettle (although not all plants of this species sting) or nettle leaf, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the family Urticaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America, and introduced elsewhere. The species is divided into six subspecies, five of which have many hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on the leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation upon contact (“contact urticaria”). The plant has a long history of use as a source for traditional medicine, food, and tea.

nettle

I have had days when my arms are stinging and feel a sort of sunburn from these nettles, especially on those days when we were thrown into the bushes by speeding cars on the byways.

After eight days on the trail, Brian, our brilliant navigator had learned about the Pilgrim Way, the North Downs Way, the guide book and the detaiedl English O.S. maps. He had learned how to combine them to keep us away from the cars. His plan for the day showed no towns between Lenham and Kennington unless we went off the trail. We packed snacks, prepared to go all day without stopping at a pub if we had to.

The Pilgrim Way, the original medieval path cannot be followed because busy highways are now on the paths and there has been no provision for pedestrians. The North Downs Way is a national trail that has been maintained by the government over the years and often parallels the Pilgrims Way. Brian began to ignore our Pilgrim Way guide book and pay more attention to the North Downs Way signs. When the North Downs Way disappeared or took us into the traffic, he manipulated around the busy roads using a combination of his large paper O.S. maps, the digital O.S. maps (if we had cell connection for the GPS), or Google maps. His ingenuity of keeping us off the busy byways in this part of the journey was comforting and sometimes humorous as we looped around unmarked fields and neighborhoods.

We walked back up toward the ridge line from where we would pick up the trail. Here the North Downs Way and Pilgrims Way follows the mountain ridge above the valley maybe a mile or two from the villages below. Today we would be walking southeast rather than due east to Canterbury to avoid going over the mountains.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A look back down at the village of Lenham below

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coming in from the side trail we saw the first hikers since Day 1. There were about four of them with big back packs but were going so fast we didn’t see them again or have a chance to talk to them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We walked most of the warm morning on shaded trails.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We walked in solitude, enjoying the tranquility. I thought about the pilgrimage coming to an end and my experience in the church the night before.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We would come out of the shade and into open fields.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And the never ending wild flowers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The wild roses were everywhere climbing over fence posts and winding their way toward the sun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our view to our right, mountains and trees to our left.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The sign shows we have walked three miles Lenham.

 

Long stretches of open fields, the last one in the sun, caused us to take a break in the shade. Off come our packs and I lay in the cool grass and close my eyes. Refreshed from snacks and water, we know we will soon be leaving the North Downs trail to find our way into the village of Kennington, a part of Ashford.

We are now leaving the trail walking through the edge of the large estate of the fields we were walking through. The trick is to find the village of Kennington, avoid a by-way or busy road without a sidewalk that will take us to our hotel. Read comments under the photos for explanation of our humorous adventure.

We arrive at the Conningbrook Hotel at 2:30. We were off the grid all day and never stopped at a pub. This lovely and classy hotel in a converted two or three story house treated us like royalty. They carried our luggage up the stairs, took our dirty laundry and washed, dried and returned it to us on hangers. They fed us well in their restaurant, dinner and breakfast the next day.

Tomorrow we walk into Canterbury, hopefully. Weather channels forecast warmer weather. I know it will be our longest walk, so it is time to prepare the backpack, keep the suitcase organized and rest the body. I am eager to see Canterbury but I feel a sorrow to end the pilgrimage. By now my body has adapted somewhat to the long days of walking, I feel a rhythm with the trail and nature. The last few days have been less stressful and I am pulled to wanting to walk all the way to Dover, but it is not an option. The airline tickets tell us it is time to go home soon.

Day 8 – Peace, Tranquility and Mud on the Pilgrims’ Way – Maidstone to Lenham – 9.4 miles

June 1, 2018

We were blessed with mild weather and gray skies as we started our journey to Lenham. We went up a very steep hill to get off the road “Pilgrims Way” and get on the trail “North Downs Way.” We walked only a mile before we saw the sign:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But before we took to the trail we wandered just a few feet more to see the ruins of Thurnham Castle. The Castle sets on a hill overlooking at the edge of North Downs and the whole span of the Holmsdale Valley. The area around the Castle shows evidence of an iron-age enclosure and a Roman presence. In 12th century under Henry II Robert Thurnham built the present castle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View from the top

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We walk toward the Castle through the park, but there was a more direct way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Up some steep steps

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But pretty wild flowers along the way

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brian walking toward the Castle ruins

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Close up of one of the stones.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A quiet peaceful step back into history although the gray clouds were diminishing some of the view over the valley. Back to the North Downs Way sign, we start our day’s journey.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We walked for miles along this quiet road with high hedges.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We see the Pilgrims Way is now running along the same trail as the North Downs Way

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We come out of the high hedges to open farm land again

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and rolling hills

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Love these red poppies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

About ready for a break we come upon a pub.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They won’t be open for another half hour so we take our break in their back parking lot and keep walking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The grain is growing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We ran into two or three of these mud puddles (ponds?) that were too deep to walk through and occasionally too wide to walk around.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Very slippery, it often drove us into the bushes up steep slippery banks and along barbed wired fences. We braced ourselves by holding onto branches and twigs. Neither of us fell so it just seemed like a lot of fun to me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A bench along the way

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Goofing off along the trail

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wild daisies along the trail

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We walk along this long field down into Lenham

 

We arrived into town from our easy walk early enough to check into our hotel, clean up and walk around the town before dinner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We saw this old building and walked across to read the plaque on it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cute little house walking into town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

St. Mary’s of Lenham, over 1000 years old

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Church graveyard but stones are unreadable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Inside the church

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stained glass window

stained_glass_StMary_sm

Stained glass showing the life of Christ

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Zoomed in: conception, birth, baptism

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carries His own cross, crucifixion, burial

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And ascension

It was here when I walked into this one thousand year old church that I felt my deepest most personal emotional and spiritual moment of the pilgrimage. As I said,  we had finished our journey on the Pilgrim Way for that day. I had seen many churches and Cathedrals on this trip so far. I am often amazed with their majesty, the beauty and the serenity of the architecture and the importance of their history in western civilization. But this time it was more personal. This little active community church has withstood politic and religious upheaval, and is still standing, important in this community. I was looking at the stained glass window above the altar and was touched to see the pictorial of life of Christ. I zoomed in as it told the story of Jesus, His conception, birth, baptism, crucifixion and resurrection. This was my Jesus, the One I talked to as I walked on the trail, His words, the words I read almost daily and are a part of my life. The simple story of Jesus, 2000 years old, displayed in a 1000 year old church told over over again in the lives of His saints continues to heal and change the world.  A love story. One life at a time.

(click the photos for comments)

Brian and I continued walking around the cute little village of Lenham thinking how much Lee would like it here. We were missing her.

The Dog and Bear Hotel was originally built in 1602 and visited by Queen Anne in 1704. Her coat of arms is still displayed above the door today.

Only two more days of walking before we walk into Canterbury and our pilgrimage will be over. They are forecasting hot weather for those two days.

Day – 7 Leeds Castle

May 31, 2018

We woke up to the BBC weather forecast of more torrential flooding. Were we ready for another day of walking in heavy rains and heavy traffic? When we talked to the staff in the pub that morning, the sun was peeking through the clouds, could we really believe that weather report? Stories were shared about the downpour only two days before. It was only five miles to our next town, but the Pilgrims Way was back on that narrow busy road we experienced yesterday. We had learned that traffic on it was even worse because of some traffic lights malfunctioning. We made a decision to go with our luggage to our next town and take the day off the road. We got to our hotel, “The Black Horse Inn,” too early to check in but the friendly staff encouraged us to walk down the road and catch a shuttle to nearby Leeds Castle.  Off we went down the country road toward the local train station to pick up the shuttle.

A short history of Leeds Castle: Robert de Crevecoeur, a descendant of one of William the Conqueror’s lords built a fortified castle here in 1119. It came into royal hands in 1278 and became part of the Queen of England’s dower – the settlement queens received from their husbands. It was held by six medieval queens; Eleanor of Castile (Wife of King Edward I), Margaret of France (second wife of King Edward I) , Anne of Bohemia (Wife of King Richard II),  Joan of Navarre (Wife of King Henry IV) and Catherine de Valois (Wife of King Henry V). In Tudor times, Henry VIII owned the castle and visited it, most notably with his Queen, Catherine of Aragon (wife #1) in 1520. In 1552 Henry’s son, King Edward VI granted the castle to one of his courtiers. Since then it has been in private ownership and used as a garrison, prison, convalescent home and a private home of several families.

The last private owner of the castle, Olive, Lady Baillie, left an indelible mark it. The heiress to an American fortune from her mother’s family and the daughter of an English Lord, she bought the castle in 1926 and she embarked on a complete refurbishment, using the finest French architects and designers to create an elegant country residence. She filled the Castle with art and antiques and glamorous house parties at which she entertained princes, film stars and politicians. Upon her death in 1974, Lady Baillie left the Castle to the Leeds Castle Foundation, a private charitable trust whose aim is to preserve the Castle and the grounds for the benefit of the public forever.

The Castle, at Lady Baillie’s request, is kept as a living house, with bedrooms that regularly accommodate guests at weddings, conferences and banquets. On July 17, 1978 Leeds Castle was the venue for a meeting between foreign ministers from Egypt, Israel and the USA in preparation for the Camp David Accords.

If you never walked into the Castle, but spent an afternoon walking around the grounds, you would be enriched with the beauty of this well- cared for estate.

Various views of the Castle’s exterior:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The moat

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The moat

You might want to slow down for a slide show of the grounds:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

And inside this living Castle:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Norman Cellar-dates from the 12th century

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More stairs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ceiling

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Queen’s bedroom and bath

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Close up showing the initials of King Henry V and Catherine de Valois.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Queen’s Gallery – famous Lumley Busts representing Henry VIII and his children. This is the only surviving contemporary group of statues of the Tudor dymasty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Henry VIII’s Banqueting Hall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chapel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lady Baillie’s Dressing RoomRA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lady Baillie’s Dressing Room – sort of an interesting picture with me taking a picture of a mirror.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lady Baillie’s Bedroom

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Modern door working around medieval frame.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dining Hall – looks like they were setting up for a wedding

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Library

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is just a sampling to show you the splendor of Lady Baillie’s refurbishing. There are twenty bedrooms in the Castle, including eight luxurious State bedrooms, each uniquely funished with period antiques and large original en-suite Art Deco marble bathrooms. Many of the rooms offer traditional four poster beds and breathtaking views across the moat and surrounding parkland.

During the party years of the 30’s and 40’s, glamorous guests included Errol Flynn, Noel Coward, Douglas Fairbanks and David Niven. More recently guests have included Luciano Pavarotti, Sir Elton John and Sir Cliff Richard.

Other interesting guests at Leeds Castle

I enjoyed our pleasant day off at the beautiful and peaceful Leeds Castle. The torrential rains forecasted that day swerved to the east of us; we only got a few showers while we were walking outside of the Castle.  We walked 6.7 miles (according to my Fitbit) on our “day off.” Tomorrow we will explore Thurham Castle before we walk to Lenham.

 

Ten Days Walking the Pilgrims’ Way in Real Time

June, 3. 2018

Ten days of walking through Kent in Southern England happened in ten consecutive days, one day after the other. We will begin our walk  into Canterbury in a few hours. However, the blogging did not happen daily and for that I apologize to anyone following this blog daily as I have followed other travel and/or pilgrim blogs. For those of you on Facebook, you have seen me check in daily and have seen my hiking partner’s (Brian Ellsworth) photos along with some of mine. But for those of you that do not have Facebook, you haven’t heard from me since day five. Rest assured we are fine, every day has gotten better with new and different challenges and adventures.

On day six we went to the Rochester Cathedral and Rochester Castle,  I took so many photos, read so much, was given so much information to process and share . . . Well when I started blogging about it, I just got stalled and could not finish the blog and could not “keep up.” I will finish the blog with the story and the photos, but it obviously will not be in real time. I may not finish Rochester until I am home. My apologies.

Until then . . . 

Rochester Cathedral

Rochester Castle

Day 5  – Thunder, Lightening and a Pub – Gavesend to Cliffe – 8.5 miles

May 29, 2018

During the complimentary continental breakfast I noticed the cultur difference between the Americans and Brits and their choice of morning drink.


We had a weather change from the hot humid weather of the day before to 30% chance of rain. It had been raining early in the morning, but remembering the humidity of the day before I dressed light. packed my raincoat, and zippered the long legs back on my hiking pants. Brian and I both hand washed and dried our soaked clothing from yesterday and were ready to go. When Jeff 2 came to pick up our luggage, he asked us if we were sure we didn’t want to come with him, did we really want to walk in this weather? I thought, “What, a few sprinkles? We have rain gear.” Off we went in short sleeves. We picked up the bike path that brought us to the hotel walking east. When we made a turn into a damp shaded wooded path on went the rain coat for  warmth. 


For awhile we dodged between the country road and trails until we started on a public foot path tractor-size into large fields of crops. The rain started gently and I was giddy with excitement and wonder that I was walking in the rain through a farmer’s field in southern England. I tucked my phone and camera away for protection to enjoy the day. (Very few photos today) That was fun for about 45 minutes until the grassy path got spongy under our feet or our boots sunk into mud. Brian had tracked us for  miles on these field paths but with the thought that it might be muddier ahead due to last night’s rain, he made the decision to get out of the fields and back on the road. 

Back on the road while Brian was checking the GPS I got my camera out and took the picture of the poppies on the side of the road. I was surprised that my feet felt a little wet in my waterproof boots. Not long after we were on the country roadway dodging cars the rain fell harder. Then we heard thunder. The skies opened in a downpour and lit up with lightening above us. I have never been outside in lightening, I always thought it was dangerous. What choice did we have but to carry on until we could find shelter. As we walked for miles on country roads in heavy pounding rain, thunder and lightening my feet got wetter and boots heavier.   The road was getting heavier with water too. I had visions of flash floods like in the So. Californian desert as the currents in the road ran downhill faster and mud puddles got bigger. But we kept walking. Eventually we ran out of dry road and with no where to go on either side we had to forge through -walking through moving water up to our calves. (Could have been much worse) Down the road I saw the warning that the road was flooded.

Later I saw these signs several times


After almost four hours of walking in these conditions we found shelter in a covered bus stop. We were soaking wet from the waist down. I could feel 1/2 inch of water in my boots. Brian wanted to take off his boots to dump out the water. Me too! To our surprise our boots had no water in them. It was all in our socks which we wrung out sitting on that bench under the covered bus stop. Brian knew we were getting closer to our accommodations but I had lost hope, thinking we had another houror more   to walk in the rain. So before I knew it our accommodations were right in front of us, apparently a pub. Brian was ready to kiss the ground.

My bed was right by that far window on the right, second floor.

When we walked in soaking wet all eyes turned toward us but no one said a word. However the bartender was also responsible for the BnB upstairs and when we checked in offered us something hot to drink. Coffee for Brian and my first cup of British tea since arriving. We had walked 4 1/2 hrs in the rain.

Drying off in the pub.

More than a few sprinkles, we had a day filled with adventure and challenges blessed with no injuries. Thank you Lord.