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Following up on my post from a couple of days ago, these are a few more of my favourite villages in England. The Channel 4 programme, Village of the Year is absolutely fascinating. I shall have to watch them again…get some more ideas of places to go – as if I don’t already have a list longer than I could do in 2 lifetimes…but hey, I might live to be 100….LOL

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East Grinstead, West Sussex

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Farnham, Surrey

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Kennett, Suffolk

Kennett – Domesday Book village

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Kentford, Suffolk

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Lavenham, Suffolk

Lavenham – Domesday Book village

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Lower Bourne, Surrey

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Marston Magna, Somerset

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Midhurst, Sussex

Midhurst had it all….a castle, a mill, a river, and quintessentially English cottages

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Moulton, Suffolk

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Newton-Ferrers, Devon

Newton-Ferrers is probably in my Top Ten favourite village of England. It was so gorgeous and the views of the river were stunning. At night it was quiet and peaceful with skies so black and stars so bright, you can’t imagine.

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I’ve been following Channel 4’s Village of the Year. There’s been some fantastic places so far, many of which I’ve followed up with the hashtags on instagram and added to my saved folder for villages; future travels….plenty of places, not enough time.

Watching the programme has reminded me of some of the stunning villages I’ve visited in the last 10 years.

When I launched Project 101 proper, I discovered that many of the villages I’ve visited in the past are Domesday Book villages which has been really exciting.

Of the many many places I’ve been, these are some of my favourite villages:

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Blackford, Somerset

Blackford – Domesday Book village

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Braeburn, Kent

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Camelot, Somerset

Seriously amazing views from this spot….well worth the climb. Not sure how accurate the tales of this being the location of Camelot, but it’s fabulous if it was.

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Castle Cary, Somerset

Castle Cary – Domesday Book village

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Cawsands/Kingsands, Cornwall

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Charlton Hawthorne, Somerset

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Chippenham, Somerset

Chippenham – Domesday Book village

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Compton Paucefoot, Somerset

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Corton Denham, Somerset

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Cottenham, Cambridgeshire

Cottenham – Domesday Book village

These are just 10 of my favourite villages…..more to follow shortly. Unfortunately I’m unable to review many of the other places I’ve been since the hard-drive that UPS lost is still….lost!!! Grrr.

Perhaps I should suggest they fund the costs of returning to those places….dream on LOL

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Three years ago when we first moved to Broadstairs I had just a tiny inkling of the history of the area known as the Isle of Thanet.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

Formed when sea-levels rose after the last glacial period (around 5000BC), with links to the Stone Age and Bronze Age, at the time of the Romans the Isle of Thanet was an actual island, separated from Kent by the Wantsum channel. This channel allowed ships to sail from the English Channel past Ebbsfleet and gain access to the river Great Stour as far as Canterbury. The Wantsum channel eventually silted up abut 200 years ago which prevented ships from entering it’s waters and eventually it was lost with the last ship sailing through the Channel in 1672; now long covered over and given over to motorways, housing estates, farmlands and wetlands.

isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, braoadstairs, margate

I found this illustration at the Brading Roman fort on the Isle of Wight

However, the history of this fair isle has not been lost and recently links were found to Caesar’s invasion of Britain on a site not far from Ramsgate.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/julius-caesar-invasion-britain-uk-site-evidence-first-discovered-kent-a8081056.html

  • excavated a Roman fort covering up to 49 acres (20 ha) at Ebbsfleet, and dated it to around 55–50 BC

Besides Julius Caesar, and the Vikings, another historical figure; St Augustine, landed not far from this very site in AD597 and went on to establish Christianity and an Abbey at Canterbury.

There are a number of very historical towns on the Isle of Thanet, many of which can easily be visited from London. Three of the most notable are;

  1. Ramsgate – has the distinction of being the only Royal Harbour in the United Kingdom; decreed by George VI in 1821, Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor and first came to Ramsgate on 15 August 1823 at the age of four with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, the harbour was a chief embarkation point for the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 aka ‘Operation Dynamo’, and the town is home to the Shrine of St Augustine.

    isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, broadstairs, margate

    Ramsgate

  2. Broadstairs – aka the ‘jewel in Thanet’s crown, Broadstairs was orginally known as Bradstow(e), a chapel was built here in 1601 on an earlier religious site, here on 21 June 1815 the captured French Eagle Standard was delivered with the news of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon, Charles Dickens was a regular visitor and stayed at what is now known as ‘Bleak House, and beneath the town is a network of smuggler’s tunnels.

    isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, broadstairs, margate

    Viking Bay, Broadstairs

  3. Margate – one of the first English seaside resorts, was a “limb” of Dover in the ancient confederation of the Cinque ports, and their accompanying bays –  Viking Bay, Stone Bay, Louisa Bay, Minnis Bay, Palm Bay, Botany Bay, Joss Bay, and Pegwell Bay, is home to oldest building in old ‘Meergate’, the old Tudor House, built in 1525, and the Shell Grotto; an ornate subterranean passageway covered in mosaics created entirely of 4.6 million seashells.

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    Mrs Booth; The Shell Lady of Margate

Villages on the Isle of Thanet are:

  1. Minster – once the “ancient capital of Thanet”, originally started as a monastic settlement in 670 AD, the first abbey in the village was founded by St. Domneva in the late 7th century.
  2. Cliffs End – on the cliff top above Pegwell Bay is a replica of the Viking longship Hugin, it is believed that St Augutine landed nearby at Ebbsfleet in AD597 (a cross in a field on the Way of St Augustine route marks the spot of his landing, on a clear day you can see the northern tip of the French Coast from the clifftop.
  3. St Nicholas-at- Wade – home to the 13th-century parish church of St Nicholas, after which the village and parish are named, the first rector is recorded as Adam de Brancestre in 1294.
  4. Sarre –  located at the point where the old ‘Island Road’ from Margate to Canterbury crossed the Wantsum channel, the late Roman or early Anglo-Saxon Sarre Brooch was found near the village, is home to the now defunct Sarre Windmill built in 1820.
  5. Birchington-on-Sea – first recorded in 1240 as Birchenton, its parish church, All Saints’, dates to the 13th century, the 19th-century Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti is buried in the churchyard of All Saints, Minnis Bay was once the site of an Iron Age settlement and the village coastline was frequented by 19th century smugglers, and the famous Quex Park and Manor are nearby.

There are of course today a great number of new settlements and villages on the Isle of Thanet, but those listed above are the most notable.

tudor house margate, isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, broadstairs, margate

Tudor House, Margate

You can enjoy many wonderful walks along the cliff tops or vast open beaches along the coastline of the Isle of Thanet, and a walk from Pegwell Bay to Margate Harbour will take you past Ramsgate Harbour, Dumpton Bay, Louisa Bay, Viking Bay, Stone Bay, Joss Bay, Kingsgate Bay, Botany Bay, Palm Bay and Walpole Bay.

Landmarks and places to see/visit along the way are St Augustine’s Cross near Cliffsend and the Hugin Viking Ship, St Augustine’s Church & The Grange (Augustine Pugin’s house), Ramsgate Royal Harbour, Ramsgate Tunnels, Bleak House and the Dickens Museum, North Foreland Lighthouse, Fort Kings Bay, Kings Bay sea-arch, the White cliffs, chalk stacks at Botany Bay, Turner Contemporary and the Antony Gormley sculpture, the Shell Grotto and the Tudor House.

Kings Bay sea-arch

Kings Bay sea-arch

You will find a number of places to eat or for afternoon tea along the way; my favourite in Ramsgate is Riley’s Cafe, there are a few independent clifftop or beach side cafes that mostly open in summer, and there are the more historic Bleak House and the Old Curiosity Shop in Broadstairs, the Captain Digby Pub in Kingsgate, and the Old Kent Market in Margate.

isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, broadstairs, margate

Old Kent Market, Margate

as well as a number of smaller restaurants and cafes.

In summer dozens of colourful gaily painted and decorated beach huts line the esplanade along the beaches in Ramsgate, Viking Bay and Stone Bay

isle of thanet, wantsum channel, ramsgate, broadstairs, margate

Beach huts in Broadstairs

The Isle of Thanet is a treasure trove of history, interesting places to visit, and a large variety of restaurants to eat at.

Discover some of the many amazing walks on the Isle of Thanet

#100 – walks around the UK

The Way of St Augustine – Day 1

The Way of St Augustine – Day 2

The Way of St Augustine Ramsgate to Canterbury – history

 

 

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Ever since I first visited this area last year I’ve wanted to take a walk to Chirbury across the border in Shropshire. It’s 3 miles to Chirbury and my normal walking pace is 5 miles in 2 hours. My break time is only 2 hours and I can’t leave my client alone for longer than that, so in all 3 visits to this area, I’ve not yet been able to get there and back…6 miles; just over my pace limit.

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However, the daughter came to visit for 2 days, so on Friday I grabbed my chance. The weather was good, no snow or frost, and bright and more or less sunny. I suggested she make lunch for her Dad and keep him company while I took a brisk walk to Chirbury. So that is what we did…..this also gave me a break from meal preparation, which after preparing 3 meals a day for 16 days on the trot, the ‘excitement’ begins to wear a bit thin LOL

Donning thermals and thick socks, my fleece on, but sans hat and gloves (urgh., I cant believe I decided to leave them at home this trip), I grabbed my poles and set off for the 3 miles to Chirbury.

 

The roads here are narrow…..very narrow and at sections there is not even a sliver of space to step safely off the tarmac when traffic whizzes by. The roads are also very winding with a lot of dips and slopes, so often, even though you can hear the traffic approaching, you can’t see it….ergo they can’t see me either. It’s a tad nerve-wracking, so I keep my ears well clear and when I hear traffic approaching I get myself as far off the road as possible and turn to face the oncoming cars/vans/trucks and ensure they can see that I can see them. I wave and sometimes they wave back. It always amuses me when they swing their cars right onto the opposite side of the road….a tad over the top (no pun intended). But they whizz by safely and I get to continue in one piece. I only had to clamber into a hedge once on the whole 2.5 hour walk and that was coz I had heard a car approaching from behind a small incline, so grabbed some branches and pulled myself into the shrub as far as possible till the car went by….except the sound of his engine drowned out the sound of a 2nd car not far behind and I had no sooner returned to the road that the 2nd vehicle came flying over the top….this require split-second action and I jumped into the bush and grabbed whatever came to hand…..which left my hand all bloody and scratched. No worse than when the cat grabs my hand, but unpleasant.

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Welcome to Shropshire – Offa’s Dyke

Other than that, the walk went without incident and I relished the sounds of the countryside; birds tweeting and shrilling, sheep baaing across the fields, the occasional sounds of a tractor chuffing about, a horse snorting from behind a hedge, and a herd of cows snuffing their surprise when my head popped up above the edge of their shed. LOL

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20 miles from Salop

They are gorgeous creatures, such big doleful eyes and pink snouts….especially gorgeous when there’s a wall between me and them 😉 Unfortunately I couldn’t get close enough for a photo; would have entailed trudging through mud and the farmers property…suffice to say they were pretty. Still young. I always feel sad though when I see them knowing what lies in their future.

Chirbury, situated in the Vale of Montgomery and just over the border from Wales, turned out to be a lot smaller than I anticipated.

3 miles to chirbury, villages of the uk, walks in the uk, wales to england, travel diaries

Chirbury, Shropshire, England

The landscape is dotted with farms, a few grain silos give a clue as to the crops, a 12th century church; St Michael’s, the ubiquitous pub, a shop and Post Office, a scattering of houses, a barn turned into a pottery and nothing much else.  Apparently, according to the 2001 census it has a population of 971!!! I have no idea where they’re all hiding. Although they do have a nursery and primary school, so I guess there must be more houses than was immediately apparent. It’s more like a hamlet really, right on the crossroads of some connecting byways; namely the A490 and B4386 routes, whilst roads and lanes from six directions converge on the village. I’m guessing that’s pretty much how it came into being…..a crossroads developed over time.

According to wikipedia: “The placename was recorded in 915 as Ċyriċbyrig in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and as Ċireberie in the Domesday Book of 1086, and means “the fort with a church”. Its Welsh name, Llanffynhonwen, means “the church of the white well” or “…of the holy well”. The fact that it’s a Domesday Book village is thrilling…now I can add another to the growing list on Project 101.

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Houses in Chirbury

3 miles to chirbury, villages of the uk, walks in the uk, wales to england, travel diaries, black and white houses

Black and White House in Chirbury

The only church in Chirbury, St Michael’s, a Grade 1 listed building, is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. Built on the site of an earlier Anglo-Saxon church (circa 915), the current building dates from the 12th century with an addition in 1330 & the 18th century and restoration during the 19th century.  I love exploring the old graveyards attached to these country churches, they are so full of history.

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St Michael’s Church Chirbury

3 miles to chirbury, villages of the uk, walks in the uk, wales to england, travel diaries

I popped over to the pub; The Herbert Arms just in time for them to have closed up to go shopping! *sigh* I was looking forward to a nice hot cuppa and a scone with jam and cream before heading back. Oh well, no afternoon tea then.

3 miles to chirbury, villages of the uk, walks in the uk, wales to england, travel diaries

the Yorkshireman and his Wife

Instead I dropped in at the Post Office, bought a chocolate, used the facilities and made haste on my return to Montgomery. I got wet a couple of times, but managed the home journey without too much stress. I crossed over a couple of streams on the way and the River Camlad running east and north through the parish.

3 miles to chirbury, villages of the uk, walks in the uk, wales to england, travel diaries

River Camlad

“CHIRBURY, or Cherbury, a village and a parish in Salop; and a sub-district in Salop and Montgomery. The village stands in a fine vale, near the Welsh boundary, Offa’s dyke”

It was fab to see the border; Offa’s Dyke, between the two countries of Wales and England. I love that although there is a border on paper, the countryside doesn’t have any indication and just flows across hill and dale without a care.

By the time I got back, the light had faded and it was getting quite dark, the sun had disappeared behind a foggy cloud and I pondered the probability of carrying my visibility vest in future.

3 miles to chirbury, villages of the uk, walks in the uk, wales to england, travel diaries

welcome to Wales

In all a fantastic walk of 9.70kms/6.06 miles added to my January total of 36.9 kms / 23.06 miles – ergo 976.94 miles to go till 31.12.2018 LOL

Today my joints were quite achy and my feet felt really sore from pounding along the tarmac. Tarmac really is not kind to the old body.

I’m so glad I managed to get to Chirbury.

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I was chatting to my daughter yesterday and remarked that I had been particularly blessed this year. Usually when you get to the end of the year you kinda feel like there is more that could/should be done before the year ends (well I do), and the last few days of December are spent cramming in just a few more activities. But this year I can truly say that I have had a year jam-packed with adventures, and for that, I am truly grateful.

inspirational quotes

Die with memories, not dreams

So to that end I decided to list my 2017 adventures, and was astounded at how much I had actually done, and how many places I have actually been to besides all my Camino 2017 practice walks that took me to some fantastic places. So this is my final blog for 31 Days of Gratitude – Day 31 – 2017 in review.

January

New Year’s Day swim 01.01.2017 Broadstairs Beach, Isle of Thanet, Kent

New Year's Day, Broadstairs

New Year’s Day, Broadstairs

Wedding Dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping…so much fun

Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England

visit the isle of wight

A visit to the isle of Wight

Places I went while I was there; Nettlestone (1086 Domesday Book village),20170116_144130-01 Bembridge Windmilll, Brading Roman Villa, Carisbrooke Castle, Cowes, Ryde, rode on a Hover craft, The Needles and Quarr Abbey.

And Osborne House


Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick Park, London

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

February
Oxted, Surrey – the Greenwich Meridian runs through the town

Oxted

A closer look at Oxted

Limpsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

Down House – home of Charles Darwin

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Tatsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

tatsfield surrey

South East England’s highest village; Tatsfield. Ref wikipedia: “In Anglo-Saxon England, Tatsfield lay within Tandridge hundred. In 1086 it was held by Anschitill (Ansketel) de Ros from the Bishop of Bayeux. Its Domesday assets were: ? hide. It had 2 ploughs. It rendered 60 shillings (£3) to its feudal overlords per year.”

Tandridge & Crowhurst, Surrey

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Dublin, Ireland

 

Trim Castle & Trim, Ireland

March
City of Winchester, Hampshire, England

Winchester

Winchester

Torquay, seaside resort – Devon

torquay

Torquay

April

Pisa, Florence, San Gimignano, Poggibonsi, Sienna, Lucca – Italy

 

May

Newcastle, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Belfast, Northern Ireland

 

Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

Dark Hedges – Game of Thrones, N. Ireland

the dark hedges northern ireland

The Dark Hedges – scenes for Game of Thrones were shot in this area

Sevenoaks, Kent, England

 

June
Tonbridge, Kent, England

Ironbridge, Shropshire, England – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lenham, Kent, England

Lenham

Lenham

July
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route – Southwark to Canterbury

Battle of Britain Airshow, Headcorn

St Augustine’s Way – Ramsgate to Canterbury

August
Arundel, and Arundel Castle, West Sussex, England

Bromham, Houghton House with my lovely friends Lynne & Tim and Elstow (birthplace of John Bunyan) – Bedfordshire, England

Bronham, Houghton House, Elstow

Bromham, Houghton House, Elstow

Zip Line with Zip World in London with my daughter

September
Walked the Caminho Portuguese – Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain 240 kms – Both UNESCO World Heritage sites

Coimbra, Portugal – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

October
Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

November
Caernarfon Castle, Wales – site where Prince Charles was crowned Prince of Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway Line Train ride; Caenarfon to Portmadogg through Snowdonia

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Porthmadogg, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Portmadogg, Wales

Climbed Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd – highest mountain in Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Montgomery, Powys, Wales – The Treaty of Montgomery was signed 29 September 1267 in Montgomeryshire. By this treaty King Henry III of England acknowledged Llywelyn ap Gruffudd as Prince of Wales.

Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery, Wales

December
Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Christmas in Broadstairs, Isle of Thanet, Kent

xmas 2017

Christmas 2017 with my delightful family

And in total, between 01.01.2017 & 31.12.2017 I have walked well over 1100 miles.

What an extraordinary year; 2017.IMG_20171231_100927_404

p.s. Days 14-30 Days of Gratitude will follow shortly….I eventually ran out of time 😉

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Before setting off on my adventure I did some research into the history of St Augustine and the journey between Ramsgate and Canterbury. It has been super fascinating to find out more about Augustine and the era he arrived in England, and of course the walk itself revealed so many amazing places…I long to just do it again. The churches in particular are just fantastic.

About St Augustine: Augustine was born in the first 3rd of the 6th century and probably died 26 May 604. He was a Benedictine monk who, in the year 597, became the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Augustine was the prior of a monastery in Rome when Pope St Gregory the Great chose him in 595 to lead a mission, aka as ‘the Gregorian mission’, to Britain to convert King Æthelberht and his Kingdom of Kent from Anglo-Saxon paganism to Christianity. After many dangers and difficulties by land and sea Augustine landed at last on the shores of Richborough near Ebbsfleet on the Isle of Thanet in AD 597. Successful in his endeavour, his legacy is with us still today throughout art, culture, legal systems, music, and more. He is considered the “Apostle to the English” and a founder of the English Church. The church in Ramsgate, built by Augustus Pugin, is also the shrine of St Augustine of England. The shrine at Ramsgate houses a relic of St Augustine’s bone.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

As you can imagine, thelandscape has changed dramatically since 597 when Augustine landed at Richborough. For one thing the Wantsum Channel, after silting up and becoming un-navigable has since been covered over and is now just a small stream. If I’d had to walk from Minster to Canterbury then, I’d have gotten my feet rather wet LOL

About the shrine and Pugin: Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852) had a particular fascination with St Augustine after whom he was named. In 1843 Pugin bought a cliff-side property in Ramsgate nearby Ebbsfleet – ‘close to the spot where blessed Austin landed’. He first built a family home, ‘the Grange’, and then a personal church dedicated to Augustine. Augustus Pugin and his family are buried in the church.  In 1848 it was the venue for the first High Mass on Thanet since the Reformation.

The Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate

The Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate

More about the route: 19.1 miles – usually comfortably walked over 2 days. It can be done over one day; but certainly NOT by me!!!

Domesday Book villages along the way: 3 – Minster, Stourmouth, Fordwich and of course Canterbury…although I’ve visited there a number of times so I didn;t count it in for this walk. So 3 new places to add to Project 101. 🙂 There are quite a few other Domesday Book villages nearby the route but despite my intentions I didn’t get to visit…frankly…after walking all those miles I was absolutely NOT interested in diverting and adding more miles….so those places will have to wait for when I have access to a car!! Habitations in most areas of the late 11th century England followed an ancient pattern of isolated farms, hamlets and tiny villages interspersed with fields and scattered over most of the cultivatable land. Domesday Book

Stop 1. St Augustine’s Shrine – Ramsgate – the Shrine of St Augustine built by Augustus Pugin, this magnificent personal church and burial place is dedicated to his patron St Augustine. On 1st March 2012, the church became the official shrine commemorating the coming of the Gospel to the Anglo-Saxon peoples. Augustine and his group of forty monks were invited to Canterbury and through their holy lives, miracles and preaching converted 10,000 souls, as well as King Ethelbert who allowed Augustine to build a monastery and establish a cathedral church.

Stop 2. St Augustine’s CrossCliffs End stands close to the site at which an important meeting between St Augustine and King Æthelberht of Kent is said to have taken place nearly 1,500 years ago, and preached his first sermon to our own countrymen. The 19th century cross of Saxon design marks what is traditionally thought to have been the site of St Augustine’s landing on the shores of England in AD 597. Accompanied by 30 followers, Augustine is said to have held a mass here before moving on. Thus he happily planted the Christian faith, which spread with speed throughout the whole of England.

Stop 3. Minster Abbey, Minster – It was just a short distance from the present site of Minster Abbey, that within a few years of Augustine’s arrival on the shores of Thanet, Christianity had spread throughout southern England, and monastic life began to flourish. St. Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury and together with his monks established a monastery there.

Minster was a royal foundation; its foundress and first abbess was Ermenburga or Domneva, a great-granddaughter of King Ethelbert of Kent.
The name Minster is derived from the first “mynster” or monasterium/ monastery built on the site of the Parish Church of St.  Mary the Virgin by Domneva in 670 AD.  Her daughter Mildred became the second Abbess.  She was one of the best loved Anglo-Saxon Saints and patron of Thanet. The monastery was repeatedly attacked and eventually destroyed during Viking raids of the 9th & 10th Centuries, the foundations of which were uncovered during excavations in the late 1930’s.

An East grange was built to accommodate guests and those on pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury, while the south wing of the Abbey was added within a 100 years of the Norman Conquest in 1066, this “Norman Wing” also remains standing. Minster Abbey is considered to be possibly the oldest inhabited house in the country, and home to the monks for over 500 years. During the reformation the monks were forced to leaveand it passed into private hands. The Benedictine community of St Walburga in Bavaria, re-established Monastic Life at Minster Abbey in 1937 and once again the Abbey became a place of prayer and dedication to God.

Stop 4. St Mary’s Church, Minster – St. Mary’s Church, known as the ‘Cathedral on the marshes’ founded in 670AD was originally both a monastic and a parish church, and is the mother church of western Thanet. In bygone days the sea would have come up to the Churchyard wall which acted as a barrier during high tides. The turret may have served as a watch tower for shipping. The first Church was probably built of mud and wood. The oldest part of the present building was built just after the Norman conquest with work continuing for about 100 years. The Chancel is Early English in style. The nave has stood in its present form since about 1150.
The Church has a set of 18 mediaeval monks stalls (Misericords), which is one of the finest in the south of England.

I absolutely loved this church, so beautiful and serene it seems to float above the trees….quite apt since it was known as the cathedral on the marshes.

Stop 5. All Saints, West Stourmouth – A Grade I listed building, the church stands in the settlement of West Stourmouth, some 4 miles (6 km) north of Wingham. The main fabric in the church is Saxon with alterations made in the late 12th century. The church was damaged in an earthquake in 1382, and subsequently rebuilt. In the chancel there’s a brass dated 1472!! Windows were replaced in the 14th and 15th centuries and the church was restored in 1845, when the seating was reorganised. The royal arms of George III can be seen in the church. It has been redundant since 1979.

Another stunning little church, I spent a very happy hour there just enjoying the serenity. It was also raining so the shelter was most welcomed.

I stayed overnight at The Rising Sun Inn Stourmouth. “Originally a bakery owned and worked by the Monks of the Diocese of Canterbury, the first part of the building was erected in 1372 during the reign of Edward III. An absolutely wonderful location in the heart of the Kent countryside.

Stop 6. Stodmarsh Nature Reserve – The name Stodmarsh is derived from the Saxon words “stode”, meaning mare, and “merse”, a marsh, demonstrating its former use of pasture for cattle among the marshes.
This was probably one of my favourite sections of the walk….mile on mile of marshlands beneath blue skies and fluffy white clouds floating above. It was incredibly peaceful and I saw about 5 people in the whole time it took to cross. The reserve has the largest reed bed in the south east of England, which supports a range of specialised birds and insects. The reed beds are an excellent sanctuary for migrating birds such as swallows and house martins in the summer and starlings in the winter. Bittern, marsh harrier, kingfisher, great crested grebe, coot, moorhen, reed bunting, bearded reedling can all be seen. The reserve supports a large variety of invertebrates (including dragonflies and moths) and rare plants. It also has a strong population of water voles. Stodmarsh has over 6 kilometres of footpaths, including a circular walk around the whole site. There are short and long easy access ‘sensory’ trails at the Stodmarsh end of the reserve.

Stop 7. St Mary’s Church, Stodmarsh – The church, dedicated to St Mary is small and consists of a single aisle and chancel; first built in the 12th and 13th centuries. Originally part of the possessions of the abbey at Canterbury, it remained so until 1243, when the abbot Robert, at the insistence of archdeacon Simon de Langton, granted it to the hospital of poor priests in Canterbury, together with four acres of Stodmarsh, on the condition that they should not demand in future any tithes from the abbey. 

Stop 8. Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich – The church, dating from the Norman era, stands near the centre of Fordwich, some 3 miles (5 km) northeast of Canterbury. There is some Saxon material in the nave, while the chancel and north aisle were added in the 12th century. During the 13th century the chancel was extended and the west tower was built. In the 14th century the windows in the south wall of the church were inserted and box pews were added in the 18th century, and the church floored with tiles. Sadly the church closed in 1995, but it is open for visitors. In the north aisle is a large block of limestone standing about 5.5 feet (1.7 m) high, carved to give the appearance of a tomb. Dating from about 1100, it is considered to be the former shrine of a saint. It is not known how long it had been in the church but it was moved from the church to Canterbury Cathedral in 1760, and subsequently returned to Fordwich in 1877. It is considered that it may have been part of the shrine of Saint Augustine of Canterbury.

Stop 9. St Martin’s Church, Canterbury – the first base of St Augustine when he came to Canterbury in 597. The Church of St Martin in Canterbury, England, situated slightly beyond the city centre, is the first church founded in England, the oldest parish church in continuous use and the oldest church in the entire English-speaking world. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that I managed somehow to end up visiting this church. Although it was securely locked, I did get to walk around the grounds for a few minutes and rested there before my final push into Canterbury.

St Martin’s Church was the private chapel of Queen Bertha of Kent in the 6th century before Augustine arrived from Rome. Considered to be the oldest Church in the English speaking world still used for worship, and has been for over 1,400 years. It was here that Queen Bertha welcomed Augustine, who with his 40 companions, set up his mission when he arrived from Rome in 597AD to convert the Saxons. Here they remained until King Ethelbert granted him the land for the abbey and the cathedral which, with St Martin’s, now form the Canterbury World Heritage Site. For this reason it is sometimes called the first church of the Anglican Communion, and forms part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site. Shortly before 1844, a hoard of gold coins which may date from the late 6th century was found in the churchyard, one of which is the Liudhard medalet, which bears an image of a diademed figure with a legend referring to Liudhard.

The other two parts are Canterbury Cathedral which is where my walk ended and St Augustine’s Abbey, which I am yet to visit.

http://www.martinpaul.org/architecturalhistory.htm

Stop 10. Canterbury – Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is the destination for those who travel along the pilgrim paths from Winchester and Rochester. It is also the beginning of the route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain and the Via Francigena to Rome.

The Way of St Augustine

The Way of St Augustine

Medieval pilgrimage: a pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place connected with the stories of the bible. People have made pilgrimages for centuries and thousands still do so today, but it was especially popular in the medieval period. Early churches were built over the tombs of saints. The bodies and relics of saints, famous miracle-working images and statues , and holy wells, all attracted pilgrims. Apart from major holy cities such as Rome and Jerusalem, there were many thousands of major and minor pilgrimages sites across Europe and hundreds in England.

Why is Canterbury so important?Canterbury is where St Augustine, who reconverted parts of southern England to Christianity founded his cathedral in 597 AD. The cathedral always attracted pilgrims as a special holy place, but it was only after the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170 that large numbers of pilgrims began to come to Canterbury. Canterbury has one of the largest collections of holy relics; bones, clothes and other items associated with saints in England. Most pilgrims only visited Canterbury once in their lives, so it was important to make it as memorable an experience as possible. Pilgrims, then as now, liked to take a souvenir of their journey, and Canterbury had many different badges that could be bought in the town, and which would identify the wearer as a pilgrim to Thomas Becket’s shrine. 

St Augustine’s Abbey: Although I didn’t get to visit this particular site due to the fact that I somehow ended up on the Roman Road into Canterbury and thus visited St Martin’s Church instead, I am planning to visit at some stage after my Camino de Santiago….so more on that later. I have however visited in the past, but the next visit will have more meaning after having done the walk.

St Augustine’s Abbey was a Benedictine monastery in Canterbury, and marked the rebirth of Christianity in southern England. Founded shortly after AD 597 by St Augustine, it was originally created as a burial place for the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent. For two centuries after its founding, St Augustine’s was the only important religious house in the kingdom of Kent. It is now part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site, along with Canterbury  Cathedral and St Martin’s Church. The abbey functioned as a monastery until its dissolution in 1538 during the English Reformation

The Conduit House at St Augustine’s Abbey; dates from the mid-12th century. A roughly octagonal masonry tank is now divided by an 18th century chalk and brick wall. Four tunnelled openings and three smaller ducts, which collect water from springs, lead into the tank. Water was delivered from here to the abbey by a lead pipe 75cm (3 inches) in diameter running from the western side of the structure. The pipe may have led to a water tower at the abbey, which would have fed smaller tanks in the kitchen, infirmary and other parts of the monastic complex.

Thanks for reading this far…I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about one of England’s many saints. 😉

To read more about my walk

Day 1 The Way of St Augustine Ramsgate to Stourmouth 

Day 2 The Way of St Augustine Stourmouth to Canterbury

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I’ve split Day 3 – Rochester to Faversham into two parts due to the length of the journey and also because in reality, the day was split in two when my phone crashed in Sittingbourne.

16:05 – Rochester to Sittingbourne 10 Hours and 45 minutes on the road  – Walked  23.82 kms (14.89 miles)

I had to be very sparing with my phone/camera now since I didn’t want to run out of battery power and the photos (fortunately?) lessened 😦

Marching on with no further stops of any substance, at 16:46 I reached another direction bollard – 13 miles to Canterbury. Geez Louise! Come on, I’m tired and I’d only done 2 miles in 40 minutes!!

day 3 rochester to faversham

13 miles to Canterbury…so how far to Faversham?

I trudged on, my feet getting steadily more achy and painful; I was hobbling by then rather than walking. Passing Bapschild and Teynham and in due course Ospringe where I passed a house with a plaque that said ‘Pilgrims Rest’….ahhh yes, how marvellous that would be…a rest. 🙂

day 3 rochester to faversham

Rochester to Faversham – a pilgrim needs rest

But for now it was a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and just focusing on getting to Faversham.

day 3 - faversham

Andddd finally!!! at 18:09 I reached a signboard that said: FAVERSHAM!!! Hoorahh.

Only guess what? It had started to rain, earlier on I’d discovered 2 massive blisters on the pad of my right foot and 1 on the heel of my left foot (remember those wet socks I mentioned?) and it was, despite the excitement of seeing the sign-board, still another 3 kms before I actually reached Faversham proper. LOL

I stumbled along in the rain, desperately wanting warmth and food and a bed. It was to be another 45 minutes before I finally stumbled across the entrance and into the dry and warmth of The Sun Inn in Faversham 🙂

pluviophile a lover of rain

Today I’m not a pluviophile LOL

The look on the faces of the management and patrons was most amusing…Lord knows I was a mess…my hair sticking up, soaked to the skin, dripping water everywhere, rain running down my glasses, gasping for breath; I looked something akin to a drowned rat.

The lass behind the bar took one look and rolled up a huge wad of mopping up paper and handed it to me to dry off. I really was soaked to the skin.

geoffrey chaucer canterbury tales pilgrims route to canterbury

a sketch of Geoffrey Chaucer as he may have looked on his route to Canterbury

Whilst walking I had switched on my phone again and messaged my daughter to say that I was almost in Faversham, that I had blisters and that it was raining….”get a taxi Mother!!” she implored. But no, I really wanted to complete the walk, after all I’m sure to encounter rain on the Camino and I’m quite positive that Chaucer didn’t have the luxury of calling a cab!!

And of course as mentioned in an earlier blog, I’d posted my rain poncho home the day before LOL

 

Before I reached Faversham proper I had quite a few hills to climb, metaphorically and physically. Could I do this? I really didn’t want to quit. It was a matter of determination now to see this through to the end and it felt like I would be quitting and failing if I didn’t just carry on walking.

As it is, if I had called a cab, I would have missed Ospringe which is one of the stops on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route. There I saw the most amazing building! Ospringe Maison Dieu (hospital) founded in the 13th century; commissioned by Henry III in 1234, to look after pilgrims and travellers on the road from London to Canterbury or Dover. It’s no longer a hospital and is managed by English Heritage, but how thrilling to discover a building that was definitely in existence at the time of The Canterbury Tales 🙂 Just wow. As it was by then very late, clearly I couldn’t visit but it’s on my list of places to visit again…when I have access to a car LOL. I am not walking again….(for now anyway).

Maison Dieu, Ospringe - Day 3 Rochester to Faversham

Maison Dieu, Ospringe – Day 3 Rochester to Faversham

Once I had been checked in and paid my bill I was shown to my room. I had booked to stay at The Sun Inn due to the age of the place and didn’t really have high expectations for the room; expecting a small room with a tiny ensuite, my jaw hit the floor as the Manager opened the door….”OMG is this my room?” Yes, so it was.

The Sun Inn, Faversham - Day 3 Rochester to Faversham

The Sun Inn, Faversham – Day 3 Rochester to Faversham

It was enormous with the most amazing bed I had ever seen. The bathroom was huge, way bigger than even my bedroom at home with a bath that was just waiting to be filled to the brim with steaming hot water and lots and lots and lots of bubbles 🙂 And so it was. I just floated and floated…luxuriating in the heavenly heat and warmth. And as amazing as this room was, it wasn’t even the feature room…check this out!! Woww

I stuffed my very wet clothes into the tumble dryer and then, bathed, dressed and refreshed I loped off downstairs for dinner; a humungeous piece of battered cod and chips with mushy peas. I seem to have made a habit of that meal; the 3rd in 4 days LOL

I returned upstairs after my delicious meal and without further ado climbed into bed and snuggled down to sleep…..can I just stay here forever?

18:54 – Sittingbourne to Faversham – Walked 12.85 kms (8.06 miles) – 3 hours & 01 minutes

Day 4 – After a really wonderful nights sleep I rose at about 8:30 and went down for breakfast. So thrilling to have slept in an inn that was built in the 14th century!! The Sun Inn at Faversham – “with a tale to tell that dates back to the 14th century, the inn oozes history, charm and character“…or so the website says 😉 I wonder, since it’s a 14th century inn, whether Chaucer stayed there perhaps? I’d love to think he did… I can highly recommend this venue  http://www.sunfaversham.co.uk/

Rochester to Faversham – Total walked 36.67 kms (23.54 miles) – 13 hours & 35 minutes

I had, taking my by then substantial blisters into account, as well as my exhaustion after the previous day’s marathon walk, decided to postpone the finale to Canterbury for the end of the month. Instead of staggering the final 9.1 miles onto Canterbury with the massive blisters and incurring further damage, after relaxing over my meal, I once again hefted Pepe onto my back and set off for the train station…I would be using a 7000 horse-powered form of transport to get to Canterbury….my feet were quite unable to complete the 9+ miles that day!

It was bliss, less than 40 minutes and I was there! Canterbury; at last!

arriving in Canterbury

arriving in Canterbury – not quite the entrance I had planned, but a stunning day anyway

I met up with my lovely daughter, who despite being quite ill, joined me at the Falstaff Hotel for the planned afternoon tea (thank you sweetheart, it was much appreciated 😉 )

Arriving at Canterbury - Afternoon Cream Tea at The Falstaff Inn, Canterbury

Arriving at Canterbury – Afternoon Cream Tea at The Falstaff Inn, Canterbury

We chatted, she took photos for me and I postponed my visit to the Cathedral and having my Pilgrim’s Passport stamped until such time as I actually completed the journey which took place on the 29th July after my next assignment.

southwark to canterbury in the footsteps of chaucer

All being well….. I’ll complete the #SouthwarktoCanterbury

After we had finished our tea, I walked my daughter to the station and saw her off on the train to home. She had really made a huge effort to be there for me and unfortunately got really ill on the train 😦

Meanwhile I slipped back up to my room, too tired to even consider exploring much as I was yearning to do just that. Not as luxurious or amazing as my room at The Sun Inn, it was still lovely and I so enjoyed the comfy bed and a long hot shower.

pilgrimage southwark to canterbury

Canterbury is so amazing and again it’s one of those places where no matter how many times you visit, there is always something new to discover. After a really good night’s sleep I checked out and set off once again for the station; destination: home! I spent the day with my daughter and then with reluctance and resistance to carrying Pepe any further I made my way to the station and back to Tonbridge where I was to spend the night before starting work again the next day.

a beautiful horse sculpture in front of Tonbridge Castle

a beautiful horse sculpture in front of Tonbridge Castle

What an adventure – Southwark to Faversham: 3 days; 95 kms (59.38 miles). 162+k steps; 9 Domesday Book villages (some now towns or cities); 1 UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Footnote: On further research I’ve found that Teynham is also a Domesday Book village: The name Teynham [Teneham 798, Therham 1086 (Domesday Book), Taenham, Taeneham, Tenham, Teneham c 1100 (Domesday Monachorum). Possibly ‘homestead of a man called Tena” or ‘homestead near the stream called Tene‘.  I’m guessing a 2nd visit is in order then!

I completed Day proper on the 29th July 2017 – Faversham to Canterbury…..post to follow.

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