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Archive for March 10th, 2011

So 12th February was the start of my big adventure, the start of my Canterbury Tales along the Pilgrim’s Route.
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” Jawaharial Nehru
Following in the footsteps of Chaucer, I had decided to visit all the places in Southwark, that were around in his day.  I was chomping at the bit to get going.  I have already been to most of these places in the past, (recent past that is, not a previous life’s past!), but thought that for the sake of the blog, I should revisit them. (p.s. it has taken me 18 hours to put this blog together!! So for the sake of my sanity….please read the whole thing! 🙂 )
Discussing the adventure the day before with my Social Media Strategist, Cémanthe, of @NewMediaAngels, she suggested that I tweet about my trip and use the hashtag #njgtravels.  What a great idea!  Of course I can then use that hashtag for the next leg of the journey too which starts on April 3rd 2011.  At that stage I plan to start from Greenwich and over the week with a bit of luck and lots of walking…….reach Canterbury. Hhmmm!!
For now I would only be doing the first two stages of Chaucer’s journey; Deptford and Greenwich.

geoffrey chaucer canterbury tales pilgrims route to canterbury

probable route that Chaucer followed to Canterbury

Since this is the only map that I have been able to find so far, I am going to assume that this was his route and follow it. ( pic via httpfaculty.arts.ubc.casechard346map.htm).  The names of the villages were apparently all mentioned in his Canterbury Tales, so one can assume that one way or the other, he visited them on the way. And so will I 🙂
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1342-1400) wrote The Canterbury Tales between 1387 and 1400, about half a century before Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. The first copies of Chaucer’s work were handwritten. William Caxton (1422-1491), the first printer in England, published two editions of The Canterbury Tales, one in the late 1470’s and one in the early 1480’s.

geoffrey chaucer canterbury tales pilgrims route to canterbury

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

The last few days have been great fun, doing research on google (to which I am totally addicted), and finding out more about Chaucer and the Pilgrim’s route from London. (pic of Chaucer via telegraph.co.uk)
Also being able to visit buildings that were around in his day…..611+ years ago!!!….is just awesome beyond words.  One of the reasons I love London so much is for that very reason…the history that stretches back over 2,000 years ago till well before the Romans even got here.

roman soldier museum of london london museum

pic of a Roman soldier – taken at the Museum of London (the best museum ever!)

So starting in Southwark – Visitors to the area included individuals such as Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, King Henry VIII, Sir Francis Drake, Geoffrey Chaucer and many others.
These are some of the places I have found so far:
London Bridge – in Chaucer’s day (14th C): Late Mediaeval: the Peter de Colechurch Bridge – There was a Stone Gate House on the bridge and on its roof stood poles where traitors’ heads were placed. This practice started in 1304 and continued until 1678.  In the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell’s head was placed on one of the poles.
Southwark Cathedral – a place of worship on this site since 606AD –  a medieval priory which today has become Southwark Cathedral.
Winchester Palace – the remains/ruins of a 12th century palace, London residence of the Bishops of Winchester.
The Clink Prison – 1144-1780 now a museum – The Clink Prison Museum is built upon the original site of the Clink Prison which dates back to 1144 making it one of England’s oldest, if not the oldest Prison.  Now a museum (great fun for a visit)

Saint George the Martyr Church on Borough High Street – a church that was in existence during the 14th Century and before. The earliest reference to this church is in the Annals of Bermondsey Abbey, which claims that the church was given by Thomas de Ardern and Thomas his son in 1122.
and of course The George Inn – in it’s present incarnation, having gone through a number of fires over the years, and rebuilt.  The George Inn was situated next door to the Tabard Inn from whence Chaucer commenced his journey to Canterbury.

Now, onwards with the journey…..I have listed the tweets I made in chronological order and will write my blog/s around that.  There was so much I did and so many things I saw, that I am sure one blog will not be sufficient…..so I am going to break it up into sections and post them that way so as not to make it too long, but at the same time give you the full picture….so many brilliant places to see and learn about.  And despite my having travelled extensively around London, I have not yet fully explored this area.  It is as full of history as The City of London and Westminster….(little did I know at this stage just what I would find 🙂 )

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
13:41 my big adventure starts today http://ht.ly/3VaUT – will do updates on #njgtravels – am very excited 🙂
13:47 whoo hoo…time for the big adventure to start. Southwark 1st this afternoon & evening, then #Greenwich tomorrow. tweets under #njgtravels
I finally set off at 14:50 heading for the bus stop and as I got there I sent this tweet:
14:56 oh!? Right. Gr8 start! Its hailing. WHEN does it EVER hail in #London? Geez! Hahaha #njgtravels
So there I stood at the bus stop in the hail and rain, a precusor of the what to expect on the morrow?! Like Chaucer I had to change carriages and whilst waiting for the next bus further along the route (and I hadn’t even arrived in London proper yet!) I sent this tweet:
15:05 OKAY! So now its raining AND the sun is shining? Is this some sort of weird send off or what? 🙂 #njgtravels

twitter social media

I noticed this advert at a bus stop and could’nt believe what I read 🙂

I had a few things to do and places to go before I got to my point of departure and along the way….. Finally…….
15:58 ah ha! Now wer’e talking! Sun shining, blue skies, puffy white clouds. next stop #london bridge 🙂 hope its still standing! #njgtravels
Finally after what seemed like ages I arrived at London Bridge Station and started my journey! First stop London Bridge.
16:55 its still standing after all this time….yeah yeah yeah! #london bridge 🙂 #njgtravels
London Bridge: in it’s present incarnation is about the 8th bridge on this site, the first being in AD80.

london bridge

London Bridge – still standing after all this time

From the bridge I crossed the road towards Southwark Cathedral.

southwark cathedral priory winchester palace

just off London Bridge; Southwark Cathedral

The cathedral is quite awesome and although it sits below street level from London Bridge, is no less imposing for that. The interior of the cathedral is overwhelmingly beautiful and I look forward to exploring it more fully again in the future when I have more time. From there I walked the short distance to Clink Street on my way passing the replica of The Golden Hinde berthed at Pickford’s Wharf. (The Golden Hinde is a full-sized reconstruction of the Tudor warship in which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world in 1577 – 1580.)

the golden hinde southwark drakes galleon

the Golden Hinde – a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s galleon

Although this was not around in Chaucer’s time the area definitely was.  The next stop on my walk was Winchester Palace, the ruins of which show the remains of the Great Hall and the now famous ‘Rose Window’. (It is believed that the great hall was built c.1136 and that the rose window was added 200 years later).

winchester palace bishops of winchester southwark cathedral clink prison

the famous Rose Window added 200 years later….note the 3 doors mid-way up

(The remains of Winchester Palace showing the Rose Window and the three doors to the buttery, pantry and kitchen.)
By now the sun had started to sink below the horizon and as you may or may not know, being winter our days are quite short, and it was getting dark.  The lamps lining Clink Street came on, creating pools of light and chasing the shadows away, lending to the atmosphere of days gone by.  Southwark Bridge looked ethereal in the fading light.

southwark bridge london england, river thames london

Southwark Bridge looking ethereal at dusk, St Paul’s dome on the horizon

My next stop was the Clink Prison (this is where the phrase “in the clink” was coined).  Here I met the gaoler man!  Fortunately he let me off lightly and did a quick pose for my benefit.  I then retraced my steps to Borough High Street (Before the building of Westminster Bridge, Borough High Street was the only connection to London north of the river, from the south, a major communications node for traffic between London and Portsmouth, Dover, south-east England generally and also travellers from Europe.)

borough high street southwark route to dover and southeast england

now a bustling, thriving area – Borough High Street

Borough is now a thriving cosmopolitan area of London.
and onto Saint George the Martyr:  – The present church is believed to be the 3rd on this site. 1) a Norman church of unknown appearance, replaced at the end of the 14th C by a church with a bell tower; demolished 1734. The church was rebuilt in a Classical style to the designs of John Price between 1734 and 1736. I explored the perimeter of the church and on finding a gate open on the southeast side of the church, (I am quite unable to ignore an open door or gate)….I ventured within the grounds of the church.  Down a short flight of stairs I noticed…..an open door on the east side 🙂  I quietly slipped inside and to my delight, on the wall across the room was this gorgeous stained glass window.

madonna and child saint george the martyr stained glass windows 3days in london

Madonna & Child stained glass window inside Saint George the Martyr Church

I noticed that the graveyard was still open so stepped inside for a quick look….it was very dark so I didn’t go far from the gate!  This area has links with Charles Dickens as well.   Making my way back to Borough High Street I turned towards the river once again for my next stop; The George Inn; where I planned on having a meal before my adventure the following day.
18:20 at The George Inn, 12th C rebuilt 1677 frequented by Chaucer, Shakespeare Dickens et al & now me #london 🙂 its jam packed! #njgtravels
With no idea what Chaucer may have eaten, although he probably ate meat of some sort. (I found this little ditty on the internet).
‘A Cook they hadde with hem for the nones,
To boille the chicknes with the mary-bones
And poudre-marchant tart, and galingale.
Wel coude he knowe a draughte of London ale.
He coulde roste, and sethe, and broille, and frye
Maken mortreux, and wel bake a pye.
But greet harm was it, as it thoughte me,
That on his shine a mormal hadde he
For blankmanger, that made he with the beste.’
Translated into current English:
A cook they had with them, just for the nonce,
To boil the chickens with the marrow-bones,
And flavour tartly and with galingale.
Well could he tell a draught of London ale.
And he could roast and seethe and broil and fry,
And make a good thick soup, and bake a pie.
But very ill it was, it seemed to me,
That on his shin a deadly sore had he;
For sweet blanc-mange, he made it with the best.
Mediaeval blancmange was a type of moulded dish of either chicken or fish cooked in rice with almond milk.  I chose fish and chips, a good old fashioned British meal….. or is it???

chaucers canterbury tales, fish and chips at the george inn southwark london, national trust properties, british traditions

mmmm…..yummy fish and chips with mushy peas

I tucked in with gusto whilst observing my fellow taverners (not sure if that is even a word), but hey, in the spirit of Chaucer…..I too can create a story! (Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, a collection of stories in a frame story, between 1387 and 1400) The Inn was packed with diners, bursts of loud raucous laughter raised the beams and merry-makers doth abound!
18:56 mmm! Fish delicious. Chips ok. Mushy peas – psychedelic green! 🙂 at The George Inn Southwark #njgtravels
As a kind of after thought, I sent this tweet:
19:01 earlier i walked past Southwark Cathedral, Winchester Palace, the Clink Prison & St George the Martyr Church. #njgtravels
My next tweet conveyed my delight:
19:08 this Inn awesome. Gives me a thrill to sit here trying to imagine what it was like in Chaucers day, or Shakespeare or Dickens! #njgtravels
I cannot even begin to describe how it feels to walk, sit or stand in places that have a history linked to some of our most famous figures.  Imagine if Dickens or Shakespeare had sat in the very corner where I was sitting!

william shakespeare george inn southwark london, national trust property

William Shakespeare, he who frequented the George Inn

Mind-boggling.  My appetite satiated, my meal cleared away and my refreshment keeping my blood warm (Bailey’s on ice), I decided to head on home.  It was my intention to start off early the next morning and catch the sunrise over the city from London Bridge, much like Chaucer had done (I expect). I then sent this tweet:
19:12 right! Time to saddle up my horse & head on home. Early to bed for an early rise! #njgtravels
After exploring the Inn’s upper levels and checking out the restaurant I discovered on the galleried section,

george inn southwark london, national trust property, charles dickens, william shakespeare

the upper level of the galleries of the George Inn, Southwark

having a look up and down stairs, I headed off into the night. It was quite dark by now and I wondered what the night would have looked like at the time Chaucer set out on his pilgrimage. I have searched through dozens of articles about Chaucer and his pilgrimage and to date I have not been able to find out exactly which year he started out, but I did find that he most likely set out in April. “When April comes with its sweet showers…then people long to go on pilgrimages”
Which is just perfect since the next leg of my journey is planned for April 3rd 2011!

part two to follow………….

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