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Posts Tagged ‘domesday towns and villages’

As mentioned in a previous post, on Monday I took myself on a walk to complete the ‘twittens’ of Lewes, after which I followed the High Street across the River Ouse to explore the other side of town.

To my absolute delight I found a wee church dedicated to St Thomas a’ Becket. Having just completed The Pilgrim’s Way a few weeks ago, this was wonderful little surprise.

St Thomas a Becket Church, Lewes

Of course I had to do some research and this is what I found ❤❤ Thomas a Becket actually visited Lewes at some stage!!! Oh my gosh just WOW!

St Thomas a Becket at Cliffe is a parish church in Lewes, encompassing the parish of All Saints. Becket was apparently a benefactor and frequent visitor to the nearby Collegiate Church of St Michael the Archangel, just a short walk away, which I visited just a few days ago. Totally weird to think that Thomas a Becket actually walked through the streets of Lewes. I never really associate him with more than Canterbury Cathedral, but of course he must have travelled to any number of cities and towns in England.

Collegiate Church of St Michael the Archangel, Lewes

Cliffe church, originally a chapel of ease of the college of Malling, was built, either…. so it is said, by the direct order of Archbishop Thomas Becket, to whose martyrdom it is dedicated. But it is also suggested that its building was financed by one of Becket’s murderers as a penance for committing an act of sacrilege, or by someone who witnessed the dastardly act but did nothing to prevent it.

St Michael the Archangel

So 3 options exist…I wonder which it is. If you’re interested in learning a wee bit more about the church, here’s a link https://st-thomas-lewes.org.uk/history/

Super awesome to discover Thomas Becket’s connection with Lewes, and completely unexpected.

Now, I really must get on with updating my pilgrimage, completing the 2nd half of the Pilgrim’s Way from Oxted to Canterbury.

It has however been so exciting to explore Lewes and discover her secrets, and I still have a castle and a priory to visit, as well as the north side of town. Oh and let’s not forget the walks I’d still like to do.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested, here’s a link to Day One : Oxted to Otford of The Pilgrim’s Way to Canterbury

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As I’ve mentioned before, in my job I get to travel and work all over the country. I consider myself very lucky to be able to do this, especially during these challenging times when a lot of people are struggling with lockdown and unable to get out much.

Travel is my opiate and I love discovering new places, especially if the history of said place includes a mention in the 1086 Domesday Book, or boasts a castle, or a Roman wall (anything Roman in fact makes me happy), or even just an awesome history. And Lewes has just about all of the above.

I arrived on 9th October which coincidentally was the 19th anniversary of my arrival in the UK and I was immediately smitten.

The narrow cobbled lanes, the quirky high street, and to my delight I spotted 2 very old buildings as we drove up the high street to my next assignment.

I had a choice of 2 bedrooms, either the 1st level, or the 2nd…I chose the 2nd level despite all the stairs because the views across the countryside are absolutely stunning, the hills are enticingly close – and I have a wonderful view of the sunrise…when it’s not raining.

On Saturday during my break I immediately set off to explore and walking along the High Street I first walked through the churchyard of St Anne’s Church. I noticed a row of 12 cast-iron memorials, early19th century; all for the same family, and of 10 children, 9 died before the age of 4 years…the youngest was 4 months old. Only 1 child survived till the age of 38. Heartbreaking. I’ve put a link to the church’s history because its absolutely fascinating.

Next I passed the Old Toll House which stood at the west gate into the city. The gate no longer exists and the toll house on Rotten Row is now a private residence.

I popped in at St Michael’s Church on the High Street but had to admire the interior from behind a thick glass ceiling to floor window. Closed due to Covid-19. Urgh. This damn virus. I love these ancient churches and always welcome an opportunity to visit.

Meandering along I suddenly discovered the castle 😃😃😃 I’d been so enchanted by the old medieval buildings, I’d missed the even older castle. But there it was. Unfortunately I couldn’t enter that day because I had neither mask nor money, but they’re open every Saturday, so next it shall be.

I explored the lanes and back paths on the north side of town and admired the views across the downs. Oh how much I’d love to walk those downs….soon. The autumn colours are just stunning.

I discovered quite by accident the old windmill apparently once owned by Virginia Woolf…awesome. The views of the castle from the back streets on the north side were stunning and I mentally kicked myself for not having money and a mask, the views from the castle ramparts must be stunning!!

From there I meandered along the High Street admiring the old buildings and taking dozens of photos (nothing new there then 🤭🤭) History plaques are attached to many of the buildings and give a fascinating glimpse into the towns varied past.

History plaques

I spotted a banner with a compilation of photos from the famous annual Lewes Bonfire Night event. I immediately kicked myself again 🤪🤪….this was something I’d wanted to witness ever since I read about it some years ago, but forgotten…on further investigation I learned that sadly, it has been cancelled for 2020 due to Covid-19, but I’ll make a note for future. From wikipedia: Lewes Bonfire or Bonfire, for short, describes a set of celebrations held in the town of Lewes, Sussex that constitute the United Kingdom’s largest and most famous Bonfire Night festivities, with Lewes being called the bonfire capital of the world. If you Google Lewes Bonfire videos, you’ll find some extraordinary footage.

I walked past the old Flea Market which looked very interesting and could have done with a bit of a wander, but again….no mask. You’d think that by now I’d be used to wearing a mask and remember to take it with me on my meanderings, but no….🤪🤪

The WW1 & 2 memorial looked absolutely beautiful

I made a brief sortie along the upper parallel lanes of the south side, but didn’t feel like walking back UP the very steep lanes if I went down…tomorrow is another day LOL

On my return to my work location, I hopped on to wikipedia and did some research. To my delight I discovered that Lewes is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book which brings the total number I’ve visited to 147!!! 😃😃

Reading further my curiosity about the ‘twittens’ was piqued. I’d noticed that some of the South side lanes had names like Church Twitten and I was intrigued. I’d never come across the word ‘twitten’ before, and I’ve visited dozens of old villages in the last 12 years.

According to wikipedia: the network of alleyways or ‘twittens’ which run north–south on either side of the High Street date back to Anglo-Saxon times. According to the Dictionary of the Sussex dialect and collection of provincialisms in use in the county of Sussex published in Lewes in 1875. “Twitten is a narrow path between two walls or hedges, especially on hills”. Well, how about that. Fascinating, and I learn something new every day. ☺ jm just amazed I’ve never come across the word before….surely twittens are not unique to Lewes!?

Lewes looks absolutely charming and I’m looking forward to exploring more thoroughly over the next 3 weeks.

A few snippets of history:

The Saxons invaded East Sussex in the 5th century.

Founded in the 6th C, the name Lewes is probably derived from a Saxon word, ‘hluews’ which meant slopes or hills.

In the late 9th C King Alfred made a network of fortified settlements across his kingdom called burhs.

Saxon Lewes was also a busy little town with weekly markets.
In the 10th C it had 2 mints; it was a place of some importance.

At the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 Lewes probably had less than 2,000 inhabitants.

The Normans built a castle to guard Lewes and founded the priory (small abbey) of St Pancras in Lewes.

Lewes was listed as a settlement in the 1086 Domesday Book with a recorded population of 127 households, putting it in the largest 20% of recorded settlements, and is listed under 2 owners.

St. Anne’s is a Grade One Listed Norman Church, on the medieval Pilgrim’s route from Winchester to Canterbury and built with pilgrim money.

In 1148 King Stephen granted Lewes a charter.

In the 13th century Franciscan friars arrived in Lewes.

In 1264 the Battle of Lewes was fought between King Henry III and some rebellious barons led by Simon de Montfort.

In 1537 Henry VIII dissolved the Priory. In 1540 Henry gave Anne of Cleves House to his wife after their divorce – however Anne never lived there.

The plague struck in 1538.

During the reign of Catholic Queen Mary (1553-1558), 17 Protestants from Sussex were martyred in Lewes.

The famous radical, Tom Paine, lived in Lewes from 1768 to 1774.

In 1836 8 people were killed by a snow avalanche.

The railway reached Lewes in 1846.

Lewes, in my opinion is a must visit

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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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