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To Southwark, where, at the start of the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer met with
"Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye
Of sondry folk, by áventure y-falle
In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle..."

Our plan is to follow the road to Canterbury as far as we can in one day. #CTales
The pilgrims head to Canterbury “the hooly blisful martir for to seke, / That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.”

We won’t reach Canterbury, & we have not yet (thank goodness) been “seeke” - but we shall certainly pray to St Thomas along the way that all shall be well.
"Bifil that in that seson on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay
Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage
To Caunterbury with ful devout corage.”
St George’s Church dates to at least the early 12th C, long before Edward III adopted him as a patron saint, making it the oldest church in London to be dedicated to him. Henry V stopped here on his way back from Agincourt. Little Dorrit slept in front of the vestry fireplace.
The definite sense we’re on the right track... #CTales
And so we hit the glamorous tarmac & concrete of the cheapest property on the Monopoly board... #CTales
Here, where a surgery still preserved a trace element of the drovers who used to drive their cattle up from Kent to London, there used to be a toll gate #CTales
"And forth we riden a litel moore than paas
Unto the Wateryng of Seint Thomas.”

Here, where the Neckinger flows under the Old Kent Road & today a Tesco stands, is where the pilgrims draw lots to decide the order they will tell their tales. #CTales
St Thomas a Watering marked the limit of the City of London’s authority. Another stopping point for Henry V coming back from Agincourt, it was also the first stopping point for pilgrims heading to Canterbury. Criminals were exhibited in gibbets by the side of the road.
The inspiration for the Nun’s Priest’s Tale? #CTalee
This is where the veray parfit gentil knight told his tale... #CTales
The former North Peckham Civic Centre, now the Everlasting Arms church, was completed in 1967, & features some splendid murals, illustrating the history of the Old Kent Road - & starting with Chaucer & the #CTales
Also featured: the return of Henry V from Agincourt & Charles II from exile (both were met by the Lord Mayor of London at the Thomas Beckett pub, Jack Cade’s rebellion & a pearly king & queen.
Oooooohhhh, & round the corner...
What used to be the Kentish Drovers & Halfway House dates from 1840 & features England’s longest pub sign: an illustration of the Old Kent Road in more bucolic days. #CTales
Good to see the Winners Temple again, which we last saw when following the line of the river #Peck. This was a major watering stage for cattle drovers coming up to London from Kent.
“Lo Depeford, and it is half-wey pryme.”
[ie 7.30 am] [[It’s actually 7.47 am]]

This is where - to quote Procul Harum - the Miller told his tale.
The last view the pilgrims would have had of London. Blackheath, where Wat Tyler & his men had gathered during the Peasants’ Revolt - mentioned in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale - stretches ahead. #CTales
“Lo Grenewych, ther many a shrewe is inne.”

(Greenwich is where Chaucer was probably living while writing the #CTales, so who knows what bust ups lay behind that little outburst?)
Here the Reeve told his tale... #CTales
8 miles gone! #CTales
Kent! #CTales
Smale foweles maken melodye... #CTales
Thanne stopped we for a nutte of dow #CTales
Current status: lost in an allegorical wood #CTales
Still lost in an allegorical wood
As threw the woodes of despare we grope,
Behold! the mountain bikers of hope!
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang: we reach Lesnes Abbey, founded in 1178 by Richard de Lucy, variously the ally & enemy of Thomas Beckett, & who after Beckett’s martyrdom dedicated the abbey to him. It was closed, not by Cromwell, but by Wolsey. #CTales
The Parish Church of St. John the Baptist in Erith: founded in the 12th century, supposedly the site of a meeting between John & the barons in the wake of Magna Carta*, & much adorned with stone from Lesnes Abbey.

* There is no actual evidence for this #CTales
We reach the Thames!
The current vibe, it has to be said, is a good deal more Bunyan than Chaucer #CTales
Not the normal setting for a yacht club. #CTales
The yacht club is actually rather fetching. As we head towards Crayford Ness, it abruptly feels like we’ve left London. It’s all much more Iain Sinclair than Geoffrey Chaucer.
Quite tempted to go the full Chaucer & grab one... #CTales
The hidden treasures of the Erith Saltings...
And so, reaching the Dartford Creek, we bid farewell to the Thames & head inland, to Dartford - a celebrated resting place for pilgrims - where we too will rest. Time soon to draw a line under our day spent following Chaucer & his fellow tellers of tales to Canterbury...
The wall of Dartford Priory, founded in 1345, & - until Henry VIII nicked it following its dissolution in 1539 - the only Dominican convent in England.

I dedicate this tweet to @pompei79

Cheers, Mayflower Washroom Solutions, for ruining my communion with History
Henry VIII converted Dartford Priory into an all mod cons manor house, which he then gave to Anne of Cleves after their divorce. All that survives is the gate house. #CTales
Journey’s end. The Royal Victoria & Bull in Dartford was once The Bull, a tavern where pilgrims would regularly stay on their way to Canterbury. This is what we will be doing tonight: some drinks, a meal, a nice night’s sleep in a tavern.*

*not really
Hoping to continue the pilgrimage when times are happier...
Way too tired to tell a tale...
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