Our Heritage Pilgrimage--or Ghosts in the Closet

Trip Start May 30, 2010
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, July 31, 2010

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour,
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende
The hooly blisful martir for to seke
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

This is what I have been reading all summer long.  And I wonder why my spelling has become atrocious!
At the end of a summer studying Chaucer, it seemed appropriate to make our own pilgrimage to Canterbury--so we got on our horses, went to the Tabard, and then set off for Canterbury with a group of 29 people.
Not really!
I had an ulterior motive in going to County Kent--the Merriam family came from there nearly 400 years ago, and I wondered what it was like.  So, after surprising the boys with a car pickup (instead of riding the bus) from summer camp, we set off early Saturday morning for Kent.  I have to compliment Andy on his map-reading and navigation skills--he began the summer unfamiliar with maps, and now he can plot our way across London on the Tube, can get us around London on the Ring Roads, and can even figure out how to get from village to village on tiny, un-numbered roads!  Bravo!
Our first stop was Tonbridge, for a map--and little did we know, but there was the first castle built by one of William the Conqueror's loyal men, Richard De Clare (1070).  With a detailed map we set off for Hadlow.  Fairly uneventful, but disappointing for the boys, because the town has its own castle, but it is privately owned and closed to the public.
From there we went to Tudeley--and little did we know that this unassuming parish church is now a world-renowned art site.  Marc Chagall created all 12 stained glass windows in his later years.  Looking through the south windows, with their yellows and reds--what an amazing find!
We hustled along to Goudhurst, where our family resided for at least two hundred years, to get lunch at the 400-year-old Star and Eagle Hotel, just next to the parish church.
Little did we know that the church tower is open Saturday afternoons!  Luckily we were having a late lunch, so we climbed to the top of the tower to see the weald of Kent--the famous, ancient oak forest.
Moving along, we went south to Battle, site of the Battle of Hastings.  Go figure!  English Heritage owns the site, which encompasses the nondescript but pretty hill where the actual one-day battle that changed everything for the English took place as well as the abbey ruins which were built to commemorate the battle.  Liam is partial to William (don't know why), so I couldn't convince him that empire-building and invasions were wrong.
Still not done with the day--we have reservations at the Cathedral Gate Hotel in Canterbury, just outside the Cathedral and built in 1438--at least that's when the plumbing was last updated.
Our take on it--there are too many people staying up way too late on a Saturday night getting drunk right outside our window!  But Sunday morning is lovely, as it is quiet and peaceful and we are able to walk around the Cathedral grounds before any crowds arrive.  We decide not to attend a service as Liam is already tired, but instead to go to the Canterbury Tales exhibit in the walled city.  Perfect introduction to Chaucer for children!

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Jenny on

Another exciting Blog! Thanks for sharing and it wont be long before I see you and hear all the stories.

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