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2020 marks an important dual anniversary for the extraordinary figure of Thomas Becket. It will be 850 years since his dramatic murder on the 29 December 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral, and 800 years since his body was moved on the 7 July 1220 from a tomb in the crypt of the cathedral into a glittering shrine
The events of 1220 were orchestrated to relaunch the cult of Becket, and ensured that Canterbury became the principal pilgrimage destination in England and one of the major pilgrimage sites within Europe.
Thomas Becket gave his last sermon at Southwark Cathedral, then set off for Canterbury on the Pilgrim's Way
Leigh Hatts, author of Cicerone's Press Walking the Pilgrims' Way will detail the Pilgrims' Way, the historic pilgrimage route to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, home of the shrine of the martyred archbishop, St Thomas Becket from London's Southwark Cathedral (90¼ miles).
Pilgrimages to Becket's shrine began within a few years of the his death in 1170, although Canterbury was a popular destination even before this time due to the nearby shrine of St Augustine. The route has featured in literature, drama and film, and forms the setting for Geoffrey Chaucer's famous Middle English work, The Canterbury Tales.
After this talk we invite you to join us in the Cathedral which will be open until 9pm where artist Michelle Rumney will be on-hand throughout the evening to talk to visitors about her incredible artwork 'Pilgrimage' which is on display in the Cathedral for Lent. The Cathedral will also be infused with incense and the air will be punctuated by music as we take visitors back to the 12th century.
Leigh Hatts has been walking the Thames towpath and exploring the river and Docklands since 1981, when he worked on the Thames Walk Feasibility Study – which resulted in the Countryside Commission persuading the government to designate the 180-mile route as a national trail.
In addition to writing three Thames books, Leigh spent a decade as author of the London Transport Walks Book series. He also devised the 20-mile Bournemouth Coast Path, which now links the South West Coast Path to the Solent Way to create a 652-mile coast route from Minehead to Emsworth. In addition to a guide to this route, he has written walking books featuring Dorset's coast and countryside and the New Forest.
Leigh has also worked as a reporter for the walkers' magazine TGO.