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Birthday Bash Part Two: Thomas Becket, Eastbridge Hospital, and Pilgrimage

April 20, 2015
Canterbury Cathedral (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Canterbury Cathedral (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Part Two of my belated birthday bash as promised.

As you may or may not be aware, in addition to my love of writing, reading, archaeology, astronomy, and the sciences, I have a passion for history which I share with my siblings, and one in particular, my youngest brother. 

My youngest brother and his partner spoiled me rotten during a fantastic weekend spent with them celebrating my belated birthday.

Part One of my birthday bash found me having a look around Canterbury Cathedral with a special treat;

seeing the tomb of a family ancestor, William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury (1503-1532).

I wrote about our visit to Canterbury Cathedral last time, and I posted photos I took.

William Warham Archbishop of Canterbury 1503-1532 (c) Jane Risdon 2015

William Warham Archbishop of Canterbury 1503-1532 (c) Jane Risdon 2015

We had a fab time wandering around Canterbury, especially the pubs which my brother made a point of taking me in to. 

Those buildings with history and character attached to them, not just because we fancied a drink; 

though we tasted the local ciders too; yummy!

He is a font of knowledge when it comes to places of historical interest. He can tell you where famous people lived or worked, which pubs or restaurants they visited, where they wrote their books or painted, or made a discovery.

  Going anywhere with him is especially fun.  He always manages to find places off the beaten track few know about –

He’s always informative and makes every trip out so very interesting. 

As you know we visited the spot where St. Thomas Becket was murdered on 29th December 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral.  Almost immediately his tomb and the scene of his death became a focus of pilgrimage, and the city therefore found it had to provide accommodation for the large numbers of visitors drawn there.

Chantry Chapel of Our Lady (Eastbridge Hospital) (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Chantry Chapel of Our Lady (Eastbridge Hospital) (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Eastbridge Hospital was founded to meet those needs.

13th century mural (refectory at Eastbridge) (c) Jane Risdon 2015

13th century mural (refectory at Eastbridge) (c) Jane Risdon 2015

We were luck in having the whole place to ourselves as we wandered around.  It was difficult to take photos – they asked that flash was not used which made taking any photos difficult in the gloom.  But I managed a few which I hope you enjoy.

Although there isn’t any firm evidence for the founding date of the hospital, it is most likely, according to records, to have been in existence since about 1176.  Ralph, nephew of Becket, was probably the first Master.

From gifts of lands and money, the Hospital soon became rich, but then it fell out of use after about 150 years.

The Undercroft (Eastbridge Hospital) (c) Jane Risdon 2015

The Undercroft (Eastbridge Hospital) (c) Jane Risdon 2015

It was refounded in 1342 by Archbishop Stratford, and was at its peak in the 1380s when Chaucer was writing his Cantebury Tales.

In the Reformation following the rift between Henry V111 and the Church of Rome, monasteries and places of pilgrimage came under government control, and many were sold off to the rich. 

In 1538, the shrine to St. Thomas was destroyed and the Hospital went into decline,

but in 1584 Archbishop Whitgift made reforms which were protected by Act of Parliament.

The Hospital began to provide accommodation for ten poor people of Canterbury and pay a dole to ten more.

Original ceiling beams in Eastbridge Hospital (c) Jane Risdon 2015

The complex structure of oak beams in the ceiling is called a bell cage, and the sanctus inside was cast in 1727 – Eastbridge Hospital (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Shelter and care for wounded soldiers passing through Canterbury also had to be provided, and the school for twenty boys, which had been founded in 1569, was maintained, and stayed open until 1880.

The Undercroft  was the Pilgrims’ sleeping area and the dividing walls form the cubicles in which they slept, possibly in pairs.

Inside the vestibule and chapel at Eastbridge Hospital (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Inside the vestibule and chapel at Eastbridge Hospital (c) Jane Risdon 2015

In 1332 Archbishop Stratford restated the aims of the Hospital as being ‘for the maintenance of poor pilgrims and other infirm persons resorting thither to remain until they are healed of their infirmities; for the poor, for persons going to Rome, for others coming to Canterbury and needing shelter, and for the lying-in of women.’

Today Eastbridge as an Almshouse continues to give a home and support to a group of people of varying needs.

We spent a lovely day in Canterbury even though the weather was cold and there was a slight drizzle.

Do visit The Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr in Eastgbridge (Canterbury) if you ever get chance.  It is well worth it.

The next part of my birthday gift was to follow the next day, Sunday.  

This was a secret which was kept right up until the moment I took my seat somewhere special. 

In my next blog I will reveal where they took me. 

I would never had guessed in a million years where I was going.

I look forward to sharing it with you soon.  Thanks for being here.  Have a fab week.

As always all photos are (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Vestibule and Chantry Chapel Eastbridge Hospital) (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Vestibule and Chantry Chapel Eastbridge Hospital) (c) Jane Risdon 2015                   

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24 Comments
  1. Hi Jane,
    Do you know I teach Medieval Times? Just wanted to thank you for visiting my site and liking my post about Coschedule.
    Janice

    Liked by 1 person

    • Janice thanks for dropping in and I didn’t know you taught Medieval Times. How exciting. I am glad you enjoyed my post about Canterbury, pleased you dropped in. I’ve added quite a few more posts since (and before then)you might find of interest – have a nose around and let me know what you think. I love your blog. Do come back soon. Love to natter. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on How my heart speaks and commented:
    An interesting post with superb photos of Canterbury.. take a look

    Liked by 1 person

    • Katherine many thanks for re-blogging this for me. Much appreciated. I hope your readers enjoy it. There is a part 1 and soon I shall be posting part 3 – had a fun birthday bash. Last year I had a week long birthday bash, and I was taken to many places of interest, gardens and historical places…so do feel free to take a look at that post and any others you fancy. Appreciated. Have a fab week Jane x

      Like

  3. Elle permalink

    breathtaking images, my kind of birthday bash! Looks like a great time was had.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jane, finally managed to get to your post. Nothing like a good old tour of historical cathedrals, towns landmarks etc. Oh and old pubs.
    Cheers
    Laurie.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Enjoy your birthday bash! Canterbury sounds like a wonderful pilgrimage site to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a wonderful place. So much history and the surrounding streets are packed with so much to see and enjoy. Fab pubs with history attached, lovely shops and places to eat as well. If you love history and architecture you can’t go wrong. Thanks so much for popping in again. Have a wander around my other posts about Ely, Rye, Lewes and other fab places – lot of photos and information with them all. Enjoy your week. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Very interestin’, indeed.

    Purrs,
    Nissy

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on evelynralph and commented:
    I have never visited Canterbury, so this is interesting to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad to be of service. Thanks so much for re-blogging, appreciated. If you ever go, let me know. Would love to know if this blog helped show you round a little. 🙂

      Like

  8. Lovely post Jane, amazing photos and all the historical detail to. Love your posts!. Reminds me of a year or two back when we visited York Minster. I had some amazing shots of the interior, downloaded them on my return home then cleared them on the camera. When I went back to check the download it wasn’t there! So upset that some great shots were lost. Lincoln next week so hope for some good photos of the cathedral. Very careful when downloading now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know the feeling is gutted when you have nothing to show for a lovely day out. I spent a lot of time in York and ‘up’ North working with some bands years ago but never got into the Minster. Cannot recall why not. Probably lack of time or something. My brother-in-law was married in York but I cannot recall where it was. Lovely place. You will love Lincoln I am sure. I took so many photos which I don’t have, but it is worth it. The town is lovely too…as we walked up the road the Red Arrows came flying really low towards us and I thought they were going to take the top off the roof nearby. Lovely tea rooms up the hill on the right as you leave the Cathedral – all in white. Quite special. Hope it s still there. Let me know. 🙂 Have fun.

      Like

  9. Love your post, and your photos and I’m sooo pleased you had a great time, thanks for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mrs P I am so glad you enjoyed it all as well. I love taking photos of such places. Shame the flash was not allowed otherwise I would have got so many others which were not so gloomy. Do pop back soon. 🙂

      Like

      • On a personal note, I did chuckle to myself throughout your post…one of my lovely ladies I have the honour to assist always greets me with the words ” Your not the Archbishop of Canterbury!!” I reply “No ..no I’m not” I’ll show her your post so we can have a shared memory LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  10. What a lovely birthday bash, Jane!! Those ‘photos are terrific! Eastbridge Hospital has such a long and interesting history, I’m sure it was fascinating to be there. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Margot, it was amazing – the whole experience was magic. I am glad you liked the photos. The flash can damage the artwork so it is not allowed so all photos were taken in the gloom with fingers crossed they’d come out. I am very pleased with what I got. When I went to Lincoln, St Albans Cathedrals and Waltham Abbey not to long ago, none of the photos came out! I was gutted. I will be in touch in a few days to sort out when it is best for you to publish the guest blog. Hoping all is well meantime 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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