A friend has suggested this route (or something like it, but with less walking on roads).
Starting around Charleston, the National Trust property where Vanessa Bell lived, crossing the Downs and the river where Virginia Woolf took her own life, then visiting the house where she wrote her wonderful books (also now owned by the National Trust).
Finishing with a walk to Lewes, where there’s a ruined priory.
I’m hugely keen. There’s art, mental health – and storytelling in the great outdoors.
I was in Southwark, delivering a heartfelt story of my own to staff at HarperCollins HQ.
Afterwards, I popped into the Cathedral, where lots of tourists were taking photographs of windows, statues and memorials to deceased clergy.
I popped into the area where the choir sits during services – and look whose name was on the seat!
None other than my hero, Geoffrey Chaucer, whose storytelling pilgrimage started here…
Obviously, the best way to bring The Canterbury Tales back to life would be to travel from London to Canterbury. No argument about that.
But I’m excited about doing a walk from Aldgate, where Chaucer lived, to Westminster Abbey, where he’s buried.
It takes about an hour to walk, but I plan to be slower, and take a few detours. Specifically, I’d like to visit sites relating to some of the following (in approximately the order I’d stumble on them):
Sir Thomas More
Thomas a Becket (buried in Canterbury, but born on Cheapside)
Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke
Naturally, being a journalist, I’d walk along Fleet Street – reaching the end of the City of London to enter Westminster.
In Westminster, the walk to the Abbey could easily take in the following:
Jane Austen (finally, another woman!)
Rudyard Kipling, and / or
Then again, I could cross the river and walk through Southwark, where The Canterbury Tales starts.
Southwark was home to:
Mary Wollstonecraft (another!)
Naturally, I wouldn’t stop for ALL these literary superheroes on a single pilgrimage. Can you imagine!
But choosing one or two for each pilgrimage would allow me (and others with me) to think about very different kinds of storytelling as we spin tales…
I can’t wait.
Note: I love Dead White Men, and intend to be one myself one day. But there are perhaps a few too many in this list. Can you suggest anybody else I might include, to fix that…?