The 2021 pilgrimage will see some of the British Dominicans of today retracing the journey of the original friars, starting at Ramsgate on August 1st and arriving in Oxford on August 15th.
 
You are invited to join the Friars on this journey! We will be posting live updates on social media so that you can follow along online or join them in person for stretches of the pilgrimage. If you want to join us for some of the pilgrimage, take a look at the itinerary below, and get in touch.

Coming along?

If you would like to join us for some of our walk, please note the following: 

  • We will aim to provide accurate information on where we will be and at what time via the itinerary below. 
  • We cannot provide or arrange any accommodation for you during the pilgrimage; please arrange this accordingly. 
  • Owing to the need to keep to a tight schedule, we regret that we are unable to wait for those wishing to walk along with us. 
  • Anyone planning to join us under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. 

Please let us know you are coming along by emailing us the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Contact information
  • The day and time  you will join us
  • How far you plan to walk with us 

Please note that if you walk along this route with us, you do so at your own risk and should take sensible precautions such as bringing water and other necessities.

Please email this information to email address:
jubileepilgrimage@english.op.org

Video Series

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Episode 1

Br Bede and Br John share a short video talking about walking in the Dominican tradition, and talking as you walk.

The 2021 pilgrimage will see some of the British Dominicans of today retracing the journey of the original friars, starting at Ramsgate on August 1st and arriving in Oxford on August 15th.

Each day we will have Mass and pray the Divine Office. Wherever possible this will be in public, in churches, cathedrals, and convents on route, and you are very welcome to join us. Times and locations for all the public liturgies can be found for each by clicking on the stages to the left, and you can download a booklet with the music for vespers here:

Approximate Total Distance: 12 miles
Start point:
Shrine of St Augustine, Ramsgate (CT11 9NY)
Travel options:
Ramsgate
Start Time:
c.9.30am

End point:
St John the Evangelist, Ickham (CT3 1QT)
Travel options:
walk to Littlebourne, bus to Canterbury

Public Liturgy:
Mass at 8.30am (Shrine of St Augustine) | Vespers at 5pm (St Vincent of Saragossa,
Littlebourne)

The exact location where Gilbert of Fresney and his companions’ arrived in 1221 is not recorded. They landed somewhere in Kent however, and as a band of preachers sent to evangelise this land, it is fitting that we begin our pilgrimage at another even more ancient landmark of gospel preaching: Ramsgate. It is here that St Augustine of Canterbury arrived, sent on a mission from Rome in 597 to re-Christianise the Anglo-Saxon south. The first two days of our walk will take us across the land St Augustine himself once walked, along the Way of St Augustine to Canterbury.

Shortly after leaving Ramsgate we reach Minster Abbey, the first sign of the flourishing of religious life that followed after St Augustine’s arrival. Tracing its origins back to the 7th century, and dissolved at the Reformation, a group of nuns from Bavaria purchased the site in 1937 and it remains to this day a living Benedictine monastery and a place of retreat.

Monastic communities in the area have not always enjoyed a peaceful existence. The Abbot’s Wall is visible as we arrive at the river Stour, built by the monks of Canterbury who had come to the area after Minster Abbey was ransacked and destroyed by Vikings. The Hugin Viking ship is one of the first things we passed on leaving Ramsgate, at Pegwell, where they are said to have landed in 449.

Approximate Total Distance: 7 miles
Start point: St John the Evangelist, Ickham (CT3 1QT)
Travel options: bus to Littlebourne, walk
Start Time: c. 9am

End point:
Canterbury Cathedral (CT1 2EH)
Travel options: Canterbury

Public Liturgy:
Mass at 12pm (All Saint’s Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral) | Vespers at 5.30pm (Canterbury
Cathedral)


Feast of Bl. Jane, Mother of Our Holy Father Dominic 


The first stop on this short walk is Fordwich, probably the place from which St Augustine and his monks walked the final leg of the journey to Canterbury after taking a boat up the Stour. The Venerable Bede records the antiphon sung by the group as they saw Canterbury in the distance: ‘We beseech Thee, O Lord, according to all Thy mercy, that Thy wrath and Thine anger may be turned away from this city, and from Thy holy house: for we have sinned. Alleluia’.

On the outskirts of the city is St Martin’s Church, likely the oldest continually used Christian site in England. From there it is less than a mile to the city centre and Canterbury Cathedral, founded by St Augustine as his cathedral church and a focal point of Christianity in this country ever since. This is the cathedral where Gilbert of Fresney and his companions made their first recorded stop. Only a year before they arrived, in 1220, St Thomas Becket’s relics had been translated to a newly completed shrine at the centre of the cathedral, a pilgrimage site that had become one of the most popular in Europe. We can safely assume that the friars would have sought St Thomas’ intercession here for their evangelical mission, and we continue to do so to this day. The Dominican chronicler Nicholas Trivet records that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, welcomed the friars and ordered Gilbert to preach before him. Langton was so impressed that he “favoured and promoted the Order’s work” for the rest of his life. To commemorate this event, the Cathedral have very kindly welcomed us to preach and sing vespers this evening, an event you can join in person or on the Cathedral livestream.

The friars did not stop long in Canterbury, but continued their journey on towards London. They were back soon after however, and a convent was established as early as 1237, generously supported by King Henry III. The refectory and guest house still survive. We will be staying at the Catholic church, St Thomas of Canterbury, where there are relics of Becket and vestments worn by another martyr Bishop, St Oscar Romero.

Approximate Total Distance: 15 miles
Start point: Canterbury Cathedral (CT1 2EH)
Travel options: Canterbury
Start Time: c.9.30am

End point: St Peter and St Pauls, Charing (TN27 0LP)
Travel options: Charing

Public Liturgy:
Mass at 8am (St Thomas’, Canterbury) | Vespers at 5pm (St Peter and St Pauls, Charing)


On our way out of Canterbury we pass St Dunstan’s Church, dating back to the 11th century. It is here that King Henry II changed into his woollen shirt and began his pilgrimage of repentance barefoot to the shrine of St Thomas Becket. The church is notable for its connections with another great English martyr, St Thomas More. More’s daughter, Margaret, was married to a local family, the Ropers, and after her father’s execution she secured his head from a spike on London Bridge and buried it in her husband’s family tomb in the Roper Chapel.

Halfway along our walk we get to Chilham Castle. It was built by Henry II in 1171, just a year after the assassination of St Thomas Becket, although the foundations suggest it dates all the way back to the 7th century. Jane Austen attended dinners and balls here, hosted by a wealthy landowner named James Wildman.

The final stop is Charing, whose village contains a number of medieval buildings. Charing Palace, owned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was reputedly one of Becket’s favourite places to stay, and counted both Henry VII and Henry VIII among its guests. The village was a pilgrimage site in its own right, since the parish displayed the block on which St John the Baptist was beheaded. There is also a Dominican connection, in that the rector in 1243 was St Richard of Chichester. He was educated by the Dominicans at Orléans, and became a great admirer, protector, and promoter of the Order - tradition has it that at one time he solemnly promised to enter the Order himself, but was dispensed from the promise by Pope Innocent IV upon his election as Bishop.

Approximate Total Distance: 17 miles 
Start point:
St Peter and St Pauls, Charing (TN27 0LP) 
Travel options:
Charing Start Time: c.9am 

End point:
Aylesford Priory (ME20 7BX) 
Travel options:
Aylesford 

Public Liturgy:
Mass at 5pm (Aylesford Priory) | Vespers at 6.30pm (Aylesford Priory) St John Vianney, patron of parish priests

A few miles outside Charing we reach Hollingbourne, and The Dirty Habit pub, which is believed to date back to the 13th century and was once a pilgrims’ rest stop. Little is known of Gilbert of Fresney’s actual route in 1221, but perhaps if 800 years of continuity in the English Province is a reliable indicator, we can assume he would have felt very welcome in this establishment. The name is likely derived from the monks who worked the surrounding monastic farmland.

Not far from here is Leeds Castle, which Henry VIII transformed in 1519 for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The chapel of the castle has a retable which originated from the nearby Dominican convent in Dartford, a couple of days walk ahead of us. In Boxley, a few miles further down the route, we find a 13th century church formerly attached to the Cistercian Abbey of St Mary’s, founded in 1146. Edward II, educated by the Dominicans and a great patron of the Order, stayed here on the way to Canterbury.

We finish the day in Aylesford, home of the Carmelites and the site of their first foundation in England. The friars had not quite arrived yet as Gilbert and his group passed through, but were there not long after in 1242, travelling from Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. After their dissolution at the Reformation the friars returned in 1949 and Aylesford Priory soon became, and remains to this day, a prayerful site of pilgrimage. The chapel contains the skull of their founder, St Simon Stock.

Approximate Total Distance: 17 miles 
Start point:
Aylesford Priory (ME20 7BX) 
Travel options:
Aylesford 
Start Time:
c.9am 

End point:
The Most Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Otford (TN14 5PH) 
Travel options:
Otford 

Public Liturgy:
Mass and Vespers at 5pm (Most Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Otford)
​​
As we follow the river Medway out of Aylesford, the first site of note along the path is in Burham, which is where the invading Roman army in 43 AD crossed the river. An hour upstream from here is Halling, where we find the palace of Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester. It was complete by the 13th century, and the last Bishop to be in residence there was another great reformation martyr, St John Fisher.

Peeling away from the river continuing west, through the picturesque tunnel of trees in Whitehorse Wood, we reach Wrotham Church, the oldest church dedicated to St George in the country. Just two weeks before his martyrdom, Becket stayed at the Old Palace next door. The final stop for the day also has a connection to St Thomas Becket, as Otford was his assigned benefice as deacon. There is also Becket’s well, marking the spot where in 1162 the Bishop is said to have struck the ground with his crosier to obtain water.

Approximate Total Distance: 14.5 miles 
Start point:
The Most Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Otford (TN14 5PH) 
Travel options:
Otford 
Start Time:
c.9am 

End point:
St Anselm's RC Church, Dartford (DA1 2HJ) 
Travel options:
Dartford 

Public Liturgy:
Mass at 7pm, followed by all-night vigil for First Friday devotions (St Anselm’s Church,  Dartford)

Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord


At Otford we begin to journey north towards the capital, the next certain recorded stopping point on Gilbert of Frenay’s journey. On the way we pass Lullingstone Castle, where Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves were regular visitors. It is primarily notable for being the place where the rules of lawn tennis were devised. Gilbert and companions were a few centuries too early to enjoy a game as they passed through. This section of the walk follows the river Darent, along the Darenth Valley. The church in Darenth has bullet holes in the door, from shots fired by Cromwell’s troops as they were chasing Cavaliers down the valley.

Holy Trinity Church is in Dartford, where Henry V stayed on his return from Agincourt. However, more importantly, the town is of course of great Dominican interest, as the site of the only pre-Reformation priory of Dominican nuns. The foundation was first proposed by Queen Eleanor of Castile, and then taken up in earnest by her son Edward II. Although Edward initially proposed Guilford as a location in 1318, it was only in 1346 that his son Edward III managed to secure the necessary permissions and building began in Dartford. By 1356 enough had been built for four nuns to move in, arriving from France, and by 1381 the community grew to at least twenty.

It is a reminder as we walk that St Dominic established a convent of nuns in Prouille years before the friars were ever organised into a religious order. Thus, as Gilbert and his companions would also have known, prayer and the contemplative life is and always has been the starting point for any preaching mission.

Approximate Total Distance: 17 miles 
Start point:
St Anselm's RC Church, Dartford (DA1 2HJ) 
Travel options:
Dartford 
Start Time:
c.8am 

End point:
St Patrick’s, Wapping (E1W 2PH) 
Travel options:
Wapping 

Public Liturgy:
Mass at 6am (St Anselm’s Church, Dartford) | Vespers at 5.30pm (St Patrick’s, Wapping)

From Dartford we turn west again, walking south of the Thames and slowly edging towards the centre of London. On the way is Lesnes Abbey, which was founded in 1178 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the recently-martyred St Thomas Becket. A few miles after this we climb up to Shooters Hill, which offers a magnificent panorama of London and a first view of the city for those travelling from Kent. The first group of friars may have passed this way on their walk into the city, and if so would no doubt have stopped to pray for the encounters that lay ahead of them in the political capital of the land.

Sunday 8th:
For part of the day we’ll be joined by Joanna Bogle for a Catholic History Walk. We will venture through streets and alleyways of the City of London and Holborn, taking in the wonders of our rich history from the surroundings, including visits to the first and second London Dominican Priories. This will begin at 10am at English Martyrs Church, Prescott St, and last 2-3 hours, followed by lunch.

Reserve a space

Approximate Total Distance: 10 miles 
Start point:
St Patrick’s, Wapping (E1W 2PH) 
Travel options:
Wapping 
Start Time:
c.9am 

End point:
St Dominic's Priory - the Rosary Shrine (NW5 4LB) 
Travel options:
Tube (Chalk Farm/Belsize Park) 

Public Liturgy:
Mass at 4pm (The Rosary Shrine), followed by Adoration at 5pm and Vespers at 5.30pm

Today we reach the centre-point of our pilgrimage, as we pass from Wapping through the centre of London and make our way to the present-day Dominican priory, founded in 1862. It was to London that Gilbert of Fresnay and the first band of friars came to seek royal support – though the brothers did not tarry, but having once wowed the king with their preaching, headed straight on to Oxford.

It was only matter of years before they returned to establish a permanent presence in London. The first medieval Blackfriars was at Holborn, but in the 1270s they relocated to a more spacious site which retains the name ‘Blackfriars’ to this day. The priory was so large and held in such esteem, that Henry VIII in fact (ironically) used it to convene the Parliament which would decide in his favour over the matter of a divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

Many of today’s sites bear the sad marks of the Reformation. The first martyrs were taken from the Charterhouse: John Houghton, their prior, led the way, being hanged, drawn, and quartered. St Thomas More is said to have been seized with emotion, watching from the Tower these men ‘go to meet their bridegroom’, just weeks before his own death.

The current St Paul’s was designed by Sir Christopher Wren as a Protestant monument, in defiance of Rome’s St Peter’s. But for many centuries the dedication had been a reminder of warm devotion to and close ties with the Papacy – for Ss Peter and Paul traditionally are venerated as a pair. One Dominican friar, William Perrin, managed to preach at St Paul’s even after the Henrician Reformation, though not without controversy; when Mary Tudor ascended to the throne, he would become Vicar General of a briefly restored group of English Dominicans.

Approximate Total Distance: 14 miles 
Start point:
St Dominic's Priory - the Rosary Shrine (NW5 4LB) 
Travel options:
Tube (Chalk Farm/Belsize Park) 
Start Time:
Please join us for today’s walking at Westminster Cathedral at 11am

End point:
Our Lady of Grace & St Edward's, Chiswick (W4 4PU) 
Travel options:
Tube (Chiswick Park/Turnham Green/Gunnersbury); Gunnersbury/South Acton

Public Liturgy: Mass at 11am (Westminster Cathedral, Crypt)

Feast of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

There is too much history in London for a single day. Re-entering the city, we shall stop today at Westminster Cathedral, a great emblem of the restored English Church and at the same time, in its distinctive neo-Byzantine style, a testimony to the catholicity of the Church in all places: the true spirit of English Catholicism has never been stuffy and enclosed. Even in the Middle Ages, many distinctive English devotions – to the angels, and to the conception of our Lady, for instance – show considerable influence from Eastern traditions.

We shall also visit a great monument of the Middle Ages, a building which has a claim to being something of a spiritual heart of the English nation – Westminster Abbey. This marvellous work of Romanesque architecture, so close to the country’s seat of Government, contains one of the few shrines to have survived the ravages of the Reformation, that of St Edward the Confessor. This meek and indecisive king was nonetheless a saint, famed for healing power and wisdom. We seek his intercession for a society in which the virtues of humility and obedience are increasingly disparaged.

Approximate Total Distance: 13 miles 
Start point:
Our Lady of Grace & St Edward's, Chiswick (W4 4PU) 
Travel options:
Tube (Chiswick Park/Turnham Green/Gunnersbury); Gunnersbury/South Acton
Start Time:
c.10.45am 

End point:
St Barnabas Church, Molesey (KT8 9LF) 
Travel options:
Hampton Court 

Public Liturgy:
Mass at 10am (Our Lady of Grace & St Edward's, Chiswick) | Vespers at 5pm (St Barnabas  Church, Molesey)

Feast of St Lawrence, deacon and martyr


We find ourselves along a stretch of the Thames, still close to London and very much in the ambit of royal influence and intrigue. Today’s path throws up three regal vignettes. First, leaving Chiswick we soon come to Barnes, whose church was consecrated by Archbishop Langton of Canterbury, on his way back from the signing of Magna Carta at Runnymede; this document, besides guaranteeing rule of law and the rights of the nobility against the Crown, in fact opens with an assertion of the independence and rights of the Church (Langton, you may remember, welcomed the Dominicans to England).

Kingston-upon-Thames was the site chosen by King Alfred the Great – of happier memory as kings go – for his coronation, and subsequently saw the coronations of six Saxon monarchs; the place was felt to be appropriate since it straddled the border between the kingdoms north and south of the river which Alfred united.

Finally, we shall end up at Hampton Court, a favoured residence most famously of Henry VIII but also later of William of Orange. Originally, however, the palace was constructed for Cardinal Wolsey, who gave it to Henry in order to curry favour as he fell swiftly out of it.

Approximate Total Distance: 20 miles 
Start point:
St Barnabas Church, Molesey (KT8 9LF) 
Travel options:
Hampton Court 
Start Time:
c.9am

End point:
Castle Hill, Windsor Travel options: Windsor & Eton Central/Windsor & Eton Riverside

Public Liturgy:
Mass at 8am (St Barnabas Church, Molesey)

Memorial of St Clare


Two long stretches today and tomorrow – 20 and 22.5 miles respectively. Setting out from Hampton Court, we shall find the Henrician theme continued. Shepperton, a little village charmingly named for its shepherds (shall we see any today?), was frequented by the Dutch Humanist Erasmus on his visits to England in the reigns of Henry VII and VIII. Up the way, we meet the ruins of Chertsey Abbey, whose monks were displaced so that Henry Junior could demolish part of the monastery building and use its fine stone to expand Hampton Court.

Yesterday we came across some of the places where Archbishop Langton stopped on his way back from Runnymede. But we are heading toward Runnymede. In fact, the bridge at Staines is just the bridge that the Barons were disappointed to find not in existence when they wanted to cross the river in 1215: it was only constructed seven years later! Thankfully, we don’t need the bridge in any case, since we are following the river up to Windsor.

Modern-day Windsor was founded by William the Conqueror (whom you will recall from 1066 and All That). Ye Olde Windsor, as it was not then called, is three miles away and was the site of a palace belonging to Edward the Confessor.

Approximate Total Distance: 22.5 miles 
Start point:
Castle Hill, Windsor 
Travel options:
Windsor & Eton Central/Windsor & Eton Riverside
Start Time:
c.9.15am 

End point:
Henley-on-Thames Station, RG9 1FR 
Travel options:
Henley-on-Thames

The parish church of Windsor was only constructed in the 1200s, shortly after William the Conqueror’s death, so he had to go to Mass at St Andrew’s church in Clewer, the first village after Windsor along the river path. The stretch we are walking today is famed for its charm; the artist Stanley Spencer, born locally at Cookham, is said to have said, “You can’t walk by the river at Cliveden Reach and not believe in God.” Certainly, the area was an inspiration both to his art and to the idyllic riverside scenes conjured by Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. Our guidebook (Walking the Thames Path by Leigh Hatts, in the Cicerone series – to which these posts are much indebted!) identifies several manor houses and their inhabitants as running candidates to be the inspiration for Toad and his Hall.

Nearby, Marlow can boast the Shelleys and T. S. Eliot among its sometimes poetically-inclined residents. Its St Peter’s church is a work of Pugin. Further along, the town of Bisham, which still boasts a Norman church tower, also gave a new home to the exiled monks (whom we recalled yesterday) of Chertsey. Henry’s religious inclinations were volatile: the monks were allowed to remain at Bisham in order to pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased queen Jane Seymour. The Augustinians of this town were not so lucky, and neither were the Cistercians of nearby Medmenham – nothing but a lone pillar remains of their original abbey, the site of which was desecrated by irreligious noblemen known as the ‘Medmenham Franciscans’ in the 1700s.

Approximate Total Distance: 15.5 miles 
Start point:
Henley-on-Thames Station, RG9 1FR 
Travel options:
Henley-on-Thames 
Start Time:
c.11am 

End point:
Pangbourne Station, RG8 7DY 
Travel options:
Pangbourne

Henley in the Middle Ages used to be served by monks from the up-river town of Dorchester-on-Thames. We shall be heading in that direction. Dorchester is the place where St Birinus baptised the West Saxon king Cynegils: his conversion marked an important stepping-stone toward Saxon future unification. We shan’t be reaching Dorchester until tomorrow, however. In the meantime, we shall visit another important pilgrims’ destination, Sonning (pronounced ‘Sunning’): the chapel here dedicated to St Sarik used to attract people and the families of people suffering with what today we would identify as mental illness – a particularly pressing intention to pray for in our own times.

Reading is the first major city we shall have encountered after leaving London. Its jail was made famous by Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment there between 1895 and 1897, and it was the subject of his last poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Poignantly, in view of his deathbed conversion, the jail was in fact constructed over the location of the Lady Chapel of the city’s medieval Benedictine monastery. 

Approximate Total Distance: 18 miles 
Start point:
Pangbourne Station, RG8 7DY 
Travel options:
Pangbourne 
Start Time:
c.9am 

End point:
Dorchester Abbey, Dorchester-on-Thames (OX10 7HH)
Travel options:
Culham; X40 Oxford-Reading

Memorial of St Maximilian Kolbe


Pangbourne is inventively named after the River Pang. Among the charming facts one might relate about this town, we note that Kenneth Grahame lived locally – which explains the fascination with the Thames riverside evidenced by his famous book. Since we do not have the luxury of Mr Toad’s motor, we shall have to exert our legs on this unusually uphill stretch. A nearby site of considerable pre-historical interest is Gatehampton, where Stone Age remains have been found and indeed some of the earliest evidence of human settlement in Britain from after the Ice Age.

Next stop is Wallingford, so named for sitting on the old main England-Wales road. From here, we are heading to Dorchester-on-Thames, which we mentioned yesterday – so you already know all about it. St Birinus’ Cathedral later became a large abbey, whose church stands to this day. A little distance therefrom, one finds a jewel of a 19th century Catholic Church, a miniature Pugin, dedicated to St Birinus.

Particularly exquisite along this final stretch are some of the place names. Some villages and towns boast double-barrelled names, the second part of which is usually inherited from important local gentry – the Hampdens at Clifton Hampden, and the Courtenays at Sutton Courtenay. The village of Little Wittenham can boast a path from the Wittenham Dumps to the Sinodun Hills, which is known locally as ‘Mother Daunch’s Buttocks’. The esteemed Mother Daunch is less well known for being Oliver Cromwell’s Aunty.

Sunday 15th:
As we reach Oxford, before our arrival at Blackfriars, the third Dominican Priory in the city, we will be joined by Dr. George Lambrick the archaeologist who excavated the vast second Priory, to visit sites of medieval Oxford, familiar to the first Dominicans and beyond. We will start at the first Priory, in the precincts of what is now Christ Church. This will begin at 2pm, beneath Tom Tower, and last 90 mins.

Please note that the walking tour is now fully booked.

Approximate Total Distance: 16 miles (9 miles from Abingdon)
Start point:
Dorchester Abbey, Dorchester-on-Thames
Travel Options: Bus to Abingdon
Meeting Point:
c.9.45am on the Thames Path at Abingdon Bridge OR c. 6am Dorchester-on-Thames We have altered the timings for this day so as to leave more time to reach Oxford for the tour at 2pm. You are welcome to walk with us early from Dorchester, but we will be going at a steady pace.

End point:
Blackfriars, Oxford (OX1 3LY)
Travel options:
Oxford
Public Liturgy:
Mass at 9am (Our Lady’s School, Abingdon, OX14 3PS), Vespers at 5pm (Blackfriars, Oxford)

Solemnity - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


The final leg! The places along these remaining 12 miles are familiar to us as spots in easy reach of a day out from Oxford: they include Abingdon, Radley, Sandford, and Iffley. Abingdon at least is a very ancient town, dating from the first millennium; and the portal to Iffley’s little Romanesque church is a Norman construction. But it’s not certain how many of these places the friars would have recognisably passed as they wended their way. Certainly, the Oxford they reached would have been noticeably smaller, and surrounded on four sides by city walls.

The first priory the friars took up was located close to the site of what is now Christ Church; as they expanded, they moved to a site outside the city walls much closer to the river. Almost nothing remains of those first foundations, except for scraps here and there; and in a certain vicinity around the river, one still finds street names like ‘Preachers Lane’ and ‘Friars Wharf’. Excavations on the site of the second medieval priory close to the river revealed a number of skeletons - most likely of friars and benefactors. These will be welcomed into a new ossuary in the modern priory during a ceremony in 2022, during the visit of the Master of the Order.

The present-day Blackfriars was founded by Fr Bede Jarrett O.P. one hundred years ago, constructed out of a townhouse that had belonged to Victorian litterateur Walter Pater.
1221-1921-2021. We have trodden in the footsteps of friars near and far in time, known and unknown to history. May we remain faithful to the way we have all desired to follow – that of the poor, preaching Christ.