Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Pilgrim Steven Payne re-enacts remarkable 200-mile walk from Southampton to Canterbury.

By Gerry Warren

A modern day pilgrim arrived in Canterbury today after recreating a medieval walk to the city for the first time in 500 years.

Steven Payne, who wore period style clothing for his journey from Southampton, slept in hedgerows, trees and even on a pub floor during the fortnight in which he crossed three counties.

He was greeted by supporters at the Westgate Towers at around midday, many also dressed in medieval style clothing.

Medieval re-enactors greet pilgrim Steven Payne
Medieval re-enactors greet pilgrim Steven Payne

Former teacher Steven, 52, from Petersfield, was following in the footsteps of Carluccio de Carrera, an Italian teacher at the University of Florence who came to England in 1365 and walked from Southhampton to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket, also arriving on December 29.

Carrying just a sack for his belongings and a staff for support, Steven kept a daily diary of his fascinating 200-mile journey, recording his adventures along the way. They included foraging for food and the welcome and hospitality he received from strangers.

"As a historian I am trying to raise awareness of the medieval ideal of giving charity by direct donation" - Steven Payne

He was even offered a place by the fire on the last night of his journey at the White Horse Inn in Chilham.

His adventure has attracted huge interest with his Facebook page Pilgrims Progress, attracting almost 5,000 likes.

Writing on his Facebook page on Christmas Day he said: “No turkey, sprouts or stuffing this Christmas, and no presents to open, but a good day until storm ‘Eva’ hit at lunchtime, then it went downhill fast. Spending a very wet and windy night in the trees."

But yesterday, on the final night of his journey, he did find comfort at the White Horse Inn in Chilham.

He wrote: “The landlord didn’t know I existed eight hours ago, but since then he has fed me and given me a place to sleep to help me on my way.

“I have a 15th century inglenook fireplace to keep warm, and permission to make myself a hot drink at any time, plus access to the toilets.

Pilgrim Steven Payne arrives at the Westgate Towers
Pilgrim Steven Payne arrives at the Westgate Towers

“All I have to do is lock the door on my way out and post the keys back through the letterbox.”

Steven says he spent four months planning his journey and has letters of support from the Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, the Bishop of Portsmouth and even the Pope.

He said: “I am not raising money for charity, but as a historian I am trying to raise awareness of the medieval ideal of giving charity by direct donation as well as testing the durability of the authentic clothing I have been wearing.

Pilgrim Steven Payne finds shelter for the night - on the floor of a village pub
Pilgrim Steven Payne finds shelter for the night - on the floor of a village pub

"Every year people from all over the world come to Canterbury to take part in services that stretch back 800 years or more.

“This is a tradition shared by every major religion. Muslims walk each year to Mecca and Buddhists walk each year to India where the first Buddhist scrolls were written.

“All of them are doing it for the same reason, to discover something about themselves, to break away from the day-to-day and have time to re-evaluate where they are going and why. In a commercial business world, it’s about discovering who you are underneath.”

Follow us

Like Us on Facebook

Most popular

Kent Travel News

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More