Save the date: Saturday 4 July 2020
Find out what happened at the 2019 pageant below:
Canterbury’s fourth annual Medieval Pageant and Trail will take place on Saturday 6th July 2019 and is bound to be a highlight of this Summer’s event calendar! Commemorating Henry ll’s pilgrimage to Canterbury and astonishing public apology in 1174 this colourful parade features historical characters, local schools and community and re-enactment groups, giants, music and medieval mayhem for all ages (even middle-ages!).
To download your Medieval Pageant and Trail Booklet click HERE!
11am – Scene 1:
The Roughshod King and his Precarious court at Westgate Gardens, by Tower House
Pageant departs from gardens, through Westgate Towers, High Street, Longmarket, Burgate, Buttermarket, Sun Street, Guildhall Street, High Street and return to the Westgate Gardens.
12.15pm (approx) – Scene 2:
The Vengeful Queen and her Court of Love at Westgate Gardens, by Tower House followed by a medieval encampment and archery until 5pm.
Family Trail see map for venue locations
In the Middle Ages…
Canterbury was a lively, thriving and cosmopolitan city, just like today! One of the most important events in Canterbury’s history was the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in the Cathedral on 29th December 1170, by four knights who were seen to have acted on behalf of King Henry II. Shortly after his death miracles started to happen, and Canterbury became a major centre of pilgrimage for those seeking cures at Becket’s shrine. Many visitors stayed in the city‘s medieval ‘hospitals’ and inns. The journey of a fictional group of pilgrims was immortalised in the 14th century by Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
On 12th July 1174, Henry II came to Canterbury to perform penance for the murder. He walked barefoot through the city in sackcloth and was flogged by cathedral monks. Today, join Henry and his wife Queen Eleanor as they process through the city streets once more.
Why do we love Eleanor of Aquitaine?
This year the focus will be on Henry II’s wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is to this day upheld as a feminist icon. To get you prepared, here are a few interesting facts about her:
- As a teenager Eleanor was Queen of France, married to Louis VII (Henry II was her second husband)
- She was one of the wealthiest and most powerful figures in Europe during the Middle Ages
- Eleanor was one of very few queens to go on a crusade
- Eleanor was imprisoned for 16 years by Henry II for her role in a revolt against him
- Eleanor created the Court of Love. A court largely focused on courtly love and symbolic ritual; and was reported to have attracted artists and poets, and to have contributed to a flowering of culture and the arts
- Eleanor lived to the age of 82
Events Across the City
On the day of the Pageant, there will be various Medieval themed events happening across the city. Here is the official 2019 list of events:
Angelus at 12.00
St Peter’s Anglican Church, 12noon
In medieval times all churches sounded a bell at midday. It was a signal for everyone to say a daily prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angelus. Canterbury Gregorian Music Society will be singing the Angelus with a free chant taster session at 11.15am.
Canterbury Guided Tours
Buttermarket, 11am & 2pm
Enjoy tours of the city with costumed experts.
Enjoy a punt accompanied by a medieval character!
Espression Arts Interactive
Arts Café, 29/30 Palace Street
Between 1-4pm design, draw and paint your own ‘medieval mug’.
£10 per mug
Fitzgerald Jewellers, 26 Burgate
Enjoy some free medieval colouring- in while admiring the beautiful jewellery on display.
Friends of St Martin’s Annual Lecture
St Martin’s Church, 7pm
Dr Mike Bintley, Lecturer in Early Medieval Literature and Culture in the School of Arts at Birkbeck University will be ‘Finding Early Medieval Canterbury in the Old English poem Andreas’.
Tickets: £3 including light refreshments.
1 Palace Street
Come and purchase some medieval cupcakes and cookies!
St Augustine’s Abbey
Delve into the world of the storytelling greats from Chaucer to Dickens – discover the myths behind the legends. Enjoy quirky performances and side shows, and get your imaginations flowing with hands on activities for all the family.
Service for St Thomas More
St Dunstan’s Church, 7.30pm
Join the annual service to commemorate St Thomas More (Died 1535).
Tiny Tim’s Tearoom
34 St Margaret’s Street
Visit this beautiful tearoom for a medieval inspired treat.
22 Sun Street
Offering an 11.74% discount off: swords, shields, medieval-themed items, knights and dragons.
Whitefriars Medieval Character Hunt
Join the hunt and you could win a £25 Fenwick voucher. Entry forms available on the day from participating Whitefriars Shopping Centre retailers.
Enjoy craft activities at St Martin’s – a church that has been in continuous use as a
place of worship since the 6th century!
Visit one of the most important monasteries in medieval England. For almost 1,000
years, it was a centre of learning and spirituality. It is free to collect your stamp from
the Abbey’s welcome centre but tickets must be purchased to enter the Abbey site.
Meet experts in medieval history from Canterbury Christ Church University and staff
from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, and find out more about the past, with
some fun hands-on activities.
See a relic of Becket and a painting showing the saints of Canterbury. Explore the
church and make a bishop’s mitre to take home
Explore medieval-style jewellery making, following Canterbury’s heritage in fine craft
work spanning over a thousand years.
A day of family fun in the Medieval Story Garden. Experience the past through
games, knights’ school, dancing and storytelling.
Come and see Roman stonework, a 14th century beamed roof, a medieval font and
have a go at making a medieval-style jewelled box.
Formerly the Poor Priests’ Hospital, this building was founded in 1217 to provide
care and shelter for sick and needy priests. Newly refurbished, visit the great hall
and enjoy a free exhibition dedicated to Kent’s Remarkable Writers.
Make your own Pilgrim’s badge. Pilgrim badges were essentially religious
souvenirs. They were worn on either your hat or cloak and collected as mementos
of the shrines you had visited. Make your badge and try some mini-Mindfulness
afterwards. (Note time: 11am – 4pm)
Visit this historic building which provided lodgings for pilgrims in the Middle Ages
and try out some medieval handwriting with a quill pen!
Visit this fantastic medieval church and enjoy some medieval-inspired crafts and
Design your own banners and aprons and explore.
Climb to the battlements of the historic 600 year old Westgate Towers, England’s
largest surviving medieval gateway, and carry out some brass rubbing.
Westgate Gardens, Westgate Gardens, CT1 2BQ |
A Physic Garden for the growing of medicinal herbs was first recorded in Canterbury
in about 1165, hosting plants linked with ancient remedies. Alternatively, try your
hand at archery with Golden Arrow Archery who will be charging £2 for 6 arrows.
Visit the medieval encampment at the Westgate Gardens where Rough Musicke will
provide real medieval music and meet a medieval blacksmith, scribe, cook, printer
and wheat weaver.
Visit this church named after an archbishop-saint, where King Henry II stopped on
his way to the cathedral in July 1174. While there, visit the head of St Thomas More
You can let us know if you are coming and find regular updates on our Facebook event page:
The 2018 Medieval Pageant and Family Trail
What can you expect at the Medieval Pageant and trail? Take a look at what happened last year:
What a fantastic Medieval Pageant and Trail we had in 2018. Not only did we welcome a record number of audience members, trail visitors and participants, but we had glorious weather, celebrated Canterbury Tales’ 30th Anniversary and welcomed an additional 3 historic venues to our free family trail.
2018 Pageant in numbers:
5,000 people watched the Pageant
4,000 families took part in the Medieval Trail
230 chocolate medallions were given away
266 pre-event workshop participants
218 performers took part in the parade
17 heritage locations provided medieval activities between 11.30am and 5pm
13 local businesses provided Medieval themed activities for shoppers
5 Giants (Henry, Eleanor, Nun, Knight and Lily)
2 medieval warriors on horseback
Canterbury Medieval Pageant won the “Lasting Impressions” award at the Kent Tourism Awards Ceremony 2017
Click here to View 2018 Medieval Pageant and Trail photo album