Canterbury Bid

Medieval Pageant and Trail 2021



Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Canterbury’s sixth annual Medieval Pageant and Trail will be taking place on Saturday 16th October, celebrating the legacy of Saint Thomas Becket.

The colourful parade features historical characters and re-enactment groups, music and giants. The parade will enter the city from the Westgate Towers at 11am, processing through the city centre, and finishing in the Buttermarket at approximately 11.40am.

Between 11.30am and 5pm, various locations in the city will form the Medieval Family Trail. Designed around children and their parents, the Westgate Towers, the Beaney, St Augustine’s Abbey, and many more be welcoming visitors with a range of activities including craft activities, a chance to meet medieval characters and you can even visit a medieval encampment! When you visit places featured in the Family Trail, have the leaflet ‘stamped’.

Collect at least 5 stamps and receive a FREE giant chocolate coin at the Cathedral Shop in the Buttermarket. Allow a whole afternoon to complete the trail. If you have less time, visit the venues of your choice and don’t forget to collect your stamps! The Family Trail is for children of all ages … even of “Middle Ages”.


11am – 11.40am – The Medieval Pageant

11.30am – 5pm – The Medieval Family Trail and events

The Tale of Saint Thomas

In the 1160s Canterbury was a lively city. King Henry II was ruler of a vast empire that stretched across to France. Henry’s good friend, Thomas Becket, who served as Lord Chancellor from 1154, was a man whom Henry admired greatly.

This close friendship would see Thomas promoted to the position of Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, the most powerful position in the Church of England.

Sadly, the friendship soured as Thomas pushed back on Henry’s policies. On 29th December 1170, Thomas was murdered in the Cathedral 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. The journey was immortalised in the 14th century by Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

On 12th July 1174, Henry II came to Canterbury to perform penance (apologise) for the murder. He walked barefoot through the city in sackcloth and was flogged by cathedral monks.

Image source:

Trail Activities

Franciscan Gardens
60 St Peter’s Street, CT1 2BD

Discover this oasis of peace right at the heart of the city, where the first
Franciscan Friary was built in England. Enjoy FREE ENTRY with this trail
leaflet and take part in twig crafts in the gardens.

Medieval Encampment
Three Cities Gardens, opposite The Beaney

Visit Milites de Bec in the Three Cities Garden where you will come face to
face with brave knights and discover more about life in medieval Canterbury.

St Augustine’s Abbey
Longport, Canterbury CT1 1PF 

Visit one of the most important monasteries in medieval England and enjoy
some blood curdling stories – many mysterious sightings have been reported
throughout the Abbey’s history. Join the ghost tour to discover these tales and
more. It is free to collect your stamp at the welcome centre, but tickets must
be purchased to enter the Abbey site.

St Dunstan’s Church
80 London Road, Canterbury CT2 8LS

Visit this church named after an archbishop-saint, where King Henry II
stopped on his way to the cathedral in July 1174. The skull of St Thomas More
(d. 1535) is in a crypt of the church. While there, make a shell bell.

St Martins’ Church
North Holmes Road, Canterbury, CT1 1QJ

Make a medieval casket at St Martin’s – a church that has been in continuous
use as a place of worship since the 6th century!

St Mildred’s Church
Church Lane, CT1 2PP  

Come and see Roman stonework, a 14th century beamed roof and a medieval
font and have a go at brass rubbing.

St Paul’s Church
Church Street, CT1 1NH

Meet experts in medieval history from Canterbury Christ Church University and find out more about the past with a very special game of Medieval Animal I Spy.

Enjoy a performance by the Gregorian Music Society of the ‘Angelus, Ave and Salve’ at 12noon.

St Peter’s Anglican Church
St Peter’s St, Canterbury CT1 2AT

Visit this fantastic medieval church where you can create a herb posie, receive your stamp and enjoy a visit to the vegan market!

St Thomas’ Roman Catholic Church
Burgate, CT1 2HJ

See a relic of Becket and a painting showing the saints of Canterbury. Explore the church and enjoy some craft activities.

The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
High Street, CT1 2RA  

Come in and visit some amazing crafters – discover medieval printmaking
and wheat weaving provided by Rough Musicke in the Explorer’s Gallery
(1st Floor), then head to the visitor information centre to receive your stamp
(Ground Floor).

Westgate Gardens, CT1 2BQ  

Visit a live archaeological pit being excavated by the Canterbury
Archaeological Trust. The Friends of Westgate Park will be on hand to provide
you with a stamp

Westgate Towers, 1 Pound Lane, CT1 2BZ

Climb to the battlements of the historic 600 year old Westgate Towers,
England’s largest surviving medieval gateway, and try your hand at creating a
medieval seal.

Canterbury Cathedral Viewing Gallery, Buttermarket, CT1 2EH

Visit the newly-constructed Viewing Gallery above the Cathedral Shop, admire the extraordinary miniature cathedral models, and enjoy a demonstration of medieval
calligraphy and illumination, presented by Rough Musicke. Make a medieval stained glass mask too! Access to the activities and Viewing Gallery are free but charges apply to enter the Precincts’

Burgate Medieval Encampment, St Thomas’ Church Garden, Burgate
Visit Ost Centingas in their city centre encampment. Discover a variety of
medieval crafts including medicine, embroidery, archery and leather work.

Events Across the City

On the day of the Pageant, there will be various Medieval themed events happening across the city. We will list them below as they are confirmed.

Giant Thomas Becket Exhibition
Kennedy’s, Sun Street
In commemoration of the 850th anniversary of Saint Thomas Becket, we asked local school children to design a giant Thomas Becket. Visit Kennedy’sshop front to see their fantastic creations.

Canterbury Guided Tours
Buttermarket, 11am & 2pm
Enjoy tours of the city with costumed experts.

Angelus at 12.00
St Paul’s 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. All are welcome to join the practice at 11.15am

Vegan Market
10.30-4pm, St Peter’s Anglican Church
Enjoy a visit to this popular ethical, eco, vegan market located inside the beautiful St. Peter’s Anglican Church.

Fright at the Museum: Spider Stories
10am-5pm, The Beaney
Head to The Beaney for yet another spooktacular event. Expect puzzles, surprises and spooky antics as they start to celebrate Halloween season with a new spidery twist.

5.15pm. Canterbury Cathedral
An evening service of prayer and praise, using the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer. This is normally sung by the Cathedral Choir.

Supersize Polyphony
7,30pm, Canterbury Cathedral
Armonico Consort & Baroque Players | English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble | Directed by Christopher Monks
Join this exciting ensmble as they celebrate with a unique programme of multipart polyphonic works from the 16th Century. Immerse yourself in their astounding sound world, as they explore the works of Tallis, Heinrich Biber and Hildegard Bingen.

Giant Competition

In commemoration of the 850th anniversary of Saint Thomas Becket, we asked local school children to design a giant Thomas Becket, who will  join Henry II and Queen Eleanor in the Medieval Pageant 2021.

Thomas lived from 1118 – 1170, well before photographs existed which meant that Canterbury’s young pupils had to rely on a variety of images and illustrations created at different times throughout history from stained glass, illustrations, pilgrim’s badges and decorations. We asked them to consider not only Thomas’ clothing, but the items an Archbishop would carry. 

Canterbury School of Visual Art were given the difficult job of deciding on which of the 349 entries should be chosen as the winning entry:

We would like to congratulate all the children for their hard work and enthusiasm.  The children clearly engaged with the competition and it was very hard to choose a winner.  We were really impressed with the design from Roy Joksas, and want to include the bible and sceptre for the Giant.  We also loved the joyful use of yellow in the design by Melissa Ferreira and will use it as the colour for the fabric of the Giants gown and Mitre.   

We would like to congratulate all of the students who entered their designs, all of which can be seen in the window display of Kennedy’s on Sun Street from 16-30 October, and we can’t wait for you to see the completed Thomas Becket Giant during the pageant.

On Saturday July 4th 2020 we hosted a virtual pageant. The Medieval Pageant team created a jam-packed day of medieval mayhem including craft activities, virtual tours, a zoom fanfare and much more! All the activities and music created especially for the pageant are available HERE.

Keep up to date with the latest Pageant news on Ye Olde Medieval Pageant Facebook page:

The 2019 Medieval Pageant and Family Trail in review:

What a fantastic Medieval Pageant and Trail we had in 2019. We welcomed a record number of audience members, trail visitors and participants, but we had glorious weather – perfect for our medieval encampment in the Westgate Garden!

Canterbury Medieval Pageant won the “Lasting Impressions” award at the Kent Tourism Awards Ceremony 2017

Click here to View 2019 Medieval Pageant and Trail photo album