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 and launching this year’s Canterbury Festival!

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

St Martins’ Church
North Holmes Road, Canterbury, CT1 1QJ (no wheelchair and buggy access)

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 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 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 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.

Burgate Medieval Encampment
St Thomas’ Church Garden, Burgate
Visit Ost Centingas in their city centre encampment. Discover a variety of medieval crafts (medicine, embroidery, archery, leather work) and if you are lucky you might even see a combat display!

Canterbury Cathedral
Buttermarket, CT1 2EH

Visit the newly-constructed Viewing Gallery, admire the extraordinary miniature cathedral models and make a medieval stained glass mask too! Access to the activities and Viewing Gallery are free but charges apply to enter the Precincts

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.

The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
High Street, CT1 2RA  (crafters finish at 4pm, stamp available until 5pm)

Come in and visit some amazing medieval crafters – discover medieval Printmaking, Wheat Weaving and Calligraphy with Illumination provided by Rough Musicke in the Explorer’s Gallery (1st Floor), then head to the visitor information centre to receive your stamp (Ground Floor)

Three Cities Encampment
Three Cities Gardens, Best Lane (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.

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.

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

Visit this fantastic medieval church where you can make a sweet-smelling bunch of herbs, receive a stamp and enjoy a visit to the vegan market!

Westgate Towers, 1 Pound Lane, CT1 2BZ (CLOSES 4pm)
(no wheelchair and buggy access)

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.

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. You will find the dig on the north side of the river, at the far end of the gardens.

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.

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 CT1 2HX
In commemoration of the 850th anniversary of Saint Thomas Becket, we asked local school children to design a giant Thomas Becket. Visit Kennedy’s shop front to see their fantastic creations.

St Augustine’s Abbey
Join the Ghost Tour of St Augustine’s Abbey – vicious Viking and their victims,  many sightings of those slaughtered, and the capture and ransom of Abbot Aelfmaer who was taken prisoner in the 1011 raid on Canterbury. This is to name a few, many mysterious sightings have been reported throughout the Abbey’s history. Join us at St Augustine’s Abbey to discover these tales and more.

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.

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.

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. Enjoy a performance by the Gregorian Music Society. All are welcome to join the practice at 11.15am.

5.30pm, Canterbury Cathedral
An evening service of prayer and praise, using the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer, sung by the
Cathedral Choir.

Supersize Polyphony
7,30pm, Canterbury Cathedral
Armonico Consort & Baroque Players English Cornett, Sackbut Ensemble, Russel Fielding and Linus Haggar, Directed by Christopher Monks. Join this exciting ensemble 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 of Hildegard Bingen.
Tickets available at:

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 Arts at Canterbury College was 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.   

Lindsay Soord, Canterbury Schol of Visual Arts

We would like to congratulate all of the students who entered their designs, all of which can be seen in the window display in the city centre during Canterbury Festival from 16 until 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