Meet the Medieval Pilgrims....

Investigating a medieval tile

… enjoy a family-friendly pilgrim trail, get arty, enter the labyrinth, and enjoy a glass of Maison Brew!

Kent Pilgrims' Festival (21-25 September 2022)

A host of exciting and creative activities for adults and children are taking place at Dover’s historic Maison Dieu and venues across town as part of the action-packed Kent Pilgrims’ Festival which runs from 21 to 25 September.

The festival - for all faiths and none - launches in Dover on the evening of Wednesday 21 September with a short, guided walk along the River Dour to taste two new pilgrim ales. Brewed by the Breakwater Brewery and Taproom, they are inspired by pilgrim routes across Kent and Europe.

The first - a continental-style lager called Sigeric - takes its unusual name from a 10th century Archbishop of Canterbury, who walked from Canterbury to Rome to receive his pallium or seal of office from the Pope. This is now the route of the 2,000km Via Francigena, completed by several thousand pilgrims each year.

The second - an English golden ale called Maison Brew - celebrates the Maison Dieu’s origins as a medieval hospital, providing poor pilgrims with bed and board on their way to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.

There are walks, talks, school visits, a film screening and exhibitions, including From the Camino to the Hajj - a display of local and world pilgrim photos at Dover Museum and an art installation at St Mary’s Parish Church by the Creative Pilgrims, inspired by their ‘slow pilgrimage’ from Dover to Canterbury.

For the artistic (beginners to advanced) there are fantastic opportunities to get creative, including icon painting or to make a decorated medieval pilgrim tile.

Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September sees a host of activities including a Meet the Pilgrims event at the Maison Dieu. Here visitors can chat to medieval characters including the Master of the Maison Dieu, poor pilgrims and the seller of Dover’s tastiest meat pies, or so she says! They can watch pilgrim badges being cast from molten pewter, including ‘signs’ of St Thomas, and meet paintings’ conservator Rebecca Gregg, who will be engaging with visitors, as she cleans and repairs an important oil portrait of St Martin of Tours, the patron saint of Dover.

There’s also a new family-friendly trail - In the Footsteps of Medieval Pilgrims -where children, aged 5 to 12 are invited to explore pilgrim sites across the town and get their trail sheet stamped to win a small prize.

Dover’s ever-popular Urban Fete in Pencester Gardens on Saturday 24 September (organised by Dover Big Local) will also have its own special Pilgrims’ Quarter (10am to 4pm).

For those more serious about going on pilgrimage there are workshops and talks about how to do it and what to take. There’s also grass and rope labyrinths and the opportunity to share a pilgrim meal.

And the good news, in these difficult times, is that many of the events are free!

Visit for information on pilgrim activities at the Maison Dieu or to find out about the wider festival including all Dover district events.

With thanks to Kent Downs AONB, the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome, Maison Dieu, White Cliffs Country, Dover District Council, Dover Museum, The Creative Pilgrims, Dover Big Local, Dover Tales, Talespinners, Breakwater Brewery, Silver Screen Cinema, St Mary’s Church, Charlton Church, St Edmund’s Chapel, Dover Greeters and Kevin Groves. With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the Reawakening the Maison Dieu project.

Posted on 14 September 2022

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