In the Footsteps of Medieval Pilgrims

Pilgrim trail map

Dover's historic links with pilgrimage are being celebrated with a family friendly trail in the town centre on Saturday, 27 May

Walk Dover’s family friendly Pilgrim Trail

Saturday, 27 May (10am-4pm)

Bring the family on an exciting adventure in Dover town centre on Saturday 27 May to discover hidden medieval sites, meet historic characters, and take part in a host of fun activities. 

The trail links eight historic sites in Dover connected with pilgrimage, from the seafront where weary pilgrims arrived by sailing ship, to the Maison Dieu where poor pilgrims stayed the night.  Also included are the ruins of both St James’ Church and St Martin Le Grand, Dover Museum, St Mary’s Church, St Edmund’s Chapel, and Dover Priory (Dover College).

Pick up or download the colourful Dover Pilgrims Trail map from the Dover Museum shop in the Market Square, St Mary’s Church on Biggin Street, Dover Greeters Hut on the Marina Curve, or from any other participating venue on the day. The Trail is open from 10am to 4pm.

Wheelchair and buggy-friendly the Trail is about a mile long. It can be completed in less than an hour but will take longer if you take part in some of the many creative and hands-on activities. The trail is suitable for all ages, from toddlers to adults, and people of all faiths and none.

As part of this fun, free event participants will be able to:

  • learn about medieval and modern pilgrimage
  • meet and dress-up as medieval pilgrims
  • see The Fuddlers medieval dance group perform in the Market Square (12noon, 1pm and 2pm)
  • take part in a dragon hunt
  • create a pilgrim badge
  • hunt for holy stones on Dover beach
  • explore the labyrinth
  • see a medieval stone mason at work
  • ask for food using monastic sign language
  • view an exhibition of world pilgrim photos
  • take part in a mini-archaeological dig

For more information visit

Dover’s family-friendly pilgrim trail has been created as part of the Reawakening the Maison Dieu development project, with generous funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Wolfson Foundation, Dover District Council, Dover Town Council, and the Dover Society.

Dover pilgrim facts

  • In medieval times pilgrims passed through Dover in their thousands, many on their way to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. They also travelled in the opposite direction to sacred sites in France and Italy.
  • The Via Francigena - an ancient pilgrim route that links Canterbury and Rome - passes through Dover.
  • The Maison Dieu or House of God gave poor pilgrims free bed and board for the night. Founded by Hubert de Burgh in about 1200 the building was run by Augustinian monks.
  • The Maison Dieu was also known as The Hospital of St Mary, named after Mary, the mother of Jesus. A nearby well dedicated to her, provided clean drinking water, and gives its name to Ladywell, the street outside today.
  • This magnificent building is currently being restored as part of the £10.5 million Reawakening the Maison Dieu project and will re-open to the public in autumn 2024.
  • Pilgrims also stayed at the medieval Dover Priory. Several parts of this building, including the impressive refectory or dining room still survive, as part of Dover College. Pupils still eat in this hall today, just like the monks did over 800 years ago.
  • Thousands of pilgrims still visit Dover today, walking or cycling one of the many pilgrim or walking routes that pass through the town, whether for religious reasons, love of the outdoors, or for health and wellbeing.

Maison Dieu Partners logo strip


Posted on 22 May 2023

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