2019 has seen the BPT’s work branch further than ever. As well as our continued guided pilgrimage work, two teams – the Old Way and Networking Departments – have been working towards separate, but interconnected, goals. What follows is a description of both of these teams’ work throughout the year: all of which is always rooted in the BPT’s core mission: to advance British pilgrimage as a form of cultural heritage that promotes holistic wellbeing, for the public benefit.
We led 11 pilgrimages this year, walking with about 270 pilgrims. These were in London, Exmoor, South Cumbria, County Durham, Reading and Winchester. Guy collaborated with companion guides such as Jason Goodwin, Charlotte Pulver, Laura Carew, Grania Cavendish, Kate Davey, Kim Wilkie and the Advaya Initiative (Christabel & Ruby Reed). Many of the routes followed in these events were created this year by Guy and his collaborators, and are now listed on our ‘Routes’ page.
2019 has seen the Old Way team prepare for the (re-)launching of this ancient pilgrim path, between Southampton and Canterbury, in the spring of 2020.
The ‘Pilgrim Sanctuary’ project has made great progress this year, with 13 churches now offering pilgrims overnight shelter along the route – with a many more set to join the scheme in the New Year. The project, loosely defined, is the provision of shelter and facilities, given to pilgrims (in exchange for a donation).
We are dedicated to our ‘Open To All’ policy, and we are working to make Pilgrim Sanctuary a multi-faith endeavour. The offer of Sanctuary is, as with all BPT work, open to all faiths and none.
This year we have made contact with over 130 local businesses, 100 churches, and 30+ journalists from local press, spreading the word about the Old Way. It is the BPT’s belief that, although we have ‘re-discovered’ this route, it is not ‘ours’ to keep. We are working to encourage engagement and understanding of the historic and cultural significance of the Old Way, in the communities through which it passes.
Way-marking & Volunteering
We are in the midst of discussions with various local organisations and authorities, finalising our way-marking plans, to be carried out in the New Year. We hope to achieve this by engaging a team of keen volunteers (of which we already have a good number!) to help us physically way-mark the route. If you’d like to know more about our volunteering plans for next year (there’s more to come!) get in contact to register your interest.
Perhaps the most significant work for our team over 2019 is the Old Way online guide. Expect interactive maps, accommodation listings, holy places, meal recommendations, OS mapping, updated GPX routes, (and more!) in a section-by-section outline of the 250-mile pilgrim path.
2020 is going to be an even busier, more exciting year for the Old Way. To name but a few ventures forthcoming:
- Meetings to connect ‘Sanctuary Churches’ to one another in the early New Year.
- Final route checks, and way marking, with the help of volunteers (get in touch!)
- Passbooks and pilgrim stamps, all in readiness for…
- The launch of the Old Way in Spring 2020!… Watch this space for further launch details.
We are proud to be working with English Heritage on the production of 10 new routes around England, visiting their heritage sites. The project ran from Sep ’18 – Mar ’19, and the English Heritage team were so happy with how things went that they intend to repeat the pilgrimage routes and a few new ones in their 2020-21 Annual Handbook. For this, Guy created two new routes for Tewkesbury Abbey to Gloucester Cathedral, and Bunbury Church to Chester Cathedral section of the Two Saints Way, and the Hadrian’s Wall Pilgrims Way will be added too.
There is a clear alignment between the BPT and English Heritage, and we are grateful to be working with English Heritage in this way.
As part of this project, we achieved official Camino recognition for the ‘Finchale Camino Ingles’ (Durham). By coordinating with the Dean of Santiago Cathedral, Confraternity of St James, A Coruna City Council and the Friends of the Finchale Camino, the route has now been recognised as part of the Camino Inglés.
Cathedral Pilgrimage Project
With the help of Britain’s Holiest Places and Naked Hermit author Nick Mayhew-Smith, the Network Department is working alongside the Association of English Cathedrals to create accessible 1-day pilgrimages to mark the Year of Cathedrals and Pilgrimage in 2020.
This project has involved attendance at the 2020 Year of Cathedrals and Pilgrimage Committee Meetings at the House of Lords and Church House throughout 2019.
Creating 1-day pilgrimage routes for every cathedral in England has opened up dialogues with local community pilgrim pioneers. This project will continue to grow through next year as more cathedrals get on board, and we start adding further detail to each of the routes. For example, Guy met the Precentors of Canterbury, Lincoln and Southwark Cathedrals to talk about how the BPT can work with their Cathedrals, and some ideas that we might be able to put into action next year and beyond.
Other Network Activities
This year, the BPT took on its first paid intern, Harry Goodwin. While he was with us, Harry helped to painstakingly improve the plotting of 60 of our map routes in our directory.
We launched our new Events Directory, which allows non-BPT pilgrimage guides hosting events around Britain to all be advertised in one place.
Green Pilgrimage Network – Guy gave a talk, and led a half-day pilgrimage, as part of a European-wide pilgrimage conference, where he emphasised that pilgrimage can encompass single day-long routes, as well as longer journeys. Route managers from Norway, Sweden, Romania, Italy, Norfolk, Canterbury Cathedral, and Vie Francigena in England were there.
National Churches Trust – Communications Director Eddie Tulasiewicz published a call to action for churches to create their own pilgrimage route using the template from our website.
20-minute Podcast on Pilgrimage, focusing on London Feb 3rd pilgrimage with Rupert and Mark.
Church Times supplement article on pilgrimage.
Featured in Porter Online’s London City Guide:
Featured in Jason Goodwin’s column in Country Life:
Video covering our London pilgrimage, on 3rd February:
Article about new English Heritage route for South Dorset, in collaboration with Jason Goodwin:
BBC Radio Berkshire interviewed Guy about his work on the Reading Fringe Festival Pilgrimage:
Observer & Radio 4 coverage.
Our Turtle Dove pilgrimage was mentioned in a Guardian article.
Our 2018 Annual Report is now online on the government website.