The Augustine Camino is a week long walking pilgrimage route from Rochester Cathedral to the Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate (the “ideal” church of leading Gothic Revival architect and designer of Big Ben, Augustus Pugin). It features living monasteries, cathedrals and village churches, visiting shrines to four of England’s greatest saints as well as the final resting place of the head of Thomas More. Walking the Camino is a wonderful way to experience a variety of medieval and modern sacred art. There are 12th and 13th century wall paintings at Rochester, Faversham, Harbledown and Canterbury including what is thought to be the earliest depiction of St Francis in England at Doddington. The recently restored South Window at Canterbury Cathedral is a magnificent example of medieval stained glass while work by some of the foremost victorian artists can be found all along the route including an unusual art nouveau window at Wickhambreaux. Architectural delights include the first example of the gothic style in England at Canterbury, the norman nave at Rochester Cathedral and more recent work by the Gilbert Scott’s (George and Adrian), William Butterfield and the Pugin’s (Augustus, Edward and Peter Paul).
The historical significance of the places visited can hardly be overstated. Kent was the first English Kingdom in the British Isles and the first to convert to Christianity. Canterbury is the centre of the Anglican Communion and a leading pilgrimage destination as well as the site of both St Martin’s church (the oldest in continuous use in the English speaking world) and the ruin of St Augustine’s Abbey (part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site). At Rochester Cathedral is a copy of King Ethelbert’s Laws, the oldest in the English language, pre-dating Magna Carta. Aylesford Priory was the mother house of the Carmelite Order on their return from the Crusades and still welcomes pilgrims. St Augustine’s in Ramsgate is considered significant enough to have recently received a one million pound grant from the Heritage Lottery fund. Minster Abbey is old enough to have been attacked by the Vikings and was recently re-established as a benedictine convent and shrine to local saint and saxon princess St Mildred.
See what the full route looks like (Thanks to Javier London for these beautiful slideshows)