A Jacobite Vademecum

The routes and reasons of historical pilgrims

...Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes.

The lines with which Chaucer opens his exhuberant Canterbury Tales remind us of the mixture of motives – piety, curiosity, sheer wanderlust and the desire to escape the confines of their own communities – that drove medieval pilgrims in their thousands to visit the great shrines of Christendom. Nor did they travel without many of the trappings of the modern tourist – pocket books with the key phrases to find bed, board and entertainment in the 'sondry londes' they visited, guidebooks such as 'Informacon for Pylgrymes' written by a Fellow of Eton College, William Way, in 1456 and inevitably souvenirs – like some of the mass-produced pewter pilgrim badges currently on show at London's Age of Chivalry exhibition.

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