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25 October 2021

A journey to the cradle of Christianity in Britain

Following the route once walked by St Augustine of Canterbury, twelve residents of Ashwell House made a journey to the roots of Christianity in Britain.

Sent by Pope Gregory the Great to bring Christianity to England, Augustine arrived in Kent in 597.  The Ashwell expedition arrived in Kent on a sunny Saturday in September 2021.

Their journey began in the seaside town of Ramsgate at the shrine of St Augustine. This beautiful church was designed by the great Victorian architect Augustus Pugin, who championed the medieval Gothic style, with its tall pointed arches and vaulted ceilings. 

A convert to Catholicism at the age of 23, Pugin called Ramsgate the “Cradle of Catholicism in England”. 

The Ashwell pilgrims each received a pilgrim passport at the shrine and continued travelling the 19 miles from Ramsgate to Canterbury by car. The next stop was St Augustine’s Cross which marks the place where the powerful Anglo-Saxon monarch King Ethelbert, gave Augustine permission to spread the gospel – an event which changed England forever.

“It was simply beautiful”

The pilgrim route took the Ashwell group through the beautiful Kent countryside, where they stopped at a number of ancient churches on the way, each building up the story of St Augustine.

First-time Ashwell resident Ashley said: “We admired the views together and learned about the origins of Christianity in England. The sun was shining down on us the whole day. It was simply beautiful.”

The high point of the pilgrimage was the magnificent cathedral in Canterbury, founded by St Augustine.

“At Canterbury cathedral we showed our passports and like Willie Wonka’s golden ticket, we passed straight in,”

“The cathedral met all our expectations. The dizzying ceilings, high as skyscrapers, the colourful stained glass windows, the echo of the choir, the decorations on the door frames. ”

said Ashwell pilgrim Maria.

Over eight centuries ago, Canterbury was one of the four major places of pilgrimage in the world after Santiago de Compostella, Rome and Jerusalem.  Now the Ashwell girls are among the 21st Century pilgrims to have travelled this historic route. A wonderful experience at the beginning of their year living in Ashwell House.