Canterbury Walking Week Celebrates Aphra

As summer begins and lockdown ends, it was an absolute joy to join a walk planned by Canterbury Walking Week which is a joint project between Canterbury Ramblers and The Canterbury Rings. The walk was about the Great Women of Canterbury and featured Queen Bertha, St Mildreth, The Embroiderers of the Bayeux Tapestry, the Kentish Martyrs, Mary Tourtel, Catherine Williamson and, of course, Aphra Behn.

The walk took us past a glimpse of St. Paul’s Church (where Aphra Behn’s parents married) then onto Love Lane which was reputedly the former brothel-centre of Canterbury in the olden day (although to be fair, a brothel was found only yards away from this street a few years ago). We then walked the city walls, which were still intact when Aphra Behn was a girl and now stand around only a quarter of the city. After walking the walls, we walked past the crumbling ruins of Canterbury Castle which needs a lot of love and a proper group to step up and preserve this piece of Canterbury’s heritage (a future project perhaps?) Then we stopped in the graveyard of St. Mildred’s church in Canterbury, which is a secret, peaceful spot that more people should visit before walking down Stour Street towards the Cathedral.

Aphra Behn would have known many of the same streets very well. As we walked back through the centre of town, we walked past The Canterbury Tales exhibition which has now closed; the building that housed the exhibition is the old St. Margaret’s Church and there, somewhere, Aphra Behn’s brother George is buried.

The family have connections not only to the aforementioned St. Margaret’s and St. Paul’s parishes, but also to nearby St. Alphage parish and possibly St. George’s (where only the tower remains after heavy Second World War bombing) and Westgate Parishes.

It was a fantastic walk, on a perfect English late Spring day. I do recommend that people follow the Canterbury Walking Week page on Facebook so that you can join in some of the excellent history and themed walks next year.

Posted on April 23rd 2021

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