Pilgrims setting out from Canterbury can now see a clear sign directing their first steps on the road to Rome. A new sign, which reads “Via Francigena – Rome – 1800km”, removes all uncertainty as they leave the Cathedral Gate, and directs them up Burgate Street.
Three additional signs have been placed in front of Cemetery Gate on Monastery Street, in front of the entrance to St. Augustine’s Abbey and in front of the turn to St. Martin’s church. They complement the information boards installed recently at strategic locations on the way out of the city.
The Confraternity had been working with the Canterbury City Council for several years to improve signage of the Via Francigena from the Cathedral gate to the outskirts of the city. Funding for these signs was originally offered by the Confraternity to ensure that as of 2018 pilgrims would no longer lose their way as they walked out of Canterbury. However, once the signs were installed in December 2017, Canterbury Council generously decided to cover the costs.
Now that the funds designated for the signs are still available, the Confraternity is making plans on how best to use these resources to support pilgrims. One possibility is to install similar signs in Dover, as once pilgrims enter the town the signage is either non-existent or difficult to follow. The Steering Committee sees the role of The Confraternity as a steward of the first 20 miles of the Via Francigena and our Canterbury Representative Julia Peters works closely both with the local authorities and with the guardians of the North Downs Way with whom the VF shares the route to Dover. We have a unique responsibility to ensure that pilgrims start their journey in the best way possible. Finding a clear path from Canterbury to Dover is an important step in realising this goal.