Tag Archives: Chester

Skin4Life Two Saints Way Walk

It’s a 7am start at Chester Cathedral for the Skin4Life sponsored walk

On Saturday 15th July a group of walkers completed the opening 23.5 miles of The Two Saints
Way from Chester to Nantwich and in the process raised £1,400 for their Skin4Life project which
Judith Jackson explains here:

Our Skin4Life charity was formed after my husband Richard was successfully treated for terminal
malignant melanoma in 2007 when Archie was 3 and Mabel was 10 months old. He was treated
with a ground breaking trial drug which saved his life and offered hope to others.

Walkers pause before leaving the towpath at Christelton

We realised after such amazing care from the team at The Christie just how important fund raising
is for continued research, better treatments and a brighter future for melanoma patients.
We have raised over £45,000 so far.

Richard’s brother Simon and his wife Elaine started the annual Skin4Life walk as a thank-you to
The Christie 7 years ago and this blister giving, gruelling, crippling and mainly rewarding event has
gained support and strength year on year to become the wonderful event it is today!

Simon and Elaine have sent these encouraging comments about the day’s walk:

“We would like to pass on our thoughts after walking on Saturday 15th July 2017. Well, we loved
it! The route is better signposted than I originally thought and it certainly leant itself to a true day’s
walking challenge, with superb views, amazing churches and fantastic Cheshire countryside. In
fact we can’t wait now to navigate the middle section.

For your information, we have over £1,400 on our just giving website with still more sponsorship
money to come in, so the route proved to be challenging enough for people to realise the efforts
going in and donate appropriately.

I have attached three photos from the day to emphasise the feel good factor that ensued over the
nine walking hours.”

If you would like to find out more and contribute to this good cause please visit:
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/s4ltwosaintsway

Tired but happy fundraisers outside The Crown Hotel in Nantwich

Walk organisers Simon & Elaine Jackson

Two Saints Way Progress Report

The Two Saints Way GuidebookTSW_Guidebook It has been a major task getting the guidebook ready – the assembling of photographs and obtaining permissions has proved a lengthy process. Finalising the mapping is the final task before we can hopefully publish later in the year.

Inevitably changes occur with the route such as kissing gates being installed in place of stiles. For that reason it would be very good if we could find volunteers who could walk different parts of the route in the next two months before it goes for publication. If you can help in this way do contact David Pott at dlpott@twosaintsway.org.uk and we will send you the relevant part of the guide for you to check for accuracy.

We are thinking of having a walk on the Two Saints Way with book launches in Chester, Nantwich, Stoke, Stone, Stafford and Lichfield.

 

Spam or not?
Since Christmas we have had a sudden upsurge in people signing up to receive notifications of these blogs. We cannot think of any article or programme which may have caused this increase and although the email addresses appear to be genuine, we are not certain if they are. If you have signed up since Christmas, could you please email admin@twosaintsway.org.uk to confirm that you are a real person!

Are there any ‘champions’ out there?

As most of you know, David Pott who initiated the Two Saints Way has now moved to Scotland and the new project leader is Marg Hardcastle who is based in Stoke. In order to keep the project moving forward, the Two Saints Way team feel that it would be best to find local coordinators or ‘champions’ who can promote the route in their area. Apart from Marg Hardcastle in Stoke, Lilas Rawling has agreed to be the Lichfield local coordinator. We now need to find  ‘champions’ who live in or near the other key locations of Chester, Nantwich and Stafford.

We are looking for those who have some interest in walking and pilgrimage. With the Staffordshire Hoard on view at the Potteries Museum, which is also on the Two Saints Way, there is a strong emphasis on rediscovering our Mercian heritage. The main elements for the role of champion would be:

1. Linking with other local people who have already connected with the Two Saints Way and coordinating to promote the route. These include ‘pilgrims’ friends’ who are a point of reference for pilgrims and who check their part of the route to ensure that signage, stiles etc are maintained.

2. Encouraging churches along the route in your area to welcome pilgrims and alerting local schools to the educational opportunities associated with the Two Saints Way.

3. Making sure the route is promoted through the media and local tourist boards and is on the agenda of the local footpaths team.

4. Keeping in touch with Marg Hardcastle. It is likely that there would be 2 or 3 joint meetings in a year.

If you know anyone who might be suitable for this role or you would like to volunteer yourself, please contact Marg Hardcastle
Email: marg.twosaintsway@gmail.com    Mob: 07515 460537

The Irish Two Saints Way Connection

I have always had a hunch that in the Middle Ages there may have been Irish pilgrims walking along what is now the Two Saints Way. My reasons for suspecting
this were twofold…

Firstly, the Irish were known to be keen on pilgrimage and Chester was the most
important trading port between England and Ireland in that period. Surely if they
wanted to travel to Canterbury or even as far as Rome and Jerusalem, the most
obvious route connecting up significant shrines would include Chester, Lichfield,
Coventry, St Albans and London?

Secondly I knew that monks from Chester had spread the cult of St Werburgh into Ireland. In 1178 the Church of St Werburgh was built in Dublin and in 1183 Benedictine monks were sent to assist at Downpatrick Cathedral. There is also a St Werburgh’s Well pictured here near Dublin. The shrine of St Werburgh at
Chester would have provided an added impetus for pilgrims contemplating longer pilgrim journeys.

In May I stumbled across a fascinating blog by Edel Mulcachy about Medieval Irish pilgrimage see https://edelmulcahy.wordpress.com/about/ I emailed Edel and she soon supplied me with some concrete evidence of an actual pilgrimage journey in 1323 by a friar with the not very Irish sounding name of Symon Semeonis! In the account of his pilgrimage called Itinerarium Symonis Semeonis ab Hybernia ad Terram Sanctam he describes starting off from Clonmel and then journeying across the Irish Sea from Dublin to Chester where he celebrated Easter before journeying on via Stafford and Lichfield to London, Canterbury, Rome, across to North Africa and via Alexandria to Jerusalem!

What an extraordinary journey that was! I had previously thought that maybe Irish
pilgrims from the northern half of the island would have come via Chester, but
Clonmel is in the south west so it seems Dublin to Chester was the preferred sea
route for pilgrims.

Through my initial connection with Edel Mulcachy, I have also connected with
another Irish person Louise Nugent who also has a blog on pilgrimage at http://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/ I had the pleasure of meeting her in person
recently when I was over in Ireland for a conference. She is particularly interested
in holy wells and it was she who told me about St Werburgh’s Well.

I very much hope that through these connections, we will hopefully unearth more
discoveries about Irish pilgrims of the past but also I very much hope there will soon
be another flow of Irish pilgrims following in Symon’s footsteps on the Two Saints
Way! May they find a warm and hospitable welcome. And in return, if you haven’t
explored some of the Irish pilgrimage sites, I can highly recommend them. My
favourites are the Skellig Islands, several sites on the amazing Dingle Peninsula
and Glendalough.

A MALAYSIAN ON THE TWO SAINTS WAY

It was a great privilege and a lot of fun(!) having Anthony Arul Jude from Malaysia with us on the inaugural pilgrimage of the Two Saints Way. It’s so worthwhile to have a fresh perspective from someone who had only just arrived in England. I am also very glad that he had such a transformative experience. So here is his own description – enjoy!…

Two Saints WayForward To The Ancient Future
Along The TWO SAINTS WAY
March 25 – April 1 2012

It is a 90 mile walk. The big question is whether I can finish all of it or just stop half way! I didn’t give up. I joined the walk with eleven others from different parts of the Lichfield Diocese. Revd. Philip Swan and I represented St. Bartholomew’s Church, Penn. We started our journey from Chester. It was a cold and sunny day. Coming from another part of the world, it was tough for me to cope with the situation. Half way through on the first day, I had bad cramp in my right leg and I again thought to myself whether I could really do it! I walked!!

At one point, our team leader, Mr. David Pott read a poem and asked us to quieten ourselves and reflect on the poem about our journey with God. I started to walk along the canal and ponder the poem. After a while walking, I noticed that I was no longer in the town area. All that I was aware of was water on my left and green fields on my right. There was no noise and it was silent, just the singing of the birds, scared ducks flying away, sheep, horses and cows looking at us. Wow!! What a lovely view around me and I felt energetic and I told myself, whatever happens, I am continuing the journey. I was told that 80% of the journey was to be along canals and fields.

Listening to some Christian songs using my MP3, saying some prayers and thinking back to what happened in the last few years in my life, was the best part of this journey. The prayers and meditations made me to forget about the world and its task for me. I surrendered myself to God in prayer, ONLY prayers. At the same time, we had the time to see and experienced the Mercian history, and as a person who comes from another country, I have seen a “real slice of England”. This experience of mine will never be forgotten.

On the last day, reaching Lichfield Cathedral, this phrase came into my mind. “I was lost and now I am found, amazing grace”. Yes, I was lost spiritually and this time of walking the pilgrimage, gave me the opportunity to be with God, forgetting all my problems, worldly desire and not thinking of what I am going to do tomorrow. All that I have done is to pray, enjoy nature, sightseeing in England and to make new friends. This pilgrimage walk was a great blessing for me to be part of walking and making history in my life. It was a solid time of reflection, refreshing and reconnecting with God. These are two important secrets that made me finish this journey – God and good fellowship.

Philip adds:‘
The Two Saints Way’ is a great resource. You might like to do even just one day’s walk on it. It was a wonderful experience walking with the group of eleven and then being joined by others each day. I had not been sure whether I would complete the walk but God’s Grace and Life somehow is passed on in this kind of experience and together we did it. Thanks be to God!

It was a great thrill that a St Chads Volunteer completed the St Chad’s Way – the name of the Two Saints Way from Chester to Lichfield; if you are walking the other way it is called the St Werburgh’s Way. So Anthony is the first St Chads Volunteer to complete this but surely not the last. Throughout the walk we heard many amazing stories about the saints of old and especially in the Saxon times, but none matched the breath-taking account we can now pass on to future generations of how our intrepid Anthony rugby tackled a wild wolf from Stoke (or was it a dog?) which was chasing three terrified sheep around a church yard. What a feat! What a man! Well done Anthony!

Anthony Jude Arul
St. Chad’s Volunteer (2012)

 

 

Forward to the Ancient Future

A short report on the inaugural pilgrimage on the Two Saints Way

 The pilgrims walking round Castle Ring


First of all we were blessed with the most amazing weather. Wall to wall sunshine from March 25th to the 30th then two grey but mostly dry days before an absolute cracker of a day on April 1st. Secondly it was a great core group who completed the journey from Chester to Lichfield. I have led a lot of teams in my time, but this was a group that looked out for each other and was very welcoming to all those who joined us for days or half days. Finally we received the most wonderful hospitality all the way. Complete strangers were put up in people’s homes in every place where we stopped and churches put on amazing lunches and refreshment stops. It can rightly be said that the Two Saints Way is a product of hospitality.

So to some of the week’s highlights:-

  • We began in a beautiful place – having a picnic in the cloister garden at Chester Cathedral beside the beautiful Water of Life statue by Stephen Broadbent. A moving commissioning service followed before the west doors were opened for us to take our first steps to Lichfield.
  • When we arrived in Wybunbury, we were delighted to see the first Two Saints Way waymarks already in place beside the leaning tower of St Chad’s. It was a big encouragement to see this kind of local initiative. Later in the week, we put up waymarks between Tittensor and Stone expressing our desires for future pilgrims as we did so.
  • On Wednesday March 28th the bells peeled out from St Bertoline’s Barthomley as we began the day’s walk, then they followed us all day ringing to celebrate the opening of the Two Saints Way at St James Audley, St Mary’s Wolstanton and at Stoke Minster at the end of the day. That was a lovely gesture that encouraged us on our way!
  • On Thursday 29th we revived the ancient practice of preaching at the two old crosses at Stoke Minster and St Mary’s Trentham. Also we were joined by two Saxon pilgrims from the Poor Cnights of St Chad re-enactment group. They fitted in brilliantly and answered everyone’s questions about their get-up.
  • Reviving pilgrimage practices was a major feature of the journey. On Friday 30th, we brought stones to Stone which used to be done to remember that the martyr princes Wulfad and Rufin were buied under a pile of stones. On the final day we walked in silence down Cross in Hand Lane carrying hand crosses made of olive wood from Bethlehem and then in the pedilavium at Lichfield Cathedral our feet were washed by Canon Pete Wilcox. All these were moving and meaningful occasions and amazing to think they had probably not been done for over 460 years!
  • The final event began with us walking with the Bishop of Lichfield from the cathedral by Stowe Pool to St Chad’s Well, waving palm leaves and singing “To be a pilgrim.” A short dedication service followed during which the first interpretation panel was opened by the Bishop. It was a great occasion and many commented on the high quality of the panel.

Bishop of Lichfield with David Pott

My lasting impression is of profound gratitude for all the kindness and cooperation we have received and above all I am thankful to God, the source and inspiration for the Two Saints Way.

Photo Credits: Castle Ring – Tim Saxton,  Bishop of Lichfield & David Pott – Ian Law, Spotlight

Forward to the Ancient Future Pilgrimage – March 25th – April 1st 2012

Forward to the Ancient Future is a favourite phrase of mine that seems to encapsulate a lot about the Two Saints Way project. We are wanting to connect with the past in a meaningful way that will connect with our culture today. I have chosen it as the title for our inaugural pilgrimage because I hope that as we walk from Chester to Lichfield we will both gain wisdom from the past but also connect that wisdom for our own life journeys today.

Plans for the pilgrimage are going well. The idea was not mine. I had met Philip Swan, who is Director of World Mission for the Lichfield Diocese and we had talked about the Two Saints Way. Last autumn, he met with a mutual friend called Russ Parker who is Director of Acorn Christian Healing Foundation. Philip told Russ about plans he was developing for a new community called the Community of St Chad. Russ then suggested that Philip ask me to lead a pilgrimage as part of the birthing process for the new community which is due to launch at Lichfield Cathedral on March 3rd. When Philip asked me, I felt it was right to go ahead and the three of us are taking the responsibility for the pilgrimage.

We have chosen an interesting bunch of fellow pilgrims and the core team is 12 people. In recent weeks quite a lot of interest has been generated in the pilgrimage and we are expecting others to join us for days and half days. You can find out more about all the plans both for the journey itself and associated evening meetings by clicking here to download the flyer.

We are looking for overnight accommodation for pilgrims. At the time of writing I think some places are sorted, but if you might be able to help with accommodation, please let me know and I’ll inform the local organisers.

A major event at the end of the pilgrimage will take place at 2:30pm on Sunday April 1st when the Bishop of Lichfield will open the first interpretation panel at St Chad’s Well by St Chad’s Church. It has been quite an involved but also a very worthwhile process getting this panel designed and ready to set up. This event will mark the start of signage and interpretation along the Two Saints Way which will continue during the rest of 2012.

Some thoughts on the Staffordshire Hoard and Lichfield as a pilgrim city.

Lichfield Angel

On Friday July 29th I attended the opening of the Staffordshire Hoard Exhibition at Lichfield Cathedral. The hoard is superbly displayed in the Chapter House alongside the Lichfield Angel and the St Chad Gospels.

Surely this is the most outstanding collection of Mercian artefacts to have ever been assembled in one place. It is not surprising that all tickets have been booked already and if you want to see the Staffordshire Hoard before it goes to the USA in the autumn, you must see if you can squeeze in at Tamworth.

In the course of the evening, we were taken on a tour of the cathedral and two things struck me…

Staffordshire Hoard Cross

Firstly our guide expressed the huge sense of awe and wonder for people at the cathedral when first the Lichfield Angel and then the Staffordshire Hoard were discovered. The discovery of the hoard so close to Lichfield and its seventh century dating has even led to speculation that St Chad himself might have seen that cross and Biblical inscription. It reminded me of my sense of awe and wonder when the hoard was discovered. I had unknowingly planned the Two Saints Way route with a strong Anglo-Saxon and  Mercian theme originating in the seventh century and including Stoke in the route where the Staffordshire Hoard will be on permanent display. Certainly there was a providential synchronicity there!

Secondly, our guide mentioned the way that one of the main purposes for the building of the first Lichfield Cathedral in 700 was to house the bones of St Chad and provide an appropriate destination for the many pilgrims who had been flocking to Lichfield since St Chad’s death in 672. It made me wonder if Lichfield was the first cathedral to be built so intentionally in this way? Canterbury didn’t get going till Thomas a Becket’s martyrdom  three centuries later so is Lichfield Britain’s first pilgrim city? Please get in touch if you have any answers!

Finally, won’t it be great to revive Lichfield as a pilgrim city that people walk to in significant numbers? Surely a pilgrimage from Chester to Lichfield along the Two Saints Way will be the best way to get into the shoes of that Anglo-Saxon culture as well as to see those treasures themselves.