“…as historians probe back into the twilight period of pre-history, it is becoming accepted that an ancient matriarchy existed when women were both honoured and looked upon as the guiding element in society”.
From the forward
“When I began many years ago to write a short account of the legal position of women from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day, I had no intention of embarking on a wider field. Then someone said to me: “You know, the mere account of the legal position of women affords a very partial view of their actual status at any given period.” This I saw was particularly true in medieval times when the influence of tradition and custom did much to mitigate the position of subjection laid down by Common Law. Gradually I started to collect the material to place a social and economic study guide side by side with the legal one and, in doing so, to endeavour to give a more complete picture of the status of women. Circumstance intervened and the manuscript was forgotten for many years. During this time I had become greatly interested in the Science of Religion, a profound metaphysical school of thought that bridges the material world of action to the immaterial world of idea. I realised that it is the thoughts of men and their philosophy of life which are the underlying causes of historical development. Thus eventually the present work emerged which views the subjection of women, and their emancipation, a part of the psychological development which cannot be shown without spanning the ages and placing it in the framework of an evolutionary process”.
“How much can we still see of the roads and landmarks that Chaucer’s pilgrims would have passed on their journey from Southwark to Canterbury to visit the tomb of St Thomas a’ Beckett? To the car driver racing down the A2, there must seem little that has not been built over or cultivated, but in fact this can be a journey into another age.
Using a wealth of colour and black and white photographs, taken both from the air and while exploring the route on foot, one of Britain’s leading medievalists and landscape historians guides us into a bygone era, when much of the country between London and Canterbury was heavily wooded, when the perils of thieves and bad weather forced travellers to seek safety in numbers and the higher more secluded tracks that ran parallel to the main road, Watling Street and when the recognised stopping places were marked by cheerful hostelries, religious house and chapels.
From the impressive ruins of the Bishop of Winchester’s Palace, hidden among warehouses and office blocks behind Southwark Cathedral, the author takes us on an enthralling – through Dartford with its partly Norman church, past the church and alm houses at Cobham, through historic Rochester with it magnificent castle and cathedral, and on through Sittingborne to the perfect Maison Dieu at Ospringe. Aerial photographs show up the parallel ways which the pilgrims would have often followed.
For the modern pilgrim on foot, this book provides a wonderful guide to possible routes and place of interest. For the traveller by train or car, there are many opportunities for stopping and exploring particular areas rich in medieval remains. The photographs, all taken especially for this book, in themselves encapsulate the living medieval heritage that awaits the explorer.