All who are undertaking a pilgrimage for spiritual reasons or with an openness to learn and be changed by the experience.
What is their purpose?
A pilgrim passport identifies a person as a bona fide pilgrim and enables them to benefit from the 1000 year old tradition of pilgrim hospitality.
It is a wonderful record of a pilgrim’s journey and the different communities and places they have walked through.
The stamps it bears show the rate of progress of the pilgrim and the relatively short distances are an indication that they are travelling without motorised assistance! Their use helps prevent the abuse of pilgrim hospitality.
Pilgrim’s beginning their journey at St Cross, just outside of Winchester may request the Wayfarers Dole, a token of the bread and beer that was given to pilgrims in past times.
For those walking along the Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester or Southwark/Rochester to Canterbury today some accommodation is available at a discount to those carrying a pilgrim passport. Details can be found under the accommodation tabs on the map page.
How does it work?
Get your passport before you start your pilgrimage. Most major pilgrim routes have their own passport. The new Winchester and Southwark to Canterbury passports are available from cathedrals on the way and from Canterbury Cathedral on receipt of a standard size stamped addressed envelope, plus suggested donation of £2 per passport, sent to, Canterbury Cathedral, Cathedral House, 11 The Precincts, Canterbury, CT1 2EH United Kingdom, clearly marked PILGRIM PASSPORT. Please allow 2 weeks for delivery.
As you progress along the route ask churches or local businesses, B & B, pubs, cafes etc. to stamp and date your passport. It is best to get at least one stamp in each place you stay. Some churches have special pilgrim stamps, but any stamp with a name on it is fine. You may find stamps in the churches or a notice in the church porch telling you who in the locality will stamp your passport. If no stamp is available ask a local person to sign and date your passport.
Today’s pilgrim passports are the successors to the safe-conducts issued to medieval pilgrims.
Going on pilgrimage then was one of the rare opportunities that poor peasants had to travel far from the parish they lived in. They had to get written permission from the parish priest and would normally have been dressed in very obvious pilgrims’ clothing – a rough tunic, heavy cloak and wide brimmed hat. They would likely have carried a wooden staff, water bottle and scrip or bag for food.
Pilgrims would have carried with them a safe- conduct, issued by the relevant authority in an attempt to secure their safety in travel.