The tomb of the holy blissful martyr Saint Thomas Becket because I write about medieval kings and queens making their pilgrimage there. It’s a pivotal shrine in Christendom. Becket’s murder in 1170 caused a sensation. He was killed brutally – his brains spilled out – as he was taking Evensong.
Would you make special stops?
Yes. I’d go along the Pilgrims’ Way but I may deviate a bit to visit the Great Episcopal palaces. Three remain today – one in Sevenoaks and one in Rochester, where King Henry VIII made a great abbey after he dissolved the monasteries. The third is in Charing. These were normal stopping places on the route to Canterbury, particularly for visiting royals.
Who would be your companions?
I’d take my historian friends Tracy Borman, Sarah Gristwood, Nicola Tallis and Siobhan Clarke. I’ve known them all a long time and they’d add a spiritual dimension. They would also understand the context of the journey and enrich it with their knowledge.
You can transplant your favourite pub, bar or restaurant on to the route. What is it?
My local Spanish restaurant, El Nido in Wallington, Surrey. I’d order the steak Diane, which isn’t Spanish, and a bottle of Torres rosé. My husband and I went there just before the second lockdown.
Camp under the stars, or find a church hall to sleep in?
Oh goodness, I’d be in a five-star hotel! I am not a rough traveller. I did all that when I was young.
Which books would you take?
Norah Lofts’s The Suffolk Trilogy – they are wonderful. The novels tell the story of the history of England through the generations of people who lived in Suffolk House, starting in 1381 with the Peasants’ Revolt and going on until 1956, when Lofts started writing them. I go back to them again and again.
What Bible verse would you ponder as you walked?
Psalm 122, which starts: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” It never fails to send shivers down my spine. It was played at William and Kate’s wedding, set to Parry. The music enhances the words and the sentiment. You stop in a church.
What’s your go-to prayer?
The prayer of Saint Mother Julian of Norwich. She was a 14th-century anchoress who had several revela- tions of divine love (visions) and came up with these wonderful comforting words: “All shall be well and all shall well and all manner of things shall be well.” It came to her directly from God – and who are we to say it didn’t? It’s your turn to cook.
What’s your speciality?
Spaghetti bolognese with a bottle of red wine in it – that’s for six people, I should add. The basis of it is a Good Housekeeping recipe. My mother bought me the book when I married my husband 48 years ago – she was worried he would starve!
What’s the singalong to keep everyone’s spirits up? I’d go for Eurythmics, or REM – but perhaps not Losing My Religion. If I had to pick one song, it would be My Sweet Lord by George Harrison.
You’re allowed one luxury in your bag. What is it?
Travel Scrabble. I am obsessed with it and take it wherever I go. I hope my fellow pilgrims would be happy to play.
What would you most miss about ordinary life?
My library. I work in our double garage which I’ve had converted into a library. It’s lined with books and it’s become a family room with sofas and a TV.
What would you miss the least?
This controlling government.
Alison Weir’sSix Tudor Queens: Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife is published by Headline in May
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