Site of the Tabard Inn – London, England - Atlas Obscura

Site of the Tabard Inn

The location Geoffrey Chaucer and tale-telling pilgrims set off for Canterbury in April 1386. 

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Though Geoffrey Chaucer’s magnum opus The Canterbury Tales is frequently (and naturally) associated with the eponymous city, its stories are set elsewhere as the pilgrims narrate them on their journey to Canterbury. In the Prologue, Chaucer writes: “Bifel that in that season on a day, / In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay / Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage / To Caunterbury with ful devout corage […]”.

The Tabard, established in 1307, was an inn in the Southwark district of London known for accommodating pilgrims to Canterbury. This is where Chaucer and the pilgrims supposedly met in the 1380s, one of the most significant sites in literary history.

Though the inn stood for centuries after that, it has unfortunately been lost today. First, in 1676 — just a decade after the Great Fire of London — the Tabard was burned down along with much of medieval Southwark. It was then rebuilt as an inn called The Talbot, which remained successful for another two centuries, but as the railways started to replace stagecoaches, it became obsolete and eventually closed. The building itself was demolished in 1873.

Today, the site of the Tabard Inn is humbly commemorated by a blue plaque, on the corner of a Southwark street named Talbot Yard. Though nothing else remains, it’s a neat place to visit if you plan to take a train to Canterbury from London.

The Blue Plaque was commissioned by the London Borough of Southwark and voted on by the people. It was unveiled on November 23, 2003. The organization was formed to recognize the contributions of both people and places who’ve had an impact on the neighborhood and the world at large.

Know Before You Go

Note that Talbot Yard is more of a side-street, or alley way, than a main thoroughfare in this bustling district of south London. Use common sense and caution when venturing into an area that is active with businesses and traffic.

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June 4, 2024

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