Hilaire Belloc, 1904
Of all the early writers, Ivan Margary, one of Britains's foremost authoriiteis on Roman Roads, regards Belloc’s ‘Old Road’ as the ‘best known and most important contribution’. Hilaire Belloc’s account of the Pilgrims Way, was first published in 1904. Belloc constantly gets accredited by many as the author of the first authoritative account of the Pilgrims’ Way. Perhaps it would be more helpful to view all roads leading too and on from Belloc. Perhaps a pivotal account would be a better way of describing the role of Belloc’s Old Road. However, Belloc’s work, irrespective of its popularity, was certainly not the first to examine the history and folklore pertaining to a pilgrimage route that followed an ancient trackway running through Kent and Surrey, along the chalk escarpment at the edge of the North Downs. Hilaire Belloc -The Old Road 1904
Julia Cartwright (aka) Mrs Ady, 1893
Others had already written about the trackway by the time of the Old Roads’ publication, the title of the ‘Pilgrims Road’ or ‘Pilgrims Way’ was already being ascribed to the ancient trackway. Before the turn of the nineteenth century fascination with the pilgrims’ route between Winchester and Canterbury had also caught the imagination of a woman, renowned as an historian and art critic of the Italian Renaissance. Mrs. Ady’s book, ‘The Pilgrims Way – from Winchester to Canterbury' written under her maiden name, Julia Cartwright was published in 1895, nine years prior to the publication of Belloc’s ‘Old Road’. Nevertheless whereas Belloc undertook the journey on foot between Winchester and Canterbury it is doubtful that Mrs. Ady actually walked any great distance of her subject matter.
Cartwright, Julia: The Pilgrims Way from Winchester to Canterbury 1895
Grant Allen - Science in Arcady, 1892
Reference is made to Grant Allen by both Julia Cartwright and Hilaire Belloc. Allen's theory was that the Pilgrims' Way had been used long before the days of advanced navigation to transport 'Cornish tin by land across the whole breadth of southern Britain and then shipped to the Continent from the Isle of Thanet'. He develops the idea in a chapter entitled the Bronze Age and goes onto suggest that the trackway was later used by medieval wayfarers from Somerset and Dorset on their way to the shrine of St Thomas a Becket at Canterbury. Grant Allen, Science in Arcady 1892