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marlowe

Ospringe, near Faversham, lying on the Roman road of Watling Street that goes from London through Canterbury to Dover, the highway of pilgrims and travellers (Marlowe included) was the birth-place of John Marlowe, Christopher's father. The text of the apocraphyl play Arden of Faversham shows local knowledge, and Marlowe probably knew the town well since his youth was spent in Canterbury, 9 miles away, and his father came from Ospringe, only a mile from Faversham.

Although only a small village, Ospringe was notable for its Maison Dieu or God's House, the hostpital of Blessed Mary of Ospringe, formerly a medieval hospital which offered shelter to the pilgrims en route to and from Canterbury. This had been a royal foundation of Henry III, and its Camera Regis or King's Chamber had provided a resting-place for the king and his suite whenever they passed this way.

The Hospital had gradually suffered a decline through mismanagement and other troubles, and finally in 1516 was dissolved, and its revenues added to the new college of St. John's at Cambridge. But the oblifation to pray for the souls of benefactors still remained, and John Marlowe, or Marley as he always preffered to sign himself, probably owed his literacy to the chantry priest twho was appointed for this spiritual function and also acted as the village schoolmaster.

See the Chaucerian pilgrims of Canterbury