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Terry Jones unveils Chaucer plaque at Copyprints

Film director and former Monty Python team member Terry Jones has unveiled a plaque to Geoffrey Chaucer in Borough High Street.

blue plaque

The blue plaque has been placed on the front of Copyprints business centre in Talbot Yard. Copyprints stands on the site of the Tabard Inn featured by Chaucer in the opening of his world famous Canterbury Tales.

"Not many people read him" said Terry Jones who has just published a book Who Murdered Chaucer? A Medieval Mystery.

"He is a mystery. He disappears in 1400 and there is record of his death. He left no will. He just vanishes into thin air.

"He was a famous man, a poet, a spy, a diplomat and Clerk of the King's Works.

"His tomb was put up 150 years after his death and as far as we know it does not contain his body.

"It was a very dangerous world. Richard II was usurped by Henry IV. Suddenly it becomes a police state. Archbishop Arundell would have hated the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales."

But the text of The Canterbury Tales featuring its colourful pilgrims survived. "They are living characters speaking the language they spoke on street" claimed Terry Jones as he prepared to pull the curtains and reveal the plaque. "There is nothing else like it."

the blue plaque

Nicholas Pembury of Copyprints, welcoming guests who crowded into Talbot Yard, said: "The Tabard Inn has given its name to dozens of pubs, bars, and hotels throughout the world.

"But more than that it has become an idea, an idea of a place where people meet just as Chaucer's pilgrims did as equals, disregarding differences of class, status, wealth and education to swop stories, argue their opinions or just gossip.

"By beginning his pilgrimage here, Chaucer immortalised not only The Tabard but Southwark itself."

Southwark News editor Kevin Quinn said that Copyprints had "done a fantastic job" in seeing that Geoffrey Chaucer had his plaque.

Southwark Councillor Bob Skelly, who once taught Chaucer studies to school children using Terry Jones earlier book, stressed that there are several Southwark references in The Canterbury Tales and pointed out that Chaucer is not very complimentary about Southwark ale.

Guests were welcomed to a reception by Copyprints managing director Jack Hames and Director John Wheeler. Among those present were Simon Hughes MP, customers, friends and fellow Bankside Traders Association members who had voted for Chaucer in the Blue Plaque poll last summer.

• Terry Jones' book Who Murdered Chaucer? A Medieval Mystery is published by Methuen (£20).

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