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Doncaster Features: Famous Doncastrian: Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer is best known for his unfinished The Canterbury Tales, the story of his travels from London to Canterbury.

Little is known about his stay in Doncaster but he lived in the former Royal hunting lodge in Hatfield around 1358 as squire to Lionel, third son of Edward III. The building has long since vanished and on its site the town's Manor House now sits.

He probably attended services at Hatfield's St Lawrence's church - which was built in the 12th century.

Chaucer expert Professor Alcuin Blamires, Professor of Medieval Literature at Goldsmiths College, University of London, admitted little was known about the writer's time in South Yorkshire, but believes his stay here had an effect on his work.

He said: "Chaucer is most often associated with London and Kent, but the very earliest record of his life shows him shuttling between Yorkshire and London. He was paid expenses as a youth serving at Hatfield near Doncaster in December 1357 in the entourage of Countess Elizabeth of Ulster and her husband Prince Lionel, son of King Edward III.

"Chaucer's connection with John of Gaunt may have begun in this Hatfield residence, and his early poem The Book of the Duchess commemorating Gaunt's wife reinforces the Yorkshire link by referring to Richmond castle.

"Chaucer's ear for accents he heard during these formative years contributed significantly to his imaginative world. Two distinctly northern students are given the role of sorting out an objectionable thieving Cambridge miller in The Reeve's Tale.

They speak with an accent that might sound more familiar than medieval in Doncaster today!”

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