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Commemorate the remarkable life, death and legacy of Thomas Becket

2020 marks an important dual anniversary for the extraordinary figure of Thomas Becket. It will be 850 years since his dramatic murder on the 29th December 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral, and 800 years since his body was moved on the 7th July 1220 from a tomb in the crypt of the cathedral into a glittering shrine.

Becket2020 was born as an effort to bring the history of St. Thomas Becket to the public in the 850 year anniversary of his murder in Canterbury Cathedral. Due to Covid-19 restrictions the Becket2020 events programme has been rescheduled for 2021. This website will be regularly updated with programme news.

Thomas Becket is a programme of services, conferences, family events and creative/artistic productions developed by partners from across the UK to commemorate Becket’s remarkable life, death and legacy.

Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170 by four of Henry II’s knights who believed that the King wanted Becket assassinated. Formerly Chancellor and a close friend of the King, Thomas became embroiled in a bitter and protracted dispute with Henry over who had legal authority – Church or State – to try clergy for criminal offences.

An account of Becket’s death by Edward Grim, a monk who was by Becket’s side when he was killed, describes how one of the sword strokes was so violent that it sliced the crown off Becket’s skull and shattered the blade’s tip on the pavement.

When shortly after Becket’s death miracles were attributed to him – many of which are depicted in the Cathedral’s 12th century stained glass windows – Canterbury Cathedral became one of medieval Europe’s most important pilgrimage destinations.