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Discover the story of the murder that shook Europe in the Middle Ages and changed the course of history, in the first ever major UK exhibition about the life, death and legacy of Thomas Becket.

This exhibition marks the 850th anniversary of the murder of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, killed on 29 December 1170 in his own cathedral by four knights with close ties to King Henry II. One of the most powerful and influential figures of his time, Becket was initially a close friend of the king, and served as royal chancellor and later as Archbishop of Canterbury. However, the two men clashed over clerical privilege and became engaged in a bitter dispute that culminated in Becket’s public death.

Featuring over 100 extraordinary objects brought together for the first time, including important loans from major collections across the UK and Europe, the exhibition explores the Archbishop's life and influence, from his upbringing as the son of a merchant to the impact his murder had in history. Becket’s death shook Europe and caused an immense political fallout, and his canonization transformed Canterbury Cathedral into one of the most important pilgrimage destinations on the continent.

Highlights of the exhibition include precious reliquaries, jewellery, pilgrims’ badges and sculptures, as well as an entire medieval stained glass window on loan for the first time from Canterbury Cathedral, which will be shown in its original arrangement for the first time in 350 years.


British Museum

Great Russell Street, London, Greater London, WC1B 3DG

020 7323 8181


Opening times

Daily, 10am – 5pm

Closed 24 – 26 Dec and 1 Jan

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