From his birth off Cheapside in 1120 to his dramatic death at the hands of King Henry II's knights fifty years later, Thomas Becket's life was an extraordinary one, deeply intertwined with London's story. After beginning his career as a clerk in the household of Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, "Thomas of London" rose dramatically: to become first Chancellor and close friend to Henry II, serving the king as diplomat, statesman and solider. But after Thomas's elevation to become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1162, the two men argued over the rights of the Crown and the Church. This bitter struggle for authority and power was to lead to the death of Thomas, and his veneration as a holy martyr and, soon after, a saint.
The Museum of London has a large collection of souvenir pilgrim badges relating to St Thomas and his commemoration during the medieval period. These badges were produced in Canterbury and possibly also in London, to celebrate the saint.
This article explores some of the objects relating to St Thomas, offering the chance to take a closer look at the tiny details which can be difficult to see with the naked eye. The first three badges feature in the temporary display on St Thomas at the Museum as part of the Becket2020 celebrations.