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Pilgrim badge from the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. This badge depicts the scene of Becket’s martyrdom. An inscription at the base of the badge reads 'THOMAS MA’ (meaning ‘Thomas Martyr’). Becket is on his knees in front of an altar with four knights attacking him. Behind the altar stands the figure of Edward Grim, a clerk who tried to stop Becket’s murder. One of the knights carries a shield with two bears’ heads on it, identifying him as Reginald Fitzurse (through the visual pun on the Latin ‘ursus’, meaning ‘bear’). Fitzurse was the knight popularly believed to have struck final blow that killed Becket. An irregular line running across the badge suggests that it was made in a cracked mould.

Pilgrim badge from the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral

© Museum of London

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.

While St Thomas Becket is an internationally renowned figure, his connections to London are rather less well-known. For over 300 years, Londoners flocked to Becket's shrine in Canterbury often returning with a pewter badge as a keepsake. Hundreds of these pilgrim souvenirs have been recovered from London excavations and mudlarking activity along the Thames and the museum holds the largest collection in the country.

The Museum of London will use some of its pilgrim badges, which is the largest in the country, to illustrate St Thomas Becket’s extraordinary life and his connections to the capital. Undertake your own mini-pilgrimage through the museum’s Medieval London Gallery as you discover more about Thomas Becket the man and his early life in London, his exile and murder, the impact of his death and rise in miracle cures and finally, Becket’s shrine and the Jubilee of the Martyrdom in 1220.

The display will be part of a year-long programme of events entitled Becket2020, which will be developed by partners from across the UK as a platform to commemorate the remarkable life and death of St Thomas Becket.

Display
For: All
All ages
Entry: Free with timed entry ticket to the museum
BOOK NOW

Gallery access

Medieval London Gallery

11.30am - 3.30pm (Mon-Fri) & 10am-6pm (Sat & Sun)

The gallery is on the ground floor and is wheelchair accessible.

Free entry, timed ticket