Becket2020 to come to Canterbury this year

In 2020, Canterbury Cathedral will be at the centre of activity celebrating Becket

In 2020, Canterbury Cathedral will be at the centre of activity celebrating Becket - Credit: Archant

There will be a year-long programme of events marking the 850th anniversary of the murder of Thomas Becket

All eyes will be on Canterbury in 2020 as a year-long programme of events marking the 850th anniversary of one of the most shocking crimes in European history, the murder of Thomas Becket, is unveiled.

'Becket2020' will see venues in Canterbury, London and beyond host a range of events across the year to commemorate his murder - a moment which changed the course of history.

The programme includes performances, pageants, talks, film screenings and religious services, and culminates in the first-ever major UK exhibition to explore Becket's life, death and legacy, which will open at the British Museum in October.

Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered on 29 December 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights with close ties to his former friend King Henry II, as eyewitnesses looked on.

Quickly canonised a saint by the Pope, his shrine at Canterbury became a major centre of European pilgrimage before being destroyed on the orders of Henry VIII in the early years of the English Reformation. In both the Roman Catholic and Anglican Church Becket is recognised as a saint and a martyr.

In 2020, Canterbury will be the centre of activity celebrating Becket. A major new production of T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral will be performed for the first time in Canterbury Cathedral in October, a joint initiative with The Marlowe Theatre. The Cathedral will also host a special choral evensong service to commemorate Becket's martyrdom on 29 December 2020.

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Other highlights include Saint Thomas Becket: World Celebrity Healer at The Beaney, a community creative project focusing on mental and physical health and wellbeing in the context of Becket's fame.

In July, Canterbury's fifth annual Medieval Pageant and Trail will take place, and this year also commemorates Henry ll's pilgrimage to Canterbury to perform penance for his association with the murder of Becket.

London, the city of Becket's birth, will also host a range of events. Thomas Becket (title tbc) at the British Museum will be the first time his life, death and legacy has been explored in a major exhibition (15 October 2020 to 14 February 2021). It will showcase more than 100 objects associated with Becket, as well as artefacts from the Museum's collection and important loans